Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zamami People Project - Old People

The Zamami People Project (working title?) is still coming along, albeit slower than I'd hoped.  We've had a very wet spring, which has canceled many outdoor shoots.  I am over halfway through the total shots I want to get (~40-50) and some of them cannot be shot until we get the beautiful May weather and turquoise colors in the ocean, but I think the mid-week evenings are going to be crowded with as many miscellaneous shoots as I can fit in.

Three of my four shoots for this week have been canceled, but fortunately one of the most important shoots of the whole project happened today without a hitch.  I'm hoping to get black-and-white portraits of most of the old people from Zamami, so I coordinated with their weekly Wednesday luncheons and set up a mini portrait studio next to a window and cycled through the ten elderly folks who showed up.

I had a lot of helpful support from the staff who work with the old people, which seems to be a theme throughout the project.  Although I struggle a little to explain what the project is about (in Japanese), most everybody has been very generous with their time and scheduling to accommodate a shoot for me.  There has been much less "I don't want my picture taken" than I was expecting.

The evolution of the project is interesting.  I started off with a bang doing the firedancing shot last fall, but recently many of the shots I've taken are more "documentary" than creative challenges.  There will hopefully be 5-10 'stand out' images during the show, but there are far more shots that I can't really figure out how to make interesting beyond having the subjects dress in nice clothes and try to smile in front of a not-ugly backdrop.

I have a lot of processing to do to get through all the 'old people' shots, but here is an example of the effect I'm trying to achieve:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cooking the Chickens

I used this recipe for the chickens, but even though I went on the low end of the suggested baking times, I think it was still too long.  The meat was really tough, maybe even a hair dry.  I can't imagine that 6-8 month old chickens would have tough meat, but maybe I'm wrong?

First I made the brine, then I filled plastic bags with it.  I use potatoes to push in on the corners of the bags to make sure the brine completely submerged the chicken.  I let it soak overnight inside my refrigerator.  The next morning I emptied the brine and then let the chickens 'dry out' all day long inside the fridge.

Next I baked the chickens for 15 minutes at about 450F, then reduced the temperature and baked them for 30 minutes:

Then I made roasted garlic potatoes:

Then I tried to eat everything.  The chicken would not 'fall off' the bones as I'd envisioned so I had to ditch the fork and knife and go at it caveman style.  I ended up eating the whole dinner with my fingers and a lot of teeth gnawing.  The taste was good-ish, but I'm excited to experiment with this a little more with some pheasants someday.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Free Chickens

One of my students pulled me out of the teachers' room this week to tell me that his parents wanted me to come take care of their rooster.  Their family got three chickens last summer in hopes of producing some eggs, but eight months later they haven't seen an egg yet and they think the rooster isn't a very good rooster, so I can have him if I take him.  I said no problem so combined a trip to Aka today with that and an invite to a teachers' party.  When I showed up at the house the student told me that in fact they would like me to dispense of all three of the chickens because they'd like to try another breed.  No problem, I said, but I had to do a lot of "Are you sure this is okay?" to the mother as she took me to the chickens.  It was a decision they'd made and were sure of, but the chickens were also pets (and not to mention a beautiful, white French breed) so it was a little hard.  Their third grade boy caught one of the hens and passed it off to me.  I had to walk 200m up the road to get into a non-cemetery part of the forest for the death.

I've never killed chickens before so I did a little youtube checking beforehand and saw a 'hang it upside down and cut the head off method' that looked okay.  But it was a two-person method and required breaking the chicken's neck, which was something I wasn't sure I could do alone (I couldn't).  So I ended up tying the legs into a loop then just putting the neck against a tree and whacking it with the knife, then quickly cutting the head off.  This seemed to be a relatively efficient way to kill.

I had to catch the second hen myself which was slightly difficult - and left the rooster squawking wildly as he lost both his girlfriends.  When I came back for the rooster he was not pleased but not terribly hard to catch after I got him outside the coop then blocked the entrance.  The two boys decided they'd like to watch this one die (one of their teachers suggested they should be involved in the death).  I respected them for this, but hoped that I didn't have any problems with this one.  I got the throat cut well and he was bleeding out but he kept blinking which I think gave the false impression he was still very alive, so I went back to sawing on the neck which took longer than on the hens, but the whole deal probably didn't eclipse 30 seconds.

[my 'bleeding out' method]

[three headless chickens]

I've killed plenty of birds in my life, but never have I plucked one and ended up with a whole carcass (usually I go through and cut the meat off the bones), so I wanted to try that with these.  Again, Google.  So I boiled them for about 20 seconds each, then...

[the plucking was surprisingly easy]

[they're pretty small]

I don't have any recipes yet but I'm sure I'll come up with something from the Internet!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nita Sunset

With the neutral-density filter from my parents.  Best Christmas present ever.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Few Recent Pictures

Apartment update: I've been told that the district is not hiring the last teacher they'd planned to hire, which means I get to hold onto my apartment until I leave in August.  Great news!

[friends Shiori and Steve, who came out for the weekend]