Japan - photographer's obstacles
I am writing this post few weeks after coming back from a great trip in Japan. We experienced lots of visually amazing places, especially in Kyoto, a city full of history and spirituality, however it was extremely difficult to achieve the images that we were looking for.
I am not blaming anybody here. We should have done our homework better and be aware of this scheduling issue and maybe pick up some alternate locations.
So what have we done to overcome all of those? We were just waking up before 5, grabbed a snack early in the morning and a coffee from the selling machine (big mistake, don't do that, that sugary warm liquid with a vague hint of coffee will spoil your taste for coffee forever), took the earliest train/metro and be there as early as possible. Or took a taxi if no train/metro/bus goes close enough or early enough. That's what we did in Kyoto 3 mornings in a row, shooting at Fujimi Inari, Gion and Arashiyama bamboo grove.
It went just fine with Fujimi Inari - took the first train from Kyoto station on Nara line (it helped that our hotel was located 5 minutes walking from the station) and we were there way before sunrise; we shot when the lights were on (although I personally liked more the shots from 15 minutes later with the lights turned off). There were few people, some early birds like us, some locals that wanted to enjoy the spirituality of the place in the morning and one annoying Asian girl that after asking if she can take a shot next to me just jumped right in front of my camera to take a phone selfie, right after I started a 30 seconds exposure.
Everything was perfect with Gion. There was a bit of misunderstanding with the taxi driver between Yasaka - jinja (the shrine one kilometer away) and Yasaka - dori (the street where we wanted to go), but all turned out fine after he got the right place. We have done the scouting the day before, we were at the exact place before morning blue hour, no other fellow shooter being there. Just few locals that greeted us with a "Konichiwa".
The bamboo grove on the other hand was almost a miss. We were there 3 days before, and we only found a small circular area, with nice lighting were a Japanese wedding shooting was taking place. However, we missed the famous path, photographed by million and million of people. So we arrived in the morning and the round area was behind a big lock; a group of Indonesian people (I think) came right after us, waiting calmly outside. We thought it will gonna be opened soon, so we decided to wait. But while waiting we googled on the phone, finding out that actually the place we were after was a different one, so we headed there as quick as possible. We could hardly managed to get few shots (not the exact scene we wanted to shoot, due to other photographers shooting from the end of the path with longer lens) before the group of Indonesians found the path as well and spread all over like they owned the place, screwing up everybody's chance to photograph anything anymore. But we got some good shots at least so the morning was not totally wasted.
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