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Dan – Alaskan Fisherman

I invite my friends over for coffee and then force them to dress up for photos. As my little garden faces west I can get down low and place my subject against the colorful evening skies. In these shots I hid the setting sun directly behind Dan which avoids blowing out the highlights and gives both the Dan and the clouds some cool rim lighting. Pentax 645Z with 90mm and 55mm lenses. Profoto B1 with OCF beauty dish white triggered with the Profoto Air Remote.

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Cherubims No-kill animal shelter

Just before the New Year we took some pics of all the dogs at the Cherubims no-kill animal shelter in Ishikawa, Uruma City.  There are a wide range of dogs from big to small, young to old, healthy to infirm.  They all need homes, but for the very old dogs that are not normally adopted, it would be lovely if they could spend their last few months on a blanket with people to dote on them. Please help if you can. Cherubims Japanese Website Cherubims Japanese Facebook Page  

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Guinness World Record Breaking Kata

On October 23rd 2016 the Okinawan karate community attempted to break the record for the most people performing a kata. The record had been set in India in 2013 with 809 people. The Okinawan attempt on the record was a resounding success with 3793 confirmed participants. There was also a one of the biggest congregations of karate masters. I have photographed most of them for the Karate Masters Portrait Project so it was great to be able to say hello to so many of them. 2017 will have the opening of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan (training center), and with karate a demonstration sport at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, I expect that a mass kata performance may even become an annual event. If so, hopefully next year will be even bigger!  

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Stamp of Approval

This week, Japan Post released a set of postage stamps to commemorate Karate Day in Okinawa. The series of eight stamps is made up of Okinawan karate masters of different styles. The bottom right image is of Yoshitaka Taira, 10th dan World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) and is one of the photographs I shot for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Pleasingly, this is the second time one of my images has been used on a Japanese stamp. The first was around 12 years ago when they chose my photograph of Kabira Bay to represent one of Okinawa’s beautiful landmarks. In all that time the price of a postage stamp has only gone up two yen!

A chondara is like an Okinawan clown that takes part in Eisa, encouraging both the dancers and the crowd.

Chondara – Okinawan Clowns

Chondara are clowns that encourage the performers, and entertain the crowds during Okinawa’s summer eisa dance performances. They can be young or old, but you see very few women chondara. Usually they wear a straw conical hat and a short striped basa kimono. The makeup is nearly always white with designs drawn on to the face. The designs on the face vary between the chondara, but more surprisingly, unlike western “whiteface” clowns, a chondara doesn’t always stick with the same face. Below we can see the same chondara at Ryukyu Mura with four different faces. Send in the clowns!

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Timelapse Workshop

We had a great timelapse workshop this weekend with Mark Thorpe. Here’s a quick video I shot of Motobu Bay. The sequence is made up of 627 frames that were shot from 7.01PM to 8.01PM  The images were then processed together in LRTimelapse. Huge thanks to Mark for teaching the class and to James and Russell for joining and learning new skills. On the second day we worked on adding movement to out shots using equipment by Syrp. We also introduced Mark to Pizza in the Sky. A few things I learned shooting my first day to night transition: I had expected to use the cameras built-in intervalometer, but the Pentax K1 locks down the settings once you start the intervalometer. As you need to make adjustments to the shutter speed during the transition, I had to trigger the shutter manually counting 5 seconds between each one. An external intervalometer will solve this in the future. Bring mosquito repellant. Timelapses are awesome. Motobu is awesome. You are going to put a lot of wear and …

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Master Higa and the Minotaur

Last week I was chatting with Mark Thorpe about his upcoming time-lapse workshop.  He mentioned that Sunday 5th of June was a new moon and possibly the best day of the year for photographing the Milky Way. Mark would be heading out to Mount Fuji, but I thought I’d head over to Zakimi Castle in Yomitan. I doodled the castle and stars on a piece of paper. Then continued to doodle adding  a minotaur into the doorway. I actually have two animal masks sitting in my office. One is a hippo and the other a bull. They hippo has been used for a few rather bizarre photo shoots. I realized that to create a minotaur all I’d need is the bull mask and a suitable torso. Luckily my mate Adam has both the right physique and was free on the Sunday night. Still doodling on my piece of paper, the image was lacking a foreground subject and could use a hero. I’d previously photographed 8th-dan karate master Masaharu Higa at Zakimi Castle and knew he …

Onbashira - Suwa Taisha Kamisha.                      Kiotoshi “tree falling” where men risk their lives riding the tree trunk down a steep slopes

Japanese traditional log riding festival held in held in Suwa Town, Nagano Prefecture every six years. Tree trunk are dragged from the mountains to the Suwa Taisha Shrine to be raised as sacred pillars.

Onbashira – Suwa Taisha Kamisha

Onbashira is a traditional log riding festival held in held in Suwa Town, Nagano Prefecture every six years. Tree trunks are dragged from the mountains to the Suwa Taisha Shrine to be raised as sacred pillars. Kiotoshi “tree falling” is where men risk their lives riding the tree trunks down a steep slope. This takes place in two locations, first there is  “Kamisha” near Chino, then a few days later there is “Shimosha” near Shimosuwa. On the three days of the Suwa Taisha Kamisha the “tree falling” is followed by  kawagoshi “river crossing.” A small rope is towed across the river (in one case by an ugly duckling with swans) which connects to the larger ropes that drag the tree trunk. Dignitaries are carried across the river. Then the brass band wades across! The tree trunk, bedecked with a couple of dozen men, is dragged from the riverbank. Rescue services stand by to try and prevent any of the participants from drowning. An amazing spectacle to witness.