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Archive for the 'Vertical Desktop Backgrounds' Category

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

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 [...]


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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 [...]


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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. [...]


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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 [...]


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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 [...]


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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 [...]


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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 [...]


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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 [...]


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Scenes from the 2014 Kyoto Higashiyama Lightup

夕べ、友達と一緒に京都東山花灯路を見に行きました、6年ぶりで。光源と影の間の明るさが大きすぎたので、撮影がなかなか難しかったです。

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.

今日の写真はちょうど一年前(去年の二月二十二日)北野天満宮(京都市)で撮った写真です。

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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