It is a shame to miss taking outstanding photos of remarkable places. The Fushimi Inari-taisha red gates are some of the most recognized and stunning walking paths on Earth. Their compelling repetition, movement, color, and simplicity beg to be captured. When I visited with Lori, we had a wonderful time experiencing the place and taking the pictures you see in this post (actually we took a lot more than are displayed, these are just the best).
1. Bring a tripod
The lighting is actually quite dim inside the tunnels of red gates. The lead image of this post was shot at 1/8 second, ISO 200. I did a 3 shot burst with bracket of 1 stop and this turned out the best I think. Nonetheless, I was wishing for my tripod on the walkways so I could be sure of crisp images.
2. Find a good spot and be patient
This place is completely crowded almost all the time. I suggest you scope out a sweet composition, shoot some testers to find the best exposure, then wait right there for the masses to clear out. Tell the people you’re with that you’ll catch-up. Depending on your traveling companions’ disposition, even better would be to get them to walk slowly behind you, clogging the path and providing you the vacant shot you desire. It’s worth the wait.
3. Explore the whole loop
With tens of thousands of red gates, these paths are extensive. Crowds thin significantly the further along you go. When I was here during my end to end tour of Japan by Bicycle, my three man cycling team walked only a third of the paths and found it quickly became easier to take unique shots of the gated paths without too much of a wait for other tourists to move out of the frame. Also, the gates lead to ornate shrines dedicated to Inari (god of rice) which have excellent details for low aperture or macro shots.
I hope you all can make a trip to Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. If you do, be sure to share links to your photos in the comments below!