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Today I will serve up some iris from a garden we visited in Japan. I call this the promise because now that the snow is melting, I can see bare earth in my wife's flower garden. It won't be long before we see our own iris.
I keep finding interesting photos from our visit to the Japanese pre-school Brian taught at the year he lived in Japan. Here the kids were lined up for another play/learning opportunity. I have no idea what had caught the attention of the beautiful girl who is the subject of this photo. I think the girl in front of her is the subject of this photo: "Another Japanese School Girl" (click).
Canon 1D II 1/100s f/2.8 ISO640 135mm
I thought I would post one or two more from our son Brian's experience in Japan, in this case a bunch of kids and Brian getting ready for a group portrait. I love looking at candid photos of groups - there is so much to look at.
One of the things that struck me about the Japanese pre-school we visited was the degree to which "play" was part of the learning process. I think you would find this in most pre-schools. In most societies, though, once "real" education starts, we start to discourage play. That's too bad because I think that playing with things is how we learn and create.
The Google corporation understands this and that's why they have what is called "Twenty Percent Time." Google engineers get to spend 20% of their time working on things that aren't necessarily part of their job description. The get to play, experiment and tinker. What a great idea!
One of the highlights of our trip to Japan in 2004 was a visit to the Japanese pre-school my son Brian worked at. The children we saw that morning behaved much as you'd expect children to behave anywhere, though I saw one big difference - these kids didn't appear to be as fearful or suspicious of strangers as our kids seem to be.
It was recess time when this photo was taken. As we stood and talked to one of the administrators, I noticed this young boy leave his pals on the playground and walk up to the open doorway to watch us. I turned the camera towards him and instead of turning away, he continued to watch me with intense and friendly curiosity.
Canon 1DII 1/320s f/4.0 ISO400 145mm
This serene lake is part of a beautiful garden outside of Kyoto, Japan. We visited Japan in 2004 and as I browsed through photos I had taken, I had the reaction I often have when viewing older digital photos: I want to go back and re-photograph the areas we visited. But this desire isn't because I have a better camera or a better lens, but because I think I have a little better eye and also because I'm sure I missed some great shots.
I have many strong memories of Japan but one of the oddest involves the camera I was traveling with - a Canon 1D Mark II, which was considered a state-of-the-art dslr in 2004. The Japanese are gracious and friendly people but many were especially friendly when they saw my camera. They would walk up to me and, though they couldn't speak my language, would point to my camera, smile and shake their head in an affirmative way. The Japanese love quality electronics - especially electronics made in Japan.
Canon 1DII 1/160s f/6.3 ISO400 115mm
Something just occurred to me as I was trying to figure out what to write about this photo: I have taken around 75,000 digital photos over the last 6 years and when I look at them, I can remember a remarkable number of details about the circumstances surrounding each photograph. Why is that?
My answer has to do with flow, a theory developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Flow "is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity."
In a crude way, my "focus" while taking photographs reminds me of golfers like Jack Nicklaus and other athletes and coaches who can remember amazingly precise details about every shot they hit or plays they made in games performed 20 and 30 years ago.
No, I am not Jack Nicklaus, nor was meant to be. :-) But I can get focused once and a while. When do you achieve flow?
Canon 1DII 1/80s f/1.8 ISO800 50mm (35mm eq:65mm)
There are so many lines and geometric shapes in this photo and perhaps too many places for the eye to look. But the main point is intended to be the dark figure closest to the camera. He seems solitary but that's a bit of an irony because the night we were in Tokyo every place we went was crowded with throngs of umbrella carrying people. This pedestrian walkway was the sole exception - at least at the moment I took this photo.
Did I work hard to get this picture? Did I have to wait for just the right moment? Nope. In fact this is really more of a snap shot. I was with a group of 4 other people and because it was raining, we were on the move and the rest of the group wasn't likely to be real patient with my attempt to capture the right moment.
Canon 1DII f/5.6 1/80 Canon 24-70mm 2.8L 40mm ISO 800