Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Imagine an Island Without.....

Imagine an island without



Convenience stores




Golf courses

High heel shoes

Internet service








Quacks (same as above and some doctors, too)







X, Y and Z are missing.  I bet the wife's dog ate them.

Anyway,  just imagine an island without all those trimmings.

Okinawa, Japan has about 100 islands like that and I want to go see them all.

Could you live on an island without all that stuff ?

November Editor's Picks with RyukyuMike's Photo Contest Tips

A Sacred Grove in Okinawa, Japan

Among the Mangroves in Okinawa

Among the Weeds

Orange-tip Butterfly

Plus, one photo from October's Contest, an Editor's Pick, which moved on to become a Finalist.

Entering Photo Contests is a great way to have your photography recognized and I would encourage any aspiring photographer to enter as many as possible.

The competition is stiff and every contest you enter has it's own set of rules.

Following the rules, every little detail of them, is the first step.  So, read them carefully.

Tens of thousands of contest entries are submitted every month.

The simplest way for judges to lighten their workload is eliminate anyone who didn't follow the rules.


1.  Make sure the photo is sharp.  That means the subject is clear and the focus is not on something else in the picture's frame.  Judges have a good eyes for this.  You can't fool them.

2.  Exposure has to be perfect.  Underexposed and overexposed photos are eliminated, always.

3.  Composition.  Learn the basic rules of composition and apply them.  The Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Framing, Curves, Symmetry, Patterns and Background are just a few of the terms used in basic photographic composition.  If you don't understand them, you are just experimenting.  That's fine, and I encourage experimentation.  But, it rarely gets you anywhere in a photo contest.

After using 1-3 above, in taking a photo, the next two tips come in handy when you submit a contest entry.

4.  Title:  Give your photo a title that gets the judges attention.  I get away with just putting a critter's name on a wildlife photo, sometimes, just because it's something a judge has never seen before.  

But, if I shot a picture of a cat, I wouldn't title it "Cat".  Let someone else do that.

5.  Caption:  Try to come up with something interesting to say in your description of the photo.

Many contests base their scores on the five tips given above.  Some grade the photos entered by awarding a possible 20% of the total score for each of those five steps.

That means, if you took a perfect picture, as far as focus, exposure and composition go, you could lose out to the folks who had the best titles and captions.  Forty percent of your score may not even depend on what came out of your camera.  Another photographer can beat me with their choice of words.  

That means I have to use my brain, too.  OUCH !

Time permitting, I will add more about entering photo contests to my PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Master of Disguise: The Blue Admiral Butterfly of Japan (Photos)

These photos of a Blue Admiral (Kaniska canace) Butterfly were taken at a castle ruins in northern Okinawa, Japan.

The reason I call this guy a master of disguise is they show up and disappear like some kind of ninja.  You could easily mistake one for a falling leave.

When they land near the bark of a tree or on fallen leaves, you can't spot them.

Their camouflage works well in the in the forest where light and shadows can be tricky.

These Blue Admirals can be found in Japan, Korea, Russia, Sir Lanka, Indonesia, Burma and India according to WIKIPEDIA.

Today was the first time I ever saw one, to the best of my knowledge.  But, I could be mistaken.  See, the reason they call these master of disguise butterflies Blue Admirals is,  because they are really blue, sometimes, I guess.  Next time I go back up north,  I'll see if I can shoot a blue one for you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wildlife Photo: A Butterfly Called an Orange-tip

Here's a photo of an Orange-tip Butterfly taken on Hamahiga Island Okinawa, Japan.

They are called an Orange-tip but, only the males have orange wing tips.

I'm glad I didn't shoot a female because I would have had to use the scientific name:

ANTHOCHARIS CARDAMINES  (Wikipedia's Butterfly Department).

Another source for critter research is ARKIVE IMAGES OF LIFE ON EARTH

Over there you can find photos of just about any wildlife and even watch short videos.

They tell you stuff like what animals eat, how they mate and where they hang out.

Like, in England these butterflies eat cuckooflowers and garlic mustard.

The ones I shot photos of were hanging around Hibiscus flowers.

Last Century the Orange-tip Butterfly almost went extinct in Scotland.

It seems Global Warming came along, just in time, and these butterflies are safe.

