Covered in primeval rainforest, Yakushima is Japan’s luscious island. I went there in mid January, the off season, which allowed me to have hiking trails to myself. But I was also blessed by unseasonably nice weather. Of the three days I was there, it only rained on one of them. Fortunately that was on my last day, and I had already taken lots of pictures on the first two days.
I thought I was being prudent by bringing my tripod. I knew that taking pictures under canopy trees would limit light even at midday. I was right, but I wasn’t careful enough. While the tripod allowed me to shoot at a slower ISO and thus avoid graininess, I should have also been more careful with the aperture. Most of my pictures have short depths of field. In addition, one of the lenses I was using (35mm) I later found to be slightly off-focus (i.e., in need of repair). As a result, many of the shots are a tad fuzzy. I had thought it was preferable to use the 35mm over the VR 18-200, but this was also a lapse in judgement. When I finally starting using the VR lens towards the end of day two, I realised it was far better, not only because it was in working order, but also because the VR made a real difference when shooting in dim conditions — a difference I couldn’t fully understand until I was comparing images on my computer screen. I wish I had used the VR the whole time.
So my trip to Yakushima was one of wonder and regret. Wonder at the beauty of the island with so much to offer for the outdoor enthusiast, and regret over the disappointing pictures — I could blame the lens issue but I’ll want to do a better job regardless. Both feelings make me want to return as soon as I can.