Hisao Hamamoto is a master of Japanese swords. At 83 he continues to teach how to use katana and wakizashi. I first photographed Hamamoto sensei on October 1st 2011, before the Karate Masters Portrait Project began. The single-light beauty dish portrait I took of Hamamoto would become the lighting setup I’d then use for the entire series. I met up with Hamamoto sensei today at the Budokan in Naha City, to get some video of him teaching his class. Afterwards I asked to take a few location portraits at the shrine next to the Budokan. We then grabbed some lunch before heading over the Dojo Bar with James Pankiewicz to film a short interview with Hamamoto sensei. It won’t be part of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series, but a bonus interview about his life and art. A real delight to meet him once again. Thank you to Hamamoto sensei for giving up his time, to James for helping set up the shoot and letting us conduct the interview in the Dojo Bar, and …
A great couple of Christmas dives yesterday with my buddy Hiroshi at Cape Zanpa. Rinsed the gear and now sorting through images with a pile of reference books at my side. Identifying fish is often a challenge especially when some of them such as the bullethead parrotfish change their shape, color, and even sex over the course of their lives. Trying to identify corals is even trickier, but hopefully over the years I’ll be able to better differentiate between the various sponges, sea fans, soft corals, stony corals and anemones. The featured photo is I believe a Periclimenes psamathe ( seafan shrimp) on a Muricella sp. gogorian sea fan.
Another fun workshop. Spent the morning introducing the different types of lights and modifiers used in a professional photography studio. In the afternoon we photographed our model Brianda after makeup up artist Jessica Coupar worked her magic. Little Jasmine even joined in at the end of the shoot wearing her own baby uniform. Thank you to workshop participants Tyson and Angie for managing to join us during the heaviest rain in recent history! Thank you to Jessica Coupar for makeup, and Brianda for being our model. Finally thank you to Jasmine for bravely wearing a red shirt and surviving the mission.
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.
October 25th is Karate Day in Okinawa! Yesterday was the 100 kata event at the new Karate Kaikan in Okinawa. I was busy shooting some video so I passed the Pentax K-1 camera over to Yuki so she could take the photos. All the participants did really well undertaking the challenge, a huge thanks to James Pankiewicz for organizing, and great job Yuki with the pics!
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.
A couple of portraits from part of last month’s studio workshop where we were using soft light and black background. Thanks Allison for joining the workshop and posing for us. Camera: Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens Lighting: Profoto D2 with softlight reflector white (right) White card as a reflector (left) Profoto 7a with 2 pro heads in RFi 1×4′ softboxes (rear left and right) for rim light. Triggered with Profoto Air Remote.
During the Kyoto 2017 Workshop we jumped on the bullet train to visit Himeji City and the finest example of a Japanese castle. I didn’t get any new shots of the castle itself, but did get a few snaps of the guards. A short BTS video taken by Tech Ninja Patrick. And here are few shots of the castle from 2016 in case you were wondering which one is Himeji. For movie fans, it’s the castle used to train the elite fighting force in James Bond’s. “You Only Live Twice.”
What’s the difference between a geisha and a maiko? How do you tell them apart? A geisha, 芸者, is a professional entertainer, the direct translation of the kanji would be art person. Geiko 芸子 is sometimes used when referring specifically to geisha from Kyoto. A maiko 舞妓 is a geiko in training. This process takes many years as she masters the various instruments, dances and social graces required to become a geiko. Along with their age, there are other ways to distinguish maiko from geiko. The hairstyle of a maiko is created with natural hair, while a geiko wears a wig. A maiko usually has many more ornate accessories that adorn her hair. For footwear, maiko usually wear okobo (platform sandals) while the geiko wear zori (low sandals). The inner collar of the kimono is usually red with patterns for maiko and plain white for geiko. And when looking from the back, the obi of the geiko is folded to form a box knot (taiko) while the maiko have the obi folded in a longer elaborate display known as …
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).