Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Fish Pond With and Without a Polarizing Filter

fish, with polarizng filter

A Good Investment to Make for Your Camera



First, I'll show the image, where a circular polarizing filter was used.

It helped cut out the glare, reflecting on the pond from behind me.

no polarizing filter, fish in pond

This is the scene as it actually looked without using a filter.

The photo was not worth the time spent taking it, except for demonstration purposes.

Now, I'm not crazy about either of these photos but, I always carry a polarizing filter.

That's because, you never know when a mermaid might show up !

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Editor's Picks (Photos) for the Month of December 2014

Grey Heron in flight, bird

Landing Gear

December 2014 full moon

DEC 2014 Full Moon

Friday, December 26, 2014

Silly Signs Seen While Shopping

Half Way Through the Holidays



The end of the year routine can be fairly exhausting.

The craziness, associated with Christmas and the New Year, happens mostly in stores.

So, I let the women do all the buying and, just hang around, waiting for them to get done.

The cameras, don't go along on these trips; it's total goof-off time, for me.

Usually, I stay outside, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

comical, loading zone sign

That's how, I discovered this doozie of a Loading Zone sign.

It was in the parking lot, in front of the store so, I guess that's where the word, Porch came in.

So many folks wanted to use the spot, I almost got run over, using my cell phone camera.

After, snapping this shot, I decided to go in and see where the women went, with all my money.

funny sign, Happy Freepy Story

Well, I couldn't find the gals, until, I nabbed  a photo of this sign.

Happy Freepy Story



It reminded me of something, I heard recently.

Do you know what the Chinese janitor said when he jumped out of the hallway closet ?


Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Little Yellow Bird on Christmas Day

bird, Japanese White Eye, Mejiro, Christmas

Mejiro: A Fast Mover



More commonly known as the Japanese White Eye, these are some skittish birds.

This one, caused me to run inside and get the 300mm lens.

To create the GIF, I shot a series of photos at f/4  1/500  ISO 400.

A tripod and Pentax K3 made the equipment a bit heavy.

Doctor's orders: I'm supposed to take it easy for the next month or, so.

Once, I got all the stuff, hauled up on the roof, it was fairly easy shooting, for me.

Hopefully, you had as much fun, as I did, on Christmas day !

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just a Photo to Express My Holiday Wish

It's Christmas Eve in Japan






Today, I went to the Kin Shrine, to take some photos.

A Buddhist Monk saw me, picking up trash and looking for a place to deposit it.

He caught up with me in a wooded area, dropping some paper in an old rusty trash bin.

He thanked me but, wanted to take the rubbish, somewhere else.

So, I reached down and handed it to him and, wished him a Merry Christmas.

Sign says May Peace Prevail on Earth

It doesn't matter what your religion or, beliefs may be.

If people around the globe would learn to respect each other, the world could be peaceful.

Think about it. And maybe, by New Years, I'll get my wish for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Travel Photo: Santa's Already at Miyagi Island

Seen Today in Broad Daylight



It was a nice day to get some island-hopping done.

Good old Doc Graff and, I decided to search for some more of Okinawa's sacred trees.

Santa, ladder, Miyagi-jima

It was really surprising to run across this character, climbing a ladder.

The photo was taken with a Pentax K3, using burst mode.

Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 18mm.

Exposure: f/11   1/100   ISO 100  

Date and Time:  DEC 23 2014  12:23PM

Monday, December 22, 2014

Checkout the Xmas Lighting on this House !

2 GIFs Had to Be Made





Christmas, illumination


There was a time, I used to climb up on the roof and hang some decorations.

But, I got tired of going to all that trouble.

The last Christmas season, I did it was probably over 10 years ago.

The wife agreed, I just had to do the roof and, she'd handle the yard and front porch.

Well, she had some lights leftover and came up on the roof, to add to mine.

And, I told her, "The more crap, you put up here, the more, I'll have to take down in January."

