Friday, July 29, 2011

The Mountains and Ocean Are Calling Me (Photos)

This weekend an event that happens only once every two years takes place in Ada, a coastal village in the northeast area of Okinawa, Japan.  It's called the Shinugu Matsuri (Festival) but, there won't be any of the trappings you'd see at most festivals.  Here are a few photos from the event in August of 2009.

The mountains, ocean, and river play a role in this event and I will capture all I can from whichever angles the light suits me best.  I'll be putting the Panasonic, Pentax, and Canon through their paces.

          There will be some high contrast photography in daylight and during the hours of darkness. 

        There will be gals, both young and old, dancing around fires for me to capture on digital film.

After a long, hard day humping all my camera gear up mountain trails and down to the ocean, I might just hand one of my cameras to someone else.  Then, have a sip of the local spirits and jump in on the last dance so, someone can snap a photo of watashi!  Reckon that'd be alright?

Oops. Was It Thursday's Travel Photo Thingy, Again ?

When I hear from my friends in the Land Down Under that it's freezing then, from the folks in Thailand and Europe and sometimes, even in Florida that it's sweltering hot, I have to ask them a question. 

Like don't you have any caves nearby that you can crawl into ?

I'm not going to lie.  I can't remember the exact degrees.  But, down inside Gyokusendo Cave in Okinawa, Japan the temperature is almost constant.  It feels cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

So, everybody should quit complaining and go back to living in caves.  Dontcha think ?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Mystery of the Shima Higiri Flower Solved (Photos)

Remember the SHIMA HIGIRI FLOWER FROM OKINAWA, JAPAN that was driving me nuts just last week ?  Well, thanks to an alert reader the mystery has been solved.

Pagoda Flower

Orange Tower Flower

Pagoda Flower or Orange Tower Flower with Butterflies

Call it a Clerodendron, if you like.

This plant has origins in India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

It's scientific name is CLERODENDRUM PANICULATUM

My hat goes off to Lei Nekojima, the alert reader from Naha Okinawa, Japan.

She is a Comic Artist

I don't know if she drinks beer

Maybe, I'll meet her someday

And we'll drink beers together

Then, I'll ask her if she can draw a funny picture of me

So, I can get rid of that old guy-looking picture on my blog !

Have a peek at her website:

For solving the mystery of the Shima Higiri Flower, I think, I owe Lei a ThumbsUp.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photo of the Week: The Dragons of Ginoza

It's an action-packed week for Ryukyu Mike and the photos waiting for development may just have to wait a while longer as the pile grows.  Here is a photo taken Monday night at the Ginoza tug-o-war.

This shot was taken by zooming in on the village banner flapping in the breeze attached to about a 30-foot bamboo pole.  Hearty, young, strong men hoist the pole and dance around with it prior to the start of the tug. MORE ABOUT POLE DANCING AT OKINAWAN TUG-O-WARS HERE. 

In addition to my normal dereliction of duties, there are some big events I'm getting ready for this weekend.  One is a 1st birthday party for about 3 grandkids.  We do stuff differently, in Okinawa, Japan than in the rest of the world.  So, I have to make sure I document this event in photos for all to see.  I may even have to bring along some assistant cameramen or, (groan) let the wife use the Canon G12, again.

Then, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I'll be headed up to the village of Ada for the Shinugu Matsuri.  This is special because the hike up the mountain only happens every other year.  A breaking rumor just came in.  It may really be special, this year, because it's (maybe) the 35th anniversary of the event being declared an official intangible cultural asset.  REF: An undisclosed source.

At any rate, getting wired up to go online may be spotty this weekend.  I'll attempt to stay in touch.  I'm even going to pack a 50-foot extension cord along with a laptop and battery chargers so, I can up and download humongous photo files while attempting to get online from the village of Ada in Okinawa, Japan.

If things don't work out and we lose contact for a few days blame it on my undisclosed source.

That's what I'll do.  Hah!

