Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photo of the Week: Kijoka Waterfall Okinawa, Japan

Kijoka Waterfall is located not far from the iris fields which got my Pentax's attention
three times this past week. 

For directions to the falls visit MAP IT OKINAWA

Folks who live on island may want to see how the iris fields looked today.

There will be a photo on my Facebook Page 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Editor's Picks (Photos) for the Month of March 2012

The Bee and the Iris

White Azalea

Okinawa Iris 2012

The month of March can come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

It can also come in like a lamb and go out like a lion.

That's what I learned today at ANSWERS DOT COM

It's been a terribly busy month for me so, I didn't enter many photos in contests.

From the photos that were selected as Editor's Picks, you'd think I'm turning into a flower

 photographer, or something.  Hah !  Don't worry, wildlife is still my favorite subject.

The details on how those photos above were taken can be seen by clicking on the titles.

Only, I don't tell the judges everything.

Like, see that bee up there on the iris ?

Well, I was talking to him.

It's pretty hard to shoot a scene like that, the way I want to.

The wind moves the iris petals.  The shadows and light keep changing.

The background in the scene keeps changing.  And bees move around a lot.

Nobody was anywhere near me so, I could say stuff like





Don't let the judges know. OK?

Here's what kept me so busy this month and away from my normal routine.

I did a test article to see if I'd be accepted as a Featured Contributor for Yahoo as an International Travel Writer.

And, I passed the test !

That's good news. But, wouldn't you know it ?

After all the years I spent trying to learn this internet thingy

some knuckleheads decided they're gonna shut it down !

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Flower Photos and a Tip For When You Travel: Be Flexible

When you arrive at your destination and the flower fields look like this

but, you were hoping for something like this.

 Just be flexible.

Pick on one flower, or a group of flowers and play with the aperture settings on your camera.

This photo was taken with an aperture of 4.5

Notice, the background is blurred.

The camera is mounted on a tripod and here's another shot at f/11.

See the background coming in a bit sharper ?

The same scene with an aperture of f/16 gives even more details in the background.

A final photo at f/22 makes the background sharper, yet.

The iris fields in Okinawa, Japan aren't ready for me, yet.

I'm lucky. I live only about an hour's drive away so, it doesn't cost me much to travel there.

If I was paying big bucks to travel and see the iris fields when they weren't in full bloom,

here's a little secret I'll tell you


So, remember my travel photo tip.  Just be flexible.

PS: Somebody from THE AMERICAN IRIS SOCIETY started looking at my iris photos. 

You should take a look at their Facebook page and LIKE them.

Now, I have to get on out of here and see if I can get some better iris pictures.

Who knows ?  Maybe a bunch of iris lovers will like My Page, Too !

More of my camera ramblings may bee seen in PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Everything's Gonna Be Alright in the Iris Fields of Okinawa

Just a quick update on the Iris Fields in northern Okinawa.

We went back up there today to check them out and things are coming along just fine.

Everything's gonna bee alright.  Have a look for yourself! 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tree in Bloom: Deigo, The Prefectural Flower of Okinawa (Photo)

This photo was taken in Naha Okinawa, Japan last Sunday while out searching for the torii in the last Then and Now post, Gokoku Shrine.

Designated as the Prefectural Flower of Okinawa in 1972, the plant is originally from India.

You could call it the Indian Coral Bean Tree if you like.

Erythrina Orientalis Murray is alright, too, if you want to speak like a scientist.

This information comes right off a government website. 

So, if anybody wants to argue, that's where they should go.

What I plan on doing is finding a deigo tree full of those red flowers.

It seems like I've never been in the right place at the right time to catch a photo of those flowers

when they are in their prime.  We'll have to see what we can do about that.

If you see me heading towards one of those trees with my camera this year,  you'd better not let

me catch you picking them.

It'd be a lot better if you just went and argued with the government. 

All I want is a pretty picture of a Prefectural Flower and I'm gonna get one.


Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 The Okinawa Iris Flowers Are Starting To Bloom (Photos)

Today was the first time in 2012 that I saw an iris field blooming in Okinawa.

Usually, I call them purple iris but, they didn't look so purple this morning.
They aren't in full bloom, yet so, if you're planning on visiting it might be a good idea to wait a few weeks.  Those fields will fill up with purple, or blue flowers then.
Here's one that's the color I'm used to seeing.  Maybe this guy gets better food.
This view should give you an idea of what to expect if you rush up there tomorrow.

There ain't many flowers per capita, technically speaking.

This photo shows, there are, different shades of blue, purple, violet, or whatever you call it, iris flowers.

Some people believe the iris looks like a dragon with its tongue sticking out.

