Azalea Festival at Nezu shrine in 2017
On May 1, 2017, I went to Nezu Shrine in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward to see its azalea festival. The festival had already been going on for two weeks, but I couldn’t go until I did due to various reasons. What a disaster it was. Even though it was scheduled to end on May 5, many flowers were almost dead. And, the gardeners seemed to have removed anything less than perfect the night before I went. So, when I walked in, there was almost nothing to photograph. The garden was very green.
Of course, I should have gotten there earlier. But paid work takes priority. Telephoning the shrine to ask about the condition of the flowers would also have been a good idea. Not checking before I went was silly. Doing that might have allowed me to avoid the disappointment I suffered in the end.
Anyway, some of my pictures turned out okay, but not great. Luck was always with me in previous years. I went, and everything looked good. In 2017, I got a strong message. And the message was, “You got away with being lazy in years past, but you can’t rely on luck every time, mate.” That’s what I’m thinking right now. Next time I go to a flower festival, I’ll ring in advance to ensure the flowers are at their best.
Another thing I realized was that I was still in DSLR shooting mode. The Pentax cameras I had in the past came with built-in image stabilization. That helped in low-light and slow shutter speed situations.
My new Fujifilm X-T2 with the 16-55 mm lens didn’t have that feature. And as I wasn’t used to the camera yet, I sometimes failed to check the shutter speed, leading to blurred pictures. That was a habit that took a long time to build. Now I do that a lot, but it wasn’t instinctual in those days.
Am I off on a tangent? I am, but I wanted to talk about those things anyway. Let’s get back to the matter at hand, the azaleas. In short, it was a poor day. I overheard many people talking about how disappointed they were with the state of the flowers. As we were there well before that date, it was easy to understand their disappointment.
Photography at the Nezu Shrine azalea festival was a challenge. What should I have done? As you can see, most of my shots were tight with lots of bokeh. There were no wide-angle shots of the garden I had hoped for, but such was the condition of the flowers. Did I make the right choice? In hindsight, I could only say, “I don’t know.”
Anyway, there is always the next photo shoot. The future will bring us something new. That is one of the great things about photography.