Saturday, March 30, 2013

Editor's Picks (Photos) for the Month of March 2013

Strange Things Happen Sometimes


There weren't a lot of photos entered in contests this month because March keeps me too busy.

These photos were the only ones to receive Editor's Picks.

The strange thing is, they were both taken at the same location in Okinawa, Japan.

 Long Life Stone in Okinawa

Green Tree Frog of Okinawa, Japan

The photos were taken on different days at locations only a few hundred meters apart.

And the frog photo made it all the way to the University of California.

That Stone Garden in Motobu must have some good ju-ju, is what I'm thinking.

What I plan on doing is a TripAdvisor Review on that place.

Maybe, if you visit Shizen Sekitei (自然石庭) you'll start having good luck, too !

Ten Photos From an Incredible Day in Iris Fields

 Weather Forecast Wrong Again


After listening to all the weather gurus predict a lousy day, I came up with a plan.

Take the wife to the iris fields.

For the past five years I've been shooting photos of the flowers and she's never been along.

She loves the photos she sees as I develop them and always says, "I want to go with you."

Flower photography is work, for me.  She thinks I'm having fun when I go up there.

So, I figured, alright.  We're probably going to get rained-on so, It will be a quick trip.

 It was a little bit cloudy and hazy when we first arrived in Kijoka.

A lot more flowers were blooming than what we saw yesterday.  That surprised me.

Busloads of tourists hadn't started crowding the fields, yet.

Just a few die-hard photographers were in the fields taking photos.

This guy was good.  He could shoot without being distracted by his wife.

That's the sign of a real pro.  Nobody's allowed around me when I'm shooting.

 My goal, is to find an iris that looks like a dragon sticking its tongue out.

So, I wander off where nobody can bug me.

 Here's what I did.  Gave Mrs. RyukyuMike the Canon G 12

With that camera in fully Auto Mode she stays busy, while I go my own way.

This is one of the photos she shot. Not too shabby for a handheld point and shoot.

That other cameraman took his wife out and shot her in the field.

Then, he let his bride shoot him.  What a guy.  Huh ?

After about an hour I was getting hungry and, tired of shooting flowers.

So, I had to figure out where I lost the wife.

Once I found her I said, "Look Honey.  There's cosmos over there."

That got us closer to the car.  And, I said, "Aren't you getting hungry?"

"We should get out of here before it rains and go find someplace to  eat."

She agreed.

It wasn't just an incredible day in the iris fields; it was an incredibly lucky day for me !


Everyone should take the time to visit my "Always Entertaining Friend"

OKINAWA SOBA and Checkout his Iris Photos from 2013 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Okinawa 2013 Iris (オクラレルカ) Report #3 and a Travel Tip

In Ogimi Okinawa the Iris Fields are Blooming



We went up there today even though it was raining and, it's a good thing.

After Iris Report #3 hits print everyone on the island will start heading north.

Before traveling look at these photos and be sure to read to my travel tip.

 These flowers we call Iris, bloom in some awesome colors.

Some look purple, others blue.  And, they have bright yellow on the petals.

They resemble a dragon, sticking its tongue out, according to legends.

 The breed of iris, called Okurareruka (オクラレルカ) locally, loves lots of water.

This plot of the flowers is just starting to bloom.  The photo was taken to give you an idea.

It can be pretty wet and slippery between those rows of plants.

Turning around, here's a view of the fields you'll want to visit with a camera.

 To shoot a photo like this, get real close or, use a zoom lens.

Some places, it's safe to walk between the flowers to take a close-up.

The whole valley is starting to bloom.  You could spend hours there on a nice sunny day.

Even though it was cloudy and wet, I had a blast and, forgot all about what time it was.

Another thing I forgot was, the place isn't flip-flop friendly.

Trying to cover the iris fields, from all angles, I stepped in the muck, a few times.

My travel tip: Wear boots or shoes and watch where you are going !

The ditch, in front of that construction sign, is a good place to wash-up if you forget !

