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Photography Workshops

A great Photography Fundamentals workshop last weekend with Marco, Kristin, Heather and Gary. This was our last photography workshop for the year, but we’ll start back again in 2018.

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December 2017 Fundamentals Workshop. Photo by Yuki

There will be a Photography Fundamentals workshop on January 6th and 7th, then there will be a break for a couple of months as Yuki and I are expecting our first child in mid-February 🙂

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December 2017 Fundamentals Workshop. Photo by Yuki

By May, workshops will back on track and we’ll be hosting Fundamentals, Advanced, Off-camera flash, Studio and other exciting opportunities to learn and take photos. We hope to hold the Kyoto workshop again in early April 2019.

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December 2017 Fundamentals Workshop. Photo by Yuki

A big thank you to everyone who joined us for workshops this year, it was a pleasure hanging out with you all. A huge thank you to Yuki for making banana bread, listening to my dad jokes (again and again), and putting on kimonos at 4AM. Wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Dia de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos (Día de Muertos) is the Mexican holiday also known as Day of the Dead. Before Spanish colonization the holiday took place in summer, but is now celebrated on November 2nd, just after All Saints’ Eve (more commonly known as Halloween).  For me, the festival seems to share more in common with Okinawa’s Obon celebrations than ghoulish Halloween.

Halloween is usually thought of as night to scare away ghosts and monsters, but during Okinawa’s Obon and on Día de los Muertos families clean graves and tombs, decorate them, and give offerings of food. The departed are welcomed back to spend time with the family once again.

Día de los Muertos celebrations were featured at the start of the Bond movie Spectre, and are the theme of the latest Disney / Pixar movie Coco.

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My friend Bernadette is Mexican American and we thought a Día de los Muertos inspired shoot would be fun. We collaborated with makeup artist Audra Pesicka who transformed Bernadette into “Catrina” with her distinctive skull.

Images were shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 90mm lens. I used a Profoto D2 with gridded beauty dish as the main light and a B1 with 1×4 softbox as the hair light.

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A huge thank you to Audra Pesicka for the amazing makeup, to Yuki for assisting, and to Bernadette for modeling and introducing her heritage to us.

100 Kata for Karate Day 2017

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October 25th is Karate Day in Okinawa! Yesterday was the 100 kata event at the new Karate Kaikan in Okinawa. I was busy shooting some video so I passed the Pentax K-1 camera over to Yuki so she could take the photos. All the participants did really well undertaking the challenge, a huge thanks to James Pankiewicz for organizing, and great job Yuki with the pics!

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Naha Giant Tug of War – Oct 8th 2017

This afternoon the world’s biggest tug of war will take place on Route 58 in Naha City, Okinawa.  I’ll be missing it this year as I’m selling prints at the Holiday Bazaar on Camp Foster, but it’s a great thing to see if you’re in Okinawa today. (You can also drop by the bazaar!) There are parades on Kokusai Street before the main event, which starts at around 2.45pm with the ceremony, then bringing the ropes together at 3.30 and the actual tug of war happens around 4pm  (Please confirm times for 2017 yourself!).

Here are a few pictures from previous years.

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Naha Tug of War October 11th, 2015

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

Naha’s Tug of War

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

Word’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

Word's Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

Word’s Largest Tug of War, Okinawa, Japan

 

10 life changes since getting LASIK

It’s been nearly 4 years since I had LASIK at the Shinjuku branch of the Kobe Kanagawa Eye Clinic Japan. You can read more about my experience with LASIK here:  www.travel67.com/lasik/ 

 

I was chatting with friends the other day about how positive my experience had been. Here are 10 ways my life changed! (These don’t include non-Lasik related changes such as getting married, buying a house…)

 Saving money      No need to buy contact lenses, or solutions, or glasses.

 

Saving time        Don’t have to spend a few minutes in the morning and before going to bed dealing with contact lenses.

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No struggling with contact lenses at 4AM before a dawn photo session!

No emergency glasses days              I’d wear contacts almost every day, but if I had sore eyes I’d have to wear glasses. I’d then have awkward conversations with friends or workmates explaining why I was wearing glasses.

 

No foggy glasses        No problems going from cool air-conditioned buildings to the humid outdoors.

 

Smaller wash kit          No extra bag of solutions, cleaning products, spare lenses, and spare glasses. Much easier for travel.

 

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No lost lenses while diving!

No lost lenses      No worries with water sports. When swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving, no chance of losing a contact lens.

 

Easier flights    Long flights from Japan to the UK are made easier when I don’t have to choose between contact lenses or glasses.

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View from the London Eye ferris wheel overlooking the Thames River and Houses of Parliament, London, England.

Night vision     Being able to glance over and see the alarm clock clearly without glasses.

 

Outdoor living              Camping is easier when you don’t have to deal with contact lenses. Especially if there are no places to wash your hands.

 

Peace of mind             If there is a natural disaster I won’t be searching for glasses in the middle of the night. If I’m stranded somewhere I don’t need to worry about how many hours I’ve been wearing contact lenses.

 

Read more about my experience with LASIK here:  www.travel67.com/lasik/

And finally the Shinjuku branch of the Kobe Kanagawa Eye Clinic Japan is just a couple of blocks from the Robot Restaurant. Awesome 🙂

 

 

 

Shy Guy

Nemos a.k.a. false clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris) are surprisingly brave, if not aggressive. They’ll come out of their anemone and try to intimidate larger fish or scuba divers.

The pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) is far more shy.

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It is quite happy to stay hidden among the tentacles of an anemone and wait until the danger has past. This little fish has made home in a sebae anemone (Heteractis crispa).

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Seen at Horseshoe reef near Cape Manza, Okinawa, Japan.

Karate Masters Archive Project

The Karate Masters Portrait Project began on March 11, 2012 with a photo session of Yoshitaka Taira sensei and Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei. Five and a half years later, James and I are starting a parallel project to interview these masters and try to create an archive of their teachings. Once again we began with Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei, and look forward to learning a great deal over the coming years.

Video offers a whole new set of challenges both technical and financial. As with the Karate Masters Portrait Project we’re striving for quality, as hopefully the content we produce will be of interest both now and in the future.

The basic look of the interview is similar to the portraits with a simple black background. For portraits we used a single strobe with a beauty dish, for video we’re using a CAME-TV C700D Daylight LED Edge Light as the keylight on the face and a CAME-TV Boltzen as a rim light on the subject’s right. Here’s a test shot with me looking sleepy. The lights are daylight balanced, affordable, and can run on batteries if there are no outlets in the dojo.

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I’m recording using a Sony A7sII and a 50mm Rokinon lens. I’ve made the decision to shoot at 4k and record into an Atomos Ninja Flame. The Ninja Flame allows me to easily check focus on a large screen (this is what I’m doing in the top picture), have a second microphone (analog external mike on stand) going directly into the recorder, and use 1TB SSD drives.

When shooting outdoors it also has the advantage of letting me see the raw S-Log3 footage with simulated processing. It records 10-bit color information with 4:2:2 color encoding to an Apple ProRes codec.

The reality of trying to edit and archive the large amount of data produced will be interesting. A single RAW .DNG from the Pentax 645Z is about 70MB so if I return from a portrait shoot with a couple of hundred images it’s around 14GB.  1 minute of 4K ProRes footage on the Ninja Flame is 6GB so if you record for just 15 minutes that’s 90GB of data.

An exciting challenge to be undertaking. Hopefully we get the same support from the Okinawan and global karate community that we did for our portrait project.

Fantastic Beasts

A few of the amazing creatures living in Okinawa’s ocean.  The top photo is of the male ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita). Amazingly, some blue male ribbon eels change to bright yellow female ribbon eels in later life.

This next fish is a honeycomb grouper (Epinephelus merra) whose spots help camouflage  it while on the reef. It was also named “Fish most likely to turn into a giraffe.”

(Epinephelus merra) Honeycomb grouper

Next is a Naia pipefish (Dunckerocampus naia) which was about 3 centimeters long. Similar to a seahorse, but less pretentious.

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The striped puffer (Arothron manilensis) looks like it’s wearing prison uniform. It’s a relative of the tiger blowfish (Takifugu rubripes) that occasionally kills diners with its  tetrodotoxin poison.

Striped Puffer ( Arothron manilensis. Okinawa, Japan. Pacific Ocean.

The black-finned snake eel (Ophichthus altipennis) watches the world swim by from its hole in the sand.

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This tiny Dinah’s goby ( Lubricogobius dinah ) didn’t have to bother making a hole, it was quite happy with a ready-made glass bottle.

Dinah's Goby ( Lubricogobius dinah ) in glass bottle, Nago, Okinawa, Japan.

Just as tiny was this sea cucumber crab  (Lissocarcinus orbicularis) living on the surface of a sea cucumber.

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And even smaller was this tiny emperor shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) who was the crab’s neighbor.

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But for camouflage skills that rival the creature in Predator you can’t beat the glass anemone shrimp (Periclimenes brevicarpalis).

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All pics shot with the Pentax K5IIs & 50mm macro in an Ikelite housing with two 161 strobes.

Chasing Waterfalls

Three waterfall pics I shot recently while exploring Okinawa. Above is Fukugawa Falls in Nago.

Next is Utinda Falls, Uka, Kunigami Vilage, Okinawa.

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And finally Todoroki Falls ( Todoroki-no-taki), Nago, Okinawa.

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There are dozens of waterfalls on the main island of Okinawa, and far more (and even more impressive) waterfalls on Okinawa’s southern islands. Just stay safe, and be aware of flash floods after heavy rain.

Or you could just stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.

 

 

Anemones & Anemonefish

Back in the water again and also hitting the marine species identification books for a job we are working on.  Finally learning the names of the creatures I’ve been staring at or photographing the last couple of decades.  The top featured image is a pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion) I encountered last week. Looking back through my old images I can start working out what they are.

A tomato clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus) living in a bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor).

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Hard to tell, but I think this next guy is Amphiprion clarkii, known commonly as Clark’s anemonefish.

Lizardfish - Scuba Diving Okinawa, Japan

A false clown anemonefish  (Amphiprion ocellaris). This is Nemo’s species.

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Another pink anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)

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Identifying the anemones is an even greater challenge. Particularly, as at times what looks like an anemone may in fact be a coral. Below is Amplexidiscus fenestrafer  that is sometimes called the elephant ear anemone but is more accurately named the giant cup mushroom coral.  Much more learning to be done.

Amplexidiscus fenestrafer   Giant Cup Mushroom Coral AKA Elephant ear anemone .