This time of year always makes me a bit stir crazy. The days are short, it tends to be cold, and opportunities to go out are few and far between. Thankfully there is a huge park nearby so when an opportunity does arrive, we can be surrounded by greenery in as little as 20 minutes. These photos are from our last visit. It had just stopped raining and was threatening to do so again, and it was rather cold and windy. No worries! That didn't dampen our enthusiasm at all and the upside was having the park almost all to ourselves. Ah, it's one of my favourite places...
I've been feeling a little blue. Okay, maybe grumpy is a more appropriate word. I enjoyed the holidays but they weren't exactly restful and January has been pretty demanding. My computer is also playing with me and although now would be a perfect time to be editing photos from the past, it's not cooperating. Grrrr... Computer, your days are numbered!
Thankfully, in the midst of a cranky January my garden still manages to cheer me up. I have little time to give it these days, and it's cold out there besides, but despite the gloom of winter, things still continue to grow. Every morning, as I leave for work, I take a quick peek at my garden. Currently I have a few pansies and snapdragons blooming, and several camellia bushes and a jade plant that should start any day now.
However, what cheered me up most this week was this - the first plum blossom of the year. There is no real need to get excited since this is what plum trees usually do this time of year. Regardless, it is a harbinger of spring and although that may still be some time off, January, your days are numbered too!
TITLE: Utsukushigahara Morning
Some time ago my husband and I started spending part of our summers up in the Kiso Fukushima area of Japan. Not far away is the city of Matsumoto and so, on occasion, we would take a day trip to the city and do some exploring. One mid-afternoon, after a lovely day bicycling about, we sat in a coffee shop and discussed what to do next. I mentioned a place I had heard of, Utsukushigahara, but I didn't know much about it other than it was up in the mountains somewhere near Matsumoto and very beautiful. The lady at the next table interrupted us at this point. Yes, she said, you must go! She then proceeded to tell us how to get there and off we went. It took over an hour of driving on very windy, narrow roads up, up and up and we finally arrived at Utsukushigahara, the highest plateau in the Japanese alps. I was completely overwhelmed! The views were spectacular and I felt I was on top of the world - which, in a manner of speaking, I guess I was! We only had about 40 minutes to explore since we wanted to be off the mountain before it got completely dark and I got a little teary when we had to leave.
All this to say, that we returned a year later and stayed overnight. We were blessed with fantastic weather and woke up at 4:30 am to catch the sunrise and go for a walk. This was when this photo was taken. It remains one of the most memorable mornings of my life - the glorious feeling of beginning a new day surrounded by mountains and a sky that goes on forever...
By the way, that faded mountain to the right of the main mountain range you see?
That's Mt. Fuji.
WHAT I WAS THINKING:
I'll be honest. My camera was on auto. I had no idea what I was doing at the time and maybe that's a good thing. Here are the camera settings regardless.
I can always count on David DuChemin for encouragement and thoughtful advice regarding photography. I've been feeling a bit unfocused lately (no pun intended!) and so I especially appreciated his first blog post of the year, "10 Upgrades for 2019".
It's not what you think. David's 10 upgrades have nothing to do with gear. As he says:
Want better photographs? Of course you do. We all do. But it’s probably not our gear, or lack of it, or how old it is, that’s standing in the way: it’s our excuses and lack of creativity.
Make this the year you never once blame the camera. Make it the year you embrace whatever constraints the gear (or life) presents you with, and then get to work. Work around it or work with it. But work.
The gear you have is enough and probably will be for quite some time. Upgrade the photographer instead. It’ll be cheaper, less frustrating, and here’s what matters: it’ll be the one upgrade that changes both your experience of photographing and the photographs themselves.
Instead of talking about gear, David's 10 upgrades are about "upgrading the photographer" and making changes that will improve your photography regardless of what you are using. Ten upgrades may be a long list but the key, he says, is to pick one and enjoy the "freedom of doing that" instead of panicking about whether you need something bigger or faster or newer.
Ah, these were words I needed to hear. I'm not yet sure which upgrade I will focus on but I'm looking forward a new challenge. Thanks, David!
To read the original blog post, visit David's website (the link is below). He offers many useful resources for photographers as well.
All the best with your upgrading in 2019! (^.~)/
David DuChemin hompage: https://davidduchemin.com/
10 Upgrades for 2019: https://davidduchemin.com/2019/01/10-upgrades-for-2019/
(The image below is from David's blog post.)
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! May 2019 be filled with love, laughter and joy!
We woke up the first day of 2019 to gorgeous weather - not a cloud in the sky and highs of +10C. As usual we spent the morning with family and then went to visit a local shrine - one I have visited almost every year since I came to Japan over 30 years ago. I always feel nostalgic when we visit as the sights and smells bring back memories of my very early years in Japan. There is also a welcoming familiarity as we make our way through the grounds and festivities in a route we have perfected over the years. First the back entrance, then the open area to check the children doing the lion dance, then the bridge, then the shop selling "baby castella" (similar to doughnut holes), and then... Ah, the list goes on. It was a beautiful day to be out and about and a great day to begin a new year!
I took a few photos while we were there only to discover that my camera battery was on its very last legs and I, of course, had left everything back at the house. Ah well, isn't that the way! I did manage to eek about a few more photos from that dying battery and here are the results.
I'm a photographer based in Osaka, Japan. I love to take photographs. I like to share.