Photography 101 is done!
My skills have improved dramatically over the last month thanks to the course prompts and lots of practice.
The inventors of digital memory also get my gratitude, allowing for hundreds of mistakes and experiments at no cost. This course has helped me see that even the photos I thought were worthless have value as memories and indicators of improvement.
My goals included learning to use the manual setting on a digital SLR, taking in-focus macro photos, and composing wider scenes. These were achieved at least from the level of knowing how to get started and, yes, more practice must follow.
The last theme was triumph. The challenge included changing contrast to increase impact.
This theme was one of the more difficult ones. Many events in my life have been triumphant but it was challenging to choose one and find something I could photograph.
Shortly after Hitoshi and I met, we went on a spontaneous hike.
Hitoshi was visiting me in Akita prefecture. We borrowed a friend’s car and drove from Akita City to Oga where the final stop was Mount Shinzan.
I had been to Mount Shinzan in the winter for the Namahage Festival. It was my first festival in Japan and left quite the impression! I wanted Hitoshi to see the place and to visit in the spring.
What we thought would be a fun ramble behind a gorgeous, rural shrine turned into a full on scramble up mud slick slopes complete with ropes tied to trees by the caretakers of the mountain.
I was carrying a small purse. Both of us were in our city sneakers. We had no water, food or supplies.
What we had, in abundance, was love for each other and enthusiasm for our ridiculous circumstances.
Reaching the top was anticlimactic as we strained on our toes to see over foliage at a view that we assumed was spectacular.
After poking around in the small clearing for a few minutes, there was nothing else to do but to go back down. Our shoes were ruined and we were covered in mud and sweat, but we had each other and that was enough.
To the present
Omamori or charms are important features of shrines and temples in Japan. People buy them for different reasons but all have to do with bringing luck or preventing bad fortune.
We visited Mount Shinzan and its shrine a couple of years after our initial visit and picked up the charms in the following photos.
The charms are significant because they symbolize our triumph that day, tackling the mountain unprepared except for our happy hearts.
In fact, we loved this mountain and our hike so much that we wanted to get married there. This wasn’t practical though and we got married elsewhere but this spot will always hold tremendous value for us.
Usually charms are returned to the shrine where you bought them within a year. Old charms are burned and replaced with new ones to carry you over for another year of protection.
If you can’t get back to the shrine where you bought omamori, then you can take them to a different one.
We have not yet parted with the omamori from our special shrine.
We will give up them up only when we can go back to the shrine to do so in person.
Have you done something spontaneous that turned out well (or not)?