Grass Peeping

November 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I always carry a camera with me. If I'm going to work, I have a camera bag in the car, and if I'm out on a walk I usually have a compact camera in one of my pockets, or if it's evening there's probably a tripod over my shoulder.

While many of my shots are planned, I also enjoy capturing moments and memories that I bump into in everyday life. This morning I uploaded some unplanned shots I took while out and about this week, so I'll roll them out here as well.


On Tuesday I had to work down near the southern end of Chiba. I started work later than usual that morning so had time to go for a long walk before leaving. It was foggy and there were no clouds in sight, and the leaves had started to fall from the big tree that overlooks the rice paddies.


Perfect StartPerfect Start

The grass was really wet with the morning dew so I had to stick to the farm tracks, which turned out to be a good thing as I covered more distance than I usually do and got a different perspective of the place. The higher the sun climbed the hotter and glarier it got, making the morning dew glitter on the wild grass.


Dew DropletsDew Droplets

This is a close up of dew on a native Japanese wild grass called Chikara-shiba チカラシバ. Chikara shiba means strong grass, the name refers to the strength of its roots. Unlike most grasses, Chikara-shiba is almost impossible to pull out of the ground by hand, its tough roots grow down far into the soil.  In late summer, chikara-shiba (called fountain-grass in English) puts out beautiful seed heads which capture sunlight, turning fields and roadsides golden yellow and silver, similar to the more well known susuki-grass. It's now well past that phase and is starting to dry out and die off with all the other wild grasses.

In older times, when Japanese people were more in touch with the land they lived on, people used to enjoy watching the grasses change colour as much as they liked to admire the tree leaves. There is even a Japanese word to describe the changing colour of wild grasses, a word that I like to translate as grass-peeping. Similar to leaf-peeping, people used to refer to the yellowing and redening of the grass as 草紅葉 kusa-momiji (momiji means maple). Nowadays, most people don't see the wild grasses often enough to notice the subtle changes in the colour, but when you do build up a enough sense to appreciate it, the colours are quite striking. On my morning walk on Tuesday, the grass-peeping was top class! 


Ziggy ZaggyZiggy Zaggy


Sunset is early these days so by the time I had finished work on Tuesday evening it was well dark. But before coming back home I went for a walk on the beach and took this long exposure of the small waves that were reaching up and down the sand, painting it in pastel pinks. 

Amaha BeachAmaha Beach


On Wednesday I had the day off and drove down to the southern tip of Chiba and did some early morning sea photography and some hawk research with some other birders for the Hawk Migration Survey. I took lots of seascape photos, I'l share them another time. 

On Thursday, the weather was rubbish, but in the evening I took a break from work and went for a walk and was treated to a beautiful autumn sunset while walking through the susuki-grass fields as the rain clouds cleared. 



Susuki-grass ススキ is called silver-grass in English. It is one of the annual delights of photographing in Autumn in Japan. Silver-grass, has extremely small fibers on the flowers that catch and refract sunlight making it glow silvery gold. This effect is especially noticeable at sunset when the sun is low and everything else is starting to fade into darkness. In the right conditions it really does look like it is on fire. Anyway, that evening I had already missed the fire-grass display, but luckily I had my tripod over my shoulder because the clouds put on quite a finale as the sun went down, and I was able to shoot another 4 shot high vertical panorama to add to my collection of susuki silhouettes. 

Susuki FieldsSusuki Fields
Friday evening near work, I was running some errands and noticed this fish shaped cloud casting a unique shadow across the western sky. The camera in my glove box came in handy for that, although I won't be putting that snapshot anywhere near my best photos collection, still it's nice to catch memories. 


Fish CloudFish Cloud



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