Directions for the Village of Kijoka and Iris Fields of Ogimi.


Everyone should take the time to visit my "Always Entertaining Friend"

OKINAWA SOBA and Checkout his Iris Photos from 2013 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Travel Photo: A Cave on Ie Jima an Island in Okinawa

This is a photo of a cave taken on Ie Jima about three years ago.

Getting ready to return for another trip, this year I pulled it up to remind me of something.

There was a wooden sign (in Japanese) alongside the cave entrance.

At the time, I was in a hurry and, didn't get a photo of the sign for translation.

But, I was told, the sign mentioned something unusual.

Human and animal bones were found in there.

They were thousands of years old and the animal, was a deer. 

Note to self:  Get photos of everything, this time.

Researching, in advance, I found some great information on the caves of Ie Jima.

National Geographic put some photos and video together on the place in November 2005.

It's always a good idea to learn as much as you can about a destination before you travel.

There are many more things to be learned from the caves of Ie Shima.

Shooting the Almost Full Moon Ain't a Bad Idea

Last night I saw the moon when I stepped out for some fresh air and nicotine.

It's probably a good thing, I took a few practice shots.

The weather for full moon photography, this month, is looking pretty grim.

Right now winds are blowing out of the east and dark skies are headed my way.

But, this is Okinawa, Japan.  The weather can change every five minutes, sometimes.

Here's where I was at 6:52 last night shooting the moon.

It was a little bit windy then, too.

So, I put the tripod way down low and sat on the ground.

If the clouds break, I'll be ready tonight.  The full moon for this month is actually March 27th.

But, its a good idea to shoot the moon the day before its full.

Another great time to shoot, is the morning after the full moon.  You can catch it in blue skies.

The Moon Can Be Tricky

The little sucker pops up in a different position every night.  Ever notice that ?

Well, an unscientific explanation is, it's because earth is spinning.

The moon rises about 54 minutes later, each day.

So, at 6:52PM it won't be where it was last night.  Groan.

With the weather changing every five minutes and a couple of hours to kill, who knows ?

Maybe, I'll be sitting on that sidewalk again tonight.  And, maybe I won't.

Some information on shooting the moon may be found in my Photo Tips.

Another great resource is the Digital Photography School.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Drive with the Professor and the Gals I Met

There's No Such Thing as Blue Monday on Okinawa


The day started with some research on another island just a short drive away.

Getting ready for some serious cultural photography takes a bit of advanced planning.

It's best to meet the locals, learn some history and become familiar with the lay of the land.

Being the not-so-studious-person that I am, I like to have a little fun, too.

Doc, the professor, probably wishes he left me behind, sometimes.

That's because I say stuff like, "Wait.  I have to see if I can borrow a girl to pose with me here."


I got him to pull the trigger for this shot.

This is serious business.  I wish I would have smiled.  But it hurt squeezing my face in that board.

 It was lunchtime before I bothered another gal.

She was shy about having her photo taken so, I promised to just shoot her hands.

By early afternoon we were back on the island of Okinawa.

This is at the University of Maryland.

When I spotted that girl I asked if I could take her picture.

There's a group called "Girls with Flowers in Their Hair" I post photos in, on Flickr.

So, I told her, to just keep on going-about her business, and I'd shoot some natural-work photos.

She was such a sweet girl, I had to sneak behind the counter to shoot more.

While Doc was getting professor stuff done, I was talking and shooting.

They don't see many people wearing yellow flip-flops in that office.

So, I showed myself around.

This is Adriesa Kane, the last gal I met on our Monday drive.

That college better take good care of her.

She could run away and become a supermodel.  Dontcha think ?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What's Wrong With That Picture? (Photo) Knives and Bullets

That's My Trusty Old Swiss Army Knife


It's been awhile since I've written a What's Wrong With That Picture.

So, I'd better explain.  I already know what's wrong with this photo; it was taken in a hurry.

