Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome Lantern Ceremony

I woke up at 6am and took off with my larger packed bag for the Hiroshima Station on the other side of town.  I deposited the bag in a locker and scouted out where my night bus would be leaving so I wouldn't have to worry about it after the lantern ceremony (scheduled to end at 9:30-10, my bus leaving at 10:30 and it takes at least 20 minutes to get across town).

I briefly went over to the Dome and the Memorial building for the moment of silence, which wasn't very silent because the anti-nuclear protesters at the Dome didn't bother to heed the moment of silence with the rest of the city.  It was interesting, seeing all the groups protesting this and that (I got a paper, in English, about NHK's conspiracy to overtake Japan with Korean culture).  I was asked to represent the U.S. in a 'peace' rally, but the messages were so muddled to me that I didn't want to end up in an anti-nuclear event instead so I just melted away into the crowd.

At 11am I checked out of my hostel and went to scope out where I wanted to take my photos.  I had thought about this briefly during the previous two days, but my suspicions were confirmed that morning when I saw someone throw rose petals into the river at 8:00am and they floated away from the dome, rather than towards it.  This was because it was still low tide, so the water was flowing out to sea.  I checked the night tides during the day and found the tide switch to be at 8:25, which could mean that I might get photos of the lanterns going both ways, but I would definitely have to alter my 'first shot' plans to account for the lanterns floating down stream.

I set up under a bridge at 1pm and had an old guy show up around 2:30pm.  Apparently he'd never been beat, or so he told me, I think.  Anyway, my promptness helped warm him up to me and he ended up on my team as dusk approached and people tried to squeeze between us or cut below us as the tide went out.  He defended out territory so vigorously that I only needed to worry about shooting.

They started launching the lanterns at 6pm, but the light was so bad that there was nothing to be done about it with cameras, so we just watched thousands of them float by before dusk brought about the light we'd come for.  I made sure to shoot all three of my test white balances at each of f/3.2, f/8, and f/16, then repeat that pattern for vertical shots.  I had written out a schedule that morning of the three places I wanted to shoot from and where I should be when, but I finished up my first spot (and the others) early so I moved on quickly.  It did hurt a little to give up the spot I'd been sitting at for seven hours, but I made sure to give it to a video friend I'd made.

I went high to get a different angle, then went on the bridge above my first angle, then over to my money shot location (see last blog post), then on around between the dome and the lanterns.  I wasn't paying attention until I heard somebody behind me say "the wind must be getting stronger, the lanterns are changing direction!"  My senses, already on adrenaline-fueled high, jumped into action and I grabbed my camera/tripod and booked it back up to the bridge, where I got a great spot (3 feet to the right of the best spot) and got the shot I'd originally wanted.

I still had a little time so I ran down to the water's edge and grabbed one more shot on my list before hurrying back to the tram for the station, arriving at my bus 15 minutes before it was to leave.  Enough time to change out of my sweat-drenched clothes into a new set and apply some deodorant!

I ended up with 632 shots/15gb.  I've just uploaded them and haven't even scrolled past the first 100. I won't have time to properly go through them for awhile, but I'll post two that I quickly processed:

[please don't use these photos without my permission]

1 comment:

ReBekha said...

Amazing! I love how well prepared you were. A true photographer. These early shots are so wonderful. I can't wait to see more!