Friday, 12 November 2010

The Torii Gate at Miyajima

Torii gate at Itsukushima, Miyajima. HDR processed with Photomatix Pro

A torii is the name given to the traditional Japanese gate seen in most Shinto shrines around the country. The most famous without a doubt is the one at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, a couple of kilometers off the coast of Honshu near Hiroshima. It's a massive tourist spot for the locals and foreign tourists alike. We stayed overnight on the island so spent several hours walking around the temples and shrines in the small town before squelching out into the middle of the bay (at low tide of course) to get one more view of this amazing Japanese icon.

The panorama was shot just as the light was fading, but before the large floodlights flicked on. It places the torii gate into the right context while the silhouette lighting does a good job of setting the scene. The second shot was taken once the floodlights had lit up - I used my Canon 580EXII speedlight from a range of 30 feet (ISO set to 400 to increase its efficacy) to fill-in some of the heavier shadows on the left-hand side and post-processed the image in  Photomatix Pro and Photoshop. To make the flash visible at that distance the aperture was set to f4 @ 1/4s - I would have liked to have used a longer exposure on this one to get a glassier look - but the flash was not powerful enough to register at anything over f4.

The top image is three frames processed using Photomatix then post-processed in Photoshop - highlights added (with the Dodge tool), rotated, contrast added (Levels) and extraneous flotsam removed using the Clone brush.

The bottom two images are also HDR, taken through a line of lanterns that ring the shoreline and, at the bottom of the page, from a walkway within the shrine complex itself.

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