Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mrs Yamashiro's Shisa

lion dog, statue, azalea, flowers

She Asked for a Picture of Her Flowers



Those bright red azaleas blooming in the background, were supposed to be the subject.

The gal, who maintains the garden plots and home by my office, asked a favor.

She wanted a photo of the flowers, blooming outside her house. 

Directions to the residence, were sort of figured out using Google Maps.

Senior citizens have a bit of difficulty with those googly things so, I wasn't sure.

When, I found this two story home with red azaleas blooming, I just started shooting.

Well, out of the house came Mrs Yamashiro so, I knew this was the right spot.

Then, I asked her if she had a step ladder, I could borrow.

She, went back inside and, came back with just the gadget, I needed.

A two step ladder, put me high enough in the air, to snap this photo of the shisa.

Down on earth, the critter's head couldn't be composed, with the azaleas in the background. 

Now, I'm not sure, which photo Mrs Yamashiro will like best.

But, I printed this one, to give her, with all the focus, on the shisa statue.

That's because, next Sunday happens to be, Shisa Day in Okinawa.

Whenever Mrs Yamashiro needs something heavy moved, she comes and gets me.

She's a real sweetheart, who's always giving me coffee, tea and beer.

So, I figure, she deserves a free photo, once in awhile for all the nice stuff she does for me.

For example, when she's not around, lots of things in her garden get volunteered.

Snip, and they even come into the office, to get photographed !

Don't you wish, all neighbors got along as well, as she and I do ?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wordless Wednesday MAR 30 2016

toilet,sign,instructions,Japanese, English

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bird Image: Little Ringed Plover

Charadrius dubius, bird, Little Ringed Plover

Kochidori (コチドリ) in Japan



Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 300MM + 1.4 converter  420MM

Exposure: f/5.6  1/1250  ISO 100

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  MAR 29 2016  11:29AM

Scientific Name:  Charadrius dubius 


Monday, March 28, 2016

Elephant Ear Plant AKA African Mask

Alocasis amazonica, plant, leaf

Amazon Elephant's Ear



These things grow like crazy around my house so, I shot one leaf with a whitish background.

It had to be done, early in the morning, before the missus woke up.

They are humongous plants, that grow in the shade.  I didn't like the lighting, down there.

So, a quick swipe of the knife and, the stem was stuffed behind the mailbox, screwed to the wall.

Then, I laid the leaf down, next to the sleeping dog so, it looked like, he  broke the plant.

And, I hurried away from the house, to research this specimen for you.

There are lots of plants that took like elephant's ears and, I'll show you links to them.

The scientific name for this one would be, Alocasia amazonica.

If you want to buy one, some places, ship them to you for fifteen or twenty dollars.

If you were lucky enough, to catch me at home, for two cold beers, I'll gve you one for free !


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Motion GIF: Peacock Pansy Butterflies


Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 300MM + 1.4 converter = Focal Length:  420MM

 Exposure:  f/5.6   1/2500   ISO 400

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  MAY 31  2015  3:42PM

 This species is called, Tatehamodoki (タテハモドキ) in Japan.

Junonia almana is it's scientific name.

 Learn More About the Peacock Pansy Butterfly

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Travel Photo: Todoroki Waterfall in Nago Okinawa

rocks, waterfall, vegetation

A Photo File from 2012



Last time, we visited this waterfall was this past October and, I didn't take any photos.

There wasn't even a trickle of water flowing down the mountainside.

Going back through images stored on an external drive, I pulled this one up.

Then, I removed a body from one of the rocks and did a mild HDR, to brighten up the image.

Camera:  Pentax K5

Lens:  Pentax 18-250 at 18MM

Exposure:  f/22   0.8sec   ISO 100

Location:  Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  JAN 17  2012  12:21PM 

Related Posts Concerning this Waterfall:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wordless Wednesday MAR 23 2016

girl,child,bubbles,blue sky,trees

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Plant and Flower Photos: Clerodendrum

Clerodendrum inerme,flowers, Wild Jasmine

Tricky to Identify from Photos



These images were created in August 2015 and, just got positive ID's.

