That Particularly Amazing Tree at the Imakumano Kannonji Temple
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Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/5, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos

A month ago in “Another Day of Amazing Fall Colors in KyotoI posted on photo similar to the one above, from that day's trip to the Imakumano Kannonji Temple (今熊野観音寺) in eastern Kyoto.

The tree with the red leaves had particularly impressive colors, but only when viewed from about where the group is standing. From where I took the photo above, the leaves look fairly bland, at least relatively speaking. As you can tell from the shadows, the leaves were not being backlit.... it was a hazy day and the sun was more or less to my back in the photo above.

This little clearing was behind a building, so most people never see it to begin with, but those who do generally arrive from behind the camera position in the photo above. They see the view in the photo above, then return back to the main area, missing most of what the tree has to offer. In this respect, we were lucky to have arrived via a back route...


Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
First Glimpse of the Clearing

Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos
Moody Light

The light in the clearing was a bit other-worldly to begin with, likely due to a combination of the hazy day and the nature of the clearing, with high trees most of the way around but open sky directly above.

This is the scene we found when we entered the clearing from behind. (The first photo appearing above was taken from the path near the corner of the building.)


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/800 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Self Portrait

As we moved through the clearing to the red leaves, they suddenly came alive in a way digital photography can not capture. They seemed positively luminescentb, as if they were somehow fluorescently turning non-visible light into visible light. In the next photo, I had to tone the image down unnaturally — as evidenced by the dark background — just to keep all the red from blowing out the color channels to white...


Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
Blown

Despite darkening the whole photo quite a bit, the red channels are still blown out so that the leaves have become solid blotches of whatever the brightest red your monitor can display. At times like this the technical limitations of digital photography makes me sad.

I darkened things further to retain a bit of detail in the leaves...


Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos

With a brighter background I could keep more of the image in the sweet spot for the digital sensor, but to get it I had to move my position, and so the red leaves reverted to a less-glowing view...

amazing fall foliage, behind the Imakumano Kannonji Temple (今熊野観音寺) in Kyoto, Japan
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
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Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/250 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
amazing fall foliage, behind the Imakumano Kannonji Temple (今熊野観音寺) in Kyoto, Japan
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
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When I suggested to a group of folks that they'd get a more spectacular view by moving to the back of the clearing, they were happy enough to try but it was clear from their exuberant ooohs and aaaahs that they hadn't really expected much change. They were suitably impressed.

I posted before about the benefits of a polarizing filter for fall-foliage photography, and I know that in some cases the human eye can also notice a difference due to light polarization, but I don't think that's involved in this burning-red-leaf situation (because blocking polarized light would make it appear darker in real life, allowing it to appear more vibrant in photos due to the resulting change in camera exposure).

It'll be interesting to visit again next year to see whether it was something intrinsic to the leaves or the area, or some kind of passing effect that just happened to occur that day.


One comment so far...

I am always amazed at the sharpness of your images, even when you use extremely high ISO’s 4000+, is there post processing steps you use? or is the D700 just that amazing?

Thanks!

Wesley
Amator Picturae

I think it’s more a reflection of Lightroom 3’s noise reduction than the D700, but the D700 is indeed amazing. —Jeffrey

— comment by Wesley on December 29th, 2011 at 10:46am JST (6 years ago) comment permalink
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