Hydrangeas and Fireflies

I’ve been cooped up in my apartment for quite a while now. I thought I’d break the monotony a little bit by taking a day trip to Kanagawa. My goal was to take pictures of fireflies. In and around Tokyo, all of the events I could find that featured fireflies were canceled due to covid-19 such as the Fussa Firefly Festival, the firefly event in Shibuya’s Botanical Garden Fureai, the one in Yuyake Koyake Fureai no Sato, the one in Hotel Chinzanso, etc. So I found a random spot in Fujisawa and decided to make a day trip of it.

In Japan, June is the time when Hydrangeas bloom. Many gardens, temples, shrines, and homes have them growing in a variety of blue, violet, and white colors. So I figured I’d go take pictures of Hydrangeas in the area until night time.

The first stop was Meigetsuin (明月院).

Next up was Hasedera (長谷寺). This one has you pay for two tickets. One is for admission to the temple and the other is specifically to go see the area where the Hydrangeas are grown. The area with the Hyragneas is a little smaller than Meigetsuin, but I felt like it was easier to get pictures. Maybe because I went near closing and there were less people.

I also took a quick stop by Jojuin (成就院). But it was already 5pm when I arrived, which is when they close. I kind of felt bad for one of the guys locking up as I quickly went down the stairs. I didn’t really have time to take any pictures, but all the hydrangeas were cut this year. A friend told me they do it every five years or so to give the plants a rest.

My last stop was Ishikawa Maruyama Yado (石川丸山谷戸). I’ve seen other people’s pictures of fireflies on Instagram and wanted to give it a shot. But being my first time, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and how to go about it. I brought my tripod and my camera, but I made quite a few mistakes.

I didn’t know how to focus in the dark. The place I initially set up at was a little too far and I only had a 24-70 and a 90mm lens on me. I needed to get closer, but that meant I’d also have to mix in with the crowd. So I had to try to find a spot that I was comfortable with and wasn’t in the way. By then, it was too dark to properly focus, especially if I shot with a wider aperture.

That also meant I couldn’t really take my time to freely pick a spot to compose a shot. I couldn’t really find a backdrop I liked, so I just went with what was available to me.

In addition, there weren’t a ton of fireflies there. At most, we’d see 5 or 6 at once and often they were spread out. The pictures above are a result of stacking multiple shots together from the same angle.

I’d like to try again, but I think that the time fireflies come out is coming to and soon if it hasn’t finished already. I’m glad I was able to get away, despite the current situation, even if it was just for a day.

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