.

Archive for the 'Pretty Photos' Category

Posts including photos that I think are particularly pretty, usually about nature.

An Autumn Visit to the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto

Continuing the story about a day with friends in Kyoto last November that started with a morning visit to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa, after lunch we made our way to the Sento Imperial Palace, a small palace tucked away in a corner of the huge park that also houses the main Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

It was my first trip to this particular palace.

I include this photo mostly as an example of why one needs to be careful about using a polarizing filter with a wide-angle lens. I'd brought the filter along because it has such a dramatic [...]


View full post »
Filling the Time Between Imperial Villas

Continuing the story of my last post, "Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November", on a day with friends last November in Kyoto, Japan filled with photographic delights, the story had ended with our finishing a visit to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa. We had some time before lunch, so we paid a quick visit to the Saginomori Shrine (鷺森神社).

A small wall has "wish plaques", where people write their wishes. Presumably, the shrine will burn them later in a ceremony (like this small ceremony, or this very large one).

People often wish for happiness or for health, but [...]


View full post »
Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November (Part 2)

I guess this is a continuation of a post three months ago looking back to last November's trip to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in Kyoto. We're still two months away from fall foliage season in Kyoto, but it's just around the corner for much of the Northern Hemisphere, so I guess this is a getting-in-the-mood-for-Autumn kind of post.

We'd left of on that previous post having headed up a hill to a nice view. The same view with an 85mm at f/1.6 sort of has a slightly-unreal look, as if it's a close up of a model...

As described in [...]


View full post »
Celebrating the End of My Cold With Some Pretty Photos From 2008

I'm finally over the nagging cold I had for the last two weeks. It had relented a bit early on enough for me to write the posts on the gargoyle workshop, then returned and stuck with me until I finally went to the doctor the other day. He gave me antibiotics, and I started feeling much felt better the next day.

やっと風邪が治った、二週間ぶり元気です。手当たり次第に2008年の写真色々を見せます。

I couldn't concentrate on much while I had the cold, but to try to eke out some productivity, I picked a year (2008) and started going through my photo archive with and eye to delete cruft -- stuff [...]


View full post »
Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 2: Crafting the Clay

Picking up from yesterday's "Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour", we'll look a bit on how these complex decorative tiles are made.

These are essentially pottery, so crafting is "simple": create the shape you want out of clay, let it air dry for a few months, then fire it in a kiln for 30 hours at a bazillion degrees.

It's not that simple, of course. First off, with the lead time to the final firing measured in months, they can't afford to have pieces crack in the kiln, so they've developed crafting and firing techniques that completely avoids cracks. [...]


View full post »
Gargoyle-Tile Workshop Visit Part 1: Factory Tour

Japanese temples generally have tiled roofs, with ornamental tiles of various sizes and meanings sprinkled liberally throughout. For example, the demon-face tile seen the other day on this post:

In Japanese these ornamental tiles are called onigawara (鬼 瓦) -- literally "demon tile" -- though the word is used for any complex decorative tile, with or without a demon. The English word "gargoyle" is often used for these; it's not really the right word, but it's evocative of the same concept, and I can't think of anything better.

Earlier in the summer I had a fantastic opportunity (more on that [...]


View full post »
Sand Sculptures at Kyoto’s Silver Pavilion Temple

Last fall I visited the Ginkakuji Temple (銀閣寺, the "silver pavilion") in north-east Kyoto. It's named for a building that was intended to be coated in silver leaf (comparable to how the golden pavilion is coated in gold leaf). Apparently they never got around to actually applying the silver, but the name stuck.

As it is today, the temple is noted for its sculptured sand, including a huge Mt. Fuji shaped cone.

The minor entrance stone garden is not particularly special, with similar features easily found at other temples. But the main garden raises the level considerably...

There's also a [...]


View full post »
Rich Wood Views Inside Kyoto’s Zuishin Temple

One of the famous spots in Kyoto for plum blossoms is the Zuishin Temple (随心院) in Yamashina ward, and its blossoms appeared on my blog eight years(!) ago in "Plum Blossoms and Photographers". The style of both my blog presentation and photography has changed quite a bit in the intervening years.

Anyway, I made a visit this past March during plum-blossom season, but having already enjoyed the plum at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine and at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, I decided this time to actually venture inside the temple building for the first time. I was joined by Damien [...]


View full post »
A Few More Off-Season Spring Blossoms

I'd prepared a few other "off-season spring-blossom" photos that didn't fit into yesterday's post, so I thought I'd just post them today. All but the last two are from April 2013.

This was from the same trip that produced a wonderful bonanza of pictures that I've barely scratched the surface of.

The last few are from the amazing Haradanien Garden (原谷苑), which I've posted about at length in the past starting here.

I haven't done all that much blossom photography over the last two years, but I did snap this shot of the late-April blossoms on our recent trip to [...]


View full post »
Lightroom Catalog Maintenance: Clearing Out Edit History For Potential Performance Gains

This post is about trimming down the file size of an Adobe Lightroom catalog. In keeping with the off-season them of my previous post (which was filled with fall-foliage photos), this post is sprinkled with a few photos from Kyoto springs past, chosen more for their mentally-calming effect than for photographic quality, which they generally lack. (Sorry)

In a nutshell, if you have a large Lightroom catalog, and if you don't need the detailed editing history for your photos, you might be able to significantly reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog by flushing that edit-history data, which might generally [...]


