Finding fall color in neighborhood parks in Japan

A Neighborhood Park - Tokyo, Japan

A Neighborhood Park – Tokyo, Japan

Living in Central Texas, I don’t get a good chance to make photos of fall color. Sure, we do have some leaves that turn an orange brown. Then there is the occasional yellow but nothing that inspires. At least we do get a touch of autumn so that we can say we have all four seasons.

I was pleasantly surprised that the fall color comes to Tokyo late, and even at the end of November and early December, there was ample opportunity. While I did go to a famous Tokyo park to find color, today’s post is about the small neighborhood parks. In some ways, it’s a lot easier to make solid photos in these smaller places. The trees are spaced further apart which makes it easier to make cleaner compositions.

A Neighborhood Park - Tokyo, Japan
A Neighborhood Park - Tokyo, Japan

I’ve been posting a lot of gritty black and whites from my Pentax Q7. Today’s Q7 pictures are all in vivid color — just to show that I didn’t shoot exclusively in monochrome. There is a “Brilliant Color” setting on the Pentax, which looks great on the back LCD, but is much too saturated (even for me) for fall color. It works great for other subjects, which I’ll talk about in a future post. These photos were all shot with the standard mode in JPEG and further saturated in post production.

A Neighborhood Park - Tokyo, Japan
A Neighborhood Park - Tokyo, Japan

I came upon the first park during a photo walk with my friend Tony through a working class section of Tokyo. It didn’t look like much from the street, but step inside and I found a surprisingly nice balance of colors. The place is kept up but not pristine. You can tell there are barricades and other obstructions that add background clutter. Even so, I think the colors are so striking that the images work, for the most part, if you don’t look closely. You can tell it is a city park with lots of people. I guess even these nature shots still fit somewhat with my urban landscape aesthetic.

A Neighborhood Park - Yokohama, Japan

The next, much quieter park, is located in a residential neighborhood in Yokohama. The trees were nicely spaced around the pond and the water certainly added to the back drop.

I took all photos with the 08 Wide Zoom, which is the priciest lens in the Q system. I was hesitant about buying it since it costs more than the entire Q7 camera kit. But with the weak yen and a much lower list price on the lens, I decided to get it. The 08 Wide Zoom is known to be an excellent lens optically, and for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The wide-angle works great for my urban landscapes and it’s the type of lens I’ve had a lot of experience using. The 3.8 to 5.9mm range comes out to 18 to 28mm when accounting for the 4.7x crop factor.

A Neighborhood Park - Yokohama, Japan

Shooting wide-angles can be challenging since it’s so easy to get extraneous clutter into the frame. You also need to get close to your subjects and make sure you have something interesting in the foreground, mid-ground and background. I don’t think in telephoto (focal lengths above 50mm) but I found they work better for isolating subjects. I later switched to my telephoto for nature shots, but that’s a story and pictures for another post.

A Neighborhood Park - Yokohama, Japan

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4 thoughts on “Finding fall color in neighborhood parks in Japan

  1. When I lived abroad, I didn’t miss much, but I always missed Autumn. Not just the colors. The whole ambiance, the air, the amber sunlight. It’s the shortest season, but the best. Especially for a photographer.

    1. There is a certain unique feeling to Autumn. Change is the air and the lull before the cold. You don’t get that in Austin since winters are usually so mild. Ironically with all the Live Oak trees around, the big leaf drop actually happens more in March than in the Fall.

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