All posts filed under: Japan

Now on YouTube!

In 2016, I was contacted by the team at Macphun Software who had come across my photography on the web. Macphun produces photo editing programs for Mac computers, and received Best of the Year awards from the Apple app store six years running. They were producing new inspirational content for their website and asked if I’d like to be involved. James Pankiewicz, Patrick Batac and I produced a behind the scenes video about The Karate Masters Portrait Project. In 2018, Macphun became SKYLUM software as it is no longer just Mac only. As its popularity grows around the world, Yuki and I are going to help introduce the software to the Japanese market. We’ve created a Japanese language YouTube series called the Shoshinsha Photographer Yuki (New Photographer Yuki) in which Yuki learns how to take photos, and edit the pictures with SKYLUM’s Luminar editing software. Episode 1 has a brief introduction then Yuki explores Bise Village in Motobu. Episode 2 is all about the 100 Kata for Karate Day event at new Karate Kaikan. Episode …

It’s a girl!

Yuki started going into labor at around 6pm on Saturday the 10th of February. We called the maternity clinic and drove from Motobu to Nago City. At the clinic they confirmed Yuki was in labor, but that it was going very slowly. The whole of Sunday was spent in bed with the contractions getting stronger. At around midnight Yuki was moved to the birthing room in the clinic. Yuki was attached to monitors,  but the birth wasn’t due for several more hours. At around 3.15AM things got very busy. The heart rate of the baby  suddenly dropped from around 130 to 60 bpm. The doctor made the decision to get the baby out right away and at 3.36AM on February 12th 2018  Jasmine Victoria Willson was born. She was weighed (2868 grams), and measured (47.2cm). She was checked and cleaned. Monitored, and then given to Yuki. Unten-sensei was able to explain to me what happened at the birth. The low heart rate was a sign of foetal distress, so he immediately delivered the baby by …

Chris Willson Photography 2017 Highlights

2017 has been another busy year. So many things to mention…. Photography workshops have been a success, and it’s been great sharing my passion (and terrible jokes) with so many other people, whether its learning the fundamentals, or dressing up as rockstars in the studio. We had an amazing 1-week workshop in Kyoto with six lovely ladies, and a combination of planning and a little luck meant we got to photograph maiko, cherry blossom, shrines, temples, castles, bullet trains, and blue skies over the week. Yuki started taking kimono classes before the workshop so she could be our subject for staged shots, and there were plenty of opportunities for fortuitous street photographs.  (We’re planning the next Kyoto Workshop for April 2019.) A huge thank you to clients who have booked me for sessions. It has been a pleasure shooting commercial portraits, families, fairy tales, and senior portraits. We’ve shot several events including the USO Service Salute, the Warrior’s Ball, and karate seminars. We’ve also worked on assignment with international clients including NBC, Cinq Mondes, and Forbes. …

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.  

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. 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). 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 …

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. 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. 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!

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. 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 …

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

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