Saturday, April 30, 2011

Flower Festival at IeShima Okinawa, Japan: A Million Lilies

There wasn't time to count them all but, I estimate there had to be a good 750,000 Easter Lilies at the IeShima Lily Festival in Okinawa, Japan.  The island advertises a count of over one million flowers. 

It's easier to just take their word for it, I think.

The main attraction is the hundreds and thousands of white Easter Lilies, in all stages of budding and blooming, dancing in the wind on the slopes facing the ocean.


This is where the annual festival takes place and visitors from all over Japan will be taking the ferry to visit during the next week.


There are plenty more white lilies waiting for me to get them developed.  I decided to give a few of the other lilies their 15 minutes of fame.


One of these days, I may have to start collecting books, or make friends with a local florist, so I can give you the proper names of these flowers. 

There just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week for me to research them.  Do you suppose florists like beer?


It'd be a lot easier for me if I could just stop by a flower shop and take the photos.  If a florist told me the names of the things they'd get a free photo and could sit down once in awhile and drink beer with me.

The trip to the Flower Festival on IeShima this weekend was a real adventure.  It all started with me getting a black eye before I even got on the boat.  Wow.  It's a good thing it wasn't my shootin' eye.

People on the boat, get out of your way real quick when you walk towards them with a black eye and blood running down your face.  So, it wasn't all bad.  It was kind of like being a VIP. 

Or, they thought I was some sort of crazy, violent person.  Hah, I was just going to shoot Easter Lilies!

There are plenty of other interesting things to do on the island of IeShima in Japan besides taking photos of flowers so, I did them, too.  It may take me some time to get caught up, then you'll get the rest of the story.

Safe and sound, back on the main island of Okinawa, Japan is where I'm at now.  A million lilies were fun to look at and take pictures of but, there are critters and caves I want to go back and see. I'll show you some examples as soon as the development is done.

The next time I visit that island, I might just stay for a week.  That'll be sometime after my face stops lookin' like I'm some kind of criminal and the weather is a little warmer.  Maybe, in the summer.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE LILY FESTIVAL VISIT THE JAPAN UPDATE





Thursday, April 28, 2011

Editor's Picks (Photos) for the Month of April 2011

The Full Moon Okinawa, Japan 20 April 2011

Iris Festival 9 APR 2011 Okinawa, Japan

Pomegranate Flower in Okinawa 27 April 2011

A Fern in the Forest, Yambaru Okinawa 9 APR 2011


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cute Little Gals with Drums for Travel Photo Thursday

Packing up and heading to another island reminded me of these photos I took back in 2008 about this time of year.  So, I'm posting them for Nancie (LadyExpat) and her TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY. 

Doc (GOYA REPUBLIC) and I were driving around on our weekly photo excursion and decided it was high-time we visited another island.  Some islands around here can be reached by car and causeways.


We were on a causeway heading towards Hamahiga Island, Henza Island, Miyagi Island and Igei Island, one of those islands (What do you think I look like, a Tour Guide?), I can't remember, when we heard these drum beats.

Everyone in Okinawa, Japan recognizes the sound of those drums and it means somebody is doing Eisa Dancing, somewhere.

We're not used to hearing these drums or seeing Eisa on a roadside between islands, not during the month of May, anyway.  We whipped a U-turn on the car, grabbed cameras and went to see what we could shoot.


Back then, my Pentax was brand new.  I was still trying to figure out all the buttons and wheels on the thing and cussing at the horrible, harsh mid-day lighting. 

There could have been dog and pigeon poop all over the places I was rolling around on trying to compose a "Cute Little Gals with Drums Dancing on an Island Scene", it didn't matter to me. 


These are the kinds of scenes you can't set up a tripod and have everyone pose for you.  Folks might think you're some kinda nut.  You might have to get in your friend's car smelling funny; it's all in a day's work.

What we figured out, once I regained my senses, was this was an opening ceremony to celebrate the beginning of Golden Week in Japan.

