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Angelo & Sheron Bridal Session

A lovely multi-location early morning session with Angelo & Sheron from Hong Kong.

Okinawa is such a great location to shoot. Gorgeous scenery and nice weather.

Angelo & Sheron Session by Chris Willson Photography, Okinawa, Japan.

And a beach all to ourselves.

Angelo & Sheron Session by Chris Willson Photography, Okinawa, Japan.

A few more shots at Cape Zanpa.

Angelo & Sheron Session by Chris Willson Photography, Okinawa, Japan.

And then headed to Zakimi Castle.

 

Thanks for having us document your special day Angelo & Sheron! Hope you had a wonderful time in Okinawa, and hope to see you again soon 🙂

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Images shot with the Pentax 645Z with Pentax SMC DA 645 25mm, Pentax K-1 with 24-70mm, Profoto B1 with OCF beauty dish and Priolite HotSync flash system. A big thanks to Yuki and Keith for assisting on the shoot.

Bull Wrestling

The Motobu Kanko Bunka Festa took place the evening after the Expo Fireworks festival. There were a few hundred rather than tens of thousands of spectators, and the entertainment was far more traditional . There was a karate demonstration by Kiyoshi Yogi, followed by some goat wrestling, folk singing, and then bull wrestling.

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There were five bouts of bull wrestling. The bulls locked horns, and then pushed until one of them gave up and turned away. Sometimes they can can get superficial cuts from the other bull’s horns, but they all came away uninjured and lived to see another day.

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Occasionally you see the giant bulls being taken for walks or even a dip in the ocean. They are pampered by their owners, living a life far better than most male cows. I wonder what happens when they get older. Can a gladiator ever earn their freedom.

In search of the frogfish!

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Shawn, Hiroshi and I went out for a dive at Cape Maeda, and for the first time in a while I set up the underwater camera rig. Our main goal was to find a frogfish Shawn had previously spotted. We found him sitting on the second reef at about 25 meters deep, his pelvic and pectoral fins acting like little feet.

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Other creatures I snapped on our dives were nudibranchs (sea slugs), anemonefish (Nemo), and trumpetfish (both silver and yellow species).

As it was a Saturday, summer, glorious weather, and a famous spot, Maeda was packed with people.  By mid-morning there was a line all the way up the steps of people waiting to get in.  (A quick P.S.A. to a couple of snorkelers we saw: if you must ignore the line and push past all the people waiting, you might want to cover up your USMC tattoos so you’re not such poor ambassadors to your corps.)

Maeda’s popularity, particularly with new divers, does have a negative impact on the reef.   Ideally, divers should maintain neutral buoyancy and hover in the water. What you want to limit is standing on the reef particularly on brittle corals. Doing this:

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Results in a lot of broken corals like this:

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Finishing on a positive note, it was great to be back in the water with the camera. Thanks to Shawn and Hiroshi for being my buddies on the dive. Hope to get out many more times this year.

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Camera: Pentax K5IIs with 50mm macro in Ikelite housing with Ikelite DS161 strobes.

The first and the last image is of Valentini’s sharpnose puffer. It didn’t seem that concerned that I was so close and taking photos. Quick check in the fish guide  gives the reason why: highly poisonous. You can be a slowly moving fish on the reef, when nobody wants to eat you. 

Expo Park Fireworks 2017

Another impressive Expo Park Fireworks Festival on Saturday. Very glad I live just a short walk from the event so I don’t get caught in Okinawa’s longest traffic jam of the year.

Shooting fireworks against a black sky doesn’t really put the event in any context. Luckily the show started at 8pm and there was still a little color in the sky for the first 5 minutes. This was when I shot the picture above showing the fireworks, Emerald Beach, and the Orion Hotel.

Then as darkness enveloped us, I got a few pics of the fireworks and reflections on the ocean.

 

 

However, my favorite firework photos are still the shots I took at the Miyajima fireworks festival where the floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine could be silhouette by explosions.

 

 

Saturday’s pics were shot with the Pentax K-1 with the 24-70mm f2.8 lens. The floating torii firework images were taken with the Pentax 67II medium format film camera and Fuji Provia 100F film.

Koichi Nakasone 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu

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Yesterday I made the short drive over to Nakijin Village to the home of Koichi Nakasone, 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu. He is the 76th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project.

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James Pankiewicz, Becka Tedder, and I sat down for a chat in the traditional wooden house that Nakasone sensei had recently built by himself.

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He told us a few stories about his karate training, and the three months he spent in the USA traveling from dojo to dojo, challenging the members to fight. (Known in Japanese as dojo yaburi.)

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After our chat, we set up the black background on the side of the house and took the portraits. (Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens. Profoto B1 with white softlight reflector.)

We then drove a couple of minutes to beautiful Nagahama Beach for some more location shots.

