Archive for the 'Vertical Desktop Backgrounds' Category

Photos appropriate for a vertically-oriented screen (a screen that’s taller than it is wide)

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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Scenes from the 2014 Kyoto Higashiyama Lightup


Yesterday after seeing the plum blossoms in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park, I made a trip out to see the annual Kyoto Higashiyama Lightup. It was the first time since 2008, when I posed a report in two parts.

As I tried to take photos, I remembered why I skipped it all these years... the difference between the dark of the evening and the brightness of the lanterns and other displays is just way too much for a camera to do anything reasonable with, unless you move to HDR and its often unearthly results. (Unearthly results can be quite [...]

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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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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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An Apprentice-Geisha Photoshoot Quite Unlike Any Other

And that last picture provides the first real clue that this girl is not the maiko (apprentice geisha) that she otherwise appears to be, because I don't think that a real maiko would flash the peace sign for a passer's-by photo like this.

February 3rd is the cultural holiday setsubun, known for bean throwing, the warding off of evil spirits, and some Shinto rites that involve intense bonfires.

There's also an old tradition, fallen out of popularity in recent decades and now mostly unknown to the younger generations, of transforming your appearance for the day into something you're not... if [...]

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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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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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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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Photos of Farming in Japan for Captain Bill

I popped down to South Carolina to visit my brother Alan and to join him in a road trip back up to Ohio, and on the flight last night I sat next to an off-duty pilot for US Airways who lives on a 250-acre farm in Ohio and commutes to his flight hub in Charlotte for work. We had a nice chat.

He knows nothing of Japan, and enjoys farming, so I thought I'd put a post of random "farming in Japan" photos for him. It's somewhat of a challenge to find appropriate (but still unpublished) shots among the 130,000 [...]

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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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Fall Foliage at Kyoto Arashiyama’s Hokyo-in Temple (with a wigglegram)

My first outing this season to partake of Kyoto's fall-foliage delights was on Friday, as I wrote about yesterday. The first stop was my first visit to the Hokyo-in Temple (宝筐院) in the Arashiyama area of western Kyoto.

The long path into the garden was quite photogenic, though it was difficult to get a shot that both avoided people in the photo and avoided annoying people while taking the photo, but within those constraints I did okay...

Yet, despite all the work to avoid people in the shots, I tend to like ones with people better, like the one at [...]

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This Season’s First Fall-Foliage Outing in Kyoto: Northern Arahiyama

Fall-foliage season, long over with in most of the Northern Hemisphere, is just getting into full swing in Kyoto. Throwing common sense to the wind, I dared to venture to the Arashiyama area of Kyoto yesterday (Friday), where the density of tourists during this season threatens to form a singularity. Adding to the mass of folks, I went with Paul Barr and Damien Douxchamps.

We limited ourselves to a few temples on the northern fringes of Arashiyama, and so we avoided the most oppressive crowds.

The first stop was my first visit to the Hokyo-in Temple (宝筐院), which includes a [...]

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The Hope Imbued in a Dull Sunset

Over the years I've posted many sunsets from the Shogunzuka Overlook (将軍塚) in eastern Kyoto, from spectacular to quiet but nice to the most common: downright bland. It's been a source of occasionally dynamic views for a long time, but the practical reality is that for every one time I show something from up there, I've visited and returned empty-handed many times.

Overall, the median experience is, basically, a waste of time.

I tend to keep track of the sky's potential for a nice sunset throughout the day, all while mentally juggling my schedule to see whether a trip up [...]

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Getting Back Out with the Camera a Bit

I'm still overwhelmingly steeped in Lightroom plugin development of late, but did get out with the camera a few times over the weekend. On Friday I met some friends visiting Kyoto, and in the shot above one is taking a photo of a stuffed bunny at the Heian Shrine (平安神 宮), as part of a project for a friend's daughter, showing the bunny in various situations around Japan.

Over Saturday and Sunday, I took a family trip to Iwakuni in western Japan to visit some relatives, and as part of the trip stopped by Miyajima Island (宮島) and its famous [...]

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Flower-Arranging Show at the Shouren’in Temple, 2013

I paid a visit today to the Shouren'in Temple (青蓮院) in Eastern Kyoto for a repeat of the Ikebana (生花; flower-arranging) event that last year produced all these posts:

Today's visit won't produce so much, but this post is a first run at some of the shots I took...

The light was really harsh today; somehow, it was better last year.

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Random Shots from a Kyoto Countryside Tour

I've tried getting this post done every day since "Little Pink Flowers" 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 days ago, but I keep getting caught up with Lightroom plugin work. I guess the balance between plugins and blog varies over time, with "blog" on the short end these days.

Anyway, the "Little Pink Flowers" post was from an outing a couple of weeks ago when I showed a visitor a bit around some of the fringe countryside areas of Kyoto. Our first stop was the Nishimura Stonecarver's garden, an amazing place that has its own category on my blog...

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Pretty Little Pink Flowers

The Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 macro lens certainly does love itself some tiny flowers, and in this regard I can only encourage it. I found these dainty pink things yesterday in a garden at the Sanzen-in Temple (三千院) in Ohara, a mountain suburb of Kyoto.

The flowers looked quite different depending on what angle you viewed them, and on what stage they were in life.

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