What I’ll Miss About Living In Japan

I only have 2 months left until I’m scheduled to move back home to Seattle. I guess it’s only in times of distress (relative) that you really start to see what’s around for what seems like the first time. Thankfully, I haven’t taken much for granted, but it’s still a reminder that this life I’ve lived for the last 4 years will be gone all too soon. I suppose it’s also human nature to always want what you can’t have or miss what you’re not going to see. All too often it’s easy to get enveloped in this wallowing, but luckily for me being behind my camera always gets me moving away from this before too long.

Ever since I got serious about photography, the way I see the world has changed dramatically, mostly for the better, though sometimes for worse. Less and less I’m looking for “things” to take as much I chase color around, especially natural light. Mostly sunrise and sunset, since that’s when anything really interesting happens. Yet, as a photographer, you’re always liable to fall into the trap, the trap of missing the forest for the trees. Of “seeing” but not really seeing.

What I mean, is that you forget to enjoy something for itself. You get so involved with trying to take a picture that you don’t realize you only live for 80 or 90 years; that you may never see a sunrise or sunset in just the same way; that this moment – exactly this one – will never come again, no matter how hard you wish it.

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to lower the camera from my eye and soak in the moment. Most of the time my breath catches when I realize just how majestic the world looks through the lens of the human eye: The perfect gradation of color; the fact that our eyes balance out highlights and shadows naturally and perfectly, at the same time in the same scene. It’s what we see through our own two lenses that we try so hard to recapture on film, to recreate in a digital image.

Just last week, after coming back from the beach I was able to catch a truly amazing sunset, right outside my house. It was one of those things that constantly amazes – you can take one step out your door and the world around is suddenly a different, and more magical, place than it was just seconds earlier.

And that is what I’ll miss about living in Japan.

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I took all of these pictures with my telephoto lens, the EF 70-200 f/2.8. Instead of trying to capture all of the scene I wanted to compress the fiery red color that was covering the sky, making it impactful and memorable.

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Reflection of color in the rice field. Patterns and colors like this fascinate me to no end.

Fire In The Sky, Reflected

Zooming out I was able to catch more of the scene, namely the power lines and towers. I really enjoy the way they cast perpendicular and parallel lines all over my pictures. I know some people hate when they “get in the way” (heck I do too sometimes!) but it’s all too easy to dismiss them when sometimes they enhance and accentuate the composure and composition of a picture.

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This is when things got interesting. The first plane had streaked “through” the tower by the time I made it out to the main road to grab some shots.

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The 2nd plane coming through. I call this photo “Sky Lines”. What interests me most is the combination of the gradation from orange to blue and the sets of parallel lines running across the frame.

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I cropped in on the 2nd plane as it jetted through the maroon sky. The way the streaking clouds turn orange is just amazing.

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Eventually four planes would make their way across the evening sky. I was blown away by the fact that they were all going in the same direction.

Laser Beams

“Laser beams”, or some other kind of sci-fi description would fit this photo well.

Crescent Sky

After the sunset I was treated to this moon rise. The moon was just a sliver of a crescent moon, but the orange color against a dusky blue sky made for an amazing sight.

Moonrise Over the Temple Roof

Finally, moonrise over a local temple. The shapes of shadows is also something I love to play with. Lines, shapes, colors, light and dark, I think I’m finally starting “see” in new ways that intrigue me and really fuel my passion and desire to get out and photograph the strange events that chronicle our daily lives. These 10 pictures were all I took but I feel like they more than capture what I’ve experienced these last 4 years in Japan. I will surely miss the spontaneity and the photo opportunities gained just from stepping outside my house (let alone driving five hours down to the coast of Wakayama!) but I’ll take what I’ve learned, and keep that with me long after I’ve come and gone.

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3 thoughts on “What I’ll Miss About Living In Japan

  1. I really enjoyed this entry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts–and your amazing pictures. I hope to stay in touch with you! 大学院での、ご成功を祈ってます。

  2. Great blog entry my friend. Awesome photos as well. When you make it back state side, let’s take the cameras & camcorders to venture out on a few road trips! Several of my friends were inspired by my trip along the west coast that now we’re all planning to do more of them.

    Thus far, I think Glacier National Park in Montana is on the list along with Friday Harbor.

    – David in Seattle

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