Friday, October 31, 2014
The black and white photo was taken in the 1950's
The road, along the west coast of Okinawa, was known as HWY 1, back in those days.
The photographer, who went by the nickname, Blackie, I never had te pleasure of meeting.
His son, WBM Bradford, I have become friends with online.
Okinawa has changed plenty, over the years.
Though I love doing this sort of thing with the camera, I wasn't sure I could pull this one off.
This color photo is the scene as it looks today.
The photo was taken by my friend, Ryukyu Rusty on August 23, 2014.
The rocks, just off the highway, were the landmarks, used to duplicate Blackie's photo.
Landslides, over the years, covered this part of the thoroughfare.
Old HWY 1, was renamed HWY 58 and, is still a major highway heading north.
This portion of the road, has been closed to traffic.
A tunnel was built, re-routing the highway, off to the right of this location.
The cameraman, would have to climb, in order to duplicate the original photo.
With a copy of the B&W image, Rusty, climbed and got the job done.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Blue Triangle Butterfly or, Common Bluebottle Swallowtail
These butterflies can be found almost anywhere in the rainforests of Asia.
They may also, be seen in Australia and, we have video-graphic proof.
A Problem and Solution
If the research hadn't been done, I would never have guessed this.
Molecular Expressions at Florida State University, showed me the problem:
"Man cannot always successfully reproduce what occurs in nature. The blue triangle butterfly reared in captivity is distinctly different from those existing in the wild. Unfortunately for the survival of the species, the smaller, less intensely colored captive-bred individuals are less desirable to collectors."
The only reason, I had to quote them is, I don't speak so eloquently.
For example, my solution we be something like this:
Take folks, breeding captive butterflies along with those, collecting the wild ones and, put them in jail.
Problem solved !
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
33% of the Moon is Visible
Usually, I check the schedule for the full moon and, start shooting a few nights early.
Tonight, I decided to shoot the moon, just because it was up there.
After I downloaded the camera, I wanted to find out when the full moon is coming.
That doesn't happen until next Thursday.
When I, developed and saw all those craters, I decided to keep this image.
It turned out, this was my favorite, out of a total of 9 shots.
Never before, had I paid any attention to Waxing or Waning crescent moons.
They have a handy chart at Calendar-12 that taught me this stuff.
It may have been taught when I was in high school.
The teacher probably didn't know, I slept through that part of the class.
Or, maybe, I went on a field trip, by myself, that day.
Look at those craters on the moon tonight.
Do you suppose, scientists have named them all?
Maybe, I slept through that part, too.
If the crescent was facing the other direction, it would be waning.
When it looks like this, it's waxing. That's all you need to know.
Are you still awake?
The image above was made with a Pentax K3 and Sigma 50-500mm lens.
Exposure: f/16 1/3second ISO 100
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Working on a Then and Now Photo Shoot
One of these days, an article, explaining how we do these things should be put together.
Composing an image to duplicate a photo created 50 years ago can be challenging.
The mission here, was to photograph a rock, out in the ocean.
Over the years landslides and the re-routing of the highway, complicated things a bit.
The cameraman, would have to do some rock climbing, to get in position.
When, I was younger, that climb would have been no problem.
But, I try not to do things like that, anymore.
Luckily, Ryukyu Rusty was back on the island for a visit, in August.
He and the Map It Okinawa dude, climbed up there and, got the job done.
When, they came back down with the photos, required, Map It Dude, asked me a question.
He said, "What would you do if Rusty shot all the photos at ISO 800?"
My Answer: I would have been mad enough, to climb up there and do it myself !
The outcome of this project will be published in the near future.
Have a peek at previous Then and Now photos here.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Artifacts That Should Be National Treasures
It took a few days searching to find these gems.
The dates manufactured may take even longer if, they have been recorded anywhere.
They aren't the typical Shisa (Lion Dogs) you see throughout the Ryukyu Islands.
Rather than, being clay, fired up in a kiln and glazed, these are made of natural stone.
A publication from the Village of Ginoza is what got me looking for the stone statues.
