People living in Kyoto might pity the fool who has to take the overnight bus to take photos of their beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but I still feel lucky that they’re only a cheap bus ride away. People with more time or money might choose the ever-awesome Shink, but this time, I chose to invest my money in Ektachrome. We knew going into this trip that the biggest issue was going to be the light at the Kinkakuji.
When you’re photographing the famous landmarks that have been photographed a million times, you are probably not going to take a great photo. There are people who have become experts in one particular famous place. People who have hundreds of thousands of photos of x, where x is any given famous landmark: Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, Wrigley Field, The National Mall in DC, or in this particular case, The Golden Pavilion. These people wait for the perfect weather, and take a great photo. Then, 6 months later, they have an even higher understanding of the idea of “perfect light,” and snap a better photo. They repeat this process until they’re 100, and make your shots look like something taken on a plastic-lensed disposable cardboard camera.
Still, I try when I get the chance. I think if I didn’t at least try to get those stereotypical images of Japan, someday I’d be sad that I didn’t at least make the attempt. We had moved around our itinerary several times, trying to insure that the temple had good light, and a blue sky. Walking into the temple, my thoughts were, “Oh please let that patch of blue sky be behind the temple please oh please,” and it worked out. Maybe that coin I threw into the box at the first shrine on our trip paid dividends.
This photo blends in with the millions of other good photos of the Kinkakuji, but it’s mine, and I can be content that at least I took this photo, and it’s there in my collection of photos in case some crazy monk decides to burn it down again.