Arashiyama Bamboo Grove…

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights and for good reason; standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world.

Arashiyama Lights

Arashiyama Lights

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28 mm, 1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

The Bamboo Grove would have to be one of the most photographed locations in Kyoto. It’s very difficult however to capture the true majesty of these towering stems amidst the sprawling groves which spread out across miles of farmland. Even the way the light filters down through the foliage from above has this special quality.

It would have been awesome to be able to shoot here in optimal conditions. As it was I was here in the middle of a clear blue sky day with tens of thousands of other tourists. It was just about impossible to get any shots which didn’t include large crowds of people. Rather than truly experiencing the beauty and serenity of the location. It was more like sheep milling through the pens :).

Bamboo Grove

Bamboo Grove

NIKON D750 + 15 mm f/2.8 @ 15 mm, 1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

Still it’s a very impressive place. I’d of course love to come back one day – perhaps early in the morning on an overcast day and really do it justice :).

Arashiyama…

Arashiyama (嵐山) is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. The area is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall colour seasons.

The Togetsukyo Bridge is Arashiyama’s well known, central landmark. Many small shops, restaurants and other attractions are found nearby, including a number of temples and Arashiyama’s famous bamboo groves.

Arashiyama

Arashiyama

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48 mm, 1/80 sec at f/9, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.

The Togetsukyo Bridge (literally “Moon Crossing Bridge”) is Arashiyama’s most iconic landmark. It was originally built during the Heian Period (794-1185) and most recently reconstructed in the 1930s. The bridge looks particularly attractive in combination with the forested mountainside in the background. A riverside park with dozens of cherry trees is located just adjacent to the bridge. Unfortunately the blossoms were all gone by the time we were visiting.

Togetsukyo Bridge

Togetsukyo Bridge

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 38 mm, 1/200 sec at f/8, ISO 100 x 13 Frames

This panorama encompassing a view which spans both directions on the bridge was taken near the middle of the walk across. Here it is presented as a stitched panorama consisting of thirteen (13) vertical frames taken handheld.

The Stage…

The popular expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression “to take the plunge”. This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived; the practice is now prohibited :).

The Stage

The Stage

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/50 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.

Empty Passages

Empty Passages

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/20 sec at f/11, ISO 100

It’s not an ideal location (light wise) for a sunrise shoot. The sun rises here behind the mountain behind us so the temple itself stays in shadow long after the sun has risen. This makes it hard to photograph with the buildings in darkness whilst the sky, horizon and city are brightly lit.

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/640 sec at f/11, ISO 100

The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes). The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year’s and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.

Rising Light

Rising Light

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/1250 sec at f/11, ISO 100

I’d been here for 80 minutes since it had opened and very few people had arrived in that time which was great. At 7:30AM the early morning visitors were starting to arrive so it was time for me to leave – exit the stage left :).

Kiyomizu Dera Dawn…

Kiyomizu dera was founded in 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure.

Kiyomizu Dera Dawn

Kiyomizu Dera Dawn

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 1/60 sec at f/10, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.

It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers. Of course this time without the crowds I should definitely give this a try myself :).

Magic Water

Magic Water

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 1/25 sec at f/11, ISO 100

It was so excellent having the entire place essentially to myself. By day the crowds are 20 deep and you can barely move. At 6AM there’s almost no-one here at Kiyomizu Dera. It’s peaceful and calm – which is as it really should be at a Buddhist temple :).

Above the Cherry Blossoms

Above the Cherry Blossoms

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 1/40 sec at f/10, ISO 100

The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city.

The Sunrise Verandah

The Sunrise Verandah

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 56 mm, 1/320 sec at f/16, ISO 100

Heaven Sent…

Sometimes luck is on your side. As it was this evening with this image, Heaven sent.

Heaven Sent

Heaven Sent

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 3 sec at f/8, ISO 200

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images.

I was shooting the projections on St Mary’s Cathedral and had finished my insanely close ultra wide 12mm variants. I’d decided to move back for a longer view with a longer lens. I was just switching to the 24-70 when it started to sprinkle.

I’m not sure why I didn’t pack up there and then but I decided to persevere even with the light rain. I didn’t have my wet weather camera gear with me so I wasn’t going to stay long anyway if it got heavier.

Less than two minutes later we got some huge flashes of lightning and then it really began to pour.

I was taking a frame at the time and even though it was only a few seconds long I managed to get the main two strikes in the frame. In a stroke of even better fortune as you can see it “looks” like the strike is directly in line with one of the main spires of my church. It really was Heaven sent.

Satisfied I quickly moved for cover as the rain started to pelt down.

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone and my best wishes for the year ahead.