It means Festival Season in Okinawa kicks-off into high gear.  As soon as I get off the boat, coming back from the Lily Festival on Ie Shima Island, it'll be Golden Week.  I'll be shooting festivals, somewhere, all over this island from now until November.  Whether they have cute little gals with drums, or not, I'm going to be busy with my cameras.  Wu Hu Hu !

VISIT BUDGET TRAVELERS SANDBOX FOR MORE OF THIS WEEK'S TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY





Ten Reasons I Like Books for Dummies (Save Money)

There's way more Books for Dummies in my collection that what you see here.  I have sort of a library but, you don't need to get all that information piled on you at one time.  So, I'm just showing you a few that fit in my backpack and I'm pretty much done reading. Some of these books have actually saved me money.

THIS WON'T BE A TOP TEN LIST BECAUSE PEOPLE GET TIRED OF THEM.  JUST TEN GOOD REASONS:

There's no entrance exam, age requirements, physical exams, or anything like that. You just buy them.

Dummies Books are all written by smart people.

There's no homework assignments.  All you have to do is read the parts you want to read.

It's way less expensive than going to school.

Once you get a good collection going, you can build stuff with them.

They make great placemats and coasters for drinks if you ever have too much company.

At the beach you can make a small tent.  Your face won't get sunburned and nobody will bother you.

You can swat flies and kill spiders with them.

Some of them have #1 at the top of the binder.  That must count for something.

Long ago, I saw a TV commercial that said "You can learn a lot from a dummy" and I believe it.


That's just my ten reasons why I like Books for Dummies.  I bet you can think of more.  Maybe, we could get some sort of "Swap Your Books for Dummies Club" going and save even more money.  Huh ?


Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Flowers and Fruits: Shootin' Pomegranates in the Rain (Photos)

Just for the heck of it and (mostly) to get someone in my house to quit yappin about this beautiful flower with fruits I should take photos of, I went shootin' in the wind and rain today. 

Here is what all the commotion was about. That's the pomegranate flower and you can see baby fruits.


     Just in case you couldn't see them, I made a close up shot.  Now, you can even see the raindrops.


It was raining and windy making it kind of hard to catch the flowers and leaves holding still for a split second.  So, I used my camera flash, turned down a few notches to weaken it.


All the hens in the neighborhood keep cackling, "This is the only pomegranate with this color flowers on the whole island of Okinawa, Japan".  Who knows?  They might be correct. 

I never knew what a pomegranate flower or fruit were until just a few minutes ago.

The folks over at WIKIPEDIA ORG have pictures of the fruit and flowers that don't look anything like mine.

My 1999, hardly ever used, Webster's American Dictionary says a pomegranate is a "tropical reddish fruit with many seeds".  So, you'll probably never catch me eatin' any of them.


On the way home from the pomegranate shootin' session I noticed Easter Lilies growing in my driveway. 

I figured I'd better practice shootin' them in the wind and rain, too.

Friday, I'll be heading to another island just so I can shoot about a million of these flowers.  I'll be awful disappointed if it rains the whole time I'm there.

You can bet on it.  I won't let the weather stop me from trying to get some award-winning photos.

Walking around in the wind and rain with my Pentax, shooting flowers and fruits today, may pay off in the long run.  It may have been a good rehersal for the upcoming weekend and the bonus, for me is, nobody's yappin' about the beautiful pomegranate flowers I should see anymore.

Just in case I'm unwired from this internet thingy a few days, I loaded up a few new galleries on my website for everyone TO PEEK AT.

So, if I'm not around, you can pick your own PHOTO OF THE DAY just try not to leave any fingerprints. OK?


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's Wrong With That Picture? Burger King CEO & A Whopper !

OK.  I hope everyone knows the way this thing works by now.  I find some bizarre tidbit of news from around the world then, go digging through my files to see if I have anything to use as a visual aid.  Some sort of eye-catcher to trick people into coming here.  It's a marketing gimmick I learned from being married so many times.  But, I'm not doing this to insult women.  That'd be Burger King's specialty.

My picture was taken at a Burger King in Japan.  I don't need anyone's help telling me what's wrong with my picture.

