Home > gear talk, kyoto > Slow days in Kyoto

Slow days in Kyoto

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments
Koi - Click the image to see todays photos

Koi - Click the image to see todays photos

I apologize to you all for the delay in posting an update that includes some of my more recent Kyoto photos.  Right after I returned from Kyoto I had to (got to?) go to Hawaii for a business meeting.  While in Hawaii I managed to catch a nasty cold and have been pretty well sapped for energy ever since.  I feel like I am starting to get the best of it, but I’m still plagued by a nasty persistent cough which just doesn’t seem to want to end.

But enough about that.  Let me now tell you a little bit about Kyoto.

I can’t quite remember how many times I have been to Kyoto so far, and up till this trip I always made sure to hit Kiyomizu Temple, and a few other of the more famous places.  And almost every days worth of shooting was always to be capped off by a few hours in Gion shooting Maiko and Geiko.

But on this trip I decided to take it slower.

Maybe I needed a break more than the last times.  Work has been quite taxing as of late.

Or maybe I just wanted a different experience.  Whatever the reason, I kind of surprised myself by not seeing Kiyomizu Temple, or Kinkakuji at all.  What’s even more surprising is that I only went to Gion once, spending only about 90 minutes there.

In addition to changing my normal  sightseeing routine, I also seemed to unconsciously change my shooting style as well.  After all is said and done, I figure I shot about 60% – 70% less photos that I normally would during a 5 day trip to Kyoto.  There was only one day when I had to actually poop in a fresh memory card, with an 8 GB card usually lasting me all day and then some.

This is not to say that I was not enjoying myself.  Quite the contrary actually.  I had a marvelous time and felt like I truly relaxed and unwound during that week.  Much more so in fact that on my previous trips to that part of Japan.

I know some of you were wondering why I decided to drop my original plan to shoot medium format this time.  The reason I did it was mainly due to the weight difference between carrying a medium format kit versus an SLR kit.  And I definitely made the right decision to go with the lighter of the two.

Since I had ran a half-marathon race on the same day that I left for Kyoto, my legs (right knee mostly) were definitely the worse for wear.  During the first two days of my trip I could definitely feel that I was pushing myself a bit too hard so soon after the race.  This forced me to take little breaks here and there, and I think that is was these  forced pauses that allowed me to down-shift into an overall lower gear and slow down, taking in more of the view with my naked eyes, and less of it through the viewfinder off my camera.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it reminded me not just look at something, but to also to take the time to really “see” it.

Thanks go out to Tregix for remindding to bring it all back to basics.

For those of you that are interested, here is what I ended up taking to Kyoto:

Nikon D700
Nikon 35mm f2
Nikon 50mm f1.4
Nikon 85mm f1.4
Voigtlander 58mm f1.4
Voigtlander 40mm f2
Tamron 28-300mm VC

I also ended up buying the following two lenses while I was there since I found great deals on both of them:
Tamron 28-75mm f2.8
Nikon 180mm f2.8

Categories: gear talk, kyoto
  1. Justin
    December 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    WOW. Beautiful pictures. I particularly like the incense and the shout out from inside the temple. I can’t believe how shallow the depth of field is on that incense picture, just amazing.

    I am still interested is seeing what the medium format can do, and if you have a film back for it, how the film and digital compare. Maybe you will have to plan that for a more local trip, like Kamakura, where the extra weight won’t be a back breaker…

  2. December 12, 2009 at 3:14 am


    I have been following your blog for quite a while and always enjoy your production and posts, thanks a lot for sharing and congrats on the very nice images.

    As a japan-based amateur photographer myself, I would love to share a beer/umeshu next year if you have time, do not hesitate to drop me a line by email when it is convenient for you.

    Best regards,


  3. Tregix
    December 13, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Jeff, I’m happy that you did not take my post in a bad way.

    Your Kyoto photos are excellent. Genuine Suishicam style: Saturated colors yet simple and elegant pictures. Bravo.



  4. December 13, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Wow Jeff, you blow my mind! Especially the Maiko and the plum branch (is it a plum?) are astonishing! Indeed it seems slightly different than your usual style.
    I can relate to your “seeing things”. Sometimes when I am in Taiwan, I to tend to just shoot away, and it is good to sometimes just sit down and watch the world go by. It is at these moments that you can almost see someone’s life “where does that person go, where did he/she came from?”, and sometimes I feel myself pondering about the history of people and objects. It’s is quite an enlightening experience.

    As it turned out, I ended up postponing my trip to Japan. Work just does NOT allow me to take a break. In fact, I was forced to carry over a weeks worth of holidays to next year. But thank you for the suggestions you emailed me Jeff! I hope to go around easter in the coming year, hopefully I can catch some of the cherry blossoms. I also have a friend who now lives in Nagoya, which is a stone’s throw away from Kyoto, so I am also seeing opportunities there ^_^

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