Well, I think they might just be a little on the crazy side but, I'm no doctor.

Just in case those crazies are fans on my Facebook Page, I walk all around in the iris fields pretending I'm looking for dragons.  And, I get all wet and muddy but, it's fun.

Wouldn't you know it ?

Just about the time I was ready to leave the place, this flower that looked like a dragon peeked out from behind some leaves.

And, he went and stuck his tongue out at me !

Related post: Flower (Photo) Iris: The Old and the New


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Then and Now Photos: Gokoku Shrine Torii in Naha Okinawa

This photo of a torii, on a road leading into Gokoku Shrine at Onoyama Park in Naha Okinawa, Japan was taken this afternoon March 25, 2012.

The scene in the photo above is what I went searching for but, the landscape has changed.

My good friend Donn Cuson from REMEMBERING OKINAWA provided the photo and said it was from the 1949-50 time frame.

When he emailed it, he said, "Note the little kid as the base of the torii."

So, I told him, I'd see if I could find a volunteer to help duplicate the scene.

Moving closer to the Gokoku Shrine, notice the toriis have changed.

Arakaki Osamu and his family were visiting the shrine and he gave consent to have his daughter,  Cocono pose for us, to complete today's photo assignment.

Osamu and Cocono, thank you.

The Then and Now Series isn't really work, to me.  It's fun !

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo of the Week: Always Look at the Bright Side of Things

Today it was cold, cloudy and windy in Okinawa, Japan all day long.

But, there's really no sense it letting the weather spoil your day, I figure.

So, I shot this photo coming out of a cave because the scene cheered me up.

If you always look at the bright side of things, guess what ?

You can cheer yourself up, too !

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Power to the People: A Photo Made with the Pentax K5 Camera

This photo was taken March 6, 2012 at a place named Nature Mirai in Okinawa, Japan.

While waiting for some ospreys to show up I noticed this guy working on the power pole.

There weren't any birds to shoot so, I figured I'd shoot people instead.

The camera I was using was the Pentax K5.

My partners over at Adorama Camera are having a sale on this model through March 31st.


That's a fairly good chunk of change you'd save if you're in the market for one of the toughest cameras made.

You wouldn't believe some of the places I've been or the crazy things that have happened when I'm out toting my Pentax around.  So, I won't tell you.

I'll just tell you, if they had laws against camera brutality, I'd probably be behind bars.

DISCLOSURE: If you buy a camera through my Adorama links, I get a few bucks.


Visit my website for the PHOTO OF THE DAY

A Travel Photo: Whatcha Think You're Doin' Back There Mr ?

Today's Travel Photo Thursday shot was taken by RyukyuRu, unbeknownst to me.

But, I'm glad he emailed it today because it's a good example of something we forget as foreigners, sometimes, when we're out and about with our cameras.

People are watching you !

The photo was taken at an athletic field in Uruma City Okinawa, Japan.

A couple of teachers had a bunch of schoolkids out on a field trip.

They ain't exactly the kind of wildlife I was looking forward to shooting.

So, I went around behind the building where there was some shade.

There I was, facing the ocean, just getting ready to uncover my camera.

Not only was I clueless about the photo, I didn't know that kid was watching me, either.

He very well could have been saying, "Whatcha think you're doin' back there Mr ?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Got a Camera and You Want to be a Travel Writer Eh ? (Photo)

So you have a camera and want to be a travel writer.

Here's what you should do.

Go 'round there behind the bar.

Careful.  Don't trip over my external hard drive or my battery chargers.

Grab some ice and fill up a bucket.

Get two clean glasses and that bottle of Jack Daniels.

Then, get back on over here and pull up a bar-stool.

Start pourin' and keep 'em coming.

I'm busy but, as long as you keep pouring, I'll give you some advice.

We've got a lot of talking to do.

Monday, March 19, 2012

World Water Day This Thursday: All About Food Security and Why

World Water Day March 22, 2012



Thursday is United Nations World Water Day.

The theme this year is Water and Food Security.

What's water got to do with food security ?

Check out this 30 second video and you'll know why:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Then and Now Photos: The Stone Lion of Tomori Okinawa, Japan

B&W WWII image

The Stone Lion of Tomori is probably the most published and oldest Shisa (lion dog statue) on the island of Okinawa, Japan. The photo was taken June 18, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa.

This copy of the original press release photo was provided by
The scene, as it looks now, comes from the camera of Russell Robertson (RyukyuRusty) and was taken just this week, on March 18, 2012.
Photo #3, also dated March 18, 2012, I took from a slightly higher elevation, to show more of the background.