I want to know what's wrong with that picture (imagination required, here) of the CEO of Burger King talking to a bunch of college students in Chicago.  Picture this, if you will:

Bernardo Hees, the CEO of the company that invented The Big Whopper, wants to impress the ladies in his American audience (I'm guessing here) so, he tells them about his time at the University of Warwick in England.

The difference between the USA and the UK, he says, is "Here the food is good and you are known for your good-looking women."  But in the UK, GET THIS: "Food is terrible and the women are not very attractive."

What a freakin' knuckle head.  He, of course, apologized later saying it was just a joke and he was using it to "connect" with his audience.  Phbbbttt !

If he really wanted to make a joke he could have said something like, "I like my burgers just like I like my eggs and women; over easy."  Wink, wink, wink.  That jackass can't even come up with a decent joke. 

He should be fired and ME HIRED.  Down with Burger King. I never liked their coffee, anyway.

Don't take my word on this. I could be makin' stuff up.  Take a look at the source, if you get a chance.  It's all here in the GUARDIAN FROM THE UK.  Have a peek and you tell me "What's Wrong With That Picture?"

Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Torii on the Beach: Ghost at the Top of the Hill (Photos)

Aw, you don't really believe in ghosts.  Or do you? 

I promised a few people I'd show them the Ghost I mentioned in a previous blog post so, I guess it's time I dug her up.

First, you get to look at the scene as it would be if you were approaching this sacred site in late afternoon.

It can be pretty dark inside this wooded grove, even when the sun is shining brightly on the best of days.


After passing under the Torii and entering the site, this small Utaki, or place of worship, is the first thing you notice along the trail.


Climb all the stairs behind the small building and you'll come to this, very special, site of worship.
It is locked up. Only a high priestess opens the doors to pray and make offerings and that is only on special occasions. No one else has access to the place.  There is a chair on the right side.

Just about the time I started thinking of going the rest of the way up and sitting down to rest my weary bones. Something moved and I snapped this photo.  It's a GHOST and I know her.

She used to work with me here in Okinawa, Japan.  She did the writing and I was the photographer.  We worked together on Photo Essays for APOGEE PHOTO MAGAZINE, GO BACKPACKING and ROMAR TRAVEL.

Some of them, we did a couple of articles for between 2009 and 2010.  Then, all of a sudden, one day she just disappeared into thin air.  So, I figure, she really must have been a ghost.  A GHOST WRITER. 

There's the ghost on the top of the hill behind the Torii on the beach in Okinawa, Japan.  Wuuuu !




The Easter Bunny Hah ! Okinawa has a Bunny Made of Flowers !

It's hard for me to remember Easter because we just don't do it here.  But, everybody keeps mailing me Happy Easter Greetings.  So, I dug up something for you out of my "I don't know why I took this photo and I don't know what I'm saving it for, either FILE.

This was taken at the International Orchid Show in Okinawa, Japan back in February 2011.  The bunny, I know was placed there because it's The Year of the Rabbit in Asia.  The flowers it's made from are not orchids, I don't think.  And, they aren't lilies, either.  I'm not going to lie.  I have no idea what they are.

If you really want to know, ask a woman.  They know everything.

Easter weekend was busy for us cameramen.  The photo developing from Saturday and Sunday isn't quite done, yet.  As soon as all the photo editing gets caught-up, I'll be busy cleaning cameras and packing my bags for a trip to Ie Shima Island where there's a festival and a million Easter Lilies on display.

We have reservations for the ferry and only a one day, overnight trip, but, I told everybody if it's cloudy , raining, or just dreary, grey skies they can plan on going back to Okinawa without me.

There's no sense going all the way to another island just to shoot crappy pictures.  That's what tourists do.  I'm no tourist.  I'm a cameraman.  I want to catch early morning light, sunrises and sunsets and a whole bunch of flowers with blue skies in the background and some pretty ocean.

If they let me, maybe, some pretty girls, too.