The folks in Sokei, don't call them Shisa. They are Ishigantou, to the people of Ginoza.
Also, spelled, Ishiganto, these are talismans believed to ward off evil.
The first one was located, fairly easily, as it was at the edge of a field bordering a road.
The second one we found, tucked away at an intersection near some vending machines.
Sometimes, I back-off with the camera to show the surroundings.
A historical marker like this, comes in handy for research, too.
So, I shot it at a readable angle for further research.
The Map It Okinawa dude and I had some difficulty locating Ishigantou #3.
It was starting to get dark so, we called off the search.
The following night, we were out, doing our Halloween ghost hunting stuff.
It was dark outside and felt like a rainstorm was blowing in.
No ghosts were going to be found so, we decided to drive through Sokei at night.
Probably, because neither of us believes in ghouls and ghosts, this thing showed up.
It was Ishigantou #3, we couldn't spot in daylight, the day before!
Photo taken: OCT 26 at 12:15AM
History and Culture
The manual from Ginoza Village explains the three Ishigantou.
They were placed at the north, south and west boundaries of the village.
The purpose: To protect the area from evil winds, coming from mountains, in those directions.
In the ninth month of the Chinese Calendar, on the fifth day, guess what happens?
Cows, get sacrificed, to drive evil spirits away, at all three Stone Lions.
Suddenly I Need a Lunar Calendar
This is the kind of thing, I'm always looking for and, wanting to write about.
Out of the way, ceremonies in small communities are, waiting to be documented.
Where the heck is the Chinese Calendar, when, I really need one?
A handy PDF can be downloaded from the Government of Hong Kong.
And, you can do simple conversions between calendars with it.
Excuse me. I have more ghost hunting to do.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
The Latin name for this brightly colored butterfly is Kaniska canace.
Ruri Tateha (ルリタテハ) is what it's called in Japan.
This photo was taken along HWY 104 as, I was walking to the Kin Dam.
These are some tricky characters to find with a camera.
When they close their wings, they resemble a dead leaf.
So, I call them Master of Disguise butterflies.
Learn more about this butterfly:
Saturday, October 25, 2014
A Person Could Spend All Day Watching
Don't worry. I'm not turning into a birdwatcher.
When I go out with the cameras, I'll shoot almost anything, I come across.
The birds, I'm showing you today, were just part of the activities in nature I viewed.
A 32GB card of images was filled up at the Kin Dam.
It was so much fun, I didn't get back to the office, until after sunset.
The Grey Heron (above) put on a show, standing on the Old Okukubi Bridge.
This Sea Hawk or, Osprey was flying above and, below the dam, looking for fish.
It dove into the river while I was watching but, came up empty handed.
The most entertaining bird, had to be this egret.
Usually, when you see one diving, it's after some fish.
But, I think, this one was just, taking a bath.
Weekends on Okinawa Are Full of Festivals
There isn't enough time, for me, to be hanging around at the dam, until weekdays roll around.
But, next week if the weather stays nice, I know what I'll be doing,
Besides looking for some good ghost stories, I'll be doing more dam, nature photography !
Friday, October 24, 2014
The Grey-faced Buzzard Eagles have returned to Okinawa.
They are migratory visitors from northern climates.
Normally, these birds arrive around November and depart in the month of March.
They feed on mice, rats and snakes but, I'd love to see one grab a mongoose.
Photo taken with a Pentax K3 and 18-250 lens at a focal length of 250mm.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Testing the Pentax DA300mmF4 lens a photo series of this butterfly was taken today.
The butterfly is called a Common Map Butterfly.
They have some raggedy looking wings and, don't usually stay still for very long.
The weather was so nice, in Okinawa today, I had to get out and do some shooting.
So, I grabbed the Pentax K3 and a tripod and walked around Kin Dam.
These photos were taken a f/11 1/400 ISO 100.
It was so much fun, chasing critters, I didn't get back until sunset.
Eagles, hawks, ducks and herons, were just part of the photographic captures, today.
It may take a week to get all the photos processed.
And, another week, to identify some of the new wildlife, I discovered.