Today, my favorite botanist, in all Japan, gave me the clues  I needed to finish the research.

His name will remain a secret so, everyone else, doesn't start bugging him.  Hah!

flower, Clerodendrum, leaves, stem

 Luckily, I had saved some images, that didn't have stems and leaves cropped out of the scenes.

Latin names received were Clerodendrum inerme and Clerodendrm trichotomum.

With a few hundred types of this plant, I had it narrowed to one type or, the other.

 The shapes and patterns of the leaves, can help in deciding what plant, we're looking at.

The first place: Top Tropicals, had me thinking Clerodendrum inerme was the wrong name.


With some close-ups of the leaves and buds, I visited a few more sites.

Clerodendrum trichotomum at Fine Gardening, doesn't look anything like this plant.

National Parks Don't Lie

So, I figured it would be wise, to go visit one of those government websites and get the truth.

The folks at Singapore Government convinced me with their photo.

This is a Wild Jasmine, Seaside Clerodendrum or, Clerodendrum inerme, for sure.

plant, leaves, flowers, Clerodendrum inerme

It also has a synonym, Clerodendrum inermis L, just to keep folks guessing !

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cat -- Not on a Hot Tin Roof

cat, tiled roof, Okinawa

Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 300MM + 1.4 converter = Focal Length 420MM

Exposure:  f/8   1/640   ISO 200

Location:  Kin Town, Okinawa, Japan

Date and Time:  FEB 16  2016  12:44PM

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Surprise Email from Google Maps

Check G-mail More Often



That's just a reminder (to myself) so, it gets done more than once a week. 

A couple of my mail accounts have little compartments, I don't really use.

This morning I pushed a button and, found a five day old message.

screenshot, email, restaurants, Google Maps

They said, "Congratulations !  Your photos helped people over 10,000 times.

In the past week there were over 15,000 views of, my photos on Google Maps.

It seems like, all the tourists driving around the island, keep peeking at the maps.

They use those smartphones and, look for attractions and places to eat.

Well, I'm always traveling around the islands, looking for stuff, too.

From now on, I'll just keep sending images in to Google Maps and, show where I've been.

You never know.  Maybe, I could keep some rich tourists from starving to death !

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Couple of Vegetables I Met Hanging Around Yesterday

daikon, giant Japanese radishes, male, female, nudies

They were Outside a Tent at a Festival



Someone had a produce stand near the entrance to the Azalea Festival.

They placed these two nudies out in the corner, to sort of, attract customers, I guess.

Vegetable artists like this are far and few between in this part of the country.

If, they'd make it an Olympic event, I bet lots of people would tryout for it.

That doesn't seem as dangerous or as boring as watching bobsleds, going down hills.

These characters, are known as daikon (giant radishes) in Japan.

Can you tell which one's supposed to be the female ?

To show appreciation for this fine art, I had to make sure the subjects got proper exposure.

Without further ado:

Camera:  Pentax K3

Lens:  Pentax 18-250 at 42MM

Exposure:  f/11   1/200   ISO 100

Location:  Taira Okinawa Japan

Date and Time:   MAR 18  2016  10AM

Friday, March 18, 2016

15 Photos from the Higashi Village Azelea Festival

These Flowers Will Brighten Up a Cloudy Day



Don't let the weather loonies, keep you locked up indoors this month.

One weather channel will predict heavy rain and, another says clouds and sunshine.

 Then, showers will come in late the afternoon.  They're all nuts.

flowers, ocean, mountains, Higashi-son, festival
Up into the hills of Higashi, we decided to go and, check on the azaleas, again.