It'll still be awhile longer before my face and neck stop hurting from the shearing I got at the barbershop Saturday.  I gotta get some sun and toughen-up my skin so I don't go to another island lookin' like some kinda redneck foreigner.  Even if I am.

I've never been to Ie Shima before.  Just in case they haven't invented internet cafes over there, I might post a few extra blogs this week or stick a bunch of new photos in my website gallery to keep everybody busy while I'm gone.  But, if they have the internet over there, I'll see if I can tap into it and run a wire over to my tent.  That'd be cool if I could send breaking news live from Ie Shima just like Geraldo Rivera that whacko I used to see on TV. Only, I wouldn't have commercials and I'd try to tell true stories.

Thank you all for the Easter Greetings and I hope you like Okinawa's Easter Bunny made from flowers.

You might also like THE YEAR OF THE PARTY RABBITS



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photos) Plus: The Silly Wiki Stuff in Japan

On Easter Sunday we don't really get into the Easter Bunny, eggs hunts, chocolate mess and all that stuff over here in Okinawa. Some people go to church and wear Easter Bonnets, I guess.

 That'd be down around the big cities. I only know it's Easter from people online wishing me a happy one.

Anyway, I went back up in the northern mountains to see what I could find for today's blog and came across this sign warning you, if you don't watch your step, you might fall on your butt.


There are plenty of places along this trail where you could slip, trip, stumble or fall and plenty of these signs to warn you. The silly signs just didn't do the trick for me today.

I hiked all over the mountains and just couldn't find anything that cracked me up.


After getting out of the dark jungles and into some decent sunlight I came across a pond with these critters in it and figured, maybe, they were some kind of endangered species.

When a couple of them got real close to each other I got thinking, "Oh boy, we're gonna see some action".


But, all they did was check each other's packages, sniff, or whatever they do and went their separate ways.

When I got out of the woods and off the nature trail I went and asked this nature dude if he could give me the name of these critters I had on my camera. I was hoping they were some kind of endangered species and I wanted a scientific name so I wouldn't have to do so much research when I got home.

"Shirikenimori", he tells me and he helped me translate it from his Japanese wildlife book into English.

Together we came up with "Shi Ri Ken I Mori" and he made sure I wrote it down in proper English.

And he made sure I returned his pencil.  It almost went in my pocket.

Nice guy, he was. He even spoke a little English and was very helpful. 

But, he didn't have a scientific name for the critter. No problem, I Google stuff.

That lead me to plenty of sources but, my favorite source was Wikipedia Japan.  This just made my day because I hadn't had a good belly-laugh like this in awhile. So, I'll quote directly from the Wiki folks in Japan and post a link and hope they don't mind.  I want them to take full credit for this masterpiece:

"Shirikenimori (newt ass sword, sword蠑螈ass, Cynops Ensicauda ), the animal phylum Chordata Class Amphibia Caudata Salamandridae newt species are classified as urodele."

My guess is maybe they couldn't afford an educated translator so, they just grabbed somebody out of a bar.  Like they were in a hurry to finish their Wikipedia homework.
So, they found some homeless dude or a drunk sailor and asked, "What would you call this tail sticking out of this newt ?  It looks like a sword to us." 

So, the dude says, "Oh, call it a newt ass sword.  That's what I'd do."  So, that's what they did !

It's all RIGHT HERE.  You can call me old-fashioned.  I would have thought something like "sword tail" would have gotten the job done.  And it wouldn't have sounded so silly.  It did CRACK ME UP !

It turns out, the Cynops ensicauda (Shirikenimori) or, Sword-tail Newt, is an endangered species found in Okinawa, Japan.  I'll be heading back up that way to try and get some better photos, now that I know where they can be found.  I'll keep my eyes open for more silly signs while I'm on the highways.


Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Photo of the Week: Ancestor Worship: Okinawa, Japan

This week's photo was taken by Rusty Robertson while Ryukyu Mike was busy with the family at an annual get together.  That'd be me, over there on the left, the guy who formerly had a long, white, scruffy beard.

If you haven't already seen the article, take a minute, and visit POCKET CULTURES to see the full story.