Meanwhile, you can get an idea of what I'm up to by visiting THE SHINUGU MATSURI HERE

Flower Lovers, Are These Humongous Coleus Plants or What ?

Zooming up the highway as if we were a couple of escaped convicts, THE GOYA REPUBLIC GUY and I almost missed these flower thingies today.  It's Wednesday in Okinawa, Japan and that means get-as-far-away-as-fast-as-you-can-with-the-cameras-before-a-missus-starts-thinking-of -things-to-do-around-the-house.

Cruising at what some folks would consider to be a legal speed, I spotted these bright colored plants.  I'm not sure if they should be called flowers.  Some of them were the size of pumpkins.

When we decelerated enough to turn around and park the batmobile I grabbed two cameras and ran across HWY58.  This shot was taken with the Pentax K5 at f/11  1/500  ISO 400.

Then, I approached the things from the south to snap this photo using the Canon G12 at f/8   1/60  ISO 100.
Now, I might not know my flowers and I'm just guessing these critters are some kind of humongous Coleus Plants. 
Cameras, I know a little bit about so, I'm starting to run that G12 through some tests.
The first thing I did was get it out of AUTO MODE and switch to RAW FILES.

This photo was taken with the K5 on a tripod, using a shutter release cable and standing on the highway where motorcycles were buzzing by me at twice the speed of Doc's batmobile.

It was also a bit windy so, I shot the Pentax at f/8  1/400  ISO 200.

Using the Canon G12, handheld and resting on top of the Pentax mounted on the tripod, I shot this at f/3.5  1/500  ISO 100.

Just in case you haven't already guessed, I'm putting that little devil through some tests.

The colors that came out of the camera when it was fired in fully AUTO MODE were kind of disappointing, to me.  But, they look fine here.  Maybe, the genius operating the camera did something like bump a white balance setting by mistake.  Who knows ?

This is another shot made with the Pentax at f/11  1/500  ISO 200.

Before getting safely off the highway I snapped one more quick shot with the G12.
Not exactly laboratory conditions, the wind was blowing but, that's what happens, sometimes in real life.  Camera specs:  f/3.5  1/640  ISO 100.

So far, I'm impressed with the results the little Canon G12 is giving me but, it'll take a few months to give it one of my Mad Mike's Reviews.

Now, back to those flower thingies.

If some of the flower lovers out there can help me, we can help the WIKIPEDIA FOLKS, TOO.

They seem to have some material missing from their references on Coleus Plants.

Is anybody a flower or Coleus expert ?

All I want to know about the plants I shot today is:


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warrior Gals in Okinawa (Photos) They Started It !

Last night was the first time I ever saw anything like this in Okinawa, Japan.

These innocent looking gals got all decked out in royalty-looking duds.

The villagers loaded them up on pallets tied to ropes.

And they hauled them along with the ropes from both ends of town.

Where they could meet and holler at each other to start off a tug-o-war.

There's no telling what kinda stuff they were saying.

Everybody was making noise, yelling, whistling, blowing seashells and beating drums so loud you couldn't hear exactly what the warrior gals were hollering.  It was probably something like we used to say as kids. 

                                         YOUR MOTHER WEARS COMBAT BOOTS, HAH !

Not only did they have women warriors starting the tug-o-war in Ginoza Okinawa, Japan last night, they even had some gals sumo wrestle against the boys.  That's two firsts in one day, for me.

So, I shot about 6 gigabytes of photos and have been up 'til the wee hours developing.  This little teaser will have to do for now and I'll try to catch up and post some more as soon as the breaking news stops breaking around here.  Standby for more.....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photo Essay: Another Dam Festival in Okinawa, Japan

Not complaining,  it wasn't a damn festival I went to yesterday.  It was a DAM FESTIVAL, the Kanna Dam Matsuri, just a twenty minute drive from where I live in Okinawa, Japan.

It's a good idea to drive around and see some sights before fighting your way into a parking lot at a festival so, I drove a few miles north of the fairgrounds to shoot Godzilla. 

