When it all came together
The season was right for the trees, the weather forecast was for a sunny day, and I had a free morning so I headed for Arashiyama. Leaving home while it was still dark, this time on my bike. Heading to the Hankyu station, catching two trains and arriving in Arashiyama just before sunrise, only to find that it was very grey, overcast and foggy. After waiting around for an hour and thinking the light was not going to improve, I headed back for the train station. When I almost got there, the sun came out, so I decided to stay longer in Arashiyama. This time, I walked further up along the river than I had been before, where I noticed this big tree. I also saw boats coming up and down the river so I waited for one to come along and got this shot. After this shot I headed back home feeling pretty confident that I had nailed it. After getting the film back from the lab (it takes a week for Velvia at my local photo place) I was pretty stoked. I thought I had reached photographic nirvana and Ritsuko was telling me to enter it in this years photo comp. Then I did a Google image search on Arashiyama and found similar images came up, so then I felt I have to work harder to shake myself out of photographic cliches.
The moment the light broke through
Some think of the very act of photography as a spiritual experience. Especially devotes to Zen, which has a philosophy of the interconnectedness of everything (including mechanical things) with the great universal spirit.
As a Christian I believe in a Creator God who made the universe, and for me being in nature observing things (regardless of whether I have my camera with me or not) is a chance to observe His handy work and marvel at it. There's also very much a faith element in photography, the very act of going out to take photos, is an act of faith that the light is going to be good and I get the shot I was looking for.
So now I want to share the story of this shot:- I finally had a free morning after a good while, so I decided to get up very early (4am). Get dressed in plenty of warm clothing. Grab the camera bag (already packed the night before). Walk 10 minutes to the train station in darkness at near freezing temperature. Catch three trains. Walk 1km up a mountain stopping to grab a snickers bar (breakfast) from a convenience store along the way. Pay a 300yen entry fee to a temple on the mountain, so I can get to a good viewing platform. All in the hope of catching a good sunrise! Then it happened, suddenly the most glorious golden light lit up the mountains to the west. It was only a brief moment and this photo doesn't really do it justice, but just watching the scene unfold was an awe inspiring experience that made the whole effort worth it.
The weather for the rest of the day was overcast and dull. As I caught a bus back to Kyoto and saw people looking sad and depressed on their way to work or school. I just thought if they had seen what I saw, maybe their moods could have been happier. Yes, the early bird really does catch the worms!
The weather was fine after a few days of rain, so we decided to go to the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park to take some portraits in front of the autumn foliage. It was a task and a half carrying the all gear on the crowed trains (D80 + SB600 + 3 Lenses + Tripod), and then dragging it all around the streets of Kawaramachi after the shoot trying to find some good Christmas decorations! Oh well we live and learn, next time no shopping trips after the shoot! I could have not brought two of the lenses, but they were the two smallest lenses in my collection so it wouldn't have reduced the weight by very much and I did get some other shots with them. It's just got me thinking maybe I need to invest in a good portrait lens that is smaller than the 70-300VR! Maybe an 85 f/1.8? And bring a third person to hold the flash rather than mounting it on tripod!
Once I got home and got everything up on the computer, I was pleased with the results that we got, here is one of Ritsuko.
The Gospel in Nagaokakyo
We made it through all of the seasons. The bone chilling cold winter, the spectacular spring, the sweltering hot humid summer, and the mild weather of autumn. Add a typhoon, and a couple of Earthquakes, for good measure. Then there's been the almost total change of diet, lifestyle and careers. So the 8th of November marks exactly one year we have been in Japan and it was cause to celebrate with a bit of a photo.
It was a big step of faith to come here, but we came so that others may know the hope that we have. After one year I can testify that when you step out in faith, God works in so many wonderful and miraculous ways. Not only was it our one year anniversary here, but on the very same day, there "just happened" to be a festival in honour of one of Nagaokakyo's first Christians: Hosokawa Gracia (pronounced "Garasha" in Japanese).
Part of the Garasha Matsuri (festival) was a procession of people dress as historical figures from her era, through the streets of Nagaokakyo. The lady pictured is playing the part of Garasha.
We'd also like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us in so many ways over this year, including: prayer, correspondence, visiting, giving us gifts and providing financial support. God Bless you all.