Nightime, Xmas decorations, thousands of lights

Plus, all those lights, add expenses to the electric bill.  Humbug !

She softened me up by, saying, she would take all the lights down at the end of the season.

Well, as quick as New Years, rolled around, I yanked my lights off the top of the house.

Don't tell anybody but, I also threw them in the trashcan.

A couple of years later, the wife, asked me, when, I'm gonna cut my beard.

So, I told her, I would, as soon as, she finishes taking down her Last Century light-bulbs.

These Lights in Nago Got Me Thinking




People are flocking to the place to take pictures. 

After, I shot some photos, I walked over to the house, smothered in Christmas stuff.

The elderly woman, standing there, said she did all the decorating herself.

It took her a week.  And, she has a humongous electric bill from all her efforts.

While, I was standing there, talking, some real cute girls showed up.


There's nothing wrong with a $400 dollar electric bill, when stuff like that happens.

Maybe, I should buy some new lights.

And, see if the wife, feels like hanging them all over the place, again !

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Travel Photo: After the Bull Fight

fighting bull, crowd

A crowd gathers around the animal, after an Okinawan bull fight.

People like to pose with and pet the champion.

Some, even hop on its back for a portrait or, have their children do it.

 Camera: Pentax KD 10

Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 50mm

Exposure:  f/9  1/60   ISO 400

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Travel Photo: Nakijin Castle Wall from Above

stone wall, castle

No Aircraft Used in Composing this Image






It was one of those days where the sky didn't want to cooperate with the camera.

The best thing to do, was get up high and, eliminate the clouds from the scene.

Not all that crazy about flying, I figured out another way to get elevation.

Climb up on another wall, where the camera could be pointed down, to take the shot.

Equipment: Pentax KD10, Pentax 10-250mm lens and tripod

Focal Length: 65mm

Exposure:  f/16   1/10   ISO 100

 Date and Time: October 7, 2008  12:12PM

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keeping It Clean (GIF) Sueyoshi Shrine

Shrine Visits Are Popular



During the New Year, both Calendar and Lunar, shrines get lots of traffic.

Some people make pilgrimages to eight of them on Okinawa.

sweeping, leaves, shrine, gif

My trips to these sacred and historic places are usually after the New Year.

There aren't any big crowds and, I can take my time observing the area.

On this visit, I chatted with the groundskeeper and learned something.

If you climb the stairs, when you get to the top, turn around.

Shuri Castle, comes into view, behind you.

The custom before climbing, is to stop and drop some coins in the wooden box.

Whenever I do that, I bow my head and make believe I'm praying.

That's what lots of folks do.  Some of them might really say prayers.

Talking to the guy with the broom, was my favorite activity.

The shrine and stone stairs were designated national treasures.

He should be named, a living treasure.

The Year 2014 in Review as Seen Through a Pentax Viewfinder

Photos Processed Today 






Getting a head start on the year end closeout, here are monthly images, just developed.

It's nearly impossible, to decide, which photo or scene represents the month best.

As I go through the files, I just grab one that jogged the memory.

There may be a few thousand more, waiting to be discovered.

sunflowers, blue sky

Cherry blossoms get all the attention during January and February.

For the first time in my life, I went to a sunflower festival in January 2014.

bird, kingfisher

 This kingfisher was the subject (unexpectedly) when I decided to carry a short lens.

It was a cloudy day in February so, I left the long lens at home.


These purple iris flowers, had me making several trips up north.

The photo above was taken, the third week of March.

The blossoms got a late start but, kept blooming into April.

Ayako Toguchi,ritual in a cave

The month of April was my third annual visit to this cave.

Ayako Toguchi, pictured above, is a spiritual woman, who gives blessings.

She authorized me to take photos and, signs model releases so, I always give her some prints.

The rituals are conducted in a candlelit sea cave, during low tide.

It's a good climb up and down, to get in there and the cave fills with water at high tide.

Participating in the event, I get blessed by Toguchi Sensei each year.