It turned out to be a bit cloudy and hazy, at times but, we spotted sunshine sometimes, too.

entrance, gate, Higashi Azelea Matsuri, flowers

Just peeking through the Tsutsuji Matsuri (Azelea Festival) sign, things were looking good.

 There were lots more bright colored flowers blooming than, last time we came here.

pretty girls,peace sign,smiles
 These pretty girls, take your money and give you tickets, to get in, for only 300 Yen.

They remembered me, from the last time I was there.  Last Friday.

So, after joking around awhile, I asked if, I could take their picture.

And, got smiles with peace signs.  Little darlings.

stage, sign, hillside, azelea, flowers

 The stage, directly in front of this hillside of flowers, was a bit distracting.

But, I bet when there are dancers, up there, it looks much more attractive.

stones, rocks, flowers

Not a big fan of cloudy, grey skies, I decided to keep the lens out of the sky.

Between a wide angle lens and a zoom, for close-ups, I shot lots of flower images.

pink and white flowers, azaleas, leaves, buds

With a camera, you could easily, spend two or three hours, walking those hills.

So, that's what Doc Graff and I, planned on doing, as long as, the rain held off.

flowers, azalea, pink,red, white,violet

Azaleas come in all sorts of colors so, I tried to get a variety to show everyone.

whire azaleas, flowers

 There are still many flower buds, that haven't opened yet but, will in the near future.

pink and white flowers

 Not too wild about the pure white flowers, I preferred shooting mixed colors.

red, dark pink, flowers

These things look psychedelic.  I wonder if anyone ever tried to smoke the things,

Just kidding but, they hurt my eyes.  What color are they, anyway ?

rock, black background, pink and white azalea, raindrops

Mother Nature, provided a black backdrop for this pink flower.

It's actually a big rock, that had been rained upon, before we showed up.

Another thing it proved to be handy for, was blocking the wind from shaking the subject.

purple azaleas, flower-buds

I shot more of these psychedelic things, in order to show you the unopened flower-buds.

Probably, during the next week these hills will see full bloom for the Azalea Season.

mulit-colored azaleas, flowers
 One flower, in the center of this scene, appeared to be almost orange, in color.

 By now, I was feeling like, I had enough hill-climbing and flowers, for the day.

bridge, azalea, ocean, forest

So,  I decided to take some parting shots, on the way out of there.

Here, you get Azalea Bridge, pine trees and, a bit of ocean, all in one snap of the shutter.

forest, bridge, family walking

Down here, you can see families crossing the Azalea Bridge, from outside the park.

Do you suppose, we should head back up to those hills, next week ?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Photography Tips: Creative Background for Flowers

Carry an Inexpensive Backdrop



Recently, I was asked how dark colors are created in backgrounds of flower photos.

And, I promised to do a post explaining the simple technique, I use.

Being it's St. Patrick's Day, I'm in a bit of a hurry, to get out of the office.

There are things to do, like get the green tux out of the closet.

So, this will be a relatively short photo tip.

red hibiscus, flower, black background, leaves

Most artists, would probably choose a different color for a backdrop.

When, I use black, it's usually to get the flower standing out, for identification purposes.

Were I making this image to sell, I'd certainly use a different color in my composition.

flower, wall,garden, fence, distractions, tripod, black board

This photo shows the scene in the background and, my contraption for changing it.

Mounted to a tripod with giant rubber bands, is a clipboard and black background.

red flower, white background

The color of the backdrop, doesn't have to be black.  Pink, white or blue, would do, too.

The good part of a clipboard, is you can clip any color you want, to them.

Construction paper would be ideal but, I like to use things that last a bit longer.

The black and white materials, you see, are actually, cheap plastic cutting boards.

One, got donated to me and, I think I paid less than a dollar for the other.

man, volunteer, flowers, backdrop, clipboard

 Ideally, another person, to hold your backdrop, would accompany you for the shoot.

Then, you don't have to go rigging up a tripod, to assist you.

