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Weeping Cherry Blossoms of Kariya Park

In continuing my series of cherry blossoms for this week, this post will cover the weeping cherry blossoms of Kariya Park, in the heart of the city of Mississauga—just outside of the city of Toronto.

Kariya Park is a little known Japanese garden dedicated to the twin city of Kariya, in Japan. The park is home to a number of cherry blossoms, and at last count, three different types of cherry blossoms. The amount of sakura trees may not be as much as what you will find at High Park in Toronto, but it still offers a unique experience for the park visitors.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/6.3, ISO 800, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/6.3, ISO 800, 24mm

I took my Periscope family here yesterday for a photo tour around the park, while taking pictures at the same time, trying to best capture the uniqueness of these weeping cherry blossoms.

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/3.5, ISO 1250, 190mm

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/3.5, ISO 1250, 190mm

I found it much more difficult to try and frame these weeping trees than the regular cherry blossoms at High Park, so I hope I was able to capture the beauty of them with these photos.

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/3.5, ISO 1250, 190mm

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/3.5, ISO 1250, 190mm

Even with having people within the frame, it was quite the challenge to be able to express the beauty of these weeping blossoms.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/4.5, ISO 800, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/4.5, ISO 800, 24mm

The front of the park offered these colourful blossoms, which contrasted nicely with the dark fence behind.

And if you’re in doubt as to how to take pictures of these blossoms, we can always just look straight up and enjoy their beauty with this great view.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 640, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/5.0, ISO 640, 70mm

Kariya Park is located just across the street from the Square One shopping mall, on the South side. Be on the lookout next Spring when these sakura trees will once again bloom.

Sakura photos edited on Periscope

Today’s post will showcase some of the photos that I edited throughout my Periscope session that I did last night. Most of these were quick edits, as you can see in my broadcast. If you haven’t already, go to the App Store, download Periscope, and follow me @smaku. You can also see my broadcast from this link, available only until around 8pm EST today!

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/6.8, ISO 100, 105mm Micro

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/6.8, ISO 100, 105mm Micro

All editing was done within Adobe Lightroom, with the help of VSCO Film filters. As noted in my broadcast, the basics of what I do for editing are as follows:

  • Change white balance accordingly (ie. if taken during the day, change it to Daylight)
  • Apply Enable Profile Correction to correct for any lens distortions and vignetting
  • Then change the exposure settings to your liking, in addition to using filters for a starting point to your editing process

Remember that once you are happy with your editing on one photo, you can always copy and paste all settings from one photo and paste those settings onto another photo. This drastically speeds up editing time.

Nikon D800, 1/80sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 105mm Micro

Nikon D800, 1/80sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 105mm Micro

These cherry blossoms only bloom once a year, and are in peak for a very short period of time: about a week at most. I try my best to capture these cherry blossoms whenever they bloom.

My goal in taking photos of cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese), were two-fold. I used my macro 105mm lens to try and get close to the flowers, so you can see the subtle beauty of their colours and detail. Macro lenses are great for this purpose.

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 800, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 800, 200mm

The second goal was to showcase the abundance of these flowers in one spot. When you see one area filled with nothing but these flowers, it’s really a spectacular sight. Even with this photo above, you can see the branches of the trees, which can be somewhat distracting. It would have been ideal had there been more flowers to cover these branches. In the photo above, my focus was on the building with its evening glow from the sun setting to the right. I framed this building with the white cherry blossoms as I saw this perfect opening.

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 800, 190mm

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 800, 190mm

As soon as I saw this person wearing purple, I knew I had to capture her with the green and orange in the background. The colours matched too well to pass up. She was standing in front of the tree, trying her best to take a picture of the cherry blossoms, so it was great that she didn’t move too much. Using a telephoto lens, I made sure to move to a spot where I can get the green in the back, the orange glow from the sunset, and the white and pink from the cherry blossoms.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 180mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 180mm

And finally, I leave you with these two photos, where I tried to focus on the flowers with the sunset as the backdrop. The bokeh created by my telephoto lens creates a nice, soft blur that complements the delicateness of the flowers themselves.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

I intentionally included some blurred foreground branches at the top, so that it contrasts and gives focus to the actual cherry blossoms at the bottom of the frame. I do like that orange glow from the sun, it makes these photos that much warmer don’t you think?

Have you taken any cherry blossom photos this year? Comment below and show me what you captured, as I love to see how others interpret this time of year.

Sakura at dusk

When you’re out taking pictures of the same thing day after day, try something new. Whether it be from a different angle, perspective, or even better, at a different time of the day.

The quality of light will change throughout the day, so going to the same place at different times of the day will yield different feelings and emotions to the same subject matter.