So far, so good. But, I think I may ask her to bless me twice, next time.

flowers, hydrangea

Hydrangea flowers, cover the hillsides during May and, I always visit.

One year, a typhoon hit, the day after my trip and, wiped them all out.

This year, I took three sisters along. It was almost the same as having a typhoon hit.

islands, ocean, sailing sabani boats

The month of June, had me traveling to another island for a few days.

It was off to Zamami Jima to photograph the Annual Sailing Sabani Boat Race.

Rough seas prevented them from sailing the normal course, back to Naha.

So, races were conducted within the Kerama Islands.

festival surrounding tug-o-war, costumes

Towards the end of July, this event took place.

It's the Yonabaru Tug-o-War and, was my first time photographing the activities.

What a wild and, enjoyable festival that turned out to be.

Maybe, I'll go again, without the cameras.

young ladies, Obon dancing, Eisa

 The young ladies, above, are dancing and chanting to the beat of drums.

It was the last night of Obon, in August, which coincided with the full moon.

stage, women,harvest moon, festival

 In September, we celebrated the Harvest Moon.

During this time of year, the nights are much cooler and festivals are held everywhere.

A short distance from my office, it's easy to walk to so, I usually don't miss this one.

bird, osprey in flight, blue skies

This Sea Hawk photo was taken at the Kin Dam, in October.

Many migratory birds visit from November until March. Ospreys, stay longer.

If, I was forced to name a favorite bird; this would probably be my choice.

mangroves, river, reflection

The reflection of these mangrove trees caught my eye as the sun was setting.

It was a few days before the November full moon and, I was walking to the beach.

It's become a habit, to practice moonrise shots early in the month.

That way, I know the exact location to be in, for the real deal.

On the same hike, I shot my "Not the Stairway to Heaven" image and, got great results.

children playing taiko drums

For the month of December, I don't think, it'll get any better than this.

The photo was taken at the Hamburger Festival in Ginoza Village.

The weather was warm. Blue skies and sunshine, plus, HAMBURGERS!

Just when you think, life can't get no better than this, these drummers showed up.

And, they put on a stunning performance.

Do Me A Favor



Look out your window, each month of the year and compare the view with these photos.

Then, let me know, which of us, lives in a better place!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Flower Photo: Maybe It's Christmas Aloe !

Blooming in December



They say there are about 500 types of this plant.

And, this is the first time I've photographed one with red flowers sprouting on it.

aloe plant, flowering

It's about 15 degrees Celsius (59F) outside and feels like freezing.

Whenever it gets colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5C) we wear jackets.

This morning, I put socks on with the flip-flops.

A long sleeved T-shirt, flannel shirt and winter parka helped keep me warm.

Just in case, I placed some gloves in my pocket, too.

We were out in the wind and cold weather, looking for sacred trees today.

Luckily, I shot the aloe flower a few days ago, out in the sun.

The black background was just used to eliminate distractions from the scene.

The plant grows out behind my office.

If it keeps flowering in this frigid weather, I'm calling it Christmas Aloe  !

Related Posts:

Monday, December 15, 2014

10 Images Recently Selected by TripAdvisor's Property Owners

One Was Shot with a Cellular Phone



When I do a TripAdvisor Review, I like to send in a few photos.

Sometimes, especially when it's time for lunch, I leave the cameras behind.

There's a time for photography and there's a time for eating. I take both, seriously.

In no particular order, here are the latest review photos, loved by travel property folks:

Kin Bridge

Kin Bridge

sea and forest scene, Nakijin, Okinawa

Bridge Station Rikarikawarumi

sushi bar

Dining Cafe Kariya

tatami room, soba house

Maruyasu Nakagusuku

Blue Seal Ice Cream, Nago, Okinawa

Blue Seal Nago

frontal view, restaurant, Japan

Restaurant Tulip Kin Town

Tenpura Shop, Nanjo, Okinawa

Oshiro Tempuraten

observation lookout, Gitara Coast, Izena Island

Gitara Coast: Izena Island

Rest House Kamiyama: Izena Island

Japanese restaurant, Nago, outside view

Resraurant Otoya: Nago

To read the reviews on TripAdvisor or get directions, click on the titles.