A human, can tilt the backdrop forward, back, left or right, to give you the best light.

And, even help stop the wind, from shaking your subject around.

clipboard, red, leaves, fruits, pavement
 Here's the less-than-a-dollar clipboard, lying naked on the pavement, for you.

When, I bought the thing, I thought it was a nice color.  I'd go for blue, next time.

So far, I haven't found any flowers that look good with red as a background. 

Some folks, don't think, I look so good in a green tuxedo so, I only wear it once a year.

Now, you know how to shoot flowers with different backgrounds.

There's no sense, in me hanging around after this gets published.  So, I'll do beer ! 


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wordless Wednesday MAR 16 2016

elders,walking, umbrellas,couple,mountains, road

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Flower: Lipstick Plant -- Facts and Photos

Aeschnanthus Radicans



Don't try pronouncing the Latin name, just call it a Lipstick Vine. OK ?

This is another flower, nobody in the Kin Library or flower shop could identify.

Lipstick Plant, flowers, leaves

Thankfully, a Facebook friend, named it for me within five minutes.

If that guy ever visits Okinawa, I promised to buy him lots of beers.

Aeschynanthus radicans, flowers, leaves, plant

The plant was spotted, blooming just a few minutes walk from my office.

So, I took a few props along, to use as background material for my photos.

Once, I got a botanical name, off I went, to gather these nifty facts.

Number One:  The plant originated in Malaysia.

Number Two:  It's an evergreen that resembles lipstick coming out of a tube.

Number Three:  The fruits and plants are not for human or animal consumption.

Number Four:  The plants grow naturally up where branches meet trees.

Number Five:  They are members of the African Violet family, called Gesneriaceae.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Then and Now (Photos) A Narrow Passage

Ginama Northern Okinawa


Meandering through the hills, killing time, this historical sign was discovered.

They should make meandering a religion.  Us meanderers wouldn't ask you for any money.

When, it came time, to get to heaven, we'd be the last ones through the door.

That was a short sermon.

sign, historical marker,photo, Modoru Michi,path,road

Ginama is a small community, situated between the shore and mountains.

There isn't much arable land for farming, at lower elevations, along this coastal area.

To reach any land worth tilling, people had to do some climbing uphill.

The trail, leading up to farmlands was very narrow. It wasn't wide enough for two persons.

To pass someone along the trail, somebody would have to backtrack, to a wider spot.

It became known as the "Backtracking Path" or, Modoru Michi.

sign, English,history

Over 100 years ago the principal of Hedo Primary School decided to fix the trail.

He got a bunch of volunteers, to widen it and, make it safer for passage.

They did such a good job, horses and oxcarts, had room to pass each other.

road, women,smiles,baskets
Fortunately, someone from Keystone Studio, took this photo in 1960.

More than likely, it was done by Blackie the Photographer; I'll ask his son.

Notice, the road is unpaved and people smiled.

Smart phones and selfie sticks, weren't even invented, yet.  They had genuine smiles !

rock, mountain,road,guardrail,vegetation

Typhoons, landslides and erosion may have caused some re-routing of the passage.

Here is what the scene looks like today.

road,vegetation, mountains

Travel uphill, past the stone formation in the left side of the previous photo and, look back.

It gives a sense of appreciation for the widening of this trail.

If, you happen to be driving and, someone in a vehicle, comes your way, guess what ?

One or, the other will still, have to do some backtracking ! 

More: Then and Now Photos

Saturday, March 12, 2016

There Was a Big Dead Snake in the Middle of the Road

Habu Snakes Are Active Again


The Okinawan Habu, comes out of hibernation this time of year and, I'm happy. 

These critters are venomous so, I'm glad the first one, I met this year, was dead !

Habu, snake, road

It was way after, leaving the scene, some investigating took place. 
Everybody, wants to kill the habu snakes because they are poisonous.

