I have learned so many new things as we have been designing and implementing a Japanese-style garden here in Selah, Washington. The biggest thing that I have learned is how little I know and how much I need to learn. Studying and learning is a big part of the enjoyment that I am receiving from this project. Patience is a key element that I am balancing.
Walking through a Japanese garden is an adventure in discovery. To get to the point where this image is taken, I take a meandering stroll. I enter the garden from our driveway along a gentle bending path and come to a fork. I choose to walk up a gentle slope. The path curves upward to a wide level space where I pause to closely observe a brilliant yellow “Chief Joseph” limber pine. I turn around and see our pond in the distance. I continue to walk up the path to another wide area at the top of a stream. Again I pause to look over the now dry stream bed and over the valley below. After several moment, I cross a large basalt rock bridge over the stream. I turn to my right and see this vignette of the Kotoji and Yukimi lanterns. One leg of the Kotoji is anchored in the stream. The Yukimi is placed on a rock extending over the edge of the pond. On a bright day (without ice or snow covering the pond), I can see the reflection of the Yukimi on the pond. I feel like it acts like a guardian for the koi in the pond.
After I take the photograph, I step back upon the stone bridge. Looking down on the stream, I consider the options that are available to landscape around the stream to create a natural setting. Ideas flow through my mind. Nothing quite gels at the moment. There is no hurry to come up with a design. A landscape is developed over a period of years. It is never completed. Now is the time to have patience and just enjoy what is in front of me.
One Japanese garden design technique is to used “borrowed scenes” from the area around the garden. As much as possible the background elements should look like they are part of the near and mid-range scene, giving it additional depth. As we laid out our Japanese garden last summer, we identified several elements for which we positioned them to take advantage of the background hills and landscape. In this image we used our neighbor’s large front yard tree, their pasture, and their fence to give depth to the Kotoji landscape view.
A walk in garden always prepares me for a beautiful day ahead. My eyes wander all about me. They jump from directly in front of me to the hills and valleys surrounding our garden. Then something clicks and draws me closer. I see a little treasure. I love the morning, afternoon, evening, or whenever I am walking in the garden.
The soft early morning light highlighted this scene. The maple tree, grasses, and pine shrub appear very soft. I enhanced the softness in post processing. The image was exposed to highlight the soft leaves of the Japanese maple. The background was in shade which created a nice dark contrast to the light maple. The image warms me all over.
Continuing with Dave duChemin’s course, I found this raking light on a gazebo roof in the Seattle Japanese Garden. The sun had just broken over the ridge of the adjacent Washington Arboretum. The soft light raking across the roof lasted for just a few moments before the direct sunlight engulfed the roof. I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.
Red Maple/Yellow Ginko – Washington Japanese Garden
This is what fall color is all about. I was able to photograph in the Washington Japanese Garden almost at its prime this fall. Colors were gorgeous everywhere. This particular scene caught my eye contrasting the brilliant reds and yellows,
I am taking an on-line course, “The Compelling Frame” by Dave duChemin. My focus for this excursion was to explore how different types of light created different effects. Here, the soft mid-morning light set the colors of these trees on fire. I am always searching and exploring ways to help me progress through my never-ending journey in photography. I strongly recommend Dave duChemin’s course.
My photography has not been very creative lately. When I get this way, I like to walk around and just practice. I do not have high expectations and just stop to photograph what catches my eye. I usually do not carry a tripod with me during these practice shoots. I use them as a scouting inspiration/exploration endeavor to come back and shoot at a better time. This image was taken in mid-day light at the Washington Arboretum Japanese Garden in Seattle. I spent 2 to 3 hours just walking around and enjoying the beautiful garden. I shot for less than an hour.
Once home, I just started playing around with different processing techniques on a few images. Again, more practice. This was one of the images that caught my eye. The original image was full of bright yellows, greens, and some oranges. I almost did not even try black and white processing. I wasn’t happy with the standard B&W images either, so I decided to experiment (play) some more. This sepia with a reverse vignette was the result.