Latest Posts

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.

645Z1049SE1080

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

645Z1028SE1080

Zac landed a punishing blow to the ribs.

645Z1033SE1080

But moments later Andre retaliated with a fight ending uppercut.

645Z1040-EditSE1080

The champ.

645Z1080SE1080

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.

645Z1133SE1080

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.

IMG_4055

Fight Club Studio Workshop June 17th 2017 

More information about upcoming workshops can be found here.

Back it Up

This is another blog post about backing up data, and protecting your images. Why? Because if it means just one reader doesn’t lose all their family photos to the digital abyss, it will be worthwhile.

Hard disks have a finite lifespan. This is probably going to be around 3 to 5 years. If, for example, you only store your family photos on your laptop, when it dies (and it will) you will lose all your images or have to pay a lot of money to a data recovery firm to try and get back your treasured memories.

Back up your computer at home, and ideally have another off-site backup just in case of a disaster such as theft, fire or flood that takes both hard drive and back up drive.

Back up at home.

If you’ve got an Apple computer use the Time Machine application. All you need is an external hard disk that is significantly larger than the total of your computers internal hard drives.

I was using a 4TB external hard drive as my main TimeMachine backup, but just bought a larger 8TB Western Digital external hard drive.

As 8TB is still not large enough to backup all my data, I select which drives to back up with the Time Machine (start up disk and the most recent disks of images) and which to manually copy to another external hard disk (film scans and images from 2010-2013).

For windows users there are also applications to help backup your data. An app came with the Western Digital drive, that enables automated backup of data .

Western Digital 8TB external hard drive.jpg

Off-site back up

Unknown-1.png

My documents and all my client images are also backed up and synced to Dropbox. I have a Dropbox Plus account which gives me 1TB of storage for about US$8.25 a month. It works as a great method to give me immediate access to files and sync between various computers.
Unknown.png

My main computer system is also backed up to the cloud using BackBlaze. This is US$50 a year and is my best option to retrieve all my data in the event of flood or fire.  Your computer (and all connected hard drives) are uploaded to their secure servers.  In the event both my computer and the TimeMachine are lost, I can download everything from BackBlaze over the internet or request a physical hard drive with the data. It’s an insurance policy that allows me to sleep better at night.

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Visitors to the Nature Park Yanbaru Subtropical Forest could quietly stroll along a short paved trail among the trees looking at various types of vegetation including palms and orchids. Unfortunately, the tourists didn’t really come.

In 2016, the addition of around 50 dinosaurs many of which have basic animatronics and sound, has transformed the nature park into “Dino Park” a far more popular sightseeing destination.

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

The new additions do fit in well with the subtropical forest setting and several are quite impressive. The dinosaurs are reasonably realistic and vary in the level of animatronics from static models to automatons with jointed necks, jaws, tails and eyelids.  They do not surge forwards out of the undergrowth, and there are no fully mobile dinosaurs so they probably won’t terrify many children.  The outdoor speakers that give the dinosaurs voices are also a little small and lack any bass, so although you hear the roar of the T-Rex you don’t feel it in your body.

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

The Nago Dino Park  is located on route 85, the winding mountain road that runs along the spine of the Motobu Peninsula. From Nago you pass the Pineapple Park, and Okinawa Fruits Land, then continue in the direction of the aquarium. After about 5 minutes you’ll see Okashi Goten a sweet / souvenir store, and a full size triceratops.

The Dino Park is 800 yen for adults, 500 yen for children. A good family adventure that kids young and old should enjoy.

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

Dino Park in Nago, Okinawa, Japan

All photographs taken with the Pentax K-1 and the 24-70mm lens. No dinosaurs or humans were harmed during the making of this blog post.

Krazy Bee Gym, Itoman

I photographed MMA fighter Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto last December at my friend Ben’s capoeira dojo in Chatan  (blog post here). A few days ago, I got a call from Norifumi to say that he was setting up his own Krazy Bee gym in Itoman, and could I take some photos of the team.

