Monday, April 13, 2009

So that was Spring

Springtime is absolutely the best season here in Osaka. It's a sliver of meteorological perfection between the chilly, wet winter and the brutally hot, wet summer - clear, dry temperate days that invite you to go outside and just enjoy life. It is also, unfortunately, by far the shortest season around here.


Sakura at the next-door shrine. It's late dusk and lit by a street lamp so the colors came out pretty interesting. Click on the image for the full experience.

Two weeks ago I used my winter coat and cursed the miserable mornings as I hid behind a rain-lashed umbrella on my way to work. This weekend the thermometer hit 25° and the morning train is already carrying the first faint traces of Eau-de-Summer-Salaryman (a delicate blend of sweaty suits with just a hint of hangover). The actual spring lasted perhaps a week. One good April cold or a business trip and you'll miss it altogether.

Anyway, while it does last (and we had a quick preview about three weeks ago, not to forget) it's really great, and it's always a treat to visit a park or two for Hanami - cherry-blossom viewing. When you've seen one cherry flower you've pretty much seen them all, of course; the real treat is to mingle with all the other people, have a pick-nick, and just generally enjoy the single best time of the year.


People often linger under the trees, eating and drinking, for most of the day and into the night. You might know the woman to the right from earlier posts of mine.


A Hanami party can be pretty improvised, or it can be a seriously pre-planned event. Here a group of drummers set up their stuff by one of the castle moats.


Cherry blossoms. Nice tones, though the sky is blown out.

Osaka Castle

Osaka castle. Would have been better had I not tripped the shutter by mistake as I was setting up.

If anybody actually reaches the bottom here and wonders why the pictures look a little off: this is my first attempt with slide film (Fuji Provia). I'm not going to make a habit of this - digital cameras do exactly this kind of punchy, contrasty color images so well - but it was fun to try it. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the low grain, the level of detail and the overall look of a medium-format slide on a light table has to be seen to be believed.

I have yet to learn how to scan these properly so I've somewhat butchered the uploaded images. It doesn't help that the files I get - 48 bit 35-40mp image files after scanning and downscaling - are killing my computer. 2Gb memory just isn't cutting it when processing these. If I were to make a habit of slide film, I'd have to get a much beefier machine.

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