Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Green Tea

Here, Doc caught me shooting Green Tea fields. Awhile back someone did an article with photos on the tea workers in China. Then a few months later, I saw another photographer do a piece on the tea in Korea; really beautiful photography.

Well, I happen to have a sister-in-law who has a job working with the green tea, right here in Okinawa. So, I decided, that's what I'm going to do; a whole year's worth of shooting tea. Not just the plants, I want to get the whole story, from the care and feeding, cultivating, harvesting, processing, curing, packaging, advertising, drying, whatever else they do to get your tea from the fields to the cup on your kitchen table. That's my plan.

This kind of story and photography, you can't just do overnight. It's more like one of those things that could take years. Little bit at a time, shoot baby tea plants, come back a month later and check on their progress. Get the stages of growth. Shoot under different lighting conditions. Catch sunrise and sunsets over the tea fields, people cultivating the plants, harvesting the tea and finding out what they do with it afterwards. Maybe get some photos of the people actually doing the stuff, give a helping hand, eat what they eat for lunch and find out what they drink at night. That's how you get the whole story; just a little bit at a time.

Well, I had this shot of me taken in June of 2008 and I'm still working on my tea story. I've only been out to the tea fields five or six times and still haven't caught the sunrise or sunset, but I will. I'll catch them in the perfect light, catch the sun, the ocean and the blue skies. Maybe even get some shots during a typhoon. I want my story to be better than the other people's tea field stories. I want the owner of the tea fields to order a 4X6 foot wall mural from me when he sees my best shot. He already ordered one from me and I haven't even shot it yet !

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nuthin' Wrong Here

Now, here I'm not doing anything wrong and Doc just shot me, anyway, behaving myself and shooting a picture of Nakajin Castle under almost a perfect blue sky. Not bad picture-snappin' on Doc's part, either. Think maybe I'll start callin' him a cameraman too, someday.
There hasn't been much free time for me to post a blog, so far this week because things get pretty wild around the middle of the month. In fact, it's going on 9PM right now and I've been doing computer stuff since 7AM today. Except for a quick run home for lunch and my hour power nap, I've been banging away at the keyboards on two laptops in a dimly-lit bar. That's my office, for those of you who don't know me.

Haven't seen a camera all day. Heck, I still haven't done my Christmas cards yet. When I get busy doin' important stuff, everything else just falls by the wayside. There's people in Haiti need help, editors screaming for articles, deadlines to meet, photos need uploading, captions to type, articles that ain't done, stress, pressure, blogs to write, dogs beggin' for a long walk, promotional stuff to do and I'd complain, but there's nobody here but me. And I love it, even thrive on it. And every once in a blue moon, it pays off.

Yesterday, another one of Rose Witmer's articles hit print, along with some of my photos. That's a big deal, to me, no big bucks, yet, but, someday, maybe, I hope.
See, ya just don't decide you're gonna get in National Geo and expect it to happen overnight. What you have to do is become famous first and you don't become famous if nobody knows about you. Then, when lotsa folks know you, all of a sudden, you become famous. You don't need to be beggin' the folks at National Geo, or any other fancy magazine to publish your pictures. When they want good stuff, they'll come beggin' to you, way I figure, anyhow !

If you get a chance, check out Rose's Sakura (桜) Article and give her a Thumbs Up. Poor kid has to put up with my rantings and ravings, no pay, deadlines, pressure from editors, stress and ain't got two Huskies to walk to put a little enjoyment in her life. I'm gonna walk mine, now!
To be continued.....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

