Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Flying Fish? Nope Koinobori (鯉幟) and Fun to Shoot !

Carp Streamers are Koinobori


In Japan, you see them from late April through the month of May.

They aren't wildlife or, fish jumping out of water but, they can be just as challenging.

So, when there are no critters around, for me to capture with the camera, I shoot Koinobori.

Some of the methods I use are the same as if I were going after wildlife.

Here are a few tips on how to catch these critters with a digital camera.

Spot focus, if you can.

Move around, so the sun is hitting your back and watch the fishes' eyes.

Just like wildlife, they won't hold a pose for you. They are always moving.

The camera needs to in in Continuous Shooting Mode.

When you see the sun light-up the eye, fire away.  Three frames at a time, is what I do.

It might take a hundred or two clicks of the shutter but, who cares ?

With a digital camera, at least you're not wasting film.

When you download the camera, you'll have some different photos to show everyone.

If you ever decide to be a wildlife photographer, you have a head start on the rest of the crowd.

These photos were taken around 8AM at Haneji Dam in Okinawa, Japan.

Early morning or, late afternoon gives you the best light.

That's because the sun is low in the sky.

For directions to Haneji Dam: Checkout Map It Okinawa

More tricks of the trade may be seen in Photo Tips

Monday, April 29, 2013

Making Friends with the Tiger Dog

A Second Visit with the Ryukyu Inu

Getting down to eyeball level with a dog takes awhile, when you are a stranger.

So, I went back for round two with the cameras today.

Tora, means tiger, in Japanese and, that's this dog's name.

The photo was taken, zooming with the tripod standing tall and I'm looking down at him.

 When I get down to his level and start snapping-away, he doesn't seem too happy.

 So, I figured it would be a good idea to back-off and leave the camera near him.

There's a signed pet release, for this tiger dog, in my wallet.

Now, all we have to do, is get used-to working together.

This Ryukyu Inu is going places.

Wait and see.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today on Kouri Jima Okinawa We Visited a Cave (Images)

people crawling into a sea cave

It was a bit of a squeeze, getting in there.

candlelight inside cave

But, there was lots of room inside.

people inside candle lighted cave

Candles and small fires lit the place.

prayer in a cave

Not many people know about this annual event, that takes place on Kouri Jima.

So, I feel lucky to be invited.

 One of my friends was looking like, "What's gonna happen next?"

 Thanks to Map It Okinawa for taking this photo.

It shows, I knelt down in the cave like everybody else and got blessed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Canon G12 on a Dog Walk Nabs a Butterfly (Images)

No Animals Harmed in this Series


The DSLR's are resting for a big event tomorrow and, I'm supposed to be, too.

When the wife and I took the dogs for a walk, I slipped the G12 in a cargo pocket.

She walks the little white rat, I take the huskies.


We were almost home when the missus spotted this butterfly.

dog sniffs butterfly

These days, you can never be too careful.

Gizmo, checks things out.  Friend or, foe; we gotta know, before I start shooting.

All clear.  The subject is unarmed.

Blue Triangle, butterfly

With the little Powershot, I pointed and shot from the west.

Then, snapped one to show you the road heading from east to west.

The butterfly is a Blue Triangle.

If I was smart, I'd stuff that Canon G12 in my cargo pocket, everyday !

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Closing out the Month of April 2013: Too Many Things to Do

April has always been a hectic month for a cameraman in Okinawa.

This year it didn't get any easier.  It's not over, yet and, there's plenty more to do.

This morning, I ran down to the print shop early, trying to stay ahead of the game.

That's not a scrapbook, I'm making.  Just some prints I'll be delivering to people.

There's a Bit of Madness to My Method


Magazine editors and some of my best friends, don't always get it.

Sometimes, neither do I but, it seems to work.

When I hear of an event, about to take place, I research, all I can, about it.

Visit the village days, weeks or, months before and meet people.

That way, I'm not a stranger, in town, when it's time to use the cameras.

Most of the places I go, people are friendly.

But, they might not like some foreigner shoving model releases in their face.

So, what I like to do, is forget about all the paperwork and just shoot cameras.