Son of Japanese Olympic wrestler Ikuei Yamamoto,  Norifumi is a fearsome mixed martial arts fighter. (some video highlights on YouTube)

 

Norifumi’s older sister Miyuu is a three-time Freestyle Wrestling World Champion, and now fights mixed martial arts.  Their younger sister Seiko, also a champion wrestler, now lives in Texas and is married to baseball pitcher Yu Darvish.

Miyuu’s son Erson Yamamoto is a mixed martial arts fighter competing professionally.

Along with the Yamamoto family, there are several other fighters in the Crazy Bee team:  Betinho Vital a jiu-jitsu fighter from Brazil

Aw Ratchayothin Sangmorakot a muay-thai fighter from Thailand.

Kosuke Yokoyama a jiu-jitsu fighter from Japan.

 

It was great to meet the Krazy Bee team and I look forward to working with you all in the future.

 

Photo info:

All photos shot with the Pentax 645Z with the 90mm 2.8 lens.

Lastolite black velvet background. Profoto D2 light with 1×4′ gridded softbox back/right of the subject. Profoto B1 with softlight reflector white as the key light.

Want to learn how to take images in the studio? Next studio workshop is June 17th.

Sin City Tokyo – Rainy Day Projects

Rainy season is here in Okinawa. It’s a good opportunity to shoot indoors in the studio, and practice editing at the computer. Last week I met up with photographer Pauline Fortuna to collaborate on a “Sin City”-style studio shoot. Pauline invited along model Sam, makeup artist Deziree, and hair stylist Sherri. We thought we could try a series of  images so Sam, Sherri and Yuki became our three hoodlums.

For lighting we used three Profoto B1s and a Profoto D2. They were modified with a gridded snoot, barn doors, a gridded zoom reflector and a gridded softlight reflector.  The models stood in front of a plain black background. We kept the lighting similar for all three shots so that pics would fit together better in a composite image.

Back at home I played around in Photoshop layering the three images of the ladies along with a previously photographed image of Shibuya, Tokyo.

645Z6342SE1080

The background image was darkened, blurred and toned to better fit with the theme and then the image was done. Of course there are many ways things could be tweaked and improved, but that’s what the next rainy day is for.

645Z0439-Edit composite flatSE1080

Goat Wrestling on Sesoko Island

 

Goat wrestling is an annual event on Sesoko Island in Motobu, Okinawa.  Two male goats are placed in a ring, and then do what comes naturally. If they are evenly matched they will butt heads until one turns in submission. If they are unevenly matched, or uninterested they ignore each other, or the weaker goat wanders straight back to the gate often sticking its head through the railings.

645Z9969SE1080

The goats seem to be unaffected by the occasional headbutt. Sportingly, they never tried to headbutt their opponent anywhere except the head. The curved horns also seemed to avoid any puncture wounds or lacerations.

645Z9970SE1080

The only goat that came off badly at the whole event was the young goat that was given away as 1st prize in the raffle. The winner was asked what he was going to do with the goat. He replied, “eat it.”

The video was shot with the Sony A7SII camera with a 16-35mm lens on a CAME-TV Single gimbal.   The video was shot and uploaded to YouTube in 4K.

Rock Stars Studio Workshop

A fantastic rock star themed studio workshop last Sunday.

645Z0013SE1080

After a few hours in the morning covering the basics of studio shooting we moved on to the theme of the day.  For most of these shots we used the Profoto 7a generator with 2 proheads as the rear hair lights. Grids on the zoom reflectors controlled the spill of light, while gels gave the lights color. A small smoke machine gave the shots more atmosphere. We had a Profoto D2 with a gridded softlight reflector as the key light and a Profoto B1 with red / orange gels on the left side. The lights were triggered with Profoto Air Remotes.