They are on the rebound in Scotland and the rest of Europe, all the way up to Scandinavia.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Silly Sign (Photo) Nov 27, 2011 Ask for Ketchups

One of my favorite silly signs comes from a McDonald's in Okinawa, Japan.

The large order of french fries is what I always order because, if you're going to have a healthy, well-balanced diet you have to include lots of vegetables.  Right ?

Go look at the food pyramid scientists came up with if you don't believe me.

Well, I get one of those hamburgers with cheese on it.

To balance that you should have lots of vegetables and grains.  Healthy stuff.  You know.

  There's the bun; that'd be a grain.

The bun has sesame seeds on it; another healthy grain.

There are tomatoes, onions and lettuce.

And, they give you a few slices of pickles.

The large order of fries almost rounds out the daily recommended food pyramid, for me.

But, I figure, just in case I come up short on vegetables,  I should douse the fries with ketchup.

Ketchup is a vegetable.  Ain't it ?

So, I've been thinking.  I should probably keep a big squeeze bottle in my backpack.

That way I wouldn't have to keep running back to the counter to:


Do the McDonalds where you live make you ask for ketchups one at a time, too ?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Today the Dragonflies Came in Red, Gold and Blue (Photos)

Today I was off  Okinawa proper and hit some of the outer islands.  The camera is downloaded and recharging for the next trip and there are a few hundred photos waiting development. 

I'll just post these three dragonflies in the order they were photographed.

The photos were taken at the base of a waterfall on Miyagi Island.

The red dragonfly showed up first.

Then, the gold one.

Last but, not least the blue dragonfly posed for me with the water in the background.

If you had to choose a color for a dragonfly which one would you go for the red, golden, or blue ?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grey Heron Antics in the Mangroves of Okinawa (Photo Essay)

This series of photos was taken Nov 23, 2011 at a Wetland Center in Naha Okinawa, Japan.

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a beautiful bird to photograph when they are landing, taking off, or in flight.  But, just watching them in the mangroves can be fun, too.

It takes some patience because the Blue Heron can stay in one place for hours doing nothing.

They won't give you any clue as to when the antics will start.

 Sooner or later they have to put on some sort of show.

This one sent out some sort of message.

Then, waited for a reply.

Did a little dance.  Shook it to the left.

And shook it to the right,

Then got an itch.

And scratched it for awhile.

Let out a little rebel yell.

And went right back into the doing nothing mode, again.

If you go back and look at the first photo and compare it to the last one, the Grey Heron's antics seem to have improved its attitude.

So, next time I'm in the mangroves maybe, I'll leave the camera behind and try acting like a Grey Heron.

  Who knows ? 

It might work for people, too !

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

750,000 Views Giveaway: Shoot This Blog

The view meter is getting up there so, it's time to publish some rules if I'm going to give away  prizes to my dedicated followers.

The prizes in this giveaway are in my photo gallery.

Winners will get to choose which photo they would like me to mail to them.


To be eligible you must be a Facebook Fan -"AND"- Join the Mailing List on my Website.

That can be accomplished simply by hitting the LIKE BUTTON under the view meter at the top right of this page.  If you're not already on Facebook,  I understand.  You'll just have to go try and win somebody else's contest.  Sorry about that.  Hah !

To join the Mailing List all you do is put your email in the block on MY HOMEPAGE.
Don't worry, your personal email address is secure with me.  And, I'm really horrible at remembering to send mail.  Ask any tax collector deals with me. They know.  Seriously,  I rarely send out mail through my mailing list.  I type enough stuff right here to kill any urges for writing that I might get.  When the blog is done for the day and a writing urge flares up, I drown it with beers.  It works every time. Craving for writing goes away.

Take a screenshot of this blog when the view meter hits 750,000.

Winners will be the first three (eligible) persons to shoot this blog at 750,000 views and upload their screenshots to my Facebook Page. 

Winners choice of any (1) photo found at Ryukyulife(dot)com,  mailed to you anywhere on this planet, as long as you give me a valid mailing address.  The photo you chose will be printed on A4 size high gloss paper and mounted in a matted frame.  This matting is suitable for hanging, even unframed.

Have safe and happy holidays and Happy Screenshooting !



