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Autumn Colours in Kyoto

Autumn Colours in Kyoto

Autumn Colours in Kyoto

The Tenryuji Temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama area is a peaceful temple complex with spectacularly beautiful gardens.

The ponds provide stunning reflections, and in the bright middle of the day light, I found that eliminating sky and focusing on colours and the reflections made for stunning images.

This is a great complex that is worth spending time exploring and finding images that talk to you.

‘Serenity’ was that message that I took from the Tenryuji Temple and gardens, and this was the feeling I was aiming to evoke in my images.

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom
Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To

Yasaka no To is a pagoda in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district that is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the city.

The picturesque pagoda, coupled with the adjacent old-style streets, makes it very popular for photographers, tourists and locals alike, and by day you would be hard-pressed to find an angle without dozens of people throughout the scene.

There are a couple of ways of dealing with these crowds:

  1. Ignore them, and in fact embrace them in your images;
  2. Remove them from the scene in post-processing; or
  3. Get up early and capture the streets with no one in them in the first place!

The third option was obviously what I did with this image, and I am really happy with the result. Not only did I get the images that I had in my mind’s eye, I was also able to have the experience of wandering these lovely streets and having them all to myself!

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC
Arashiyama

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a must see site when visiting Kyoto, Japan.

On the edge of the city, Arashiyama is a natural bamboo forest. To have the best experience I recommend you make the effort to get up early—sunrise early—to beat the crowds.

The other advantage of getting the early is to avoid the overly bright skies breaking through the peaks of the bamboo. You can get a more balanced light. Even at 0730, around the time of this image, you can see the bright sky.

Take the time to enjoy the location, capture scenes big and intimate, and soak up the tranquility.

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Gazing up to the Pagoda

Gazing up to the Pagoda

Gazing up to the Pagoda

The Churieto Pagoda in Japan’s Kawaguchiko region is one of the more famous landmarks in the region, particularly because there is a classic view of the pagoda with Fuji-san in the background—and often with sakura (cherry blossoms) flowering.

An alternative and less common view of the pagoda is from beneath. In fact, the fact that the pagoda can make such a stunning foreground interest object to the distant Fuji-san means that few take the time to appreciate the pagoda for its own elegance.

To be honest, the fact that during our visit to the region in September 2018 Fuji-san was hidden behind clouds forced me to take a look at the pagoda itself in more detail. So we spent more time walking arond the structure and capturing it from different angles than we otherwise might have. Don’t let the sky here fool you—while it seemed relatively clear from this angle, Fuji-san, behind me, was completely hidden in the clouds.

One detail is the offerings left at the altar in front of that gate—I deliberately did not remove the water bottle because it is a feature of the respect paid by those that visited.

So the story remains—irrespective of the conditions at a photo site, look around and enjoy the overall detail of the scene. There is beauty in most scenes, and it is up to us to find it!

Image Data

  • C: Panasonic Lumix DC-G9
  • L: Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4
  • E: Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC

View this image in my Photo Gallery or on Flickr

Finding Fuji-san

Finding Fuji-san

We visited Japan in September 2018, and we were greeted with typical September in Japan weather—overcast and often rainy. Kind of what you might expect when you visit in the latter part of the typhoon season.

One of our goals was to take in some of the spectacular views of Fuji-san, but the weather certainly limited our options. You have to approach this kind of objective with a healthy sense of humour, a dose of persistence, and planning to give yourself the best chance of winning.

In an effort get great views, we booked a few nights at Kawaguchiko, a famous location for views of Japans iconic mountain. Having three nights here meant we had maximum chance of seeing Fuji-san, and we got to stay in a nice Japanese style hotel in a really beautiful part of Japan.

One of our goals was to see (and photograph) the famous vista taking in the Chureito Pagoda, with Fuji-san in the background. Instead we got stunning views of the pagoda against a dramatic sky. Happy with the image, and will have to go back for the iconic view.

Chureito Pagoda

On the second day we took a trip up the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway more for the experience and views of the lake, not really expecting to see Fuji-san. Happily we were greeted with our first glimpses of the mountain, peeking out from behind the clouds.

First Glimpse of Fuji

On the third day I got up at sunrise and walked down to the Lakeside from the hotel, hoping to see Fuji-san, but expecting to shoot the lake. I was greeted with this view, and worked hard to find a scene that had a beautiful reflection.

Reflections of Fuji-san

One of the keys of landscape photography is the willingness to spend at least a few days at any one location, maximising your chances of getting the shot.

So I was pretty happy with this.

Now its clear that visiting in September means that you are visiting in Autumn, and the iconic snow peaks of Fuji-san are mostly melted, and of course you have higher chances of overcast weather. On the plus side, crowds were small.

Every season has something to offer, and I am very happy with the beautiful reflections of an iconic mountain.

Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle

Shuri Castle - former home of the Ryukyu Kingdom
Shuri Castle is a reconstruction of the original castle of the king of the Ryukyu Kingdom – an independent country (that paid tribute to both China and Japan) until 1879.

This image was made on our trip to Japan in 2005. Although I had lived in Japan for almost two years in the early 90’s, this was my first trip to Okinawa – homeland of karate.

This image is part of my Photos of the Day album, which can be viewed in high resolution at http://photos.desparoz.com.

A Cold War with China? ⟶

A Cold War with China? ⟶

In today’s Australian Financial Review: China rebuffs Australia-US ‘Cold War style’ co-operation (paywall).

…China’s ambassador to Australia, Chen Yu­ming, told The Australian Financial Review there was too much emphasis on the strengthening of military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region and not enough on the pressing economic difficulties which meant countries like the US, China, Europe and Japan had to work closely together.

Has the European Union finally become a country?

China’s relationships with other countries is clearly a touchy subject. Disputes with Japan over ownership of the Senkaku Islands (known as the Daioyu Islands by the Chinese), and other disputes over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea are at least part of the United States’ Pivot to Asia.

But I think it is realistic that the pivot is more about trade, economics and diplomatic relations.