Then, I stopped at a parking area below the dam and and snatched this photo of a bellybutton monument.  It didn't have any ticks, but there are coins inside.  It's a gift from Italy.

Just in case you think I make this stuff up, go ahead and read the Italian inscription.  I can't read the stuff.  But, if somebody bothered to engrave the words on a monument plaque, it's probably true !

This photo shows you Kanna Dam. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I got to the damn dam, it started raining.  I climed up in an observation tower, where I had a roof over my head and the sky went black.  The people in the kayaks had been paying to get a ride under that spray of water to cool them off after spending the day in the steaming-hot Okinawa sun.  Hah !

Eventually, the rain quit and when the sun started blazing again, kids were jumping and splashing in this little fountain, to stay cool.

Here's a photo of some characters I've never seen before.

They are like some kind of Super Heros.

Ya'll know, I research things thoroughly before posting them online most of the time.

So, I snapped a copy of this on my cell phone and ran across the street.

Two older-than-me grannies said this was Ultraman characters.

Lucky for me, my granddaughter stopped by with a little brother and saw me doing a blog.

Those grannies are nuts.  These characters ain't Ultramen !

Ladies, Gentlemen and all others, let me introduce you to some Okinawan Superheroes.


Those Grandkids of mine are experts on these sort of things.

We'll have to see what it takes to get them Wikipedia qualified, someday.

Of course, I had to spoil them, a little bit, and it cost me $25 or so but, that's life.

Right now I'm drying, cleaning and charging up the cameras for the next damn festival.

This one isn't at a dam.

It's a tug-o-war.

Wait'll the wife finds out I invited all the grandkids to join us at this little-known festival tonight.

See, she kind of enjoys shooting that Canon G12 I'll probably never see again.

When she finds out I'm packing about 6 more passengers in the car to go to the festival....

...she'll probably say something like,  "DAMMIT" !


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Silly Sign Sunday (Photo) Jul 24, 2011

This Sunday's Silly Sign compliments of  guest photographer,  Maurice Dudley.  He lives on the island of Okinawa, Japan and has the sense of humor required to spot a great silly sign, capture a photo of it and share it with the world.

This sign, I'll have to leave to everyone's creative imagination.  I think it just says it all but,  your comments are welcome here and on the FLICKR ACCOUNT OF SUBAJOGU.  Stop by and say "Hi" and thank Maurice for this silly sign which is probably worth more than 1,000 words !


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Flower Photo: The Shima Higiri from Okinawa, Japan

Photo taken in Bise Okinawa, Japan July 21, 2011 with a Pentax K5, tripod, shutter cable release and a Pentax 18-250 lens at a focal length of 110mm. Camera specs:  f/9  1/60  ISO 400.

This flower has been researched online and so far, no luck determining what the English or scientific names might be.  So, from now on wherever I see one, I'll just call them Shima Higiri.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Crynoutloud We Shot This Chinese Gal and Her Friend (Photo)

It started off innocently enough.  We were at the Elephant's Nose Manzamo Okinawa, Japan waiting for sunset. Along comes this Chinese Gal and her friend and she asked me to take their picture.
Hey, I just noticed, that's her camera hanging from a strap attached to her right arm.  Well, I looked at the gadget and told her, in my best Japanese, "I don't know how to shoot these damn things.  I'm a professional cameraman.  Give it to him and see if he knows how to operate it." I pointed to Ryukyu Rusty.

Whoops!  She said, "I'm not Japanese.  I'm from Hong Kong."   She spoke flawless English.

Crynoutloud, it's a good thing I don't easily become embarrassed.  Or I would have.

Then, I got an idea.  I told her Rusty could shoot a professional photo of the couple with his Pentax and email it, as long as she trusted us with that kind of information.  Some folks don't.

Everything got done, by the book, names, email address, all the usual paperwork/legal stuff I do to make sure I never wind up in court over someone's photo.  Jail stinks.  Did you know that ?

