When I arrived at the Japanese Garden for my third monthly visit, I was dismayed to find that it was quite overcast out, despite the optimistic weather forecast of sunny skies. It wasn’t as foggy as my first visit in March,
but it was close. This disappointing turn of events meant that the dull, boring lighting would not be conducive to photography. I had already photographed the Garden in the fog in March — there was no need for a repeat performance!
When the doors opened at 8:00 AM, I was the only one taking advantage of the early member-only hours. Although I love to be alone, my utter solitude only served to strengthen my lack of inspiration. The Garden look the same as when I had last photographed it only 26 days before.
On second thought, it actually looked worse
because some of the plants that had been in bloom then now had only shriveled blossoms clinging to them. My enthusiasm to take pictures seemed just as withered! I thought that perhaps I should just go next door to the International Rose Test Garden
where I could probably get decent shots of flowers even under an overcast sky.
After remembering that I was not there to “perform,” but merely to open my eyes and see what I could see, I decided to give it a shot instead of leaving without taking a single picture. I realized that I needed a different perspective of the Japanese Garden. During the previous two visits I had taken mostly wide-angle and medium-focal-length photos, so I already had plenty of shots which give the big picture. Therefore I decided that for my third outing I would try to focus on the little details which I might normally overlook.
To help me do that, I mounted my Panasonic 100-300mm
telephoto zoom lens, which has a 35mm-equivalent
focal length of 200-600mm. As I look at my previous two albums of photos taken at the Japanese Garden, I find that none
of them were taken with this lens. In stark contrast, I kept the 100-300mm lens on my camera the entire time I was within the Garden. I have to say that this approach really helped me a lot.
The lighting was so dull and dingy that I decided to try some shots using remote wireless flash. I had experimented with this technique in my own backyard — see Remote Wireless Flash Test #2
— but this was the first time I had actually used it on an outing.
My reborn inspiration helped me find some interesting shots, but it could only carry me so far. After only an hour I was ready to call it quits and move on to the nearby Rose Garden which was in full bloom. Out of the 86 photos I took during that hour, 22 of the best can be viewed in this album. All but the last of these pictures were taken with the Panasonic 100-300mm lens.
For more pictures taken at the Garden, see the listing of all my Japanese Garden photo albums
and/or the conglomerate super-album Portland Japanese Garden (All Years).
For more information about each individual outing I made to the Garden, check out the list of related articles.