Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Before and After (Photos) A Subtle HDR

Before HDR

What the Heck is HDR ?


It's just an acronym for High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI).

As it turned out, it got shortened to HDR, to save people from talking so much.

Remember when "application" was a long word ?

We have an app, for that, nowadays.

 After HDR

Cameras Have a Hard Time with High Contrast Scenes


High Dynamic Range, in photography, helps capture the scene as you would have seen it.

Three, or more photos are taken at different exposures.

Then, they are combined, to give more details in the finished image.

Plenty of the new model cameras have this as a built-in feature.

But, I don't like taking my cameras off Manual Mode.

So, when I run into a scene like the one above, I just shoot the best photos, I can.

Then, if I'm not satisfied with the results, do an HDR back in the office.

Why a Subtle HDR Photo ?


Because, I didn't want the people in the picture looking like cartoon characters.

There are plenty of software programs available for creating HDR photos.

And, even more people using them to create cartoon-character-looking pictures.

They sort of over-do it, a bit too much for my taste, with the artwork.

 To me, a subtle HRD photo looks more like the scene as I saw it.

Adobe Elements is all I needed to use for this scene.

If I ever get tired of toting around cameras, I may decide to become a cartoonist.

Did you know, a digital artist doesn't need cameras and lenses ?

RELATED POST:  HDR Photography Basics

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ten Photos from the Full Moon Festival in Awa

It Rained a Little


The full moon decided not to show for these gals dancing in Awa Okinawa, Japan.

But, getting wet didn't dampen their spirits at all.

From the sacred site where it all started, they headed over to the festival area.

Excusing myself, I got in front of the procession before they started dancing.

That's because, I knew, once they started, it wouldn't be easy shooting them.

They move gracefully but, trying to freeze their motion in the dark was challenging.

Using a flash, I tried to just focus on a few dancers at a time.

They have been practicing for over a month to get ready for the event.

 I figured it would be nice to try and catch a photo of each gal, if I could.

Close to 300 pictures of them dancing in the rain were taken.

When it was over, some gals just kept on dancing.

They were real nice folks and I wish I could have stayed longer.

But, I have work to do.  And, all that rain could give a person a cold.

So, I figure I should see if any bars are still open and get me some cold medicine.


October Full Moon: Another Okinawa Festival

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Full Moon: Another Okinawa Festival

Up in the northern hills of Okinawa, Japan the other day we came across this.

Whenever you see those Orion Beer lanterns strung-up a festival is going to happen.

It seems like, every time there's a full moon, somebody has a celebration.

For the sake of simplicity, I'll call this a hand-dancing party.

The gals were just rehearsing for the big event, which takes place tonight.

They were wearing their everyday outfits.

Tonight they will all be dressed-up in white kimonos.

So, I decided, while rehearsal was going on, I'd concentrate on the hands.

There has to be some meaning to the gyrations they put their hands through.

There are a few resources (English) online, about this form of dance.

But, so far, they just look like stuff (ahem-ahum) borrowed from Wikipedia.

What I plan on doing is getting more reliable information for my story.

These gals will be dancing around in circles, tonight, under the full moon.

They will have their hair all done-up in traditional style.

And, be singing some classic songs while they gesture with their hands.

It would really be awesome, if I could catch a photo like the 1st one above.....

.....with a full moon shining down on all those gals, hand-dancing in kimonos !

Dontcha think ?

Unidentified Flower but Know the Butterfly Name

This flower photo was taken in northern Okinawa, Japan.

Talking to a woman in the village office, I got the name Tokuri.

So, I figured, that would narrow my search for a scientific name down.

It didn't.


This butterfly came onto the scene and I know what his name is.

He's an Orange-tip.

If somebody comes along and correctly ID's that flower, I'll give them a printable photo file.

They can have one with, or without the insect.

Visit my website for today's Feature Photo

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Travel Photo: Prayer in Black and White

This photo is from a rare occasion in my travels.

Before entering this sacred site, I asked if it was alright to take pictures.

The 95 year, young woman smiled and gave me permission.

Ancestor worship is practiced in Okinawa, Japan.

The woman prayed and made offerings.

She even told the ancestors that I was invited to come along and take photos.

The structure we were in was dimly lit with bright sun shining through the door and windows.

The high contrast scene just didn't suit me for color photography.

So, I converted it to black and white.

Visit my website for today's Feature Photo

More Photos from this event may be seen at Teniya Okinawa, Japan 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

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

October 2012 an Incredibly Busy Month

The Character

Ryukyu Inu: Okinawa's Pedigree Dog

These photos were the only ones entered in Better Photo's contest this month.

It's nice to hear the judges liked them enough to award Editor's Picks.

That means they may go on to the winner's circle, someday.

Sometimes it seems like a photographer in Okinawa, Japan never gets a day off.

Years ago, I would submit a photo, a day, into a contest.  This month, I was just way-too-busy.

