Archive for the 'Desktop Backgrounds' Category

Posts with desktop-background images I’ve made

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.


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 [...]

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Photoshoot with Ikuko Among the Plum Blossoms, Part 1

The other day I did some photos with Ikuko-san, the friend we saw quite differently last month in "An Apprentice-Geisha Photoshoot Quite Unlike Any Other". This time we could see her normal self.


You'll perhaps recognize this scene from last month's "The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine". She, too, was drawn to the many lanterns...

Before we got into the photography in earnest, she wanted to pay her respects (as described in the many-lanterns post).

And since we were at one of the best spots in Kyoto for plum blossoms, I felt obliged to snap [...]

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A Few from the Plum Blossom Orchard at the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park


It's that time of year for blossoms of various sorts at Kyoto Gosho (the Imperial Palace Park). I've posted many times from there, including articles with an emphasis on the blossoms themselves and folks enjoying the blossoms and photos at 300mm and everything mixed together.

Today I knew a photographer friend was going to be there, so I stopped by for a bit while I was in the area on an errand.

Akiko is who I stopped by to say hi to. I'd met her a year and a half ago (during this outing) while she was on a [...]

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Plum Blossoms are Coming in in Kyoto

At Stéphane Barbery's suggestion that the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's plum were ripe for the photographic picking, I popped over for a quick 45-minute visit today. This is the same place I wrote about a week or so ago, both in "Kyoto Plum-Blossom Preview: Scenes From a Year Ago Today" where I talked about how Feb 22 was too early for the plum blossoms, and in the less blossom-centric post "The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine".

It was chilly (~10C / 50F), but a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere...

The shot above doesn't really "work" because the only [...]

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A Few Desktop Backgrounds from the Delightfully Whimsical Otaginenbutsuji Temple in Northwestern Kyoto

The New York Times Travel section recently published the article "36 Hours in Kyoto, Japan" (thanks Ed Pouso for the link), and one of the locations the author visited is the delightful Otaginenbutsuji Temple (愛宕念仏寺) in the northern Arashiyama area of Kyoto.

I thought it was a missed opportunity that the article didn't include a photo from the temple, which reminded me that although I've visited the temple twice, in both the spring and fall of 2012, I'd not yet gotten around to posting anything. My own missed opportunity, of which my photo catalog holds so many. Sigh. So until [...]

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The Many Lanterns and Overwhelming Sumptuousness of the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) in northern Kyoto is perhaps best known for its huge plum-blossom orchard, but in looking over the photos I've yet to publish from a visit a year ago, I realize that there's so much more to show. So today we'll shift concentration away from the blossoms, and continue with the non-blossom theme that yesterday's post ended with.

All the photos on this post are from a visit a year ago yesterday.

The shrine has many buildings, but the main building is difficult to miss in its sumptuousness. As is common at shrines, there's a big [...]

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Kyoto Plum-Blossom Preview: Scenes From a Year Ago Today

I've been thinking that it's about time for a "spring blossom preview" post, to look forward to the many plum, peach, and cherry blossoms that the calendar will soon bring to Kyoto, and when I dip into my photo archive, lo and behold I find that it was exactly a year ago today that I visited the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) and its famous (but only just starting to bloom) plum grove.


I've already posted the following from that visit:

Plum Orchard at the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine: Not Quite Prime Time More Budding Plum From the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine [...]
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From the Garden to the House at the Seifuso Villa

Slowly making progress from the outing already seen in:

Entrance Foyer to the Seifuso Villa in Kyoto Approaching the Tea House Between the Tea House and the Garden

(with photos also appearing here and here).

In the previous post we had finally reached the garden, so now we'll take a short walk through it...

The light was pretty difficult that day, quickly changing from brilliantly harsh to utterly dull. The shot above is from a latter moment, stylized a bit in Lightroom.

(By the way, I've come to the conclusion that when I say "the light was difficult", I [...]

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On the Approach to the Todaiji Temple in Nara

Dipping into the largely-untapped reservoir of things I want to post about, here are some pictures from a December 2012 visit to the Todaiji Temple (東大寺) in Nara, about an hour's train ride south of Kyoto. I posted a bit from that trip in "That Massive Column in Nara’s Todaiji Temple Is Nothing To Sneeze At", but it's a visually rich place, so I've been wanting to post much more.

I'd made the trip to take some pictures for a friend who is the author of Lonely Planet's "Japan" guidebook. A few of the photos from this trip made it [...]

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Sipping Sake and Seeing Silly Signs: Visiting Kyoto’s Sake-Brewing Area

I recently made my first trip to the area of southern Kyoto historically known for its sake production, which likely dates back thousands years. Written on the cup above is "月桂冠" (Gekkeikan), the name of a sake-brewing company founded in 1639.

Gekkeikan sake is ubiquitous in Japan. Here you see its name on barrels outside a temple in the area...

It's my understanding that the (certainly-empty) barrels of sake represent a monetary donation from the brewery, to match what in olden times was an actual gift of sake. In either case, the brewery gets advertisement and good karma.

This particular [...]

