Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nara, December 2005

I had visited Kyoto several times before, but I never had made it to Nara while it is one of the most celebrated places in Japan and a World Heritage site to boot. We had booked a Super Hotel in the centre of Nara on walking distance from the park where most of the sights are located.

Kōfuku-ji (興福寺)
The first temple we came across was the Kōfuku-ji, a Buddhist temple first built in 669 and after being moved a couple of times, it was moved to the current location in 710. The golden Buddha inside the temple is famous, but unfortunately it was so dark that the photos didn't come out.

Tōdai-ji (東大寺)
The second temple on our tour was the Tōdai-ji, built in 728 and famous for the colossal bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as the Daibutsu (大仏).
One of the supporting posts in the Great Buddha Hall has a hole that has been bored through the base. Visitors try to pass through the hole which is said to be the same size as one of the Daibutsu's nostrils. Legend has it that those who pass through it will be blessed with enlightenment in their next life. Children usually have no trouble getting through but adults sometimes get stuck and need to be pulled out.

Kasuga Shrine (春日大社)
Finally we arrived at one of the most beautiful Shinto shrines we had come across this visit, the Kasuga-Taisha. It might have because of the weather, the autumn colours or the light of the setting sun, but the peacefulness of this shrine was stunning. See also the photo in the header of this post. First built in 768, it had been rebulit several times over the centuries.
On the way out I came across two more stone lanterns that were backlit by the setting sun. I had taken many photos that day and I was about to walk by this chance as it seemed impossible to catch the feeling of the moment on photo, but I decided to take it anyway. The result is one of my favourite pictures which received a rating of Aesthetics: 7.00/7 Originality: 6.00/7 on Photo.net.

Camera: Pentax *ist DS, lenses: Sigma 18-50mm - 1:3.5-5.6 DC and Sigma 28-300mm - 1:3.5-6.3

Monday, May 07, 2007

San Francisco, 1980's

While going through some old negatives at my dad's house, I came across these negatives I took when I travelled to the USA for the first time. I was working at Philips TDSN in Apeldoorn in the 1980's, we bought an LU6.2 package from Orion in Berkeley, California and since I was in charge of the DIA and SNADS port, I had to go to San Francisco for their yearly user group meeting. The meeting was held in the St. Francis Hotel at Union Square which, in 1906, was gutted in the fire that took place after the earthquake of April 18.
After the meeting, I had taken some holidays and together with a colleague from Sweden, I toured California and Las Vegas in Nevada. Very little of these photos have survived, they must have been thrown out during one of my moves, however, somehow, miraculously, these black and white negatives had survived.

Camera: Pentax ME, lenses: Pentax 28mm f2.8, 50mm, f1.8