With just a few more days of spring left and the weather in New York City heating up towards summer, I thought it would be a perfect time to introduce a photography website after receiving a note and the honor from the folks at NASA Goddard on my Instagram account. My photograph “Umbrellas of Arashiyama” from a visit to Kyoto, Japan earlier this spring was selected as one of the winners of NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission’s “Signs of Spring” photo contest.
I had visited Kyoto for the first time 15 years ago and did not have the chance to visit Arashiyama or the Sagano Bamboo Forest at that time. Arashiyama is a UNESCO World Heritage site and many photographers have published photos of the bamboo forest. Since I’ve seen others photos, it immediately made to the top of my list of places to visit while back in Kyoto. the light filtering through the bamboo and greens of the forest compelling for anyone to want to visit there. The umbrellas providing shelter from the elements and signs of more weather volatility to come due to climate change.
As it happened, I traveled back to Japan during peak cherry blossom season. But, it was raining that day, a definite sign of springtime. Rain makes flower and blossoms bloom and as it happened, the GPM satellite was launched in Tanegashima, Japan in February 2014 with part of its mission to measure rainfall and precipitation. The visitors with their umbrellas in the bamboo forest became in its own way a rainforest and a reminder in how important it is that rain and forests are protected for the environment and fresh water supplies on our planet. We, as people, depend on fresh water. My photo was originally posted on Earth Day, April 22, 2015, and the NASA hashtag on that day to remind us that there is #NoPlaceLikeHome.
In April 2013, almost exactly a year before I took the photo in Arashiyama, Japan, I was invited to NASA Goddard for the NASA-JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) GPM cherry blossom NASA Social. During that visit, I got to meet the multinational teams from both NASA and JAXA responsible for the GPM satellite to be launched at the Tanegashima Space Center in February 2014. Seeing the labs and clean rooms where the satellite was being assembled helps with the contextual understanding of how weather affects our planet and the volatility in extreme weather conditions that we are now learning to live with and understand.
Missions like GPM and the satellites helps us with weather tracking, predictions, data collection on water, etc. The science and technology behind the missions will bring more information in how are planet is responding to global climate change.
As we leave a season and embark on a new one, I can honestly say that I have now come full circle and delighted that I could capture it in a single image.