But, it is related, somewhat, to the picture I want you to take a look at.

The good news is, this Swiss Army Knife can go on an airplane with me, again.

The blade can't exceed 2.36 inches.  We're safe.

Southwest Airlines doesn't like it but, they shouldn't worry.

Nobody's planning on poking a flight attendant with one of these little knives.

There Are More Important Things to Be Concerned About


The United States of America is buying gazillions of bullets for Homeland Security.

Millions of them are hollow point rounds.

These type bullets are illegal to use in combat, according to international law.

So, the Social Security special agents,  National Marine Fisheries Service, 

and Department of Homeland Security get to use the cop-killing ammo.

See for yourself and after you read the article come on back and tell me....

What's Wrong With That Picture ? 

More What's Wrong With That Pictures in THE DOOZIES

Blooming in Okinawa: The Aloe Vera Plants (Photos)

These aloe plants were spotted on Kouri-jima, Okinawa, Japan.

It was March 21, 2013 so, I guess these blossoms wait for Spring's official arrival.

We used to grow the stuff but, I can't remember ever seeing these yellow flowers.

If you get real close and look, the blossoms resemble miniature bananas.

 Unless you really know you aloe plants, you probably shouldn't eat them.

Learn all you'll ever need to know about Aloe Vera over at eHow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Jumping Over Mt Katsuu: How We Gotterdun

She Really Didn't Jump That High

The pretty girl didn't have to jump over 400 meters in the air to compose this photo.

I took it while waiting for the Katsuyama Shikuwasa Flower Festival Festival to Kick off.

Most girls would look at you like you were crazy if you asked them to try this.

Say something like, "Nene, how about a picture of you jumping over that mountain?"

Well, she did seem to act like she was confronting a lunatic, at first.

But, thanks to the Zuckerberganator, the gal recognized RyukyuMike from Facebook.

So, she took a minute of her time to listen to my plan.

 We borrowed two folding chairs from the set-up in front of the stage.

They were strategically placed so she just had to jump-up a tad while I shot the photos.

That's how we gotterdun.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Flower Photo: Yellow Water Lily

Found in Nago City, Okinawa, Japan


Today was a fun filled day traveling around the island of Okinawa.

We saw some old friends and made a few new ones.

Map It Okinawa dude and I even went over to checkout some other islands.

Everywhere we went, things just clicked.  I can't remember when was the last time I had a day like that.

This yellow lily was the last photo taken today.

When you've had a great day, it's best not to spoil things by squinting at computer monitors.

So, I'll be leaving you with this yellow flower and going uptown for awhile.

Did you know beer spoils, even in the fridge, if people don't consume it fast enough ?

Other things that need to be tended to are waiting.  I'll be back.....

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wildlife Photos: Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinera)

Found in Europe, Africa and Asia


This Grey Wagtail posed on a fencepost in Okinawa, Japan.

bird, fence post

The Motacilla cinera doesn't stay still for too long.

Grey Wagtail, bird, fence

Both photos of this bird were taken in Kin Town at 9:15AM March 13, 2013.

A minute later, the wagtail was gone.

Learn more about Grey Wagtails at ARKive.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Travel Agent Academy Round Five--Gotterdun

In Pursuit of the Finer Things


Just for the heck of it I Googled HYATT Hotels Okinawa, today.

Then, I went over to the Travel Agent Academy.

They have a HYATT Specialist Course.

So, I said to myself, "Let's getterdun."

There are almost 500 HYATT properties, around the globe.

The company operates in 45 countries and, I saw them all.

It made my head spin.  But, I went and took the tests and by golly, gotterdun.

Well, while I was snooping around in the halls of the academy, I spotted this Master's Course.

So, I figured  it would be a good idea to get that one done during round five, too.

In that course, I learned how to hook you up with weddings and romance travel.

They really gave me a beating.  I think I've come out of barroom brawls feeling less bruised.

But, we gotterdun.

