UrbanWeird Photography
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Photo Sketchbook

Thoughts on general photography and personal photographic process.

Top 10 Photos of 2014 – Photo #2: "Steady"


Here we go with photo #2 of my top 10 of 2014. I made a mistake on the first post when I said that that photo - Nipponique - was the first photo taken in 2014. It is actually this one, which was taken a couple weeks before on 1 February 2014. 

I took this photo at a temple called Gokoku-ji in central Tokyo. The temple was founded in the early 1680s by the then Shogun and a dedication to his mother. It is notable for not being damaged or destroyed during the many fires and wars, including the devastating bombings during the WWII, that plagued the city over the centuries.

I had never been to this temple and just found it by exploring Google Maps. I often just zoom in on Tokyo to find interesting places to go and photograph. So, I found this temple on Maps and asked a close friend, who lives relatively near the temple, to see if he wanted to go with me. We walked from his place to the old temple. We came across this line of Buddhist statues, which are quite common at temples here, and I thought they looked cool all lined up. I am not sure what these types of statues represent or even what they are called. I just like how serene they look and make me feel.  

I knew I would have to do quite a bit of post-processing when I got home to make a rather uninteresting photo interesting. The original included distracting and annoying bushes in the background. I blackened the entire background out to emphasize the serenity and stately-ness of the statues; hence the title "Steady". I am finding that I like blackening backgrounds. Well, not necessarily like it, but thankful that it is possible and relatively easy to do!

Backgrounds can be quite annoying, and most of the time you cannot get around including distracting elements in the background. Yes, you can widen the aperture to create a boké (Japanese and photography term meaning blur - often spelled 'bokeh') effect to lessen the distraction, but sometimes that is not enough. Blacking out the background is a valid option - an option that I did not know was really valid until recently when I joined The Arcanum and others, including the mentors, were doing it. I always thought I was cheating somehow. I'm quickly finding out there is no such thing as cheating in much of photography, particularly in fine-art/artistic photography.