Photographing Japan

May 4, 2008. Filed under japan 44 photo 2

Living in Japan is the first time I have owned a camera, and I have gotten good use out of it. However, I have begun to focus in on one aspect of picture taking here as particularly difficult: it is far too easy to take dishonest pictures. A simple square can only capture a fragment of the overall impression, and it is the photographer's instinct to capture the most vivid square available. Still, I sometimes feel we should strive to capture the most accurate square we can find. Certainly, part of a moving photograph is choosing what to exclude, not simply what to include. Too much detail overwhelms the viewer, but some simplified pictures capture their surroundings under a microscope, and some are disparate worlds of their own.

A picture of a bridge in Japan, surrounded by scenery.

Today is Children's Day, a national holiday, so I didn't have work this morning. I was feeling a bit tight from running yesterday (still working back into it after a long winter hiatus), so I decided to take a walk instead and brought my camera along with me. All the pictures in this entry are from that walk, which says something important about how easy it is to take pictures here.

A picture of a road running beside a mountain.

All of these pictures are real, I didn't even need to crop or edit them, but then again, they are imminently fake. Prominent mountains piercing the sky, abrupt gullies, well maintained gardens... they're all here, but it goes wrong just as often.

A mountain crisscrossed by wires.

The pictures we don't take are filled with wires, mountainside deforested, and giant antennas. Taking these pictures can be uncomfortable, because its a shame they exist, but they certainly do. A goal of mine is to try to find more pictures that justly juxtapose these two elements: the beauty and the haphazard construction. The problem, of course, is that those pictures are harder to take well.

A small road surrounded by greenery.

The pleasing and expected photography of rural Japan is easy to achieve, and--damnit--it looks good. On the other hand, mixing the natural and construction hasn't treated me quite as well.

Buildings on the top of a gorge.

Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to keep working at it.