Rusty got all the paperwork.  He fired away, click, click, click using a tripod and his shutter release cable.

Just in case he had a bad Pentax day, I shot this photo from a different angle. 

They were really a nice couple.  I think the gal came back three times thanking us for shooting them.

Off they went.  Rusty emailed the photos we both shot.  They went to Hong Kong.  That's China, I think.

Well, all of a sudden, my analytics thing started telling me somebody called baidu keeps looking at my blog.  So, I Googled to see what a baidu could be.  I never heard the word anywhere before.


Now, I'm wondering.  I know there's over a billion people in China who speak and read Chinese.

How many could there be who speak and read English, especially my kind of English ?

The other thing I'm wondering, no not, wondering, more like worried about is this email stuff.


A Whatchamacallit Kinda Day in Bise Okinawa (Photos)

Today the better half and I went to the village of Bise in Okinawa, Japan.  She'd never been there before and has been bugging me to take her ever since she saw the first photos I shot, way back when of the fukugi trees lining the streets in the little town.  More about the whatchamacallit in the photo above, later.

The wife fell in love with my new CANON G12 and wanted to shoot the fukugi trees.  She knew I'd be packing my tripod and camera gear to do some photography so, she wanted to try some, too.

The first thing we ran into driving on the narrow, main road going into town was this water buffalo pulling a cartload of tourists.  My camera bag was in the back seat.  By the time I pulled off the side of the road to make room for the contraption and had my camera ready to shoot, the water bull was passing.  I snapped this quick shot with the PENTAX K5 through the open, driver's side window.

The Missus took this photo of whatchamacallit plants with the Canon G12.  All of a sudden anything that resembles those elephant ear plants, no matter what shape, or color they are, has become an elephant ear plant.  She could be right but, for now, they're just whatchamacallits, to me.

We wandered the streets of Bise and shot photos of the trees, all kinds of flowers and it was kinda fun.  I still have a pile of photos to develop and look at.  Then, serious research begins.

The Canon, the wife was shooting, I set to fully AUTO MODE so, her photos are JPGs, right out of the camera.  If and when I ever get the new camera in my hands, I'll switch it to fully Manual Mode and be shooting RAW files.  Not sure yet if its the Canon, Pentax, or the RAW converter program I use but, the color in the Pentax photos sure looks better than what the Canon created, to me.

While the Canon Lady was (ahem) composing shots of the (ahem) elephant ears, I pretended I was shooting them, too.  This big, fat, juicy caterpillar was munching on an elephant ear plant so loud I could almost hear him.  The wife would scream if she saw the rascal.

He was probably just eating a leaf that was dying, anyway.  But, whenever she sees one of these things in our garden she acts like it's some kind of humongous snake. HELP!   ANACONDA!

Maybe it'd be a good idea for me to study up on these critters.  They look like they might just turn out to be a really pretty butterfly.  Probably a great big one, too.  But, for now, they're just whatchamacallits like the rest of the stuff I don't know.

Greenstuff squirts out of them when you step on one.  Squirts pretty far, too, if you stomp on one really hard (ahem) so I've been told.  Anyway, this guy just got his picture taken today and got to keep munching away because (ahem) nobody saw him.

The whatchamacallit character in the first photo I bought from this gal who runs a seashell shop.

We became friends on my previous trips to Bise and I'm always forgetting to bring photos I promised her. 

The wife bought some trinket and I got me the character.  I may make a logo out of him someday.

Anyway, once I got home, I grabbed the G12 and snapped the photo of the handsome-looking dude at the kitchen table using the wife's special camera settings while she was busy doing something else.

I'll have to sneak out of the house with that camera sometime and see what it'll do with my settings on it. 

A thorough review of that little puppy is coming soon.  Please standby...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ryukyu Rusty at National Geographic Traveler: Photo Contest !