Then, visit, a few weeks later, with some free photos to hand out.

Why Close Out the Month So Early ?



The next few days it's going to get real hectic around here.

There was supposed to be some sort of Pink Full Moon last night and, I missed it.

So, tonight, I'll be looking for the moon.

Sunday, we're going to another island for a ritual in a sea cave.

Monday,  will find me in the Orion Beer Brewery, shooting a camera.  No drinking.

And, while up that way, I'll see if I can catch that Ryukyu dog, again.

If I get a signed pet release on him, he may become a star !

Then, there's those adorable women from Henza Island, I have to catch-up with.

One, already signed a model release.  The other one will, too, I'm betting.

With all the things I have to do, it's best to close out April 2013 today.

Golden Week in Japan is all ready to kick-off !

Flower Photos: What the Heck Are These Things ?

They Look Like Xmas Decorations


For more than a few months, I've been meaning to identify these flowers.

So far, they don't seem to want to cooperate.

So, I just shot a bunch of them and will let someone else tell me.

They are bright red flowers hanging from some evergreen-looking stems.

 A few years ago, I couldn't tell you those white flowers were lilies but, I know now.

Here's a closer look for you to get a sense of scale.

The red rascals were growing along the road going up to Mt. Tachuu on Ie Jima, Okinawa.

Dodging traffic, I went up and down the road shooting from different angles.

When the wind and rain started coming after me, I left.

Pentax cameras and lenses are made for this kind of stuff, not me.

Does anyone know what those plants could be ?

I'm tired of fooling with them.

Give me an ID and you can have any or, all of those photos !

UPDATE: Best friend in the Land Down Under gave me the ID

Russelia equisetiformis

Firecracker Plant


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Special Ryukyu Dog Photo: The Turaa Inu

Today I came across this beauty of a dog.

Why is this one so special ?

It's the first time I ever met one of the Turra variety.  That's local language for tiger.

I took a few photos and this is my favorite.

He's looking at me like he wants to chew my leg off.  Awesome.

One of these days, I'll go back and get more photos of him.

It's best to get down to ground level with the camera for dog photos, I think.

But, I better be real good friends with Turaa, before I try that.

Have you ever met one ?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some Photos and a Short Tribute to Ernie Pyle

His tour in Okinawa Lasted 18 Days

In the Ryukyu Islands people don't call it World War II.

They don't call it the War of the Pacific, either.

It is simply called the Okinawa Senso.  The Okinawa War.

The battle began April 1, 1945.

The photo above shows the Ernie Pyle Memorial Stone on Ie Jima.

Ernie was respected by the Army, Navy and Marines because he walked with them.

He walked the walk and, talked the talk.  He was a war correspondent.

He traveled and reported the war through Africa, Europe and the Pacific.

Ernie was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for correspondence in 1944.

He died on Ie Jima August 18, 1945.

Yesterday, at Peace Memorial Park, I searched for Ernie Pyle's name on the walls.

Over 240,000 names are inscribed there, from victims of all nations.

We couldn't locate Ernie and almost gave up.

Then Doc Graff got the idea to do a computerized search.  And, it paid off.

Pyle Ernest T, was engraved amongst the American civilians killed in the battle of Okinawa.

Anyone wearing a uniform and going into combat should read his writings.

The leaders of the world's countries, before sending young men to war, should read them, too.

The Indiana University School of Journalism can tell you more about Ernie Pyle than I can.

That's where I found a photo of Ernie on patrol with Marines in Okinawa.

Look at this column Ernie Pyle wrote and let it soak-in.  It's the best tribute I can give him.

You may also like: A Search for Uncle Sam

Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 Kin Town Mud Festival (たんぼフエスヌ) Okinawa, Japan

Good Clean Fun for Golden Week


The Tambo Fest (たんぼフエスヌ) or, Mud Festival, is one of my favorite events of the year.

There are lots of things going on, like, live music, dancing, games of chance and food to eat.

All the stuff you'd see at any other festival on the island, they have at this one.


Only in Kin Town We Have Lots More

Tambo, is the Japanese word for rice field.

