All posts filed under: Sony

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Kyushu Edition :)

Season finale of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power tonight. Reminded me that I hadn’t shared the pics I took when visiting the El Patio Ranch in Aso, Kyushu. Active volcanoes gurgle away across the region, but the blackened landscape is actually due to noyaki grass burning that takes place each March. Burning the old grass encourages fresh new growth, which produces rich pasture for the local cows. The El Patio Ranch is located in Aso and visitors can take short rides around the area. The ranch dogs often join for the walk, and seem to be loving life in Kyushu’s version of Mordor. I gave the pics a quick colour grade, and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio crop to get in the mood for tonight’s finale

Takachiho Shrine, Miyazaki

In spring, while on assignment in Kyushu, I spent a couple of days in Takachiho which is famous for its gorge, and the kagura performances. Another notable site is the Takachiho Shrine which is hidden in amongst many giant cedars. As a Shinto shrine, the entrance is marked by a giant torii gate. There are komainu guardians, flanking the steps to the main shrine buidling, and another sacred komainu housed inside. Ema, prayer tablets, that are unique to the shrine, can be purchased to write your hope and dreams. Omikuji, fortune papers, tell what your future holds. These are sold in the little shrine shop manned by the miko (巫女), shrine maidens, who are dressed in red and white. As I was visiting officially, I was able to ask the staff if I could take a photograph of one of the miko in front of the shrine. This is not something I’d usually be able to do, so a huge thank you to the staff of the shrine for being so friendly and accommodating. All …

Kagura – Takachiho

Fujisaki-san is a master of Kagura, the Shinto ritual performance that tells the stories of their gods. While in Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture, I had the chance to meet up with him, and photograph several of his performances. Local legend is that Amaterasu Omikami, the goddess of the sun, once hid in a cave, plunging the world into darkness. The other gods worked together to bring her out of the cave, and bring back the light. First Fujisaki-san performed the Uzume Dance in which he portrays the goddess Ame no Uzume who danced outside the cave to entice Amaterasu Omikami out.  Dressed as the god Tajikarao, and wearing a white scowling mask, Fujisaki-san then performed The Dance of Tajikarao. In the myth this is when the god Tajikarao searches for the cave.  The third performance was the Totori Dance. Fujisaki-san is still the god Tajikaro, but wearing a red mask. In the first pic, the straining red-faced Tajikarao removes the giant stone that closed the cave.  After shooting inside Fujisaki-san’s home, I wanted to get a few …

The Beauty of Bise

Last week, Yuki and I photographed a lovely young lady in an elegant kimono amongst the fukugi trees of Bise Village. For a few hours I had to stop checking the news on my phone, and just focus on sharing the beauty and culture of Okinawa. My heart goes out to all those suffering around the world, the horrors of the pandemic and war have claimed the lives of so many. It is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the bleakness of the last few years, but I try to remember all the good and positive things in the world. The Okinawan people went through almost unimaginable suffering during the Second World War. When I talk to those that survived, I am always struck by their love of life, and the joy they have for their family, friends and culture. I’ll continue to stay up to date with the news, but I’ll also do my best to be grateful for all that I have, and optimistic about the future for everyone in this global community. …

Morinobu Maeshiro, 真栄城 守信 10th dan Shorin-Ryu Karate

Morinobu Maeshiro, 真栄城 守信 is 10th dan in Shorin-ryu Karate, and an Intangible Cultural Asset Holder in the Field of Okinawan Karate and Martial Arts with Weaponry. I photographed him for the first time at the Budokan in 2014, but I was pleased to be able to photograph him again in 2021, this time at his dojo in Naha City. After taking some new portraits, we set up the cameras and recorded a 45-minute interview with him discussing his life spent studying karate, his teachers, and his own philosophies. This will become Episode 1 of Series Two of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate. After the interview, we then streamed an online seminar which was watched live by his students around the world. The seminar was also recorded and will be available on Bujin.TV from mid-December. You can learn more about the portrait project and the documentary series by clicking on the “Karate” tab on this blog, or by following this link. Thank you so much to Maeshiro Sensei for his time, and to Nicolás Pérez …

Norihiko Masuda Okinawa Goju-ryu Karatedo Kyokai

In July, I photographed kata champion, and Goju-ryu master, Norihiko Masuda. We started the shoot at 7AM in Onoyama Park in Naha City. There were very few other people around, but we did have one extra person joining us. Uezato-san from the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper came along to take some behind the scenes pics of our shoot, and interview both us and Masuda Sensei about the Karate Masters Portrait Project. After taking some environmental portraits near the Onoyama Park shrine, and the torii gate, we took a few extra shots at the entrance to the Budokan (martial arts hall) where Masuda has won many competitions. This was the first shoot I’d done with the new Sony A7RIV camera, and I used the 24mm f1.4 lens and the 50mm f1.2 lens. (Thank you to Uetsuki-san at Kitamura Camera Chatan branch for helping me trade in several of my Pentax lenses for the new Sony 50mm.) Off camera flash was done with the Profoto B1 strobe. It was good to hear Masuda Sensei telling Uezato-san how valuable …