645Z0134-EditSE1080

Natalie and Kelley were our awesome models. Both where more than willing to sing, play guitar, and hammer away on the keytar.  Although it was probably for the best that none of the instruments were plugged in 🙂

645Z0211-EditSE1080

Makeup and hair was by Audra Presika who also created the temporary tattoos for Natalie. It’s great to have an MUA to work with who can help take images to the next level.

645Z0151-EditSE1080

And finally it’s great that my assistant Keith is willing to go the extra mile and wear makeup while at work! Once again Audra was able to work her magic, this time transforming the mild-mannered Keith into Aladdin Sane.

645Z0262SE1080

So that was the rock stars studio workshop! If you need to learn the basics, we have a Fundamentals Workshop on June 3rd & 4th, and  the next studio workshop is going to be Fight Night on Saturday July 17th.

Camera Test – Fujifilm EPX-4440HD

Photographers looking for lightweight portable imaging devices often give rave reviews of  mirrorless Fuji cameras. So this week I decided to test out one of the latest cameras in the Fujifilm line, the EPX-4440HD.

18641815_1761516273889951_666092551_o

Positive points about this camera include “User-friendly menus” and “Advanced image technology” it also offers an “anti-blur function  that allows an optimal image to be extracted from multiple images.” A great option for those with less steady hands.

Portability is a little restricted. Although the camera is small, it does require a cart for the processing system and monitor. Photographers accustomed to tethered systems in the studio will probably be the most familiar with this setup.

Wedding photographers and fashion photographers may find the range of angles a little limiting. Those with an interest in macro photography will enjoy the camera’s ability to focus at short distances while the “300 watt xenon primary light source” brings illumination to the most restricted of shooting locations.

For portrait photographers the camera offers new possibilities beyond your basic profile, full face, and three-quarter view. This may be a way for young actors or models to stand out from the crowd with a less mundane headshot.

Overall I give positive reviews for the EPX-4440HD. Although not recommended for all photographic situations if you want to get video and pics of innerspace this could be the best camera for you.    Two thumbs up.

EPX-4440HD

EPX-4440HD

So why did I have a camera stuck up my nose?

One of the reasons for longevity in Okinawa and mainland Japan is the annual health checks. Everyone is encouraged to take them, and the costs are heavily discounted.  There are basic weight, blood pressure, urine and blood tests. This costs 500 yen or about US$5.   At 41 I’m now recommended to get a few other tests including a chest x-ray,  ECG for my heart, and a stomach check by barium x-ray or endoscope. When I had mentioned that I sometimes get heartburn the doctor said that they could also check for heartburn issues while using the endoscope so that was the option I chose.

Annual health checks give Japanese doctors the opportunity to offer proactive and predictive care rather than reacting to illness. Medical issues will hopefully be spotted earlier and dealt with before they become serious.

Thankfully I have no problems with my health. From the data collected this week and in previous years they will monitor the baseline levels in the future to see if there are any changes. The doctor even said I have a great looking duodenum, and you don’t get to hear that everyday 🙂

 Thank you to the staff at the Motobunoge Hospital for looking after me!

USO Okinawa Service Salute 2017

The United Service Organizations Inc., better known as the USO, is a nonprofit organization most famous for bringing entertainment to United States service members while overseas. Comedians such as Bob Hope and Robin Williams are well known for having visited troops on numerous occasions. Recently the USO brought Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band to Okinawa. 

The USO Okinawa service salute is when the organization honors seven enlisted service members from the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces. They also give awards to members of the local Okinawan community.  For the last few years I’ve photographed the event and taken pics of the attendees.

_K1_5847SE1080_K1_5984SE1080_K1_6154SE1080_K1_6054SE1080_K1_5746SE1080_K1_6025SE1080_K1_6223SE1080

If you attended the event and stopped for a portrait you can download your photos from Dropbox here:   www.tinyurl.com/z7v8qps

_K1_5605SE1080

Thanks very much for having us.            Chris , Yuki & Keith.