There must be something, we can do to make use of the rascals, after they're gone.

flip-flop,snake, habu, highway

Tan Their Hides and Make Belts

That foot-long flip-flop should give you an idea of the length this snake reaches.

If, it wasn't so badly damaged, it could have made a nice belt for my bluejeans.

The next time, one of these big snakes comes along, I'll be ready for it.

Just, whack the head off of the varmint  and, I'll make me a brand new belt.

The little investigation, I did gave all sorts of advice and instructions.

Get a sharp knife, some tanning materials and, somebody with a sewing machine.

Maybe, I'll find a snake, long enough, to make sandal straps, too.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sashiba (サシバ) Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle - A Mirgatory Visitor

These Birds Leave Our Island Soon



Normally, our feathered friends visit from November through March.

Then, they head back up to northern climates in China, Japan and Russia.

Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle, bird, Butastur indicus,tree

Luckily, we spotted this guy perched in a tree, while it was raining.

The farthest, I could reach, with the lens being used, was 250MM.

The bird probably, didn't feel like flying and, getting its wings all wet.

So, I snapped a few good shots before he got riled and flew away.

Any bird that eats mice, snakes and rats, as well as bugs, has to be a favorite of mine.

It's too bad, they migrate away from here during the warmer months. 

Another thing, I hear these birds eat, is frogs and, that upsets some folks.

Well, people eat frogs, too.  Don't they ?  They shouldn't complain about birds, doing it then.

Try this sometime, when you go to a French restaurant.

Ask the waiter if, he has frog legs.  Then if, he says,  "Yes, of course," have some fun with him.

Say something like, "Great.  Hop in to the kitchen and get me a plate of French Fries."

More About the Grey-faced Buzzard Eagle (Butastur indicus) in previous posts.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Cheap Eats: The Japanese Bento Box Lunch

bento,carrort,rice,cucumber,potatoes,green beans, pork,vegetables

All That for Under Five Bucks



The platter of food above could be breakfast, lunch and supper for some folks.

And, I got to do the DIY (Do It Yourself) thing at a place, just visited today.

It was my brunch and supper, I guess you could say because, it's not all eaten, yet.

bento store, Ofukuro, Kin Town

A Light Bulb Made Me Do It


After a few months of the wife complaining about a light that kept flickering, I took action.

The thing got unplugged and stuffed in a plastic bag, for me to carry to the light bulb store.

The girl, who waited on me convinced me to buy two of the things and, save a lot of money.

One florescent light was about 10 bucks but, you could get two of them for 15.  Imagine that.

 I bought them and, walked, looking for a place to spend some of the money, I just saved.

That's when I remembered, someone had told me about Ofukuro Bento shop.

meats, sausage,chicken,fish,tofu.warmimg trays,tongs

 They hand you a tray with some rice on it and, you get to fill it up anyway, you want.

This was my first stop, checking out the meats, waiting to be devoured.

Yaki Soba, potatoes, pork, carrots

   Health fanatics might go for the Yaki Soba but, I'm not one of them.

So, I sampled some of the pork, potatoes and carrots.

green beans, mustard grens, Yaki Soba, trays
 It's been awhile since, I had green beans and, there they were.

The owner, of the place, let me take photos, when I asked his permission.

Using a Smart Phone, I got the job done.  Big cameras, stayed at the office.

Someday, I'll go back and, shoot the place up, the right way, with the big guns.

wrapped bento, rubber bands, chopsticks,vegetables,meats, salad, egg

 There's what I wound up, carrying back to my office, all wrapped in a plastic bag.

No way could, I eat all that food for one meal so, some would get nuked, later in the day.

It came to a grand total of, somewhere between 3 and 4 dollars at today's Yen rate.  Hah !

Now, I'm wondering if, I should grab a few brewskies with the rest of the money I saved.

Or, go home and listen, to the wife complain about, the light that ain't blinking, no more ?

Do you want to learn more about Japan's Bento lunches ?