I'm right proud of my apprentice, Rusty getting his first batch of photos published.

The guy puts up with my yelling and cussing about how to shoot cameras but, last Sunday I had to act like I was worshipping so, I kept quiet and let Rusty do his thing.  I was supposed to be praying.


It'll be a little while longer before you see my smiling face on this blog.  Rusty and I are working on another project, right now.  And my face is a little sore from what happened to it today.

Standby for more photos by Ryukyu Mike and his sidekick, Rusty traveling around Okinawa, Japan with our cameras as soon as I grow some hair back.  Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot. Rusty shot that pile of fur, too!


Visit mt Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bird and Blossoms (Photo) and Happy Earth Day !

It's been three months since this photo was taken. The bird is a Japanese White Eye. The flower buds are Cherry Blossoms.  Our Cherry Blossom Season ended long ago on Okinawa but, the season is in full swing in Japan and many other parts of the world.  ( Pentax K10D f/11  1/640  ISO 100  Pentax 18-250 at 250mm ).

April 22d is Earth Day. Did you know that?  So, I'm going out to celabrate, right now.


                                                        HAPPY EARTH DAY TO YOU !


Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Pile of Laughing Buddhas for Travel Photo Thursday

          Here's a whole pile of laughing Buddhas for TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY APRIL 21, 2011.

There's no telling what the story behind this collection might be. I'll have to do some further investigation. 

Not that I'm getting all religious, or anything like that, in my old age. I just like Buddhist stuff.

This one guy, Dali Lama XIV said, "KNOW THE RULES WELL, SO YOU CAN BREAK THEM EFFECTIVELY".  Sounds like a reasonable plan, to me.  So, that's what I try to do.  I know all the rules in Okinawa, Japan.

Now, I don't know what happened to the person or persons who started this collection of Buddhas but, I'll be snooping around to see if I can find out.

They don't look too shabby in the photo at the top of the page, except maybe, for the one on right side of the roof that got knocked over. 

When you zoom-in for a closer look, it appears they've been neglected.  Or, could it be they were all mud wrestling and they're laughing because they took those big sticks on their shoulders and knocked that one Buddha out ?

This pile of Laughing Buddhas is located on the left side of HWY 84 about a mile past the Nago City Pineapple Park.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playing Games With The Full Moon Okinawa, Japan 20 Apr 2011

       Last night between 12:57AM and 1:09AM the games the moon was playing with me came to an end.

                The little sucker had been hiding behind clouds every time I went out to shoot.


      As I walked home last night it peeked through the clouds and so, I decided to play my games.


                 With the Pentax, a tripod and SIGMA 50-500MM LENS I got closer and closer.


                                             Until I got that sucker right where I wanted it.

Now, I'm done playing games, freezing my furry toes-off in my flip-flops, trying to catch the full moon in Okinawa, Japan.  This full moon thing happens a lot.  Maybe it'll be warmer next month.  Ya reckon?

As soon as I clean up the mess from all the wife's planters I knocked over last night, I'm going back to bed.

This month's Full Moon Photos were inspired by THE ASTROBLOG


RELATED POST PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: SHOOT THE MOON


Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Monday, April 18, 2011

LIke Pulling Teeth? Not Me. Unless, It's An Emergency (DIY)

                                  These things always seem to happen at the darndest times.

There was a full moon out last night but, it was way too cloudy and windy for me to go trying to shoot it with the Sigma 50-500mm lens.

I figured I'd get to sleep early and catch the moon as the sun was coming up in the morning.  4:30AM I went out to see what the moon was doing.  It was there, alright but, the sky was full of clouds, everywhere.

Weather can change suddenly around here so, I sat down at the kitchen table drank coffee and started reading the latest edition of Landscape Photography.  Maybe, I'd get a good shot of the full moon, later.

About 5:30 this tooth I've been wiggling around in my head decided it was time to act up. 

It had to get pulled.  I looked at the clock. Good, no dentist in his right mind is awake at this hour.

We have a full-fledged emergency.  Tooth, you're coming out, right now.  I like DIY stuff, you're history.




