Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dam Sparks

This was the shot I was aiming for when I made the fire last week.  Unfortunately it still didn't come out exactly as I had envisioned.  But this gives me reason to keep thinking and come up with an alternative way to produce sparks that hold their spark longer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lightpainting with Hazel

Friend Hazel is out for a few days. We started experimenting last night and in no time came up with this:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Magazine Feature

I was asked to photograph a woman for a magazine article she wrote on moving to Zamami from Kanagawa this past April.  I can't read the text so I'm not really sure of the point of the article, but all the photos but the turtle picture are mine.  Unfortunately there was some miscommunication and I didn't know the end result was going to be in black-and-white, or else I would have shot and processed differently.

[magazine mock-ups removed at author's request, but the magazine will be published within a month so I'll post a picture of the finished copy when it comes out]

Here's how the pictures would've looked if they were in color (seriously, they still make magazines in black-and-white?):

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aka Sports Day - Taichi

I was ho-hum on this shot, but the teachers all named it their favorite so I'll post it:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Burn

The grass was waist-high in this section before I leveled it:

In retrospect, I think I was just unlucky.  To the left and the steel wool would have gone down into the concrete spillway.  To the right, and it would have landed on that rock pathway or in the short green grass.  But I can also consider myself lucky that none of the 1.5m-high flames jumped to the neighboring trees.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Light Painting Whoops

The last couple nights I've been going to the Zamami dam to do some light painting experimentation.  You may remember the shot we did with sparks last weekend at the workshop.  Well, my idea was to get a cool effect by having the sparks to bounce down the front of the dam.  So tonight I ran up to just get one shot before the near-full moon came up and made the lighting situation different.  Unfortunately there is a typhoon bearing down on us and the winds are a bit stronger than usual.  I thought that had the potential to result in a cool effect, but I also knew it could be dangerous.

[did this last night, hoped to get this effect across whole face of dam tonight]

To get the little sparks, we use very fine gauge steel wool attached to a stick with a clip on it.  After clipping in the steel wool, it is lit with a lighter and then waved through the air and short-lived, tiny sparks fly out.  The harder it's waved the further the sparks will fly.  Well my goal from the top of the dam wasn't to have sparks fly a long distance, rather I just wanted them to fall straight and bounce down the dam.  Unfortunately something went awry and the entire piece of steel wool fell out of the clip and bounced down the dam.  I regretted my misfortune and went to grab another piece of wool, but then came back to watch what the strong winds were doing to the lit wool on the ground at the base of the dam.  It was glowing orange for a few seconds and nearly out when the grass next to it lit up in flames.  A big gust of wind came and the stalk of grass on fire instantly turned into a 1m fire that continued to grow.  I started shouting expletives while I sprinted across the top of the dam, down the stairs, and back across the base, only to discover that my fire was on the roof of a shed (or something).  It was too high to scale so I couldn't get up and stamp out the fire (and I probably couldn't have done that even if I could've reached it).  The fire was roaring at this point and I was freaking out.  I ran over to my camera, thinking 'I've got to get out of here!' but thankfully that thought passed quickly.  I went back to the fire, back to my camera, back to the fire, rode my bike around and up atop the dam, all the while hoping the fire would just go out but equally afraid it would jump off the roof and down onto the flats, where it would only take wind to get blown into the village. I really didn't want to go report it to the village for a multitude of reasons (my job could be on the line?) but I decided that was the best thing to do, so I rode as hard as I could, trying to figure out who I could find to properly explain the urgency of the situation.  I did immediately find a guy with decent enough English that I could get the point across that there was a fire and I started it, though it was futile to explain how I started it and what I was doing up there.  He wasn't convinced of the need to call the fire engine, though, until he saw the fire, so I raced him back up there quickly.  After surveying the fire we both agreed that it was probably going to be okay (so long as it didn't jump), but that we should call anyway.  For the next 15 minutes we watched as the fire burned through all the fuel on the roof and gradually went out.  When there were still two small pieces of wood on fire, the cars showed up.  I was afraid word would get out and the whole village arrive, but luckily only four guys came.

Interestingly enough, one of the guys who came reads my blog and in trying to understand what in the world I was doing on top of the dam with fire, he suddenly blurted out "light painting!"  I said "Yes!"  and he proceeded to explain to the other guys what it was.  Then they gave me a quick lecture about not playing with fire in a typhoon and I gave the most formal apology I could think of in Japanese and they all said not to worry about it, it's fine.  We'll see if there is any fallout in the days to come.  I know without a doubt, though, that this story is spreading like wildfire through the village right now and will almost certainly go into the annals of Zamami ALT (English teacher) history.

Since my camera was running during the whole event I ended up with a picture of it, which I actually quite like:

[you can see the streak where the steel wool fell off the dam on the right, star trails above, and my white headlamp sprinting down the stairs on the left and across the base of the dam]

Friday, July 15, 2011

Engagement Session 2

I planned these shots early on and was able to sneak them at the end (oddly enough, during the filming of a Korean drama television show, which caused a lot of problems because the star actress kept getting in my shot).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Engagement Session 1

Sunday morning we woke up at 6am and met this couple on the other side of Okinawa for their engagement photo shoot.  It wasn't my shoot - I was just along to assist - so these are not my poses.  I was given 20 minutes at the end, though, to do a couple of my own poses. I will post those tomorrow.

[What do you do when you forget to reset your white balance from the previous night's shoot?  Make it black-and-white!]

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Light Painting 3

[this not done with sparklers or fireworks - and note the snorkelers' lights that showed up on the left]

[I borrowed the instructor's fisheye for this shot.  I didn't want to give it back.]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Light Painting 2

[these colors are not real, it was an adjusted white balance]

[this is a 100 second exposure while there were some snorkelers out exploring that rock with their flashlights]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Light Painting

I attended a light painting [photography] workshop with Trevor Williams this weekend and had a great time.  We stayed out photographing until midnight on Friday, then a few of us stayed up until 3am talking photography.  Saturday we shot from 7:30pm-12:30am, went to sleep at 1am, then woke up at 6am because our host (Chris Willson) had a client to shoot at 6:30am, so Trevor and I went along to assist and second-shoot.  I'll break up the pictures into a few posts over the next few days.  From the first night (these are straight out of the camera, so the colors are not great):

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Marlin #100

This is Yukibo's 100th career marlin and the 22nd this year.  I was supposed to go out with him yesterday but had a work misunderstanding that left me required to attend school with no classes to teach on a day I thought I should have had off.  Days (and bureaucracy) like that - and missing out on things like this - are the nails in the coffin of full-time jobs for me.  I'm not sure I can ever do a 40 hr/week job again, so hopefully I've saved enough while here to assure there's no reason to even consider it.

Oh yeah, congratulations Yukibo!  72kg.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Aka Sports Day - Saki

Aka had their sports day (undoukai) today so I've got a lot of blog content for the next week.  Will try to get one up every day.  Saki (three years old) on her dad's knees: