When we were planning our trip to Japan, we only briefly considered the cliche cherry blossom spring season. Sure, the beauty is unparalleled, and it’s classic Japan. But it’s also what everyone does (and we all know I like to stand out whenever possible), it’s crazy crowded – with tourists and locals, alike – and we have our very own sakura right here in our own back yard.
I make a point to get out to shoot the blossoms every year. Even though I usually get the same traditional shots, I can use the comfort level to experiment with some new techniques as well.
Sakura come and go
Sakura are unpredictable. Here, they can bloom as early as February or as late as May. They’re finicky little flowers, emerging only when the weather is Goldilocks-perfect, and the timing of such perfection fluctuates wildly each year.
Fortunately, we live here, and the best grove is only a slight detour from my daily commute. I can check on them periodically and be ready to pounce when they reach their peak. Other trees throughout the city have been teasing me for weeks, blooming well ahead of the others. But I waited for the main attraction.
Now, once the cherry blossoms do reach their peak, their vibrance is painfully brief. Therefore, we have to capture them then or not at all.
The variance with which the optimal timing hits also contends with the unpredictable spring weather. To find a day within that short period on which the weather is agreeable is quite the challenge.
As it happened this year, we were not so fortunate. Even with a somewhat favorable forecast, the clouds weren’t about to catch us a break. We left the house with clouds in the sky, these bloomed into a hazy mist by the time we arrived at the Waterfront in the predawn hour, and it was full-on sprinkling with the extraction of our tripods.
But if you’ve learned anything at all about me, you know a little drizzle wouldn’t stop me.
I took shelter under the boughs and kept shooting. Down the pink corridor, through the petals, under the droplet-laden blossoms. I had to keep wiping off my lens, and I tried to cover my poor camera as much as possible, but I still got some fuzzy shots through the moisture.
I also played with some bokeh. If the humidity was going to soften my photos anyway, I’d run with it!
An hour or so later, I was pretty damp and we were quite hungry for breakfast, but I still got some shots with which I’m pleased.
Anyone can shoot flowers in the sunshine. But it takes some dedication to do so in the rain! It’s worth it, though, as these little pink buds are just what I need. On an otherwise gloomy day, the perseverance of these beautiful flowers makes me smile.
Rainy sakura are a bit different from what I’ve shot in the past, too, so I’d say mission accomplished!
Do you have sakura where you’re at?