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Continuing with the Seifuso Villa: Between the Tea House and the Garden

Dipping my pen again into the very deep well that was November's visit to the Seifuso Villa (清風荘) in Kyoto, today's post has a bit more from early on in the visit first seen in "Entrance Foyer to the Seifuso Villa in Kyoto".

I vacillate on whether the photo above is of interest. I've deleted it (and then undeleted it) several times.

I showed the garden's formal tea house in "Approaching the Tea House at Kyoto’s Seifuso Villa". Near it are a few small buildings loosely connected with shared outside passageways.... one building being a prep room for the staff, [...]

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Finally Back in Kyoto, January 2014 Edition

I'm finally back in Kyoto.

My blog posts about my transpacific trips are normally simple affairs, such as (for example) this Kyoto-to-Ohio post from 2007, but the return trip from my trip to Ohio this year has been quite the ordeal, covered so far with:

Doh! Got to the Airport a Day Early to Find my Flight Delayed Four Days Finally Got My Return Flight Rescheduled Continuing Saga of My Return to Japan: Flight Canceled Again To No One’s Surprise, United Blames My Non-Weather Cancellations on Weather Halfway Home: Overnighting in San Francisco

The first four posts were of dread [...]

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More Frost Patterns from Arctic Ohio

Here are some more frost patterns from arctic Ohio, following up from the one I posted the other day. It was -10°F (-23°C) with strong biting wind when I took these, by hand, outside in the wind, up hill both ways. According to the image data, I lasted two minutes 10 seconds before I couldn't stand the pain in my fingers any more and gave up: considering that I had heavy insulated gloves, it's a testament to either just how very cold it was, or how very wimpy I am. Probably both.

I tried a variety of processing on these [...]

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Pretty Frost Pattern on a Window

Despite having heavy insulated waterproof gloves, I could handle the camera for only three minutes outside in the -10°F (-23°C) deep freeze that Ohio and much of the US had yesterday. It was just too painful for my fingers. The heavy, gusty, biting wind certainly didn't help.

(Today was different; 20°F (-7°C) never felt so warm.)

To be continued...

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Goldfinches in a Light Snow

Lots of goldfinches at the feeders at my folks' place in Ohio. During the summer they're brilliant yellow (as seen in "Goldfinches on a Feeder" a few years ago), but they're less vibrant during the winter.

I didn't bring many lenses on this trip... I would have liked the 70-200, but I made do with the Voigtländer 125mm and some cropping. Good birding pics are very difficult and I certainly don't have the skill, but these are fine for me.

The bush was just a staging ground for the feeders. They'd all cleared away when I stepped out, and were [...]

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Holy Cow, iOS 7 Has Some Really Horrible Design

The user-interface (UI) design of iOS 7 seems to be of the radical variety. Not quite as radical as the initial iPhone was to the cell-phone world at the time, but also not as universally lauded. A lot of people really hate iOS 7.

(Except the first, the photos on this page have nothing to do with the text; they're just random photos I've taken recently.)

Until recently I'd never actually used iOS 7, but from seeing it in news and advertisements over the last few months, I knew I didn't like the new look. The same aesthetic that [...]

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Thank You Skype for Not Sucking, and For Saving my Afternoon

I've been feeling remarkably lazy about writing lately, sorry.

My wife and I were in a travel agency the other day (here in Kyoto, Japan) to purchase some pricey tickets for some upcoming family travel, and since it was a lot to put on the credit card at once, I had called ahead to my US-based credit card to let them know the charge was coming so that it would go through smoothly.

Of course, while standing there at the travel agency office, the transaction was denied. Sigh.

I couldn't call The States with the travel agent's phone, so we [...]

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Geometric Views from the Miho Museum

I've spent the weekend since having posted "Visiting the Miho Museum" trying (and failing) to fight off a cold, but I seem to be slowly recovering today, so today we have a simple post, of a bunch of geometric-ish images from my visit to the museum, presented in the order I took them (with the exception of the first two images being swapped).

These first two from the tunnel leading to the museum have been processed with differing white-balance settings for dramatic effect. The one above is processed so that the sunlight streaming in is white, turning the incandescent lights [...]

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Approaching the Tea House at Kyoto’s Seifuso Villa

The Seifuso Villa (清風荘) near Kyoto University was a private residence for centuries before being donated to Kyoto University in the 1950s, which now preserves it as a cultural treasure. Thanks to the kindness of a friend who teaches at the university, I was able to take a tour of the villa last week.

This simple gate is on a path that leads to a small tea house where the resident might meet afternoon callers of sufficient distinction to merit such a setting.

Careful inspection of the ground under the edges of the roof that would otherwise be moss shows [...]

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A Temple with Extra Restrictions on Photography is Now My Favorite Kyoto Temple

This is a followup to yesterday's post with photos from the Hokyo-in Temple in Kyoto, a temple with some of the most harsh, restrictive anti-photography policies I've ever encountered.

On one end of the spectrum are places that allow even tripods, such as the Yoshiminedera temple. Moving along toward more restrictions, the Heian Shrine allows tripods, but only if you pay a ¥2,000 (about US$20) fee. Most places don't allow the use of tripods at all, but the Hokyo-in Temple featured yesterday doesn't even allow you to have a tripod in your possession. Even if securely sequestered in your backpack, [...]

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