Some kind farmers decorate the place and, flood it for us.

Mostly kids but, anyone else, can join in and stir things up.

Play ball, ride a bike or.....

.....go diving, if you like.

The Mud Festival takes place Friday May 3, 2013 at Nature Mirai in Kin Town Okinawa.

It starts at 9AM and goes until 6PM.

It's a good idea to bring a towel and change of clothes but, you don't have to...

.....if you are one of those city people that doesn't know how to have real fun !

Wildlife Photos: White-cheeked Startling (Sturnus cineraceus)

Photos from Ie Jima, Okinawa, Japan


Fairly popular in China, Japan and Korea, we don't see these birds on the island of Okinawa. 

 Map It Okinawa spotted them and told me some yellow-billed birds were at the village office.

So, when he said he wanted to go explore, somewhere else, I told him to leave me behind.

Wild stuff takes priority, with me, every time.

 There's a saying photographers have. "The lens you leave at home will be the one you need."

It's true.

Not planning on shooting any critters, I left the Sigma 50-500 behind.

 All these shots were made with a Pentax 18-250mm.

When I don't know what kind of bird it is, I take plenty of shots, from all angles.

None of these photos will go anywhere in a contest.

But, they gave me enough information to have the bird experts give me a positive ID.

The Stumus cineraceus is also called a Grey Startling.

In Japanese it would be Mukudori: ムクドリ(椋鳥).

Friends over at Wikipedia say these birds inspired some Pokemon stuff.

Not really up to date on the pop-culture scene, I have to take their word for it.

The closest thing, I do, related to pop-cult, is open an occasional bottle.  POP.

 After all the crowds leave Ie Jima's Lily Festival, I may hop a boat going back over there.

Next time, I'll bring the right lens and shoot an award-winning photo of this bird.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Museum Photo: Ryukyu Islands License Plate a Classic

This photo was taken in a museum on Ie Jima, an Okinawa island, not far from here.

It sure makes a person miss the good old days.  Don't it ?

It may vary where you come from but, a feller would have to go to prison in my hometown.

It's probably against the law to make your own license plates these days.

That's what's wrong with the world.  Too many governments got involved.  Huh ?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

15 Hibiscus Photos from Ie Island in Okinawa

Fifteen Favorite Flower Pictures


In all fairness, I have to give Map It Okinawa Dude credit for this idea.

Going to Ie Jima to explore the island and checkout the lilies was the original plan.

The great outdoors is where we usually can be found hanging out not, in greenhouses.

These hibiscus flowers are too pretty to describe so, I'll just ramble about how we got there.

The trip to the island was a three day event.

Camping on a beach overnight and in a cave entrance the second evening, is what happened.

Like islands everywhere, the weather can get wet, at times.

So, we got plenty of experience, building campfires with rain-soaked wood.

On the last morning of the trip, the plan was to get photos of the lilies.

But we didn't think it would be a good idea to take the photos in the rain.  Duh.

One of the travel brochures had this Hibiscus Park listed in it.

A quick look around the outside grounds was enough for me. It must be off-season, I thought.

Very few flowers were blooming so, I packed away the cameras and headed back out the gate.

Back in the vehicle, I was chugging iced coffee, smoking and wondering.

"What's taking Map It so long?"

In about six hours, we had to be on the boat or, make camp another night.

Sleeping in caves on rainy nights isn't that much fun.

Why else do you think so many people started building houses ?

Twenty minutes must have gone by, when I decided, it was time to find Map It Dude.

Halfway down the park trail, I spotted him.  He was all excited, motioning me to bring the cameras.

 It got me thinking, he must have inhaled something bad at the campfire.

Who wants to walk around in the rain shooting the dozen, or so, hibiscus flowers we spotted ?

 Now, I'm saying, "Dude, we have important stuff to do.  Let's get out of here."

He started telling me, I had to see what he found in the greenhouse.

There are over 1,000 different kinds of hibiscus plants in that place !

So, if anyone goes to the Lily Festival, and it starts raining, here's what they should do.

Checkout the Hibiscus Garden