I case you were wondering, which photo was taken with an antique cell-phone, hint:

It wasn't any of the first nine.

Festive Motion GIF from December 7, 2014 and a Note

singing,dancing, bubbles, festival stege

A Funny Thing Happened



Last week at the Nuchigusui Festival, I really didn't know who's picture I had taken.

Someone from Kentucky, USA asked me if, I saw this gal.

He said, she looked right at my camera and, winked at me.

Out of the hundreds of photos, I might know a dozen of the folks in the images.

Women are always blowing kisses and winking at the cameraman.

It's because part of our routine, is blowing kisses and winking at them.

We collaborated online and, I think, I may have found the young lady.

Now, all I need is a signed model release and, I can give her a framed photo !

NOTE: Construction of the new, improved website is running smoothly.

Hopefully everything will be accomplished in time to ring in the New Year.

Nowadays, I monkey could probably be trained to handle this task which has been baffling me. 

The problem: I ain't exactly a monkey.

But, I do enjoy monkeying around !

Sunday, December 14, 2014

5 GIFs from the Ginoza Hamburger Festival

Action Away from the Food Tents



A little confession. I did eat one hamburger.

It was a lot more fun watching the entertainment. And, that part didn't cost anything.

children playing drums

Little kids were banging on these Taiko Drums like professionals.

girl, child, taiko drummer

I had to get closer to focus one one drummer.

motorcycle, stunts

Away from the crowds, I went to investigate the noise motorcycles were making.

They were doing some wild stunts with those bikes.

motorcycle stuntman

Like, this guy, standing up and, riding on only one wheel.

guy and girl, Eisa dancing

It wouldn't be a festival, without Eisa dancers.

With over a thousand images to process, I left the fairgrounds early.

Lots of people were still standing in the long lines, waiting for their burgers.

So, I went back to the office and downloaded the camera.

And, went across the street for a sit down meal.

Hamburger steak !

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Building Websites Ain't for Dummies

Putting the Internet Savvy Through a Test



Today, I decided it's time to do some upgrading around here.

Months of research and a few years of experience are behind this madness.

It was high time somebody took action on the project.

An hour and a half after putting the plan in forward motion, I went looking for the book.

It was a good thing, there weren't any hammers available.

So far, I have learned how to upload one photo.

And, I can find the UNDO Button with my eyes closed, because, I hit it a few hundred times.

If all goes well, there will a new look at Ryukyu Life in 2015.

Another Live House Festival is happening tonight in Kin Town and, my camera was invited.

So, the web development will have to wait for another day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wildlife Photo: Pair of Fish Hawks in Flight

birds, osprey,hunting

These birds were hunting for a meal over the Kin Dam.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Sigma 50-500 at 360mm

Exposure:  f/11   1/640   ISO 100

Thursday, December 11, 2014

5 Good Reasons to Write for TripAdvisor

screenshot,#1 reviewer

It's a Bit of a Climb to the Top



This congratulations, came in an email yesterday and, it was a surprise.

In August 2009, I first joined TripAdvisor.

Over the next two years, I don't think, I did a dozen reviews.

Then, in 2012 someone commented to me, that my reviews were helpful.

And, she mentioned that there wasn't much written, in English, about Okinawa on TripAdvisor.

From then on, I decided to start doing more reviews. 

Why Should Anyone Write for a Travel Outfit for Free ?

  • It helps other travelers
  • Gets you in the habit of documenting experiences
  • It's easy. No deadlines and no editor, breathing down your neck
  • It gives your photos worldwide coverage
  • If you don't like a place, you can, say so and, tell others about the horrible experience  

Those are good enough reasons for me. How about you ?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Parting Shots (GIF) from the Kin Town Health Festival

Modern Dance, Salsa, outdoor stage

This Was the Last Dance for Me



Traveling light, Sunday, I did the unforgivable.

