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From monochrome to colour

For the first time in a long time, I was completely blown away by the incredible blue of hydrangeas. I decided to abandon monochrome and use colour to express the beauty of this stunning blue.
I wonder if I used too many contrast setting values on my camera?
It was cloudy, evening and in the shade, so the blue seemed stronger than it actually was overall.
For me, this is what I love about the blue of hydrangeas, or so I think.

Location of Meigetsuin Blue

This hydrangea was photographed in the precincts of Meigetsuin Temple in Kitakamakura, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, which is known as the Hydrangea Temple.
This is an old and beloved temple that I have photographed many times during this season.
During the hydrangea season, many tourists fill the roadsides and precincts, making it difficult to concentrate and focus the lens on the hydrangeas.
It was a weekday. We entered the temple gate 30 minutes before it closed. It had rained occasionally the day before and again on this day. We thought there would be few tourists.
As predicted, we were able to take photos in a relatively calm atmosphere.

Hydrangeas vary in colour according to growing conditions and variety, such as pink, white and blue. I was looking for deep blue.
The area around Myogetsuin is located in a wetland valley called a valley door, which means that the soil is acidic and the aluminium in the soil easily dissolves due to the high water content in the soil. This combines with the anthocyanins in the flowers to produce a deep blue colour.
They show a rich blue with gradations, especially if it rained the day before or under cloudy skies.
The time of day is also important for photography. If possible, the ideal time is just after sunset or just before sunrise, when the light is softer, but this is difficult to achieve due to the opening and closing times of temples.

Reproducing the blue hour on the camera side

Therefore, we decided to create a pseudo time zone by adjusting the camera settings closer to the conditions of the blue hour. Contrast, highlights, shadows and colour tones are adjusted, and to create a sense of airiness, settings such as sharpness and grain are fine-tuned to achieve results close to the image. These settings are roughly determined on the train before arriving at the station in Kitakamakura.

Many hydrangea temples in Kamakura

Hydrangeas are known for their ability to take root widely and deeply in soil. This makes them an excellent choice for slopes, as they can help prevent landslides.
I have had the pleasure of riding the Hakone Tozan Railway with my children. It is not only a beautiful journey, but it also has many hydrangeas planted along the steep slope of the railroad line. This not only adds to the beauty of the journey, but it also protects the line from landslides caused by heavy rains throughout the year.
The temple grounds, situated in a mountainous area and extending along a valley, offer a variety of shaded areas, which provides an ideal environment for hydrangeas to flourish.

What will happen next year?

Having reached the age of what is called ‘elderly’, I wonder how long I will be physically able to carry heavy equipment and take photographs?
Kamakura is dotted with many places famous for their hydrangeas, but this is the only photo I took this year. I don’t know if I will be able to try again next year.

MEIGETSUIN-BLUE Kitakamakura 4,June 2024