Maybe, I should get some interns to do all this office stuff.
Because, if the sun keeps shining, like it did today, I'm outta here !
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Ryukyu Life Passed the 100,000 Goal
First, we'll get this Dam Bird out of the way.
This morning, I woke up about three hours later than, I normally do on a shooting day.
Luckily, Doc Graff, showed up at the house with some iced coffee for me.
And, off we headed to get my cameras. He was driving while, I was drinking.
This Grey Heron was below the spillway of the dam in Yomitan.
Shooting birds in flight is what I would rather be doing.
But, the weather was starting to look grim so, we had to get moving along.
My head was still hurting from a party, the night before.
The fresh air, a few bird photos and, traveling around the island, did me some good.
Back in the office, I was processing photos on one computer.
At the same time, I began my usual routine, on the Apple desktop thingy.
Emails, Tweets, Facebook stuff, you know, all that administrative junk, everybody does.
It took a few months to get Ryukyu Life to hit this number.
That's a screenshot from Alexa, taken today.
It's a handy tool, you can use, to evaluate a website's popularity.
There are about 30,000,000 websites in the world.
Some people are happy to have their sites in the top 20 percent.
Back in July, we changed the name of Mike's Ryukyu Gallery to Ryukyu Life.
When, I took this screenshot the global ranking was 2,350,514.
It seemed like forever but, finally we crawled into the top 100,000 position.
What's Calculator Soup All About ?
Well, there's all kinds of things you can do with it.
When I was a youngster, I did all my math calculations the hard way.
Percentages, is what I was looking for, to evaluate my website's progress.
You shouldn't be looking around for pencils and paper, when you have a hangover.
So, I found this handy Calculator Soup website to do the math for me.
Assuming the world stays at 30,000,000 websites, here are some interesting numbers:
To be in the top rankings, there are some reference points to look at:
20% -- 600,000
10% -- 300,000
5% --- 150,000
4% --- 120,000
3% ---- 90,000
2% ---- 60,000
1% ---- 30,000
The Calculator Soup is something I will bookmark for future reference.
There used to be only 1,000,000 websites when I first started watching this internet thing.
So, the numbers needed to stay competitive, will always change.
Competition is tough but, I like a good challenge.
But, I don't like running around, looking for pencils and paper with a hangover.
It's time to celebrate, busting the 100,000 mark.
And, get busy, reaching the 3% goal.
So, we can celebrate some more !
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
They Have Returned to Okinawa
Today, I went out for a walk with the Pentax 300mm lens.
It was a bit of a surprise when these birds flew over but, good practice for shooting.
Now that I know where they hangout, I'll go back again, someday.
And, see if I can shoot the whole herd.
There must have been 40 or 50 of them in the fields bordering Kin Town.
That's a good reason for me to get out of the office for a few days.
It's a long walk to the wetlands but, at least the wife can't find me when I'm there !
Monday, October 20, 2014
These delicate flowers were blooming in many locations, before the last typhoon.
One day, as the wind started picking up, I went out and rescued this one.
A black background was utilized to make the colors pop, for you.
Indoors, using available light, I shot it without any wind interference.
The flower is also known as Spider Hibiscus, Coral Hibiscus or, Japanese Lantern.
I sort of like the Latin name: Hibiscus schizopetalus
They seem to have all blown away during the last typhoon.
My guess, is that they are really hardy plants and will spring to life again soon.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Chasing Ghosts -- Exhausting Work
Even though, I personally, don't believe in ghosts, I love a good spooky story.
It has to make the hair on your neck, stand up and give you goose bumps.
And, it has to be reasonably, believable.
Based upon leads from several sources, we decided to visit this country road late last night.
No witches or, goblins were captured in these photos.
But, the Map It Okinawa dude and I, learned a lot from our excursion.
Chasing ghosts in the mountains can be dangerous.
This two lane highway is very dark after 10:45 in the evening.
There are no streetlights on this winding road and parking a car is nearly impossible.
Wanting to take several shots from the same position, I used a tripod.
The exposure on this image was f/3.5 20.59 seconds at ISO 100.
