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Impossible Shot at Kyoto’s Enkoji Temple: Garden *and* Garden-Viewing Room at the Height of Fall Colors, Devoid of People
desktop background image of the garden and the garden-viewing-room at the Enkouji Temple (圓光寺), Kyoto Japan  --  Garden Viewing Room at the Enkouji Temple, Kyoto Japan 圓光寺(京都市)、紅葉最中、人なし。  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Garden Viewing Room
at the Enkouji Temple, Kyoto Japan
圓光寺(京都市)、紅葉最中、人なし。
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This is an (almost) impossible shot to get... the garden and the garden-viewing room at the Enkouji Temple (圓光寺, Kyoto Japan), at the height of fall colors, both completely devoid of people.

This next photo of the same place six years ago (from this blog post) is what this kind of place normally looks like:

Six Years Ago 6年前  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 640 — image data
Six Years Ago
6年前

Indeed, that's what it was like when I was there last fall (Nov 2012)...
今回...

Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
So Close almost a clear shot ぎりぎり  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 10000 — map & image datanearby photos
So Close
almost a clear shot
ぎりぎり
desktop background image of the garden at the Enkouji Temple (圓光寺), Kyoto Japan  --  Finally! やった!  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/100 sec, f/9, ISO 10000 — map & image datanearby photos
Finally!
やった!
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A clear shot from near the edge of the room with a 50mm lens is one thing, but what about with a wide-angle lens (24mm) from the back of the room... from beyond the back of the room (leaning back into a little alcove you can't actually enter)...

Relatively Uncrowded  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/6.3, ISO 3200 — map & image datanearby photos
Relatively Uncrowded
Mostly Clear  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Mostly Clear

The guy just outside the room with his arm outstretched is telling folks to move out of the way once you get your shot, because others want to take pictures too. Yet, he walked back and forth in everyone's shot, and talked incessantly, repeating himself over and over as waves of tourists came in and out. It drove me mad, but for all I know it's his temple, so I've no right to complain.

Sometimes he did move further away when chatting with people outside...

So Very Close just as I was about to get a mostly clean shot, the lady walked right in front of everyone and set up camp for a while  --  Enkouji Temple (圓光寺)  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2013-02-03/2198  --  This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/60 sec, f/5, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
So Very Close
just as I was about to get a mostly clean shot,
the lady walked right in front of everyone and set up camp for a while

But I was patient, and waited (and left and came back and waited more), and finally for a brief moment it was truly a clean shot: I took exactly one frame (the one that leads this post) and knew I had it.

(Update: easy come easy go; after I posted this article, my brother pointed out that there actually is someone in the background of the shot. I simply hadn't noticed. Sigh. I could easily clone the person out, but that wouldn't be fair after making a big deal about the lack of people. Oh well, I guess there's a reason I said “impossible”. There's always next year.)

A reverse-angle view, of the room from the garden, appeard on “A Long But Photogenic November in Kyoto”.

I've lately tried similar shots at other temples under less-challenging conditions, including one in “Tea and Sweets Among the Fall Colors at Kyoto’s Daihyouin Temple”, one elsewhere in the aforementioned “photogenic November” post, and one in “Some Desktop Backgrounds from Kyoto’s Koumyou-in Temple”.

Continued here...


Comments so far....

It must have take quite a bit of patience and awareness of visitors to get the shop. Beautiful.

— comment by Khürt Williams on February 3rd, 2013 at 10:56pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Your right, the shot is impossible. Having been to Kyoto a few times during the fall, I know what the crowds are like. Congratulations! Love the lighting also. Perfect timing! Beautiful!
Aloha from Irvine, CA

— comment by Harvey Chin on February 4th, 2013 at 1:47am JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Wouldn’t “Hey everybody, I have a bomb” have handled this in like 15 seconds?

— comment by Steve Friedl on February 4th, 2013 at 1:51am JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

If you wanted to get rid of everyone just lock off the camera and then take a few shots over time as people move around. If you’re careful and observant you can keep track of where the people are in your shots and ensure you’ve got a clean “no people” shot for each part of the view you want. Then once you’ve got a selection just overlay them in Photoshop or similar and mask out the people (i.e. combine the empty spots).

Simples!

Not quite so simple with moving foliage and changing light, but in this case it’s easy enough to clone out the guy just using Lightroom’s dust spot-removal tool. I immediately did so in a Virtual Copy just to see, but in the end I’m going to leave it as I posted it, because the whole story here I created centered around being devoid of people, and in the end, I failed. —Jeffrey

— comment by Nick P on February 4th, 2013 at 5:24pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Certainly the “bomb” announcement would have worked, though the post processing time for an image acquired in such a fashion would have been about 20 years, HAHAHA !!

— comment by Aeron on February 4th, 2013 at 5:53pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Ah – ok. If the foliage is moving and the light changing I admit it is far more difficult.

Still although you think you failed in getting a shot with no people in it, you succeeded in capturing a great image. (I really need to add Japan to my worldwide travels list!)

— comment by Nick P on February 4th, 2013 at 8:24pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Great picture, irrespective of the guy walking under the trees.

The improvement in your photo technique has been remarkable during 6 years (OK, the D4 is a better camera than the D200, but you have to know how to get the maximum out of it ;-)).

— comment by Gianluca on February 5th, 2013 at 10:21pm JST (1 year, 10 months ago) comment permalink

This guy did it! (whether is photoshopped is not known)

http://500px.com/photo/27861775?from=popular

— comment by Gianluca on March 11th, 2013 at 7:16am JST (1 year, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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