And There Was That Time

Sometimes when I'm on the road trying to get the inside scoop and some pictures for a sensational, once-in-a lifetime event, I have to wear things you wouldn't normally see me wearing. Like in this photo taken by Doc Graff. I'm wearing a HAT. I hate hats and always did. But, for this event which was some kinda secret ritual conducted in the mountains of northern Okinawa by men, only, I wanted to make sure I blended-in, as much as possible. That's just in case them mountain boys started playin' that tune "Dueling Banjos" and started lookin' around for strangers to fool with, if ya know what I mean.
The rest of the uniform is pretty much what I normally wear, as little as possible, unless I'm goin' to town, or it's real cold outside. Then, I wear socks with my flip flops and maybe a jacket, but no damn hat; 'specially one with flowers in it !
People don't realize what a cameraman goes through to get a story, sometimes. You can't just show-up with a fancy camera at someone's sacred rituals and start snapping-away thinking you'll give some magazine a Feature Article , you have to get permission, for a lot of events, especially if you plan on living long enough to tell your story.
This particular event, the Shinugu Matsuri , took months of planning in advance and I'm still tying up loose ends, months afterwards to keep good relations with all the folks who helped make my stories possible. Every now and then, I go back to the village of Ada and pay a visit , meet people who remember the bearded old guy with the cameras and spend some time socializing with them. The festival they hold only happens, the way I want to shoot it, once every two years. I figure if I keep going back and making friends, soon everybody up there will know me and we can chat, visit with each other and soon enough I'll know where everyone lives and I'll check their houses and make sure nobody bought any damn banjos before I go up the mountain again !
Oh, before I forget; my New Years Resolution hit Print , so, if you get a chance check it out and Stumble/Tweet it; it drives them Google folks wild !
To be continued.....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Alert Reader

In response to the request of an alert reader and good friend, here's the photo of the young lady the wild and wooly cameraman below was shooting and an explanation, of sorts, as to the camera details and why I had to act like a nut to capture the shot this way.

Most of the people performing in period costumes, whether they're marching or dancing as part of the reenactment ceremonies for the Ryukyu King and Queen's Coronation, are forbidden to smile. In fact, many of the Okinawan Dances I shoot, have the same rules; they're very formal affairs with hours of rigorous training and rehersals behind them.

What I was attempting to do here was capture one of these beauties, with blue sky and skyscrapers in the background. Actually, I threw away half a dozen other photos from this same series where the young ladies were staring at me as if their eyes were cold-steel, piercing my lens. I figured, maybe, if I acted like a nut or paparazzi (same), I might get someone to crack a smile. And it worked ! Sometimes ya gotta break the rules; all of them.

Photo taken with a Pentax K10D, Camera Flash, Spotmetered, f/11 1/180 ISO 100 Pentax 18-250 mm lens at 48mm . 1NOV2009 12:38PM Brilliant sun and harsh shadows made it a difficult shot so, flash was used to soften the shadows. Flash set to Compulsory Red Eye Reduction.

Sumitran, my alert reader-friend, thanks for the inspiration !
To see my Blog where almost flawless English is mandatory and I even get paid for it (Don't tell the IRS) please visit and comment HERE


Sometimes Ya Gotta Break All the Rules

Now, for anybody who reads the Blog where I get paid for talking about how to use a camera, what the cameraman in this photo is doing is photographic heresy. He's shooting without a tripod. He has only one hand on the camera, a finger ready to snap the shutter and the thumb of his left hand pointing up in the sky. What kinda knucklehead photographer would pull a stunt like that ?

It's me. PHOTO COURTESY of Doc Graff who happens to be my shootin' sidekick and designated driver, usually about once a week. Doc, started up this thing called a E-zine. I think it's like some sorta 21st Century invention to save trees, plus, you don't use up so much Digital Ink typin' on your computer; they shortened Electronic Magazine all the way down to just,"E-zine". It's a whole new language, to me.

Anyway, I was looking at Doc's E-zine and noticed he has my blog hooked-up on the front page where the whole world can see it. And, it says, I haven't posted anything in 3 weeks. So, I figure it's a good way to get me working on my own blog more often. Just wish somebody'd start paying me for it. Maybe, if we got about 10,000 people to kick in $5.00 a month, or something, we could start up a real magazine and have enough PROPHETS to buy that $7,000 lens I've been looking at. HAH, I love it when I trick the spellchecker Dude !

Not being very good at New Year's Resolutions, typing, marriages and a few other things, I was asked by another magazine what I'd try to do for the New Year. They're probably gonna quote me, too. I said something like,"Cut down on my writing and spend more time with my true love, my camera".

And, I'll probably spend more time sleeping with the dogs.

Happy New Year !