Withered tulips

Foma Fomapan 100 at EI 100, developed in APH 09 dilution 1:167 for 2 hours

I feel sorry for my wife because when I buy flowers, I use them for still life photography instead of presenting them to her. But she knows that all my flower photos are a present for her, this way they do last longer, don’t they.  🙂

It has been a while since I bought a bunch of flowers and like previous times, I usually don’t get going until the flowers are getting a bit older and withered. Last time I used my Pentax 645NII camera and lenses, this time I wanted to try my Pentax 67II camera and the set of extension tubes that I picked up last year.

Last time I used my flash and a reflector and I had noticed that the shadows on the side of the reflector were a bit too deep so I decided to use my desk lamp on that side as well. This lamp isn’t very bright and as I’m shooting B&W film, I didn’t need to worry about the difference in white balance of the different light sources. This will be an issue for colour photography, of course.

Very happy with the results, the Pentax 67II with this lens and extension tube really allows me to get close and fill the 6x7cm negative beautifully. I did worry that I needed to focus manually but the viewfinder of the Pentax 67II is bright and focussing was easy.

See the schematic of the lighting I used below:

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Thanks to Kevin Kertz for his Lighting Setup PSD file.

This is the gear I used:

Camera: Pentax 67II
Lens: SMC Pentax 67 165mm f/2.8 with Pentax 67 Extension Tube 3
Exposure: 1/30 second
Aperture: f/8
Flash: Pentax AF-360FGZ with a shoot-through umbrella but used inversed. Used in the TTL / 67 mode of the flash.
Reflector: Expro RF-154 (using the white side)
Film: FOMA Fomapan 100 at EI 100,
stand developed for 2 hours
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Chichibu 34 Kannon temples pilgrimage, day 4

Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Above: Kannon hall at Temple #32

With only four temples left on my itinerary after a long third day, I was getting a bit into trouble as I was running out of time. Normally the last four temples take 2 days to visit with trips by infrequent buses or by taxi but I had only one day left of my vacation before I had to start to make my way to Narita to catch the plane back to Europe.  Luckily, our friend could take a day out of her busy schedule and drive us to the last of the temples. Kannon-sama immediately rewarded her with the most perfect autumn day and beautiful autumn colours in the mountains around Chichibu.

Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Above: Kannon hall at Temple #31

My route this day was: Temple #32 U+2192.svg Temple #31 U+2192.svg Temple #33 U+2192.svg Temple #34.

There is a reason these are the last of the temples on the pilgrimage: These are the most beautiful of the pilgrimage and they are a reward for the effort of the whole pilgrimage.

The wooden Kannon hall at Temple #32 is half built into the rock and has an awesome veranda.  I climbed all the way to the top of the mountain ridge where a Kannon statue is placed, quite an adventure to reach this statue as you had to pull yourself up for the rock face with help of old iron chains and faded steps people had hacked out in the rock ages ago.
Coming down from the temple, we ran into a little old lady who was collecting ginkgo nuts, I described the encounter here.

The sanctum of Temple #31 came as a reward after climbing the 200 odd steps to reach it. The location with the rock and the waterfall was fabulous.

Reaching Temple #34 felt like an ending and the monk was very kind and interested. We sort of celebrated a bit, taking photos of me with my now completed nokyocho (納経帳) and he threw in a few good luck charms for free for good measure. Maybe the Japanese pilgrims are a bit more solemn but it felt great having completed the task I set for myself.
Afterwards we went to Mangan-no-yu, the nearby onsen, to relax and recover.

I felt really great for having completed the pilgrimage, but it felt a bit awkward for having taken the car for the last four temples, but then again, the description suggest buses or taxis for these temples which comes down to the same thing. The whole experience was very rewarding mainly because it finally, after all these years of visiting Japan, brought me into contact with so many Japanese people. All thanks to the kind people of Chichibu.

It has now become clear to me: we, as tourists, spend way too much time in the large cities and then we all visit the same famous shrines or temples and we think we visited Japan.  Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka – Hiroshima – Tokyo is the standard itinerary and if we are adventurous, we throw in Takayama as well or join the large crowds at the temples in Nara.
Having lived in Holland, France, the UK and Sweden, I think I know the romantic image people have of Japan and why so many return slightly disappointed and convinced their image of Japan was just a pipe dream. People should break out of the mould and visit the Japanese countryside; that’s where the true Japan is to be found! That’s where Japan still exists!

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