If someone wants to plan some romance, wedding or, honeymoon travel send them my way.

Then, I'll tell them what they should do.

Huh? Bamboozled Got Nuthin' to Do with Bamboo?

Learn Something New Everyday


There's this awful hangover going around in the office today.

St. Patrick may have something to do with it.  That's what I'm guessing.

There wasn't anybody else in town last night wearing a green tux t-shirt.

So, after two beers or so, I quit counting and maybe, had a few more.  Then, went home.

It turns out today was one of those days where nothing gets done.

So, I figure, just post a photo of some bamboo and throw something interesting about it on the blog.

After all the years I've spent, in my lifetime, running around half-bamboozled, guess what ?

According to the word doctors over at Dictionary Reference (Dot) Com...

Bamboo ain't got nuthin' to do with being bamboozled ?

Maybe beer does.  Hmm...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Iris Report #2 and Another Beautiful Girl

Back Up to Ogimi Okinawa


As promised, here's another update on the iris fields in Okinawa, Japan.

Things are looking much better than expected, after last week's visit.

Dozens of those purple beauties are popping-up in the green fields.

Unless there is a drastic change in the weather full bloom could happen next weekend.

 Today, I'll just tease you with these two photos.

There will be many more in coming weeks and I don't want to bore anyone.

Flowers ain't the only beautiful things we have on this island.

 In our typical, "plans-are-for-the-birds" fashion, we left the iris fields and headed for the hills.

Don't ask how because we don't know.

All of a sudden we came across a another flower festival.

It was the Shiikuwasa Flower Matsuri in a village called Oshikawa.

This darling of a seven year old girl had been performing a dance, on stage, for the event.

The stage was indoors so, I missed that part.

That's because I wandered off up the hills a little further to shoot shiikuwasa flowers.

But, when I saw this beauty outside I asked her mom if I could take a photo or two.

Now, I have to pick the best shot and make a print to give her.

But, that's alright.

It gives me an excuse to keep going back to Ogimi and doing Iris Reports.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flower Photo: Beauty and the Begonia

A Sense of Scale for This Huge Begonia 


To give the viewer an idea of the height of this plant something was needed.

The good old flip-flop equals one foot method of measurement would do, alright, I guess.

That should show you, the begonia plant is about four feet tall.

But, limping around on the stone path with one bare foot wasn't much fun.

And, the color, composition and contrast in this photo just didn't suit me.

Along came this beauty, about five feet tall (I'm guessing) and posed next to the plant.

Which photo should I keep.....

...the yellow flip-flop and begonia or Beauty and the Begonia ?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wiktionary Should Hire Me to GROWL !

The Real World is a Competitive Place


Some people say, if you want to be good at what you're doing, strive to be in the top 20 percent.

The upper twenty percent is a great place to start but, that isn't a goal to strive for.

The top of the heap, is where you want to be in order to stay competitive.

 The good folks over at TripAdvisor sent me this in an email today.



"RyukyuMike, you're among the top 4% most-read reviewers of all time!"

Well, I don't want to be in the top 4% so, I growled.

What does it take to be in the top 1% ?

That sounds better, to me.

Next a Visit to Wiktionary


It's always a good idea to research these sort of things for my readers.

If your audience doesn't speak American English they can get confused.

When I catch myself using slang I like to throw a link in here for educational purposes.

The search engines had me going around in circles for awhile.

When you type-in the word "grr" it confuses some of them.  And, some of them confuse me.

Wiktionary came to the rescue.

Plain and simple, it says:  1. A growl of anger or disappointment.

And, for Alternative forms:  grrr, grrrr (and so on, depending on length or ferocity).

They Have an Audio Button

If you really want to know why Wiktionary should hire me, go listen to it.

Under Pronunciation, look for the Audio (US) button.

Before you hit it, turn-up the volume, real loud.

And, listen to that gal "grr."

Kitten farts sound more ferocious.  Don't they ?

They should get someone who can roar like a lion to make those audio things.