Shooting the Cherry Blossoms

Shooting the Cherry Blossoms

Each April Tokyo transforms to a sea of pink with the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms.   Shooting the Cherry Blossoms, or Sakura as they are commonly referred to in Tokyo.   There are places to shoot all over Tokyo but my favorite by far is Meguro River in Nakameguro.  I used to live right by the river and used to run along it and loved to watch it transform.

Meguro River in Nakameguro Tokyo Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

Meguro River in Nakameguro Tokyo Japan

I always walk out of my way to a different station in the morning to take some time to appreciate the Cherry Blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

I have gotten a lot of emails from people asking how best to photograph the cherry blossoms…  It can actually be a bit hard as you are trying to capture a scene…an atmosphere.    I like to not only capture the Cherry Blossoms but the little details that are happening around them.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

I like to get out and start capturing them even before they begin to bloom.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

If you have a fast lens (little aperture such as f/1.4 or f/1.2) you can get great pink bokeh when you are isolating a subject…

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

I always try to shoot the Cherry Blossoms with more in the background so they can blur out and give a great background.  This is one reason I prefer shooting on the river than in a park.  In a park you are often shooting up so the sky becomes your background where when shooting at a river often the Cherry Blossoms are hanging over the end and you can have much better control over your backgrounds.

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

You can’t go wrong shoot cherry blossoms with a macro…

I shot this one at a very shallow depth of field which allowed for a very painterly feeling.   f/2.8, 1/250 of a second, ISO 100

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

I shot this one the other day but I wanted to make sure the flower was completely sharp so I stopped down to f/9.0, 1/400 of a second, ISO 800

Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo Japan

Shooting the Cherry Blossoms is very much about capturing the scene of ‘ohana mi’…the best advice is to always pack light.  I typically shoot on most days with a single fixed focal lengh lens.   I captured many of these with a 50mm lens.  It is crowded and things move fast so don’t waste your time carry gear and trying to swap out.   Go twice if you want to capture different perspectives.

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Often the flowers can be accents vs. the focus of the picture you are taking…

Ohana mi in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

A lot of people ‘pack it in’ when the lights goes out…but for me it can be one of the most interesting times to photograph.   I usually shoot at night by hand but this is one time I always make sure to have a tripod with me.

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

I love shooting the food vendors…

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

The people just hanging out enjoying the atmosphere of the Cherry Blossoms…

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro at Night

Also when you are out during the day… don’t forget to look up!

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

After the bloom there is still much to capture…

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

The ‘salt’ on the water as the pedals begin to fall off…

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Until the lights come down…

Cherry Blossoms in Nakameguro

Thanks for stopping by today…I hope you get to enjoy the Cherry Blossoms this year!

 

9 Comments

  1. I adore this post! I’ve never seen sakura before..but they sure looks pretty amazing. Great pictures , Dave.

  2. Hi Dave,
    Just wondering if the shot of the blooming cherry blossoms are this week? I’m over in Suginami near the Kanda river and the ones here are close but not yet.
    Regards,
    Rohan

  3. Rohan – They are all from the past few years…except for the f/9 macro shot.

  4. Hey Dave,
    What this post has me to say is:
    You’re talented in photography, your awesome Leica gears, and amazing Japan.

    Great job!

  5. Beautiful pictures, I especially love the one of you looking up at the sakura (stunning).

  6. Hi Dave – Fab pics. I am traveling to Tokyo next week so thanks for generously sharing your tips on how best to capture the cherry blossoms.
    kind regards
    Ann

  7. Astonishing. I’ve got a camera and a couple of prime lenses, now to get on that plane to Tokyo…

    I have found that shooting prime lenses gives me more freedom, instead of being a limiting factor. I end up doing a lot more footwork, and thinking a lot more about my shots, so in a sense they are helping me improve. It’s definitely a good advice to try them, even in a era when everyone seems to want a zoom.

  8. Hello Dave,

    I would like to shoot sakura this march in tokyo.
    Which 2 lenses your suggestion to shoot sakura ? I am using a canon 6D camera.
    40mm, 50mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 100-400mm, lensbaby sweet35mm, edged 80mm.

    I don’t have 70-200mm, 100-400mm. May be I will rent those or one.

    Kindly suggest.

    Best Regards.

  9. Aponahsan – That’s really up to you and how you shoot. I would probably take the 50mm and maybe the 70-200 but that’s kind heavy. Probably just a 50mm.

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