Vehicles, speeding along the road made long exposure shots a bit difficult.
So, I switched the camera to ISO 400 for the remaining shots.
Illumination coming from vehicles passing in front or, to the rear enhanced some photos.
Many, with the glare of oncoming headlights, were deleted.
Exposure above: f/3.5 14.35 seconds at ISO 400
Notice the weeds and drainage ditch in the lower right corner of this photo.
My tripod was set up, straddling the ditch and, to the right of the white line.
It is a narrow, two lane road, with barely room enough for two cars to pass each other.
When vehicles came from both directions, I would jump across the ditch for safety.
It would probably have been a good idea, to wear white clothing.
But, I didn't want anybody, thinking, I was a ghost !
Exposure on this image: f/3.5 12.4 seconds ISO 400
One of the lessons learned on this visit was, after midnight may be a better time.
Traffic, going both ways, ruined more than a few shots.
Exposure: f/3.5 7.20 seconds
A vehicle, coming from behind, lighted this scene up nicely.
But, passing clouds, covered the star, above the silhouetted mountain.
Maybe, we'll do this again, on a clear moonlit night.
Exposure: f/3.5 10.29 seconds
In this long exposure, you can see the star and, some streaking taillights.
Exposure: f/3.5 32.3 seconds
It was nearing 11PM when this shot was taken and, we decided to move along.
Notice, the star above the mountain, became covered by clouds, again.
This would be the last photo taken at ISO 400.
We were moving to an area with some better lighting.
Exposure: f3.5 27.94 seconds
Back closer to a major highway and, civilization, they have streetlamps.
So, I took this shot of the road, leading up the mountain.
Exposure: f/8 10 seconds ISO 100
Deciding to go for more depth of field, I took this shot a f/11 15 seconds.
There was no traffic, coming my way and, I liked that.
So, I figured, I'd take another shot at f/16 30 seconds.
Now, you can see what it looks like when lights come from both directions.
And, I grab my tripod, jump out of the highway and say, "Let's get out of here."
Now, I don't mind going after a good ghost story for y'all.
It's just that, I don't think, I'm ready to joint the Ghost Association in the sky, yet !
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Originally Published OCT 2011
Reviving this popular post may be a good idea.
It happens, the Map It Okinawa dude and, I are going on a ghost hunt tonight.
Enjoy this old Halloween tale just in case we don't make it back before sunrise !
In order to get in the good old Halloween spirit I have come back and edited this post.
Halloween doesn't really have the meaning, over in my part of the world, that it does for most western cultures. In fact, if it hadn't been for a great friend on StumbleUpon (LINDARAMA) sending me mail when she read this, I wouldn't have known Halloween was just around the corner.
On the outer islands of Okinawa, Japan there are many old caves and sacred wells.
Some of them are pretty cool and they make great subjects for photography.
It's best to make sure you don't disturb anything when you go to them.
There are a few places where the stairs are so old they are crumbling.
Wherever I go, I try to get the best possible photos without disturbing anything.
That plastic ladle just didn't seem right next to those old coins I wanted to shoot.
So, I moved it out of the scene for a few seconds.
Then, put it back exactly where I found it.
People in Okinawa believe there are spirits in these old caves and wells. Many of them come to worship and make offerings at the sites. So, I like to make sure nothing has been changed by my presence. You should do the same, anywhere you go.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT COME OUT OF A CAVE OR SOME OTHER DARK PLACE AND GRAB YOU. DO YOU ?
The culture of Okinawa consists of a strong belief in spirits. So strong, that something like Halloween is really unnecessary. Spirits are felt and communicated with on a daily basis.
While I may have been raised as a Christian in my early years, I have also studied some Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Animism and even a bit of alcoholism. We happen to have a little bit of all those here, along with a strong belief in ancestor worship. There are gods of the sea, mountains, rocks, wind, trees, earth, fire and all of nature (called kami sama) you'd rather see smiling than frowning upon you. That's in addition to any departed members of the family tree.
So, on any given day you may see me raise my eyes towards the sky and and talk to "Kachan" (departed mother-in-law) and thank her spirit for my good fortune.