As this Then and Now Series progresses we will put together some articles explaining exactly how it's done.  Right now, we're on a learning curve and gaining some valuable experience.

It's a lot of hard work and involves being willing to travel long distances at exactly the right time in order to capture the light and shadows to best duplicate the original scene.

The support I've received from Donn Cuson (Remembering Okinawa), RyukyuRu, RyukyuRusty and Doc Graff (Maybe, I should start calling him RyukyuDoc), make this possible and I owe them all an immense debt.

  Between the lot of us, I don't think we've accumulated a dime doing this business, yet.  But, we are having fun.

Most important is the unbelievable support we have gotten from local Community Centers (公民館) and individual Okinawans we've met on the streets or working their fields.

They learn what I'm trying to do and they smile.

That's good enough for me.

See the original article THE TOMORI LION by DOC GRAFF


Help Wanted: Identify This Butterfly Image and You Can Have It

This butterfly photographed in Okinawa, Japan has me stumped.

Here are a few handy resources:

Environmental Science Organization

It's the day after St. Patrick's Day so, I'm not complaining about the headache.

Just help me identify this butterfly and you can have it !

NOTE:  A Facebook Fan gave a great ID on this critter.

Blue Pansy or Eyed Pansy ( Junonia orithya )

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Here's the Plan (Photo)


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Springtime Flowers to Look for in Okinawa, Japan (Photos)

It'll be Spring this time next week so, here are a few flowers I'll be looking forward to seeing.

The first photo, a Golden Trumpet or, Tabebuia caraiba was taken March 5, 2011.

They are a tad late blooming this year but, should be in full bloom shortly.

One of my favorite flowers, the Purple Iris, is the next one to watch.  They can be tricky.

April 2d, last year, I went to shoot photos of the iris fields in a place called Ogimi.

If you go looking for these flowers too early, you might as well just take photos of a green onion field.

These flower photos were taken April 2, 2011. 

See, we have Cosmos and an Iris field that looks like green onions.

Another cameraman went to shoot the Iris Fields and didn't want to waste the day.

He got the same bright idea and went shooting Cosmos.

So, I shot him, too.

A week later (March 9, 2011) I went back to Ogimi and found what I was looking for.

The place was full of those bright Purple Iris flowers, blooming in the sun.

That guy in the yellow shirt with a great big zoom lens on his Canon, crawled right into the field for a close up.

So, I shot him, too.

Another, very important flower to look for in Springtime on Okinawa is the world famous

Easter Lily

The above photo was taken April 27, 2011 in the wife's garden.

They have A MILLION LILY FESTIVAL every year April/May time-frame on an island named


You just have to keep watching the news to find out exactly when in Springtime everything is ready for your camera if you want to look for flowers in Okinawa, Japan.

I'll do my best to keep you posted but, I ain't so sure about going the the IeShima Lily Festival this year.  Somebody gave me a black eye last time I went there !

Get more info on Okinawa's flowers in TREES, FLOWERS, FERNS

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A UNESCO World Heritage Stone Gate in Okinawa: Travel Photos

This stone gate in Okinawa, Japan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.

Built sometime during the 16th Century, it is an architectural example of Chinese influence on the Okinawa islands during the period when Okinawa was known as the Ryukyu Kingdom.

The gate, known as Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon, guards the entranceway of a sacred grove.

It is located just across the street from Shuri Castle.

Many travelers, visiting Okinawa's UNESCO Sites pass right by this cultural asset on the way to the #1 tourist attraction on the island, without even noticing it.

The stone gate was only opened for the King of the Ryukyu Islands and royalty so they could enter the sacred grove before leaving the castle to embark upon a journey.

Here, they would pray to the gods for a safe return.

If you ever travel to Okinawa to see UNESCO World Heritage Sites don't miss this one.

This stone gate could insure you safe return.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Trip Advisor Travel Map Needs 100 More Places

Here is my Trip Advisor Travel Map.

You can view an enlargeable version at TripAdvisor Profile-RyukyuMike.

Just do what the Google Map Dude tells you to Explore the Full Map.  It's fun ! 

There are 100 places listed that I told them I've been.

There are probably several 100 more places I've been that I ain't telling anyone about.

Today, over on my FACEBOOK PAGE, someone made the comment:

"I just took a quick look at all your reviews.  Thanks for sharing!!!
There is not enough on Trip Advisor about Okinawa."

So, here's what I plan on doing,

There have to be at least 100 more places around here, somewhere in Okinawa, Japan
that need somebody to do Trip Advisor Reviews.

Just grab some cameras to go on out there and getterdun.

That way you can see 100 more places I've been on my travel map.

And, while you're snooping around in there, get you a Trip Advisor Travel Map, too!