All posts tagged: featured

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 …

Pentax K-1 & Priolite – Capoeira

It’s rainy season in Okinawa, but yesterday morning we had a dry spell long enough to capture Ben and Antonio practicing capoeira at Araha Beach. Gear: Pentax K-1, 28-105mm lens,  Priolite M-Pack 1000 HotSync strobe Using the Priolite HotSync system meant I was freezing the action with the shutter speed rather than the flash duration. This removes the issues you get with ambient light blur when shooting motion with strobes outdoors. ISO 400, f4.5 1/3200 sec   This was my first time shooting Capoeira so it was  tough to anticipate the action. With two subjects performing different moves at the same time it is also tricky to get  images where they are both mid air, correctly illuminated, and in focus. Back flips and kicks are so fast to the naked eye it all happens in such a blur. It’s fascinating to check out the images and see them frozen in time. In some shots they looked like skydivers free falling. I’d also like to try this on a bright sunny day where the strobe would act …

Fine Art Prints

Bring the spirit and beauty of Japan into your home or workplace with a fine art print. The Pursuit of Excellence From the initial choice of film to the production of the final print we strive for the best at every stage of the artistic process. The latest professional printer technology along with Hahnemühle fine art paper has allowed us to produce giclée prints with vibrant colors and fine details. Using the highest quality archival materials also means that our prints have the longevity to provide a lifetime of viewing pleasure. Print Size Prints are available in two sizes A3 (30 x 42cm; 12″ x 17″) and A2 (42 x 60cm; 17″ x 24″). These are the approximate dimensions of the paper, actual image size will be slightly smaller as the prints are created with a white border in readiness for framing. The border is about 15mm (1/2 inch) around the image. Prints are not matted or framed. This gives you the flexibility to find a frame that will best compliment your home or office interior. The Travel 67 …

New Threads

DOJO Okinawa is a new clothing line by my friend  James Pankiewicz. Great t-shirts and kariyushi wear with designs inspired by the Ryukyu Islands. You may even recognize a few of the pics that make up the “Karate Action” and “Okinawa Places” kariyushi shirts. You can buy the shirts online, at the Ryukyu Piras stores in Naha or Chatan, and at the one and only DOJO Bar in Naha City.   Also check out and like their new Facebook page.

Onbashira – the bold and the brave

Riding a tree trunk as it slides down the side of a mountain is as safe as it sounds. There are injuries, and numerous participants have died. The Onbashira festival, however, has taken place for over 12 centuries. Every 6 years, tradition takes priority over health and safety, and with a heady mixture of religious fervor and adrenaline, the men go for the ride of their lives. The kiotoshi (tree falling)  part of the Shimosha Onbashira takes place over three days. Friday 8th of April 2016, was the first day, with three different teams riding in the afternoon. Having shot the first team with a 300mm telephoto lens, I switched to the 90mm so that I could put the action in a little more context. When the tree trunks finally comes to a stop, all the members of the team scramble together to celebrate and then start to drag the trunk onwards. The men with white helmets and riot shields at the base of the hill are to stop dislodged stones from hitting the crowds. As …

Karate Masters Portrait Project

NEWS!!!!   Karate Masters Portrait Project Volume 1 now on sale via Blurb The Karate Masters Portrait Project began in March 2012. Its goal is to document karate and kobudo masters teaching in Okinawa at the start of the 21st Century. Their unparalleled knowledge of martial arts makes them of great cultural importance both in Japan and worldwide. 空手マスターズポートレートプロジェクトは2012年3月に始まりました。 目標としているのは、21世紀に沖縄で活躍している空手と古武道の先生方の肖像を撮ることです。空手の先生方の類まれない武道に関しての知識は、日本だけでなく、世界でも文化的に高く重要視されています。 In 2012, James Pankiewicz, owner of the DOJO Bar in Naha, discussed with photographer Chris Willson how there were few, if any, good photos of certain karate masters. There was also little consistency in the images available. Many were blurry, low resolution, noisy, or simply snapped from a distance at a competition or demonstration. 2012年、那覇市内にある DOJO Bar のオーナー、ジェームズ・パンキュビッチは、フォトグラファーのクリス・ウィルソンと空手指導者の良い肖像はないかと話し合いました。 それまでの使用可能なイメージはほとんど一貫性​​がなく、解像度が低くぼやけており、ノイズが多く、 遠い距離からのスナップ写真ばかりでした。 James and Chris began to take studio lighting, a black backdrop, and a high definition digital camera into the dojos of the karate masters. They hoped the portraits produced would become a historical record of the masters of Okinawan karate at the start of the 21st century. ジェームズとクリスは 道場にスタジオの照明や、黒背景、高精細デジタルカメラを持ち込み、撮影を行い始めました。 このプロジェクトを通して、沖縄空手の先生方の肖像が、21世紀の歴史的な記録になることを望んでいるのです。 Gear used: Pentax 645D & …

Humpback Whale Watching

Out today with the Churashima Research Center taking pics from their research boat. A much happier occasion than photographing the carcass of a whale that had died and then washed up on the beach. We were in the waters of the coast of Motobu not far from Sesoko Island. We saw around 20 whales in total, but it was the first mother and calf pair that were the star performers. The whales slapped the surface with their long pectoral fins, and perform breaches before crashing back down onto the surface of the water.  Pics shot with the Pentax 645Z and a 300m lens. Used a monopod to take the strain off my arms.  Shot at ISO 400 so that I could use shutter speeds between 1/2000 and 1/4000 of a second.

Spring & Summer Workshops

  The March 12/13 Fundamentals workshop is now full. If you were hoping to take this class, but missed the chance don’t worry, and please join our May, June, July, or August workshop. Dates are here: and the Facebook event page for the May class is here: Pete Leong and I have scheduled an 1-day Off Camera Flash workshop for May 21, 2016. We’ll be showing you how to add a little magical light to your images using cheap and cheerful wireless speedlights. You don’t need to have a flash to join the class, in fact if you don’t have one already, I’d highly recommend waiting until you’ve taken the class. The Facebook event page for the Off Camera Class is here: The Kyoto Workshop is now scheduled for the first week of April 2017, exact dates will be decided on in the near future.

2015 Year in Review

2015 began with a quick trip to photograph the snow monkeys of Jigokudani Onsen, Nagano. Back in Okinawa I continued to document the karate masters and the people of the Ryukyu Islands. A few weeks in spring were spent in the UK where I hung out with family and took pics of some local icons. Back in Okinawa I had to update the Okinawa and Kyushu chapters of the Fodors Japan travel guide.  I popped down to Iriomote to check out the options for visitors. And up to Kumamoto for a bit of history. Around the same time I was  working as a location manager for the Okinawa episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. A cool experience introducing Okinawa to a huge new audience. On March 25th, I bought a house in the morning, then in the afternoon Yuki and I got married at the town office. A good chunk of the summer was then spent renovating the house and making it weatherproof. Yuki and I got some wedding pics done by being models for …

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

A few pics from a recent shoot with some beautiful Italian craftsmanship. The first couple of shots show the difference created by lens selection. Both were shot with the 645Z camera but for the image above I used the 35mm wide angle lens and the image below is the 90mm. For these final shots I have to thank Patrick for driving so that I could get images of the car in motion. A really fun shoot!