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I switched lenses to the 25mm wide-angle and removed the softlight reflector as we needed as much power as possible to try and fill in shadows. Becka held the light, while James put on his gi for some one on one training with Nakasone sensei.

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Nakasone sensei has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, and just a brief glimpse into his methods of sparring, self defense and joint manipulation was fascinating. He’s giving a seminar in Naha later in the year so if you’re in Okinawa September 29th to October 3rd it would be well worth attending. Facebook event page here.

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A huge thank you to Nakasone sensei for letting us visit his home and take his portrait. We’re looking forward to the seminar and hopefully taking more photos (and even video) in the future.

Native Lightroom Presets by Lens Distortions

Yesterday I purchased some native Lightroom presets by Lens Distortions. Cleverly targeted ads on Facebook and Google were constantly bombarding me with their products. When they had a brief summer sale I decided to give a few of them a try.

Their products for Lightroom are presets which allow you to add an additional element such as rain or a sun flare to your images. You can then adjust the new element with the brush tools. It is a little like working in a separate layer in photoshop.

I purchased the Forecast and Skylight packs, downloaded them, opened Lightroom and then played around adding some rain and snow to pics I shot of Dan a few months ago.

 

They are a fun add-on to Lightroom, and the effects even after playing around for just a couple of hours are pretty impressive. No doubt that with time you’d be able to finesse the results.

Working with RAW files from the Pentax 645Z is not ideal for the software as some of the elements are not wide enough to cover the entire image. This can easily be solved by duplicating the effect and dragging it to another part of the image, but you then face the issue of identical clusters of raindrops. This may be solved in later versions of the software as file sizes get larger.  There are also just a few variations one each effect, but I imagine if the software catches on there will be expansion packs with more snow, rain or star options.

You can check out their various products for Lightroom, Photoshop and Video editing software at their website Lensdistortions.com

Coconut Crabs of Okinawa

Coconut crabs, Birgus latro, are the world’s largest land-living arthropods. Okinawa is the northernmost habitat for the species. They hibernate during the winter, and are nocturnal, so many Okinawans have never seen one.

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Coconut Crab ( Birgus latro ) in Okinawa, the northern most habitat of the species.

The crabs can grow up to 3 kilos, and have large powerful claws. They are scavengers and usually eat fallen fruit from trees such as the adan (Pandanus odoratissimus), but they will nibble on the occasional dead animal.

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Coconut crab ( Birgus latro ) climbing up roadside kerb. Okinawa is the northern most habitat of the species.

Coconut crabs grow very slowly and can live for up to 60 years. As sexual maturity doesn’t occur until 5 years old, predation of larger crabs by animals or humans can lead to a population being unable to recover.

Researchers such as marine biologist Shin-ichiro Oka monitor the coconut crabs in Okinawa. Crabs are measured, photographed, tagged, and have their position logged.

Other interesting aspects of coconut crab biology have been studied including their grip strength. Oka explains that a large coconut crab has a grip strength similar to the jaws of a lion.

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Coconut crab ( Birgus latro ) monitoring in Okinawa. Marine biologist Shin-ichiro Oka testing the grip stength of a 1.5 kilo coconut crab .

Thank you to Shin-ichiro Oka for letting me tag along  while he works. It was great to discover one of the amazing creatures living in my local neighborhood.

Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain.

Heavy rains have hit Okinawa for the past couple of weeks. Reservoirs are full, and there have been some small landslides. No injuries that I know of, but closures of roads and some evacuations have been making life miserable for some.

The downpours have brought power and fury to waterfalls that are sometimes little more than a trickle. Today Todoroki-no-Taki (Thunder Falls) in Nago was living up to its name.

Knock Out

An epic Fight Club studio workshop yesterday. In the morning we went through the basics of studio strobes, triggering, and variables such as distance, position and quality of light. Then it was fight time.

In the red gloves, Zac “The Flash” Pesicka.

In the blue gloves  Andre “The Body” Smith

In the early rounds Zac’s speed was a clear advantage,  Andre was thrown onto the ropes with  a crushing right hook.  Shrugging off the blow, and up before the nonexistent referee had counted to 10, Andre continued the fight.

A mid-fight tussle with makeup artist Audra Pesicka had left the fighters bruised and bleeding.

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Keith “Cutman” Robbins stepped into check on the condition of his fighters.

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Zac landed a punishing blow to the ribs.

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But moments later Andre retaliated with a fight ending uppercut.

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The champ.

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A huge thanks to both fighters for shedding sweat and fake blood during the fight. Thanks to “Cutman” Robbins for the inspiring words and continuously humming Eye of the Tiger.

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Once again, thank you to makeup artist Audra Pesika for beating up the guys. And finally to Liesa for joining us and learning some new skills.

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Fight Club Studio Workshop June 17th 2017 

More information about upcoming workshops can be found here.