Like Pulling Teeth?

If trying to extract information from or to get a straight answer from someone

Or, if something is very difficult

That's what the idiom means according to USING ENGLISH.COM/IDIOMS



HERE ARE THE STEPS I USE FOR EMERGENCY TOOTH EXTRACTION:

1. Wiggle the tooth with your tongue for a few weeks so it gets really loose.

2. The tooth will let you know when it has to come out. Usually it's when the dentist is closed.

3. Sterilize your mouth with something powerful like mouthwash or Johnny Walker Black.

4. Wash your hands real good. Sing Happy Birthday, all the way through, twice while washing.

5. Grab the tooth.  Twist, wiggle and pull until it comes out.

6. Rinse real quick one more time with something powerful.

7. Stuff something like a tissue or paper towel in there to stop the bleeding.

8. If you believe in fairies wash the tooth and stick it under your pillow.

9. Don't eat or drink anything until after the bleeding stops and you take the stuffing outa your mouth.

10. Go see a real dentist, after they wake up, if you have the time or money for such luxuries.


So, what's "Like pulling teeth" actually like ?   This one was a real doozy.  I always wondered why the dentist has you go and get Xrays on a tooth that he's just going to yank out and throw away.

This little bugger was hooked up real good.  It took me a about ten minutes to yank it out.  It felt like it might have been wired all the way down to my kneecap.  Xrays may have shown that, not sure.

The darn thing almost brought tears to my eyes.

Next, after I got done with Step #9, I repeated Step #6 a few more times.  And then, I couldn't focus myself or the camera to take a sharp picture of the mouthwash.  That crazy bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whiskey wouldn't hold still and it couldn't even stand up straight.

And the magazine became too hard to read. 

So, I took a little nap.

Sonavagun if I didn't miss the full moon.

Sometimes catching a full moon without it being under a blanket of clouds is just "Like pulling teeth".


Visit my Homepage for THE PHOTO OF THE DAY


Adobe Elements Product Review (Photos) and How To

HERE'S A QUICK REVIEW AND HOW-TO FOR FRIENDS WHO SHOOT UNDEREXPOSED PHOTOS AND FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T MY FRIENDS, YET.


























        A BEFORE ADOBE ELEMENTS 8                                                     AND AN AFTER ELEMENTS 8

This is a product I use every single day.  Now, nobody can get away with calling me a PhotoShopper because that's not what I use the stuff for.  The idea I got into my head when I first started takin pictures with a digital camera was learn to shoot photos that don't need anything done to them but framing after they came outa my camera.

Once I started posting photos online I discovered there's a buncha thieves around the world who think it's alright to just take your stuff for FREE !

So, I ended up buying programs to help me discourage them. Let's just say I alter the photography enough to make it worthless for printing and easy for me to find when some knucklehead decides to swipe my picture and re-post it on line as his or hers.

Today, all I want to show you is a few steps you can take in Adobe Elements.  I'm using Elements 8 but, there is a newer version available, Adobe Elements 9.  Either one you can get for under $100. 

I have used other programs.  For the computer challenged nothing beats Adobe Elements.

HERE IS ALL I DID TO THE PHOTO ABOVE WITH ELEMENTS 8 IN 30 SECONDS OR LESS


Clicked on FILE and opened my Pictures File for 17 April 2011 and clicked on this image.
Boom.  There she is and she's underexposed.  So, I want to enhance her.  I CLICK "ENHANCE". Hah !


Being the lazy person I am, all I did next was hit AUTO SMART FIX and let somebody else do all the work.


         Little guys running around inside my computer fixed her up in no time.  Bless their hearts.


Next, I CLICK on IMAGE to size it for my blog and HIT "ROTATE" to get the gal standin on her feet. 

All that took me less than 30 seconds.  You can probably do it even faster.  I only type with one finger.

Adobe Elements gets a five star rating from me. 

Would I reccomend this product to my friends ?

Yup. They'd be crazy not to have it.

RELATED POST: HDR PHOTOGRAPHY BASICS USING ELEMENTS 8