Monday, November 29, 2010

Naoko's Tokyo Apartment

This is my friend, Naoko, whom I met on Zamami.  When I told her I was coming to Tokyo for nine days so we should meet, she said I should stay with her.  I don't mind staying with friends for a few days, but I am not comfortable putting them out for an extended period.  She insisted, though, and it turned out to be awesome.  Check this picture to see the size of her apartment.  $500/month, which is the going rate for the far outskirts of the city.  The bathroom/kitchen (which has zero counters and only enough space for a single burner) is about half the size of this room. There was also a tiny loft where I took this picture from.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kerama Deer on Zamami

Kerama deer are a 'historical treasure' on Aka and Geruma.  They also live on a couple smaller islands but have never gained a foothold on Zamami.  It's a respectable swim but not too far, so I've often wondered if the deer aren't adventurous or - more likely - any deer that ever lived on Zamami were quietly killed off by the villagers.

Well recently I've been hearing rumors of deer sightings in Ama and Asa, the two smaller villages on each side of the cove that Zamami occupies.  On Sunday I was walking back to my apartment at 2pm and suddenly saw a deer in the village of Zamami!  Eating!  In the middle of the afternoon!  Surrounded by 10 picture-takers!

This might be a once-in-ten-years event, so the deer couldn't move anywhere without a dozen people around him (how he got to this place to begin with is also a mystery, since it doesn't border on any logical forest he would be living in).  Pretty soon some guys who wanted to catch, kill, and eat him showed up.  I was being heavily recruited, since I have animal wrangling/killing experience.  But as much as I like eating wild meat, I wasn't supportive of killing the only (or one of two) deer on the island. I'd rather let them live a couple years and get a sustainable population going first.  Also, I am told they are a recognized national treasure on Aka and Geruma, but not Zamami. I'm not sure how that works, but I am not keen to lose my job by killing an endangered animal in the middle of the afternoon in the village on a weekend.  With 25 people watching.  Here is a video I took of the attempted capture by my marlin fishing friends:

I left the scene before the deer was captured, which I heard he was.  However, the policeman was in on it, too, so I was also told the deer was driven over to Ama and released.  Hope he finds a girlfriend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Took this picture of Mariko tonight at the beach.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo - Photo of Me

Comparing the untouched colors of this photo with the one below, you can see how much processing I did to that image.  And now that I look at the photo below I really don't like what I've done - fortunately I haven't submitted it for sale yet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo #6

This guy was a terrible model - this was about all I could do with him so he wouldn't mess up the shot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo Portrait of Me

Take in the last hour on the last day by a stellar photographer in our group (Steve Cole), this photo exhibits why his $40,000 camera is better than mine.  If I had taken this photo without a reflector, the backlighting would have destroyed any detail on the front side of Rina and me.  But his awesome 40mp sensor (which produces 120mb files) has high dynamic range, so it can process both the highlights and the shadows very well.

Rina is just my friend, but this would be sort of an awesome 'couple' shot.

Monday, November 15, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo #5

[Momo, the other friend we photographed on the last day.  It probably won't sell much, but it's a technically good shot]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo #4

Probably my favorite shot from the whole trip, there was a 30-minute process to get this picture and required five people to put it together.  We had an afternoon at a park but one of our on-assignment photographers got priority (extra time) because this was his assignment.  That left the rest of us to fill in split the remaining time.  Being the clear amateur I volunteered to go last, which ended up producing the crux (vanishing light) to this image idea.  The on-assignment photographer (Nuno) helped me out with this as his shooting was over.  I brought him down to the area to show him my idea - the girl jumping between blocks - then he flipped it backwards to include the fall-colored tree and mud puddle reflection.  He described this is a potential Vetta shot, which is a reference to iStock's high-end (for "peak creative talent") collection, which sells for higher prices and thus higher royalties.

The girl was quite cold, but a real sport for the shoot.  She hadn't brought pants, but between jumps (maybe 25 of them total?) and during the setup of lights all the adults bundled her up in 4 jackets.  We had a light behind her on the left for rim lighting and another behind me on the right for fill.  It took awhile to get those settings right then I had to manually focus my camera right where I wanted her positioned (because my auto-focus couldn't keep up) then time my shutter release when she was in the air.

It was a really fun shoot and I am very pleased with the results.  It won't sell as well as most of my other pictures, but it was a good learning experience and also fun to concentrate so many resources on just one capture.  Also, I got her mother's email address so I can send this photo along to her.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo #3

This my friend, Rina, who works at an English school in Tokyo.  She brought a group of students to Zamami last spring and we have kept in touch.  Realizing that photos with models are the ones which sell, another friend on her free day invited a Japanese friend willing to sign a model release and I invited Rina.  We got a bonus day in a park with two first-time models.  They did pretty well!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo #2

[click to enlarge]

This is one of the few that I am especially proud of because the idea was all mine.  Stock photography is very different than art, wedding, or portrait photography.  The key is to come up with a concept that will sell as stock, then nail it.  I don't know if this concept will sell, but it's certainly better than some of the stuff I shot (see: first day (ugh..)).  I took our group leader with me on this one and he helped with a reflector, but otherwise I photographed this exactly how I envisioned it, which rarely happens.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

iStockalypse Tokyo

I've been in Tokyo taking pictures for the last week as part of iStockalypse Japan through iStockphoto.  It's been amazing and I've taken some good pictures, but more importantly I've learned a lot. I'll sample some of my photos over the next week or two.  Unfortunately for the blog Photoshop is just as important in the end result for stock photos as the initial capture and while I've learned a lot on the photography end of things, I'm just scratching the surface of PS. So some, like the one below, will be straight out of the camera.  Fortunately this one needs very little PS work: