One Hundred Meters

posted in: Japan, Journal, Nature, Walking | 16

Cabbage Butterflies

Two cabbage butterflies mating on a leaf beside the Noh River, August 07, 2006

In the heart of a big city like Tokyo the cliche says that nature exists as but an afterthought. For such hulking carbon-units as us humans that may well seem like the case, but all it takes is a slowing of pace and a pair of good eyes to see that the world around us, all of it, IS nature; we just have to learn how to see.

Inchworm

At the start of August, one cloudy day, in the midst of my summer-long hiatus from work, I decided one day to walk to the nearby Noh River and see what I could see. When I reached the banks I found myself slowly down to a crawl, barely moving along. These photographs are the result of nearly four hours stepping through the riverside grasses and bushes along a distance of only about 100 meters. What I actually saw far outnumbered what I captured in the camera. With the wind and light many of the pictures were either impossible to get, or else would have been uninteresting. If I had stayed longer no doubt I would have seen a lot more.

(What you see on-screen may look like washed-out photographs. The actual versions have much greater contrast, tone, and saturation. If you are using an LED screen you may want to tilt it back a little to allow more contrast and a darker image to show. The difference can really make the photos stand out.)

Stinkbug Star

Stinkbug balancing atop frond.

Grass Lizard Basking

Grass Lizard basking

Lily In Bloom

This is actually a fiery red and yellow lily… I was amazed when I desaturated it and found this almost infrared film-like ghost of an image.

Red Dragonfly

Male Red Dragonfly. This photograph took forever to get because the twig quivered at the slightest breeze and the footing at the edge of the river was so covered with dead reeds that I couldn’t see where my feet were.

Fritillery

I love the audaciousness and toughness of Fritillery Butterflies. They always seem to be the first to appear in the cold of mid-spring and the last to go at the end of autumn.

Black Ladybird Beetle

Call them the alter egos of those regular black-spot-on-red beetles you usually see.

Robberfly

Robberfly. Heavy-flying thugs of the insect world, they’ll go at anything that moves, including us, if they’re not aware that we are stalking them.

Flower Heart

Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider. I once considered studying field biology so that I could specialize in these spiders. They make no trap webs, but wander about jumping incredible distances and using their single strand of web as lifelines. It’s always delightful to watch their coke-bottle eyes goggling at things even two meters away.

Cobalt Butterly

Barely two centimeters long, this butterfly’s wing color did not become apparent until I was almost standing over the butterfly and it suddenly opened its wings. I wish I knew the name of the species.

And finally, one of my favorite images. An immature female Praying Mantis among some peppermint.

Praying Mantis Amidst the Peppermint

16 Responses

  1. Oh these are fantastically beautiful!

    You could make money from them, ya know, if you wanted…

  2. These are incredible photographs, beautiful close ups of plants and insects! So you had a wonderful time in a spot of nature in the city, Butuki!

  3. Brenden Preece

    Wonderful photographs. I keep coming back and never cease to be impressed. Would you mind revealing what camera you use?

  4. The photos are wonderful. The mantis is my favorite, having that my style of Kung Fu orginated from it. Next would be the white flower.

    What is even better than the photos is that you are healing & posting again!

    You have an amazing amount of supporters. Many sites, like mine get few if any comments.

    It not seem like it at times but you are bless on many levels.

  5. Beautiful! The paradoxical thing about photos like these is that they’re just *so* good, it’s easy not to realise how good they are. But having spent hours trying and failing to get such perfectly focused images (yes, wind in these circumstances becomes the enemy of clear photos!) I know the challenge you’ve overcome to achieve these results.

    I love the desaturated lily, and the way in which it represents how changing the way in which we look at something allows us to see features that might have been hidden – I suspect some of the delicacy of the form might have been masked by the boldness of the original colours?

    Your theme reminds me of a time a few weeks ago when I went to sit outside the office at lunch time, but felt depressed by what I thought were the lifeless surroundings. But then, against a backdrop of concrete and glass and aluminium, I spotted a dragonfly darting amongst the few trees planted to add a token touch of greenery to this otherwise sterile environment. I was surprised and delighted by the strength of my own reaction – I truly felt my spirit lift in response to this evidence of the natural world coexisting with the concrete jungle yet largely hidden by it.

  6. Beautiful photos. I really like the way the animals appear in their environment; a credit to your eye for composition. Some very well considered post processing, too.

    I’ll echo what Zen says. It’s good to read of the fascination you found in that 100 metres, and I trust it’s an indication your life’s taking a definite turn for the better.

