Izumi's Diary Page 6      Tuesday 12 October 2010
Blossoms are Blooming in Spring



Here is your friend Izumi to write to you. I am very warm as it is good to have come out of the House of Winter and now being in the Garden of Spring. People are smiling a lot for this reason I am thinking. Is interesting that my name Izumi means in English 'fountain' or ‘spring’, but water from the hill, not the time of year.


In my country, as you may know, we have many blossoms and the time of looking at them is called ‘hanami’. We have cherry which is ‘sakura’ and plum which is ‘ume’ and wisteria which is 'fuji' and it is a pleasant pastime for many hundreds or even thousands of years to go to these places of many blossoms and to look at them and to think of nature. Sometimes we drink saké which is also pleasant. In my country also Springtime is your Autumn time, and so it is interesting here to have it on the other side of the year.

A family party at Sankeien Garden in Yokohama has a
picnic and admires the cherry blossoms in the 1890s

The photograph above may have been taken by Japanese photographer Nobukuni Enami sometime in the 1890s and hand-coloured in his Yokohama studio. He travelled a lot all over Japan and took many thousands of photographs of scenery and customs and people and their lives from the 1880s until he died in 1929 aged 70.

Here are a few more of his photographs that we can admire together. They were also all taken in the 1880s or 1890s and coloured by hand.

People ride in rickshaws under the cherry
blossoms along the road into Akasaka
Many family people come to the Iseyama Shrine in
Yokohama to look at the cherry blossoms each Spring

I have found where there is a wonderful collection of the photographs of Mr Enami and I will try and show you more of them in my Diary.

So just like him I am taking my camera into the parks where the blossoms are so I can try to capture the people looking at them although there are not nearly as many as in my country.


This is making me think also about the blossoms being photographed in black and white and not in colour, and if it is more real to do so like it is with people in the street. But if I am photographing the people looking at the blossoms and not the blossoms themselves, perhaps there are slightly different feelings provoked in viewing such photographs when in the gallery (remember, Izumi is always hopeful) and so black and white is the better colour to present them with.


So I will show you two more happy photographs of sakura blossoms that may have been taken by Mr Enami and you can also think if one is better in black and white or colour. Or perhaps that it doesn't really matter as long as the person looking at the photograph is sharing the emotion of the person in the photograph as they both gaze upon the beauty of Mother Nature.

Sakura watching in Meiji-era Japan
Parasols and cherry blossoms

I remember reading somewhere: “There are good reasons to like black & white: mood, atmosphere, but perhaps most essential, it abstracts from colour, which can be distracting, and focuses the mind’s eye on form, structure and luminosity in a photograph". I think I understand and agree with this.

So I have aiming points for when I decide to take the photograph or not - it must have interest to me, structure and pleasing luminosity. I think while being modest that I know about the first two because people like what I have photographed so far on the street in my search for that Decisive Moment but it is depending on the Decisive Light for the third ingredient of the mixture. Like the eggs in a cake with the flour and the butter, perhaps I compare it to.  

As I am walking through the parks I am thinking too of our ancestor M Cartier-Bresson and thinking he also was walking through the parks and looking at the people looking at the blossoms. I wonder, did he think about if he should have colour film instead of black and white in his camera too?

But then I also realise that M Cartier-Bresson and I can have that thought. Mr Enami could only photograph in black & white and if he thought colour was wanted someone had to add it by hand later to each print separately.

Morning Walk
Pentax Optio W80 w 5-25mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.5, 125 ISO, 140mm (eqiv)

Also I have recently sent an e-mail to Jeff Carter asking him about taking photographs of people. If they are close to me and in my camera then I must be in their space and I hope I am not disturbing them.


Jeff is a good friend of David so I asked if it is all right to write and enquire of this and David said that Jeff is a 'really nice bloke' (I like that word and wish in a way I could be one too), and of course he wouldn't mind and that I should meet him soon and talk to him personally about my Moments and that makes me bold as well as a bit nervous.


Then Jeff replied:


“I have long had grave doubts about the fashionable term 'street photography' and think the traditional 'candid photography' should not be abandoned.

"If you can adopt this mindset, your worries concerned with indoors-from-outdoors studies will be over.

"And I congratulate you on the memorable "Art for Breakfast" candid study you have forwarded to me.

"Keep up the good work - which I think could be greatly facilitated if you threw away the silly camera you are using (which makes picture taking akin to buying lottery tickets) in favour of a conventional device with a viewfinder that enables you to compose your study.   

"Only then will you be entitled to take credit for your creations, which at present must be put down mainly to luck. 

"I remind you of the old adage about a thousand monkeys and a thousand typewriters eventually producing War and Peace… or more likely, come to think of it, the mish-mash of fables called The Bible.

"Finally might I suggest you acquire an umbrella to protect the recommended camera with viewfinder, thus enabling you to proceed with my recommendation to retire your present waterproof mechanism to the bin."

I am very grateful that he wrote to me like this with his wisdom and I look forward to saying things to him when we meet and hearing what he says to me. But I think I will have to tell him that I do not think my photographs are as many accidents as he is saying or thinking they are. Or perhaps I am born to have many happy accidents. We will have a good discussion of this I think.


And because he shoots with a big Canon DSLR I think perhaps he does not realise the problems that street photographers like me have to find a camera that has a viewfinder like he says unless we become very rich or have an uncle the same and can have a Leica M9 going with us when we walk early in the morning. Although I think that if I do have a Leica then all day I would be out looking for Decisive Moments to be captured.


I will talk with him about this too when I meet him.

Morning Café I
Pentax Optio W80 w 5-25mm, 1/250 sec, f/4.2, 125 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
Café Reflection II
Pentax Optio W80 w 5-25mm, 1/40 sec, f/3.5, 800 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)

But a funny thing is happening with the weather. When I go out very early in the morning I have sunshine but quite soon after the sunlight is replaced by Nature’s clouds and it can be raining as well.


Perhaps a happy photograph needs Decisive Weather as well as everything else?


Although it is not rain itself that is the problem but more that the light becomes very flat and there is no excitement in it for my eye, and if my eye is not excited then the camera eye remains shut. And I have seen so many happy photographs taken in the rain that I would love to add to that number.

Waiting I
Pentax Optio W80 w 5-25mm, 1/640 sec, f/5.5, 125 ISO, 140mm (eqiv)
Bus Stop II
Pentax Optio W80 w 5-25mm, 1/160 sec, f/5.2, 200 ISO, 115mm (eqiv)

So I do not have a happy photograph of people in parks yet but there are still some other ones to be caught from early in the mornings, which are here for you to look at and I hope be pleased from them.

And I say thank you for being here,



To fully understand my footsteps, please read me from the start.
Izumi's Diary Page 6
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