Work Hard and Reap the Benefits


There isn't a gold mine in this blogging business.  If there is, I haven't found it, yet.

If some crazy billionaire came along and wanted to buy this blog, I'd sell it at half price.

Shucks, I'd keep on working, for free, as long as I got a driver and secretary, to boot.

 The benefits, I see, are not financial but, they are rewarding.

Knowing a million people came here means something, to me.

They come to see my photos or, read what I write.  I'm not sure but, it's nice having them over.

The Ryukyu Inu dog photo above was sent off to a zoologist, in Italy, this month.

The file I sent was high resolution suitable for printing.

When I emailed it, I apologized for taking so long, as I am eternally busy.

Today, I'd like to share some of the words from my new friend, Alberto, with you:

"Dear Mike,
Don’t worry, you’ve not to apologize, I know what means to be very busy: I’m studying about eighty rare dog breeds of all the world, I’m alone to work on this project and I’ve to take care of all the aspects of the work with my means only, sometimes I nearly lose hope.
Your kind words and your interest for my research are encouraging and touch me very much!
The photo is perfect: the dogs are perfectly represented also they are beautiful, exactly what I need."

Alberto initially found the photo on this blog during an internet search. 

His reply encourages me.  I think, we both love what we do, even if there's no money in it.

He gets to eat lasagna, more than I do.  That's Italian, right ?

So, I envy him, somewhat.

Another rewarding surprise came along during the month of October.

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery was included in Travel Bloggers Worth Following.

That tells me, for sure, at least someone comes by here to look at pictures.

It is nice to know that other folks in the travel blog-writing-world recognize your work.

Sometimes Travel Writing Pays


It's the law. Before I send you over there, I have to disclose something.

The good people over at Yahoo pay me for this so, it has to be professional.

Here's my latest international travel article:

5 Things to Know About UNESCO Zakimi-Jo Castle 

 Suppose you and a few million of your friends went over to see me at Yahoo !

Wouldn't that be neat ?

They'd pay me, even more, I bet.

Wildlife Photo: Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle

This is what a Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle looks like in the launch mode.

He was spotted in the northern areas of Okinawa, Japan.

After a whole day and shooting hundreds of photos up there, it's time to get on outta here.

The weekend is here and we discovered a few more festivals to go to.  Hah !

There must be a couple thousand festival photos on my back burner, waiting development.

But, like that critter above must have been thinking when he launched.

I'm outta here !

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bird Photos: The Cinnamon Bittern

A Cinnamon Bittern is also called Chestnut Bittern.

The scientific name would be Ixobrychus cinnamomeus.

This bird was at the bottom of a dam and I was too far away for a sharp shot.

From the top of the dam, I had the Sigma 50-500 lens stretched all the way to 500mm.

Whenever I see some wildlife I can't identify, I take plenty of shots.

When I get time to do the research, ID the critter and learn its habits.

Cinnamon Bitterns are real skittish birds.

The hang out in fresh water .

For food, they go after small fish, frogs and crustaceans.

If you spook one of them and it doesn't want to fly away, they trick you.

The bird just sticks its beak straight up in the air and pretends to be a reed.

Their colors help them blend-in with the environment.  Camouflage, eh ?

It works.  I never saw the bird's mate in the upper part of this frame.

Now that I know the Cinnamon Bittern's habits, I'm going back to get some better photos.

It just means, quit trying to take satellite photos from the top of the dam.

Get down on the bird's level with that big lens and sneak-up on them.

Like maybe, do some belly and elbow-crawling.

Go back there and get an award-winning, close-up shot.

Even if I have to make little crustacean noises while I'm doing it !

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sea Hawks the Birds You Gotta Love Them

At an undisclosed location in Okinawa, Japan these birds put on a show today.

Sea Hawks are also known as Fish Hawks, Fish Eagles
and Ospreys but, I don't call them that, anymore because that is like a cuss word in Okinawa.

The scientific name for these birds is Pandion haliaetus.

Just watching them fly is a blast.

They like to eat fish.  And, it doesn't matter if they are fresh or, saltwater fish.

So, you might see them performing their aerial acrobatics over the ocean, a lake, river, or pond.

Any place they can find fish to eat, you will spot them.

 Seeing one of these raptors when they spot a fish and dive is a big thrill.

 That didn't happen today, while I was there.

But, one of the reasons you gotta love these Sea Hawks is what this guy did.

He nabbed a dirty rat and put it out of circulation !

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Monday, October 22, 2012

Travel Photo: View of Ie-jima Island from Bise

Here is a photo taken at Bise on the Motobu Peninsula of Okinawa.

Every time we pass through the Village of Bise, I have to stop by and visit my sweetheart.

Map It Okinawa and I really went there to look for Seahawks.

The normal term, I use for them is "Ospreys".

But, Seahawks or, Sea Eagles will have to do because lots of folks are riled these days.

They have some contraption flying around, over here, called ospreys, too.

People don't like those ospreys so, I'm taking the word of the bird out of my vocabulary.

