Entering Kyoto’s Yoshiminedera Temple
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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/13, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance Hut From Afar
the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺)
Kyoto, Japan

My cold definitely seems to be over, so today I made the trek to the deep-mountain southwest corner of Kyoto City, to the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) that Stéphane Barbery introduced me to last year. I made two trips last year, producing enough story and photographic material to fill dozens of blog posts, but being lazy I've so far posted only a few (here, here, and most recently here).

Arriving today with Paul Barr after an hour-long scooter ride, and getting the first view of the entrance seen above, I was struck by three things:

  1. The fall colors are much weaker than last year.
  2. Even weaker, it's still a sight to inspire awe.
  3. And wow, the polarizing filter makes such a huge difference.

Several weeks ago I posted “Heading Out To Photograph The Fall Foliage? Don't Forget The Polarizer Filter” using examples taken here, and arriving today I found myself compelled to take more with/without pairs of shots. The difference is striking, but already well illustrated in the previous post, so I won't add more today.

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/13, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos

The whole temple complex is on a mountainside that sprawls more vertically than horizontally, and in that vein the entrance “hut” (as tall as a four-story building) is a long set of stairs above the parking lot. The intervening slope is covered with hedge, out of which a sprig of red berries emerged, so I thought I'd get artsy-fartsy and try aiming up the slope to get the foreground berries in focus, leaving the background out of focus...

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/1600 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Falling Flat

The berries are so sufficiently unsubstantial that one may not even notice them, so the effect I envisioned didn't materialize at all, but I do like something about this (out-of-focus) background, so in the end I like the shot.

Switching to a tighter zoom (125mm instead of 50mm) helps bring out the effect I was after, but the impact isn't quit there...

Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos

Pausing on the steps with the wide-angle lens (24mm), now here's a shot I can get behind....

fall foliage towering above the entrance to the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺)
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/14, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Final Approach
on the last set of stairs leading to the entrance
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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/14, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Up

And we hadn't even entered yet; inside, it got much nicer still, but that's best left for another dozen posts, if I ever get unlazy.

On the way out three hours later after the sun had set behind the mountain, I thought to snap a picture of the entrance hut itself...

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/1.6, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Entrance Hut
final picture on our way out

Passing through there on the way in, you pay 500 yen (about US $6.50) to enter, and if ever there was a temple and season that was worth it, this is it.

Some of the maples are still absolutely green, without even the slightest hint of fall color yet, so this season is certainly weird, but that bodes well for another trip. The temple faces the morning sun, and opens at 8am, so if I go again, I'll try to get there early.

Continued here...

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