A little video I created showing cherry blossoms across Japan. Images were taken between 2002 and 2023. Some were the Pentax 67II medium format film camera, some were the Pentax 645D, the Pentax, 645Z, and the most recent were the Sony A7RIV.
Chieko Toma is a master of Ryukyu dance. On Sunday I had the chance to photograph her performing in traditional dance costumes. The next black and white costume comes from Haebaru Town and I believe is worn for performance of the folk dances, rather than the court dances. The next outfit is the karate gi with a hakama-style piece over the lower half. This was worn to perform the go shin no mai dances of self defense. As well as a master of Ryukyu dance, Toma Sensei is a master of Goju-ryu karate, and a student under Tetsuhiro Hokama Sensei. If you look at the behind the scenes shot, and you’ve been following the Karate Masters Portrait Project since 2012, you’ll notice the change in the number of lights used to create the portrait. In all the above shots of Toma Sensei I used two lights. James is holding one Profoto B1 strobe with a white softlight reflector (AKA a beauty dish) while Toma Sensei’s granddaughter is holding a second Profoto B1 strobe with a …
Here’s my latest collaboration video with Skylum Software. I take to the waters off the coast of Motobu, Okinawa to try and photograph humpback whales. Please like, share and comment on the video as it will help others find it and allow us to keep on making videos! Skylum Software just released a new update to Luminar this week so it is now faster with a few new editing options also. A big thank you to Okinawa Island Crew for letting me shoot photos and video on the boat. I much prefer whale watching from Motobu rather than Naha as the whales are located much closer to the port. The gear used in the video was the Pentax 645Z camera with the 300mm f4 lens. The tripod was a carbon fibre LEO by 3 Legged Thing, and the bag is the Whistler by Lowepro.
The rock garden at Ryoan-ji is one of the finest examples of a hire-niwa. 15 rocks are positioned in a large flat area of small stones without hills or ponds. I wanted an image that tried to show it as a place of quiet reflection, which is a little tricky at most times of day. However, if you’re the first person to arrive you may get a few moments of tranquility. Pentax 645Z with 25mm (top image) and 55mm (bottom image).
I’ve visited Kyoto’s famous Golden Pavilion several times over the last 15 years. Usually it’s been overcast, but on my latest visit there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This was the perfect opportunity to get a wide establishing shot with plenty of room for text (thinking about the needs of clients). Shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm lens held high above my head to get the correct angle. A shutter speed of 1/800 second and several bursts allowed me a sharp image without a tripod.
A couple more pics from the shoot with Brylee last weekend. I’m really enjoying trying to balance natural light with flash, varying how “lit” the images appear. For these outdoor shots I wanted to keep things looking a little more natural than usual. Images shot with the Pentax 645Z and 90mm lens around f2.8 with the Profoto B1 and OCF beauty dish white. After the shoot when I explained about setting up a Dropbox folder to share the completed images, Brylee asked if I could resend the images from her previous shoot. I last photographed Brylee in December 2013. A couple of the images from the shoot are below. At some point Brylee’s computer had suffered a hard drive failure causing her to lose all her data. I can resend all her images from our shoot, but there will be so many family pics she can’t get back. At least she now has multiple backups so it never happens again. Once again to all my family and friends, back up your data. If you use …
Portrait shoot with MMA fighter Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto on friday night. Yamamoto is perhaps most famous for his 4 second flying knee KO to Kazuyuki Miyata back in 2006. Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens. (I had brought a black background but spotted the Japanese flag in the gym so changed my plan). 2 light setup. Profoto D2 with gridded 4×1 softbox as rim light (back left), Profoto B1 with gridded softlight reflector as the main light (front right). Air remote trigger. Huge thanks to Ben of Capoeira Academy Okinawa for setting up the shoot, and Shawn Miller and Yuki for assisting. Some BTS pics and video!
Hidekazu Taba is a champion bodybuilder. Several years ago I saw him compete at the Pacific Muscle Classic on Camp Foster. He won his weight class, he won his age group, he won overall. In other competitions, he’s repeated the feat. He dominates Okinawan body building, and he does it at age 67. For a long time I’ve been hoping to photograph Taba-san and yesterday I visited his home to take a few pics. Taba-san began bodybuilding around 40 years ago after seeing a Tarzan movie. He hits the gym for a couple of hours, 5 days a week. Unlike many bodybuilders who bulk up and then cut weight (shred?) for competitions he stay lean all year. The reason is that he’s not trying to peak for a single event, but has to be ready for local competitions or festivals all year. He’s very happy that his grandchildren are proud to have a super cool oji-chan. I’m looking forward to shooting more photos of Taba-san training at the gym and at competitions. Images shot with …
A couple of pics of Yuki wearing a dress by the Okinawan fashion brand Majun. Shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 90mm lens. Lit with the Profoto D2 with a 3×4′ softbox, background illuminated by two Profoto proheads to give pure white.
Ohara Hadaka Matsuri a.k.a. the Ohara Naked Festival took place in heavy rain on the 23rd of September. To clarify “naked” is clearly not an accurate description with the participants wearing far more than the fundoshi loincloths seen at the Okayama Hadaka Matsuri. As this is a traditional Shinto festival a priest gave blessings, and somewhat unusually two arrows were launched into the ocean. Teams carried mikoshi (portable shrines) down to the ocean. It was clear that the mikoshi were heavy and the teams looked exhausted as they shouldered the wooden beams. After dunking themselves and the shrine in the ocean waves they returned to the beach, and managed to raise it above their heads. All images shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 25mm lens. Glad both the camera and lens are weather sealed because they were subjected to rain for half an hour.