Sea Eagles, Seahawks or Taka, (Japanese word for Hawk) is what I'll be using.

Anyway, back to that travel photo.  The Sweetheart gal, left her shop.

She just leaves the place wide-open and follows us down to the beach.  What a gal.  Huh ?

One of the big bonuses we get living around here is honest people.

Nobody is minding the store when she walks away for half an hour and that's OK.

When she gets back there won't be anything missing.

She's a real nice gal and I like her.  She wanted some photos of Ie-jima from that spot.

The light didn't suit me.  I told her I'd have to shoot from there sometime in early morning light.

I didn't say "Scram" or anything like that.  She just knew what I was thinking.

So, off she went to see the Map It Okinawa Dude.


More about this treasure of a lady may be seen in Then and Now

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Portrait of a Blue Rock Thrush in Okinawa, Japan

This photo of a Blue Rock Thrush was taken in Bise Village Okinawa, Japan.

Equipment used: Pentax KD10, Manfrotto Tripod, and Sigma 50-500 lens at 230mm.

Learn more about the Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) at

If you're thinking of getting one of those big lenses for your DSLR camera

Check out Mad Mike Reviews first!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Prototype: The Redneck Apple Telephone

Still in Early Development Stages


Don't go runnin' off until you here what inspired this prototype.

Everybody's jumpin' on the bandwagon and buying those newfangled phones.

A friend of mine has a brand new Apple iPhone, or whatever they're called.

Watchin' him do all the neat stuff that's available on the contraption almost convinced me.

I need one, too.

Nobody ever accused me of being over-scholarly but, I do think things over, sometimes.

Along Came the What's Wrong with the World Theory


Look back a few years and, try to remember when telephones had wires on them.

People didn't walk down the street staring at little screens on their phones.

When they were driving cars, they watched where they were going.

You didn't have to sit in a restaurant listening to other folks yappin' on a phone.

Bank robbers had to bust into the place, and physically grab the money.

The world went wireless.  That's when things started going haywire.  Hah !

Way Back in 2003 a Bear Broke into David Letterman's House

Now, I have no idea what a New York City boy was doing in Montana.

We should probably ask him what kind of phone he was using.

When the Redneck Apple Phone goes into production it will have an instruction book.

There will be a page teaching city boys stuff you can't do with a cell-phone.

You could lure the bear out of the house with an apple.

Or, swing that baby around by the wires and smack the bear in the nose.

Yup, things started going wrong in the world when everybody got wireless.

Somebody should look into that !

Visit my homepage for today's Feature Photo

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Million Views Contest Winner Announced

The Winner is Emi Iwasaki, a Facebook Fan from Tokyo, Japan !

This is a continuation of the events that took place Sunday night.

In case you ever decide to do a contest redneck-style, bookmark this page.

After the winner's name was drawn, the model ran around posing with it.

The Ryukyu Dudes let her have some fun and that was alright, I guess.

We weren't paying her.  So what the heck.

RyukyuRusty was shootin' the camera and the rest of us were drinking beer.

After awhile I yelled at her to quit fooling around and said.

"Would you please hold still and let the cameraman get a picture of the winner's name" ?

 Probably, I shouldn't of done that.

  She almost cried.

So, I went over there and gave her a l'il hug and everything went back to normal.

The tux is only worn for special occasions.

Now, I have to get the beer and wrinkles out of it before St. Patrick's Day.

 Probably, you wouldn't want to be so formal, if you did a redneck contest of your own.

Some of those Bib Overalls from Walmart would be OK.

I hate gettin' all dressed up, too. 

Back to the Winner

Emi Iwasaki tells me that she loves southern islands, especially Hawaii.

She studies and teaches Hawaiian Hula Dancing.

On a visit to Okinawa back in April, Emi found my Facebook Page.

So, she has been following and liking photos there all along, without me knowing.

Facebook should fix those pages for old people.  I don't like wearing my reading glasses.

Anyway, Emi typed in there "I want to see more of the Ryukyu Islands".



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today She Went for One of Those Last Rides With Me

Tough Decision and Not Sure How She'll Handle It


Looking at some old Orion Beer posters brought on a flood of memories.

So, I didn't say a word and just took pictures.

Those were the good old days.  Hah !

Keeping everything inside myself, I just went around taking photos.

We've been through a lot togetherThis just didn't seem like the place to break the news.

So, I took her out in the country where I'm more comfortable.

A little river, running over the rocks, made me relax.

 Pretending I was doing something important, I still didn't say anything about it.

Maybe It's Best Not to Tell Her


If you found a younger, sexier model, what would you do ?

Would you take her for one last ride, and not say anything about it ?

I Will Always Love Her


And, I hope she finds someone else, who will treat her better than I did.

See, I'm taking her for one more ride.

The Canon G12, that took all the photos above, is being traded-in.

They have a new Canon PowerShot G1 X that I think I'll love, even more ! 

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