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400, 200mm

Take this photo for example. I was here in the same park yesterday before sunset, taking pictures of the sakuras. However, when I came today, I found myself wandering the area just as the sun was setting closer to the horizon. This golden aura made all the difference in my photos, making them moodier, giving them more warmth, and a little bit of sombreness, some may say.

Envision your shot

I intentionally shot this photo with the sun in the background, so I can get that sun flare and warm glow on to the flowers. Admittedly, this photo focuses more on the environment than the actual details of the cherry blossoms, but I can live with that. I shot the details the day before with the daylight.

It’s moments like this that make it worthwhile to stick around until the sun goes down. Just remember: Just because the sun is setting and the light is fading, that’s no reason to pack your camera up and leave the area. The light is what makes the difference and gives your photos a whole new feel to them.

A look at full bloom cherry blossoms – sakura

Just to make things clear, this photo posted today was taken two years ago when I went to High Park during the cherry blossom/sakura peak season. To demonstrate the difference of taking cherry blossom photos during peak season and not during peak season, I thought I’d post a couple photos that I’ve taken in previous years.

cherry blossoms with leaves

cherry blossoms with leaves

In yesterday’s post, I listed some quick tips on how best to take photos of cherry blossoms. I mentioned that the peak time for photos only lasts for a few days at most. Further, these flowers are very fragile so if rain is in the forecast, it’s best to go before it falls.

This first photo above may look like a pretty picture with the full blooms of cherry blossoms, but what catches my eyes the most are the spots of green scattered throughout the flowers. These green leaves signal the end of the cherry blossoms as they’ve reached their maturity. You don’t see too many leaves here, but if you look at all the trees lined up along the path, and all of them have spots of green in them, they will become quite noticeable.

Now, let’s look at the photo below.

High Park cherry blossoms in full bloom

High Park cherry blossoms in full bloom

Besides the fact that the lighting is slightly darker—this photo was taken as the sun was setting—you can see that it is a sea of white and pink. There is very little green in sight, allowing you to enjoy the full beauty of the cherry blossoms. It’s sights like this that you will want to see.

The only complaint I would have with this scene is that there aren’t enough flowers to cover the branches! If you’ve ever seen photos of the cherry blossoms in peak season in Japan, you’ll notice that the number of flowers literally cover any sight of branches. It’s truly a spectacle over there.

Sakura Peak Season at High Park

This year, it looks as though the peak at High Park will fall on a weekday—likely around wednesday or thursday. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit. If you’re able to walk to the park, that’s highly recommended since traffic and parking tend to be packed during this time of year.

And most importantly, abide by the rule: no climbing the trees!

Cherry Blossoms at High Park

Cherry blossom trees at High Park. (iPhone 6 Plus)

Cherry blossom trees at High Park. (iPhone 6 Plus)

It was an unexpected but pleasant visit today, as I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit the cherry blossoms at High Park today after work. I didn’t have my Nikon with me, so these photos are compliments of my iPhone 6 Plus, edited in Snapseed, and VSCOcam.

It had rained somewhat during the day, making it for a partly cloudy afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to expect and went with low expectations. The best part of going without expecting much is the fact that you’ll be pleasantly surprised no matter what you see.

The crowds were slim to none, which was excellent. People probably thought the same thing about the early afternoon rain and decided to opt out on this evening. Little did they know, the clouds moved away in time for the sun to peak out as it started sinking to the horizon.

To give some people around the world, a glimpse of cherry blossoms, I broadcasted my visit to the world, letting people as far away as Scotland and Columbia see the beauty of these cherry blossoms. Naturally, I gave some tips on how to best shoot these cherry blossom as well. You can read about those tips below.

Closeup of cherry blossoms (iPhone 6 Plus)

Closeup of cherry blossoms (iPhone 6 Plus)

To view the Periscope broadcast, which is only available until about 7pm EST tomorrow, click here! To all others, you’ll just have to admire the beauty of these trees with the iPhone photos I took during my visit.

Quick Tips On Taking Photos of Sakuras

Cherry blossoms only peak for a very short period of time. It is important to be able to catch these blossoms at their peak before the green leaves start to show up, overpowering the subtle beauty of the white and pink flowers.

Try and get up close and personal to get the details of the petals and flowers of the cherry blossoms. These details are attractive to the eye.

Conversely, you can also take an overview shot of the trees and surroundings to show how large the trees and blooming blossoms are. They make for more dramatic scenery, especially when the sakuras are at their full bloom.

These flowers are very fragile, so if precipitation is expected in the forecast, be sure to visit the cherry blossoms before rainfall.