One camera and a tripod was all that, I would need at this event so, that's how I went.

While this group was dancing, I fired away until the camera stopped.

The 32 GB SD card was full and, I didn't carry a spare.

Even though, I'm not much of a dance fan, I like to shoot every act at a festival.

Somebody must know, what dance those youngsters are performing.  Not me.

The guy's shirt says, "I Love Salsa" and the gal's says, "Move the Heart."

Well, I just figured, it was best to move away from the fairgrounds.

Now, I learned, to carry spare SD cards in my wallet.

Seven images were used to create this motion GIF.

Camera: Pentax K3

Lens: Pentax 18-250 at 58mm

Exposure:  f/7.1   1/320   ISO 200

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bird Photo: The Great Cormorant in Flight

Phalacrocorax carbo, bird, cormorant, flying

These are some fast moving birds, when they fly.

But, they are sort of hilarious to watch, taking off from the water.

It seems, they dive, looking for something to eat and have a hard time flying with wet wings.

So, using their webbed feet, they run in the water to get enough speed to start flying.

The scientific name: Phalacrocorax carbo

Learn more about Cormorants at ARKive 

Monday, December 8, 2014

A GIF of Children Learning How to Save a Baby's Life

Most Impressive Item at a Health Fair



At yesterday's Health Festival, I took over 1,000 photos.

There were health foods, beverages, arts and crafts on display and lots of medical stuff, too.

children, baby, chest compressions, firemen

Nothing, at the whole event, could make me feel any better than this.

The firemen from Kin Town, were teaching these young girls how to save an infant.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What the Heck Is a Nuchigusui Festival ?

Kin Town Held the Annual Event Today



Nichigusui is a word used in the local dialect of the Ryukyu Islands.

It can mean, healthy food or drink.

Another definition: Life's elixir or, something that makes you feel good.

Have a look at some of the activities, I witnessed today in the GIF format.

tuna fish being butchered

A big crowd gathers every year to see a tuna get carved up and, help eat it, too.

Before catching this act, I wandered through the fair and looked at everything.

They have health foods, beverages like tea and all kinds of healthy treats.

But the part that makes me feel good is all the activities outside, on the stage.

singing and dancing group, stage

 This group, opened with a tune that's been stuck in my head all day.

They sang in Japanese but, I recognized the melody and, researched it just in case.

If they want to learn the original version, here's the words:

dance, stage, audience

The guys and gals in yellow put on a lively show.

They were singing and doing some classic Okinawan dances.

Just look at the folks in the audience, rocking away, on their Orion Beer crates.

dance, red fans

 Not sure what this act was, I'll just call them the red fan dancers.

They were good and, I wouldn't mind having one of those fans, when summer rolls around next year.

Hula, dancers

Everybody, recognizes this good old Hawaiian dance, I bet.

A little bit off today's topic but something crazy happened to a friend of mine.

She was a Hula dancer, living in a village far away.

The gal had her hair shortened a couple of inches and the Hula Sensei, kicked her off the team.

Somebody needs to talk to that Hula teaching lady.

Does she think people are really watching the Hula girls heads ?  Duh !

classic, Ryukyu dance

Way back behind to crowd, I was shooting this scene and tapping my foot.

They were playing some of my favorite local music.

All of a sudden. it dawned on me, I had to get closer.

See that guy on the far left of the stage ?

Okinawan dance, music, sanba

 He is the Mayor of Kin Town and, was up there performing.

What a good sport.  He's even playing the sanba.

If, I see him out in town tonight maybe, I'll buy him a beer !

In conclusion, nuchigusui, isn't just about health foods and exercise.

The elixir could be smelling flowers, listening to good music or, dancing on a beer crate.

Being happy, is part of the Okinawan formula for staying healthy.

Today's entertainment, worked for me.