Monday, March 26, 2012

Okiten 2012

I went to the Okiten art show this weekend for the judges' discussion of their choices and to see my print on display.  Unfortunately that was the highlight of the day.  The photography exhibit was awful.  Many of the displayed photos were nothing more than vacation snapshots and the others were out of focus, blurry, very noisy, and/or lacking contrast or any interesting color.  I felt insulted that my second entry was not chosen.  Based on what I could tell from the judge's discussions, they were only looking for a story to be told by the photo/series. Technical quality was of no importance, though composition was minimally addressed.  The girl I went to the show with was a photography major in college and she was equally upset by the choices - enough that she left to see the rest of the show because the judges were infuriating her.  I met the one other foreigner who had an entry accepted (and his were nice) and he was equally dismayed.  Of the 40-50 people who showed up to listen to the judges I'd guess that 60% of them were men over the age of 70.  The judges were all over 60, too, so that might explain something. And just to add insult to injury, the grand prize photo was blurry.  

[we got in trouble for taking this photo even though I granted myself permission to take a photo of my own photo]

On Sunday I had nothing to do until the evening so I eagerly accepted an invite to a post-triathlon BBQ of some military friends of mine in the area.  It was very strange, suddenly being surrounded by native English speakers and American food.

[these guys are big into beer]


[Things you don't get on Zamami.  Apparently all these home brews were really good.  I tried sips of each, but I think I am just incapable of making myself like beer.]

[In the evening I went to my friend, Hazel's, first solo art show.  It was pretty cool - and nice to see she had so much support.]

Friday, March 23, 2012

Eviction Update

Just an update that my move has been delayed.  Apparently one of the incoming teachers has yet to be hired, so that means I will not be displaced just yet.  They said they would give me a one-week warning when/if that person is hired.  During the discussion the point was raised (by me) that the incoming teacher is on a one-year contract and is being hired by Zamami (instead of the prefecture), so they have the same standing as I do.  I didn't push it too far at the time because I was so happy to get to stay here a bit longer, but I do plan to question why a teacher who is on equal ground as me have the priority to this apartment?

Here's to hoping they can't hire another teacher.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Tokyo Marathon Certificate

I received my Tokyo Marathon certificate in the mail yesterday:

Of note is that my overall net time has been adjusted one second faster to 3:07.07.  My age group (30-34, men) ranking was 177th out of 3,445 runners.  My overall place was 1200th of 34,660.

My half marathon time, which is also my new personal record, was 1:31.43.  That means my second half-marathon time was 1:35.24, which is only 43 seconds slower than my 4th place finish at Tokashiki three weeks earlier.  My fastest 10k (the first) was 42.56, but unfortunately that includes a minute+ in 'crowd dispersion time' at the start.

In comparing my splits to last year, every single one is faster (avg 20-30 seconds per 5k).  The second 5k is the real standout, though, at 21:14 - or 1:16 below pace.  Apparently I flew between 5k and 10k.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Last Saturday my neighbor told me of a rumor he'd heard that I was moving to Geruma island later this month. I took it as a joke, but then he pressed and said I needed to go talk to the Board of Education.

I checked with the English teacher on Zamami the next day and she confirmed she'd heard the same thing: that I had to move because there are too many new teachers coming to Zamami this year.

After a very stressful Sunday wanting information but not having any sources, I went to the Board of Education Monday morning to get the story. They seemed like they were expecting me, which was odd because they'd made no attempt to communicate with me, but I went into a meeting with the two big bosses. They explained that the teachers' housing, where I have lived for the last four years, belongs to the prefecture and is designated for prefecturally-employed teachers. I am employed by Zamami Village, so I do not have priority when there's enough teachers to fill all of those apartments. So I have to move before March 27th. Originally they offered me a choice between moving to teachers' housing on Aka or Geruma or taking a private house/apartment on Zamami (6-10x the price of teachers' housing), but a few days later I talked to the teachers on Aka and Geruma (who all knew about my impending move weeks before I did) and they said that their teachers' housing is also full. So I will be looking for a place (with the BoE's help) to live on Zamami.

I am not excited about this move at all. I love my current apartment - particularly the view. I peek out the windows at least a dozen times/day, checking out the happenings in the harbor and seeing what's happening at the port.  I'm unsure whether to be happy it'll only be four months or depressed that my last four months will be in a cave.

[the view I am so sad to be leaving]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chishi Beach

A little more experimentation with the neutral density filter and even more experimentation with post processing.  So happy I attended the Creating Dramatic Images workshop with CreativeLIVE last October.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Geruma Baking

In the last lesson of the year for Geruma's 5/6th grade class, we made cinnamon bread and pizza.  I have had sort of a bad week, so I was really not into the lesson at first, but the kids pretty quickly brought me out of my bad mood.

[the two sixth graders and the fifth grader]

[it was fun teaching them that measuring for bread doesn't need to be exact - it goes against everything they know just 'sort of get it close']

[their favorite part was measuring the flour, which was me pouring flour into their bowls out of the bag.  I taught them there that you can't use an accurate flour measurement because it is a certain consistency you're after and you just keep adding flour until you get there.]

[kids are kids everywhere - eating the spilled cinnamon sugar]

[the teacher brought a bag of corn, which is a popular pizza topping in Japan.  But the bag turned out to be mixed vegetables - she made the kids use them anyway.]

[they asked what we do in America for pictures (in place of the peace sign)]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Morning Motion

I used the neutral density filter again Sunday morning before going out and taking 800 whale watching photos in the afternoon and evening.  Here's a 10-second exposure from 7:20am:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunset Whale Watching

I went out Sunday afternoon to snag a photo for the project (which I got!), but then I went right back out for a sunset trip.  I was hoping to fulfill my five-year dream of a breach with a sunset backdrop.  Alas, it was not meant to be, but I am happy with these two shots:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thank You Mom and Dad

My parents bought me the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter for Christmas this past year.  It's a variable neutral density filter, which means that I can block out the light that is reaching the sensor.  So if I go to the beach early or late when the light is already low, I can block it even further and get motion blur in the water. I've just started experimenting this weekend, but  I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Japan's National Sailing Team, Day Two

I felt I had usable photos after the first day, but I learned from some of my mistakes and wanted to take another shot at getting some real sailing pictures.  On day one, we stopped following the boats once they went outside into the big swells, but since we didn't have the FUJI television crew with us on day two, we ventured a bit further.

The last shot I wanted was a portrait of the team in their official [casual] wear.  I had a canceled shoot with them on Tuesday (after I was all set up) so my only shot was to be Thursday night in the few minutes preceding their going-away party at the community center.  Not the beach backdrop I wanted, but I'd take it.  This is the first shoot I've ever had where I had a small time window (~4 minutes) to get my shot.  I read some photo blogs of NY photographers who regularly encounter this issue with famous people, so I had a good idea of what to do (be prepared for everything and have a plan).  Fortunately they were really easy to work with and I got all the shots I wanted with still a minute to spare.

Immediately after the party I went home and began processing and printing the images.  I finished around midnight and the next morning I passed them to a woman who is associated with their group and asked her to get the photos signed.  I had to leave for Tokyo that afternoon, so I didn't get them back until this Monday, but they look fantastic.  Definitely a prize photo for the exhibition!