  7. It’s an honor and a comfort getting everyone’s comments. I’ve been very shy about my photos and though I’ve tried a number of times to make my way as a professional wildlife photographer, part of me shirks the whole commercial aspect of it. I’ve loved photography since I was 10 and I never want to lose the magic that I see in it.

    Marja-Leena, I guess I tend to go blank sometimes about the depth of the natural world while I am in places such as Tokyo… too often it is nothing but concrete and I feel as if the whole world has lost its richness and all the different manifestations of spirits that make up all of life. But then, such as this walk by the river, I go back to my childhood zeroing in on the details and lose myself in the little live things. It always reminds me how much my tunnel vision can affect my attitude and outlook of the world.

    Brenden, whenever someone asks me about the camera I use I always have to pause. The best photographs are rarely created out of the type of camera you use; it’s the ability to hold the camera in your hand and know what it’s limitations are and then to use what it can do to compliment what you perceive in your mind’s eye that makes the great photos. Henri Cartier-Bressan is one of my favorite photographers, and yet he used quite a primitive camera to take his amazing photos. That being said, a camera which allows you freedom of control also helps you to more closely approximate what it is that you are looking at. I’ve used all sorts of cameras over the years, from a tiny Minolta 16 as my first camera, to a Yashika Twin Reflex camera, and recently, digital, a Nikon D70s with a single 24mm to 150mm Tamron zoom lens (I prefer to limit my lenses and try to figure out my shots by the limitation, thereby lowering the weight and complication of more equipment) or, when the SLR is just too heavy, a Nikon 5400 compact digital camera. Even today, though, I still prefer film with my all-manual Nikon FM2 for the richness and warmth of the medium, its convenience, and lack of need for battery power (though I rarely use it any more due to expense and time of development). It was a sad day for me when Ilford went bankrupt.

    Zen, I’m not sure if the healing has started yet… the worst part is still to come, but I guess I’ve started feeling quieter and more accepting of what will come. All this summer I’ve been doing a lot of hiking (two posts will be up shortly of two climbs in the Japan Alps, one a week long, I did in August). Tomorrow I will be taking off yet again for another two-day climb. The mountains and time in wild places where I am reduced to a mite always reminds me of who and what I am. I am by nature an optimist, especially when I live like this, even when things are hard.

    Andy and Pete, your compliments about the photos, coming from two photographers I admire and whose photos I always love to stop, gaze at, and learn from, are especially welcome. I love nothing more than to get my photos critiqued by others who also go through the whole process of trying to find the perfect shot. My style has changed a lot since ten years ago when a professional photographer at a stock house here in Tokyo reviewed my photos and pronounced them all as “too busy”. What a shock, especially when you spent years trying to get it right! But it taught me something…how to filter out the noise in my eyes. There is still so much more to learn. Please feel free to critique the photos in much greater detail. I love learning that way.

  8. breathtaking photos! It is wonderful to see Tokyo’s natural world through your eyes. So glad to hear you’re getting out on some hikes, it is always apparent how much you treasure that time. Hopefully it offers you great inspiration, fortification and healing. Sending warm thoughts your way…

  9. Stunning. The mating butterflies and the dragonfly were my favorites.

  10. As with the others (entries from others here, and other photographs of yours), I’m delighted to see this work of yours. My wait has been rewarded. Keep it up!

  11. These are awesome photos! Thanks for sharing them.

  12. Just catching up after some time away. These photos are breathtaking and I’m so glad you took the time to do them! You know, Butuki, I really admire the painterly way you photograph nature…

  13. There was no other place I could find to send you this message so I shall do it here. Your comments on Mole’s page….well….they brought me comfort. This world can make you feel like an orphan, but then there are moments where you stumble across a brother or sister, who sees things as you do, and for a short time the isolation isn’t so bad. Thank you for your candidness and forgive me for being such a dork and posting this here.

    I *do* think your pictures are quite lovely.

  14. Again thanks everyone for your comments. I’ve been remiss again in answering comments here, and I’m sorry. These days just facing the blank comment screen or even the blank blog posting screen brings up emotions and thoughts that I’m not sure I am ready to spill out in public. So I’ve been letting silence reign more often than not. It doesn’t mean I don’t think of all of you.

    I just wanted to reply to Heather. Welcome. I’m glad you felt you could leave a reply here. Please don’t ever feel that saying what you want here is something dorky; not at all. After all, the commenting feature is here for a purpose, and it doesn’t just involve my delight in getting comments. I like watching people interact here when there is cause to. It’s exciting watching ideas develop among other people.

  15. Well, I’m uncomfortable with leaving such personal messages in a public space like this, but you blessed me, and that outweighed my embarrassment.

    Peace to you and your precious, heavy heart.

  16. Superb photos Butuki, really wonderful, beautiful stuff.

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