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Silent Japan: The Images – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a series of blog posts on the images that were featured in my recent Silent Japan photography exhibition.

The following image titled “Autumn Leaf, Kanazawa, Honshu, Japan. 2009” was taken along a sidewalk.  My wife noticed the leaf which had fallen onto a shrub by the road side and pointed it out to me as we walked by.  I liked the contrast between the large autumn leaf vs the small leaves of the shrub and took a photo.  For me, a large part of photography is noticing things that are “normal” and “ordinary” and recognising that through photography, something “unique” and “extraordinary” can emerge.  I can have the best equipment available and have the best technical knowledge but if I can’t “see”, the photographs I produce will still be crappy.  On the other hand, there is no doubt in my mind that equipment and technique is important as they provide the means for me to achieve what I envision when I make photographs.  But ultimately, the creative part of photography or the way I see things, is what keeps photography fresh for me.

The following two images “Pier at Dusk, Lake Ashi, Honshu, Japan. 2009” and “Runaway Swan, Lake Ashi, Honshu, Japan. 2009” were taken at Lake Ashinoko at Hakone.  When I visited the lake, it was nice and misty with the mist flowing slowly across the surface of the lake.  Strange or extreme weather always makes for interesting photos so I was quite happy with the mist even though it prevented me from seeing Mount Fuji.  I had quite interesting comments on the image of the Runaway Swan during the exhibition.  One person was drawn to the image because he had read that swans have life partners (i.e. once they find a mate, they stay as a pair for life).  To him, the lone swan in the image represented a widow or widower.  Another person that I spoke to at the exhibition said that he felt that the lone swan reflected a person who did not want to conform to the norms of society.  It’s always interesting to hear peoples’ interpretations of my images.  The Runaway Swan image was surprisingly one of the images that sold more than one copy.

The following image “One and two half stones, Tokyo, Honshu, Japan. 2008” was taken in front of the imperial palace in Tokyo.  When I was there, it was very crowded with many locals and tourists milling around.  A row of stones caught my eye and I composed the image and waited to make sure no feet were inside the image before pressing the shutter button.  Without the presence of people, the whole mood and look of the stones changes.  Having one and two half stones instead of just one stone or just two stones also changes the feel of the image (see the last 2 images).  One stone alone or two stone side by side looks very static to me.  Having one and two half stones creates a more dynamic feel.  To me, the half stones reflect continuity and causes the viewer to automatically extend the sequence of stones to the left and the right of the full center stone in his/her mind.