Photographing the Japanese Garden in Portland, OR

The "world famous" maple
The “world famous” maple

The Portland Japanese Garden was once proclaimed by the Japanese Ambassador as “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.”  It is a highlight and destination for photographers from around the world. We are not experienced garden visitors, but we were there with a few experts and captured some “winners” during a quick morning shoot.  Here’s what you might see:

With all of its texture, the maple is great in color and black and white
With all of its texture, the maple is great in color and black and white

If you go on Flickr and search for this tree, you will see thousand of photos.  It is a must get and looks good in all seasons and almost in any light.  I had seen many photos of it before I got to make my own.  Here is the startling detail – this tree is only 4 feet high and you will miss it, unless you have an experienced garden visitor or local photographer point it out.

Don't forget to try portrait orientation, too
Don’t forget to try portrait orientation, too

The trees canopy bends and drifts all the way to the ground.  There are two small openings near the ground where you can put your camera.  The better one is on the left.  We used our tripods and wide angle lenses.  Because there are no other reference points for size, except the rock, our brain assumes that it is huge and we are “standing” under it.

Infrared conversion
Infrared conversion

We were told in the fall when the leaves change, there can be a line of ten or more photographers waiting to make a photo.  The day we were there in May, we were the only ones shooting it.


Wait, there’s more.  Though the highlight of the day was the maple, there are also ten different areas and attractions to photograph, including a waterfall, bridges, pounds, a stone garden, a tea house, and pavilions.  The bright sunlight was starting to get to us, so we explored a lot and shot a little.  We will definitely be coming back to see fall color and better light in the winter.

1305_MFA_Portland Infrared_055-Edit

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