Or, I might say something like, "What are you trying to do to me?"
Whenever I find myself going to some sacred site in Okinawa, Japan like those spooky old stairs, it's not the ghosts or goblins of Halloween I'm thinking of; it's the spirits of someone else's ancestors I have to worry about. Some people had mean old mother-in-laws, you know.
I wouldn't want to cross paths with their spirits.
There's really no such thing as ghosts.
OR IS THERE ?
WHEREVER YOU ARE, HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN !
To get yourself in the Halloween spirit, or add your goulish story to an already excellent collection, visit my good friend in Australia, LINDA HEAPHY, she'll get the hair standing up on the back of your neck !
Sharing this post with Budget Travelers Sandbox will be my contribution to the world of travel photographers for TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY
Friday, October 17, 2014
This photo was taken on a trip to Izena Island.
It is a building, off to the left of what is known as the Mekaruke Old House.
The buildings on this site have been designated, important cultural properties.
Meikari-ka and Mekarauke, are the terms found in researching this site.
They may simply be different translations of the local dialect.
It is a large estate, for housing, on such a small island.
The property was not destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa and, is well preserved.
One source reveals, that is was the residence of a senior samurai.
King Sho En's uncle Makoto Saburo, resided here.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Travel in Japan Became Easier
For the Western traveler, visiting Okinawa, some obstacles can get in the way.
The biggest one being, the language barrier.
Learning to speak a foreign language, is one thing. Reading is another.
A visit to the Ginoza Museum, inspired me to write this post.
In the past, I've visited several times and, didn't really need to take anymore photos.
The gal at the front desk gave me something that just made my day.
So, I figured it was worth a few hundred yen, go in and shoot one photo.
Maybe, I should print, frame and give these dragons on a flag, to her.
Here's what, I walked away from the museum with.
It's a 60 page book, covering Ginoza Village's history, culture, nature and industry.
It's written in Japanese and English and, contains a map of the whole area.
Something like this, is worth it's weight in diamonds but, she gave it to me for free !
Things Like This Could Revolutionize Tourism in Okinawa
One afternoon, I came across this 45 page paper while, researching online.
It is in PDF format so, you can download or, read it on your computer.
It is something, everyone in the travel and tourism business should be reading.
The author, Shigefumi Asage, hits the nail squarely on the head.
The Yambaru Wildlife Center, surprised me with this gadget, recently.
For those who don't read or, speak Japanese, they have a tablet.
It is multilingual so, you can give yourself your own guided tour and, it's free.
Naha City Tourism Association publishes this pamphlet.
It contains enough about the big city area to keep you busy for days.
They give you maps, some history, where to go and, what to do.
And, on the last page, they have phone numbers for, When You Get in Trouble.
Not to be outdone by the big city folks, Nanjo City has this.
It is a Japanese and English, Nanjo City Tourism Map, which, I use a lot.
This one is crammed full of enough information to keep travelers busy for months.
Just the Beginning of Okinawa's Tourism Revolution
Things are off to a great start but, it could get better.
Over the past year, I have noticed these improvements and gathered some materials.
A few months ago, we discovered something, on Izena Island.
There is a free, Multilingual Call Center
The Map It Okinawa dude, tested the number, to make sure it works.
And it does.
You could probably, call from anywhere in Okinawa and get translation help, FREE !
Old guys, don't listen to telephones very well.
So, I usually just strike up a conversation with an old woman, when, I'm in trouble.
Multilingual books, maps, pamphlets and tablets are the way to go.
Those cities, towns, villages and outer islands, that have them, are going to do well.
Road signs, historical markers and ATM machines could be multilingual, too.
The easier it becomes for travelers, the more they will come.
While, printed and painted materials are helpful, there is another area of concern.
Websites, for many potential tourist attractions, need to be multilingual, too.
Some sites have the capability and are extremely useful.
Others, leave tourists at the mercy of mechanical translation. Groan
All of Okinawa needs to do what the folks above have started.
Or, I'll just keep on talking to old ladies !