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Plum Blossoms at Hanegi Park in 2018

In 2017 I had a great luck with the plum blossoms at Hanegi park in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward.  When I went the weather was amazing, deep blue skies and no clouds.  This year, I wasn’t lucky with the weather at all, completely overcast.  Still, I had some good reasons for enjoying myself there.

I think the bokeh from the Fujifilm 55-200 is absolutely fantastic, and so are these plum blossoms ...

In the morning I had visited Yushima Tenjin where the flowers weren’t quite at their best.  At Hanegi Park, they were at their best.  And as the day was overcast, the light wasn’t harsh at all which made it quite good for photography.  Lastly, it was a weekday, being a local place, it wasn’t very crowded with mostly a few locals there enjoying a walk along with quite a few artists sketching or painting.

Photographing the photographer

For my shots, I decided to leave my 16-55mm lens in the bag and work solely with my new Fujifilm XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens.  I chose it for two reasons.  First, I hadn’t used it much since I bought it, only for a few shots at Yushima Tenjin.  Second, I wanted to use it due to the local focal length, to see what kind of pictures I could produce.

Pink plum blossoms are probably my favourite

With a minimum focus distance of 1.1 meters it was challenge at first, because I had been used to working with only the 30cm of the 16-55mm.  In the beginning I just couldn’t get the subject to focus because I was simply too close.  It was like I was just acting from muscle memory – whenever I wanted I wanted to take a picture I would just get close to the subject and take my pictures.  With the longer focal I had to remind myself to take a step or two back.  The other thing I did was, to frame differently to what I usually did, look for a different type of framing to what I usually do as it is hardly a wide-angle lens.

I think you can guess Hanegi Park is in a local area of Tokyo

Also, having that narrow field of view, was also interesting as the subject obviously fills the frame more, unless you want to really step back.  For example, I usually like to include the sky in my pictures to introduce some colour into the background.  But this time that was very difficult.  Either I could get closer to a flower with bokeh in the background.  Or, I could step further back to get some sky, but even these shots had very limited fields of view.  That worked out quite well, because when I took these pictures for this article, the day was very overcast and drab looking.  The focus was more on the flowers.  It would be interesting to see what how this lens would work for real landscapes.

But once used to it, it was a lot of fun.  The bokeh the lens creates is very smooth, I think, is much better than the 16-55.  Also, at 580 grams, it is a very light lens for its size.  And the sharpness?  For my first time using it, I was more than happy.  I can see me using it a lot in the future.  It’s another product from Fujifilm I highly recommend.

If you want to see more plum blossom pictures you could look at this article about Yushima Tenjin.  And if you have any comments, please feel free to leave them in the section below.