View full post »
Revisiting Kyoto’s Fall Colors: Shugakuin Imperial Villa Last November

Chatting with a visitor to Kyoto yesterday, she said that she really wanted to see Japan's fall foliage sometime. That prompts me to dip into my archives for a fall-foliage post today, with photos from a visit last November to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa in north-east Kyoto.

It was a brilliantly bright day and even with my polarizer filter (which normally has a wonderful effect with fall colors) the photos seem washed out to me, but some are still not too bad.

This is my second visit, the first having been covered starting in "My First Visit To Kyoto’s Shugakuin [...]


View full post »
Unearthly Steak in Japan at Awaji Island’s “Beefland Prince”

With Anthony away on a school trip, Fumie and I made a day-trip date to Awaji Island two hours by car south from Kyoto, where our first stop was a late lunch in heaven, A.K.A "Beefland Prince".

息子は修学旅行中なので、妻と一緒に淡路島の日帰りデートをしました。まずは「ビーフランド大公」でめっちゃ美味いステーキを戴きました。

You can't begin to imagine how good this steak was. When I say the steak literally melts in your mouth, I'm literally using the word "literally" for its literal meaning... the fats in the meat just melt away. It's almost unearthly when compared to any other steak I've ever had in this life (including the fantastic teppanyaki steak I wrote about the [...]


View full post »
My Mt. Hiei Climb Challenge 2014, Part 2

This post picks up from "My Mt. Hiei Climb Challenge 2014, Part 1", where I'd ended with having completed the ascent in good time and good form.

It was still early (12:45ish), so I decided to check out some of the temples farther into the mountains.

Some of the paths in these mountains were laid out thousands of years ago. I'm sure these old guardrail posts aren't that old, but this next photo gives a hint to the age because the bigger post, which essentially looks brand new compared to the guardrail posts, is dated April 1936...

Dotted here and [...]


View full post »
Kendo Masters Tournament in Kyoto, Part 2

This post continues from yesterday's "My First Look at Kendo: Masters Tournament in Kyoto" post, which introduced the kendo ("Japanese fencing") event I attended the other day.

These people (mostly men, but there were a few women) were 7th-dan masters (the max is 8), meaning that they've been doing this for at least 23 years. I wonder whether they get nervous before a bout.

With patience I eventually worked myself into a position that I thought would give great shots, right at the center line where the bonsai tree was directly in the line of sight inside the Japanese flag. [...]


View full post »
My First Look at Kendo: Masters Tournament in Kyoto

The other day I attended some very high level kendo (Japanese fencing) bouts, my first real exposure to it other than having seen a bit six years ago during a visit to a Japanese high school.

Last week I posted a couple of lone photos here and here, but finally I'll actually write a bit about the event.

The sign says something along the line that it's the 110th All Japan Kendo Martial-Arts Exhibition.

I live a short stroll from this place, so it's a shame that it's taken me 10 years to make a visit. I had no idea [...]


View full post »
Obeisance To Tradition

I've been feeling remarkably unproductive of late, sorry. I'm hoping soon to have a proper post about the kendo ("Japanese fencing") event mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but for now here's one picture from it.

Continued here...


View full post »
The Thrill of Japan’s Biggest Waterwheel

While driving around the sparsely-populated coastal/mountain area of western Aomori Prefecture at the northern end of Japan's main island during a short family trip last week, in the middle of nowhere we suddenly came across something billing itself as "Japan's largest waterwheel".

It seemed at least a bit photogenic, so I stopped for a quick look.

The tree in the lower left of the photo above hosted the "Dark, Brooding Camellia" (乙女椿) that I posed last week.

The "dark brooding" was because of an underexposure. A shot soon after was way overexposed, but I think I recovered something interesting(?) in [...]


View full post »
Dark, Brooding Camellia

It's been a busy week. As I mentioned in my previous post, we took a weekend trip to Aomori in the far north of Japan's main island, and on the way home I came down with a cold. I'm finally feeling better today.

While driving around the mountainous coast of the far northwest corner of Japan's main island, I came across a tree full of beautiful Japanese camellia (otometsubaki · 乙女椿). They're not difficult to find, but pristine examples within easy reach and not molested by wind are a bit more difficult. I've gotten decent photos on only one other [...]


View full post »
Weekend in Shirahama, Japan: Day 1

この間、週末の旅行でパンダが多い白浜(和歌山県)に行きました。

As I mentioned the other day, we took a short weekend trip to Shirahama (白浜), in Wakayama Prefecture a three-hour drive south from Kyoto. We left on Friday after Anthony got home from school, so arrived late in the evening, giving us all of Saturday and most of Sunday to enjoy the area.

We had a nice hybrid Western/Japanese room at Hotel Laforet....

The area is known for its small white-sand beach, and for having pandas (in what I assumed was a zoo, but as we'll see in a later post, the pandas are at an amusement/nature park). It [...]


View full post »
A Few Cold/Blustery/Rainy Cherry-Blossom Pics from Southern Kyoto

Fumie had a ballet performance this weekend down in Nagaokakyo City, and I had some hours to kill after dropping her off for the pre-performance rehearsal, so I met up with some friends to visit some local sites with the camera.

この間の日曜日、長岡京市の桜を見に行きました。雨と風の間にちょっぴり撮影できました。

The weather was unpleasant (cold, rainy, and windy), but there was a brief respite just as I was arriving.

The little lake between the road and the shrine has a series of boardwalks on it, and it seems that they were all recently rebuilt with bare wood....

I'd think it'd look better with some nice stain, but perhaps [...]


View full post »