Wildlife Photo: Pacific Golden-Plover A Bird Visiting Okinawa

The Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva) is a winter visitor to Okinawa, Japan.

Their normal stomping ground is the tundra in places like Siberia and Alaska.

They eat bugs and small shellfish along the shore in shallow water.

The conservation people give this bird an LC rating in their calculations of endangered species.

LC means Least Concern.  Like, don't worry about it.

Maybe the conservation folks haven't heard about all the radioactive material and oil that's been dumped into the Pacific Ocean over the past year. 

It's probably not healthy for the wildlife that has to eat food from there.

When I took the photo of this little Pacific Golden-Plover he wasn't on the Pacific side of Okinawa.

Now, I'm wondering what he was doing over on the East China Sea side of the island eating crabs in the surf.  Could he have gotten wrong directions from the visitor's center ?

Or, do you think he's, at least, a little bit concerned about the food from the Pacific Ocean ?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Otoshidama Japan's New Year Money Envelope: Insider's Tips

They are on the display racks already this year.  Otoshidama, the Japanese New Year's Money Envelopes, will be flying off the shelves from now until the holidays end.

Hello Kitty and some character named Stitch seem to be the most popular in my neck of the woods.

Kitty-chan was easy for me to figure out.  The thing opens up just like any other envelope.

Stitch, almost got destroyed by me trying to figure out where you stuff the money.

There, I snapped a photo so you don't have to drive yourself crazy looking.

Lucky for me, some kid was walking down the street and I asked him how you open the thing.

Walt Disney, or somebody, put these stickers in with the card.  So, I thanked the kid for helping me and gave him the stickers.  Kids love stickers.  Beats telling them to scram. 

I'm busy.

Here are three more, traditional New Year's Money Envelopes.

These are inexpensive, a ten pack goes for about 100 Yen ($1.25 or so) and you can find them at super markets, book stores, gift shops or convenience stores from November through New Years.

Children, if you haven't already guessed, are who receive Otoshidama money for the New Year.

The amount you spend on the envelopes isn't what matters; it's what goes inside.

Pocket change isn't what you stuff in them.

Crisp, brand new bills, neatly folded, are what you place in these envelopes.

Every kid in Japan, from newborns to High School graduates, that knows you, expects to see you giving out Otoshidama sometime in the first week of the New Year !

After you place the folded Yen notes in the envelope, your name goes in the block on the left,  the child's name in the block on the right side.

Really,  I'm a busy man. 

Didn't want to tell that kid to scram.

 Something to do with a bank. 

I have to plan.

Soon, it'll be Otoshidama time of the year, again !


Sunday, November 20, 2011

When Your Apple Computer Gets A Bug Don't Panic

Sometimes, a little bug gets into a MAC from Apple Computers.  Don't panic.

You can fix it yourself.  Here's all you need to do.

Keep an eye on the little guy.

When he stares at you.  Stare back and don't bat an eyelash.

You have to let him know who's the boss.

He'll get the idea.

And leave.


Sunday's Silly Sign Nov 20, 2011 Don't Swim When It Is Drunk (Photo)

From a beach somewhere in Okinawa, Japan comes this Sunday's Silly Sign.

They have some rules I understand and a few that I don't.

The most important one, to me, would be

Don't swim when it is drunk.

I went home.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cherry Blossom (桜) Season in Okinawa (Photo Essay) Plan Ahead

Cherryblossom Season in Okinawa, Japan begins in January.

Cherry Blossom (桜 Sakura) Festivals take place all over the island through February. 

In order to present photos of some different locations, other than the usual tourist traps for cherry blossom viewing, RyukyuRu and I are planning ahead, starting, right now.

Off the beaten path is where we plan on going

Anyone can shoot photos of flowers in the city.

Up in the mountains, someplaces, it's pretty but, it can get pretty crowded, too.

 Instead of locations where they have stairs to climb....

We'll look for places where you can meet some wildlife.

There won't be any need to worry about people or tour busses bumping into you.

The plan is to search for these locations now.

 When the Cherry Blossoms start blooming we'll be able to shoot until the moon comes out.

Wouldn't it be nice to shoot cherry blossoms until after dark without running into all the tourists coming to Okinawa, Japan during Sakura (桜) Season?

That's the plan