Keep yer eyes on this guy, he's going places, I tell you.  Here's a photo Ryukyu Rusty has in National Geographic Traveler's 2011 Photo Contest. It's a fisherman casting his line off the cliffs during sunset at the Zanpamisaki Lighthouse in Okinawa, Japan.


They have a whole bunch of buttons on the page for Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Digg, StumbleUpon, Send to a Friend and even one button that says MORE.  I'm gonna try them all out and I hope some of my followers have the time, in their busy schedules, to hit all those buttons, too.

Ryukyu Rusty isn't really interested in winning some prize in a contest.  Somebody else, ahem- ahum, just put the photo in there for him.  But, wouldn't that be cool, if this photo showed up in National Geographic Traveler Magazine, someday?  Last time I looked there were only twelve-thousand-some other people entered in the contest.  Let's see what we can do to narrow down the odds a bit ! 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Party Girls Test Drive the Canon G12 Camera: Photo Essay

Here are the birthday girls who were celebrating in my bar/studio Sunday night in Okinawa, Japan.

Names and ages won't be revealed in case anyone innocent doesn't want attention drawn to them.

There couldn't be a better way to run a camera through its paces than this.  Set everything to AUTO MODE, Pattern Metering, Flash on Auto Red-eye Reduction and turn a bunch of party gals loose with it.  

The G12 decided f/3.2  1/15sec and ISO 400 was the way to go for these, first two photos taken at a focal length of 9mm and 8mm respectively.

Here's why I'm glad I was drinking beer and not the cameraman.  Those freakin peace signs in front of a camera are some kinda reflex action in Japan and drive me absolutely crazy.

This was another f/3.2  1/15  ISO 400 shot taken at 8mm.

Don't ask what's going on in this photo, I have no idea.  It looks like a birthday pie, or something on fire and the gals are practicing some kinda aerial maneuvers like, maybe they saw that Top Gun movie. 

The G12 decided on higher ISOs for this shot.  It went to ISO 640  f/2.8  1/15  6mm.

That's my silhouette, over at the bar, drinking beer and talking to a guy I think I'll start calling RyukyuRu.  All the party gals think he looks like some movie star from Top Gun.  Hah !

It's a little past midnight in this photo and the gals are just doing whatever they do while waiting for someone else to show up.  Drink, gab, and eat.  f/2.8  1/15  ISO 400  lens at 6mm.

After birthday presents are um, presented we get to see some feet.  f/4.5  1/15  ISO 400 at 30mm.

Then, a fanny.  Not sure if it was the shoes, leggings, skirt, or what, that had to do with sticking the fanny out. 

I'm glad all I had to do was drink beer and let someone else do the photos.  f/3.2  1/60  ISO 800  8mm.

This turned out to be one of my favorite photos.

f/2.8  1/15  ISO 400 at a focal length of 7mm.

Another favorite shot was this one.  LOOK NO PEACE SIGNS !   f/2.8  1/15  ISO 400 at 6mm.

Closer to 1:30AM they start posing with bags of munchies, or something.  f/2.8  1/15   ISO 400  at 6mm.

At 3:52AM the party gals are still drinking and singing.  It looks like the flock thinned out a bit. Maybe some went to the powder room or are passed out behind a sofa.  f/2.8  1/60  ISO 400 at 6mm.

There was a typhoon in the area so, with rain and wind expected, everyone decided staying indoors all night long would be a good idea.  Closer to 4AM  f/2.8  1/15  ISO 400  6mm.

At 4:17AM the drinking and singing were still going strong.  f/3.2  1/15  ISO 400  focal length 8mm.

It isn't everyday you'll see me let a bunch of Party Girls test drive one of my cameras but, I had them give it a try so I could do a thorough review on this new machine of mine.  I shoot all my cameras in Manual Mode, exclusively.  That's not for everyone, I know.  I wanted to see how this little Canon performed on its own.  I'm impressed.  These photos are exactly what came out of the camera with some cropping and slight contrast adjustments by me in editing.  Not too shabby.

Canon G12 in the hands of the Party Girls gets a Five Star Rating !