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Geisha On My Phone

Behind A Photo - Geishas On My Phone
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Geishas For Breakfast

It was a sunny morning, and I was out taking care of errands in the center of Kyoto. Suddenly I notice a geisha rushing towards the Pontocho area. Nothing extraordinary at this time of the day in Kyoto—or so I thought. One meter ahead I see three other kimono-clad ladies rushing towards the same direction. I understood then that something interesting was probably happening. Without much thinking about it, I interrupted my daily routine and followed my guts.

The Situation

Reaching the Pontocho area, I realized that a festival was taking place, and the sight made me pause. A platoon of heavily geared-up photographers was greeting the many geishas coming to the festivities. As each girl made an entrance, the troopers released a sudden burst of shutter clicks—a salvo of DSLRs. They all stood at the same spot, firing towards the same direction, probably all getting the same high-res images and sharp pixels. I wanted to hit the target too, but unlike the boys, I was unprepared—I did not bring the big weapons.

Geisha On My Phone
So many geishas around… something interesting is bound to happen

The Gear

The saying goes: “the best camera is the one you carry with you.” So I got the little iPhone 5 out of my pocket. Such a peashooter was no match for the image quality my neighbors’ Canon Howitzer Mark III could produce. All the better! I am left to work with my ingenuity and discipline. Equipped like I was, I prioritized stealth, creativity as well as wide angles. I rushed into the fray!

Geisha On My Phone
Troopers shooting at will.

The Moves

Unlike the mass of DSLRs surrounding me, I moved about and worked the scene. I crouched behind the front line and ambushed the girls as they marched towards me. I aimed the lens high thus removing the clutter of onlookers stationed in the narrow alley. I included more of the beautiful sky and captured the subtle patterns on the nearby building’s wall. I also tried shooting from higher grounds and aiming down, climbing staircases in my vicinity.

Geisha On My Phone
Bring it on geisha girl!

The Post Processing

Once the action was over, I headed back home to edit my shots. To my surprise, many of them stood out, and I could choose from about five that were more than decent. In the end, I was pleased with two photos and started to process them. I cropped a bit here and there and enhanced light and colors. I could not do anything fancy here as the image quality limited my options.

Geisha On My Phone
Spotted!

If I Had To Do It Over Again

I was caught off guard. This experience made me realize that I should carry my camera at all times. Great photo opportunities can appear when you least expect it. I took about one hundred pictures, and most of them had some pixel noise due to the iPhone’s outdated camera.

Geisha On My Phone
The front line was cramped, trenches had been drawn

The Gist

Carry a camera with you everywhere. But if you left your regular shooter behind, benefit from the equipment at hand. Find your voice and don’t follow the crowds. Work the scene instead of staying static. Never be afraid to do what others are not doing: usually, it’s a good sign!

Geisha On My Phone
Pimp my geisha!
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