I’d take a picture, look at the LCD panel, and see white areas flashing back at me, a sign of washed out whites due to over-exposure. It was really annoying: almost every shot I took in Shirakawago was over-exposed. As a rule, I like to shoot at minus one-third stop anyway, but everything seemed to be at least two-thirds over-exposed. I wanted to blame the camera because whenever I composed a shot I was always trying to meter off something close to middle-gray. And yet the results were always off. Sometimes way off. It might take six or seven shots of the same thing while fiddling with exposure settings before getting a decent shot. But I am hesitant to blame the camera.
I was thinking about this while on the train home from work on Thursday. On Saturday (yesterday) I wanted to go somewhere to photograph, and was considering the options. It had to be a short day trip, because I have a gig on Sunday and I should be back home by Saturday evening for an early night’s sleep. Wherever I was going to go, I had to do something about that trend of flashing highlights. Then I remembered that I had some old photo gear in the closet that I hadn’t touched in ages — since the F3HP days, in fact — maybe somewhere in there was my old trusty lightmeter.
The first thing I did when I got home was rummage through my closet. I soon found it. An old Sekonic, a bit banged up but still working. I am sure I hadn’t used it in seven or eight years, not since I lived in Korea.
I decided to go to Himeji Castle, since I had never been there before and it was only an hour by express train from Osaka. What a day it turned out to be. The lightmeter performed admirably. I shot entirely on manual, adjusting the settings according to whatever the lightmeter said. A beautiful blue sky, white plaster walls, and direct sunlight was an excellent challenge, but I am very happy with the shots. I have my lightmeter to thank for that.
Himeji Castle is another World Heritage Site (there seem to be many in Japan!) that is well worth a visit.
The nearby Kokuen garden was built in 1992 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Himeji municipality. It is a beautiful setting of trees, ponds, streams, goldfish and trees.