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, along the coast.
I had been to Mount Shinzan in the winter for the Namahage Festival. It was my first festival 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 though 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.
The previous pictures were taken way back in May of 2007 during our hike. The next ones are omamori or shrine charms that we picked up on a visit to the same spot two years later.
The charms are significant because they symbolize our triumph that day, tackling the mountain unprepared except for our happy hearts. We loved this mountain and our hike so much that we wanted to get married here. The reason why we had to choose another shrine is a story for another time.
Usually charms are returned to the shrine where you bought them the next year. Old charms are burned and replaced with new ones to carry you over for another year of protection.
We have not yet parted with the omamori from our special shrine. If you know you can’t get back to a particular shrine, then you can take omamori to a different one. This has also not swayed us.
We will give up our omamori 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)?