Archive for the ‘撮影(photography)’ Category

Banner Day

2012年 8月 8日

Today is a banner day – that is to say, I updated the banner image today. Previously I had used an image of rotting fishing ropes, but was constantly troubled with how to make the text legible over that image. The new image is from the photo trip to Shinojima for their Gion festival.

I pulled a lot of the color and contrast out of the background using GIMP; hoping that this would make it easier to view the blog title. Also, for visual reasons I wanted the strong lines in the image to be nearly horizontal. Someone with a sharp eye will notice that flags rarely flutter horizontally and the image is rotated 25 degrees counter-clockwise.


Shinojima JK

2012年 7月 17日

Two photo societies took a joint trip to Shinojima (篠島) for their Gion Festival (ぎおん祭り) on the 14th and 15th. While shooting at the beach these seven high school girls made me promise to upload their photos to the internet. They were attempting to do a “jump” photo. Here they are:

Shinojima JK four jump

Shinojima JK seven jump 4

Shinojima JK seven jump 3

Shinojima JK seven jump 2

Shinojima JK seven jump 1

Scoring Fame and Fortune

2011年 10月 13日

We had a photo society trip to Ise, Toba and Shima during the summer with another chapter from Nagoya. Both chapters were interested in having a little photo contest, so we submitted photos and let the judges figure it out. Last night at our monthly meeting we heard the results: I was very surprised when I heard that I had taken fourth place.

Both of these chapters are filled with people who have been practicing photography for a long time. Also a lot of them are retired, giving them free time to shoot away. I have never placed better than sixth in our monthly contest – which is just our chapter members – let alone in a bigger contest.

I was further surprised when our teacher came around with a prize envelope for me. I had no idea there were prizes. There was a certificate for 1000 yen inside. Doing a little math, you’ll figure out that a thousand yen is not a lot of money; particularly, if you back out the printing costs. We had a little dinner afterwards and some of our senior members were apologetic that my prize was so small; however, I assured them that I was just happy for the acknowledgement amongst such elite company.

Next month, the winning photos will come to our monthly meeting for a study session. I am looking forward to seeing the others. Contests after photo shoots are always tough because people are generally shooting the same subject. The fanciest lens and the best printing make a difference there; however, I think I got into the top ranks by looking at the world from a different angle: literally. Ironically, the photo is one which I totally overlooked in my first few passes through what I shot; sometimes you need to look again.

After the study session, I think I can upload an image for you. I’ll explain the shot a little at that time.

Sunday Soundcheck 70

2011年 10月 9日

We’ve reached the end of another column in the syllabary. The R column ends with the sound ‘ro’. We write it as ろ or ロ in hiragana or katakana respectively.

There are so many choices of good words but two jumped out at me this time.

Roudou (ろうどう・労働) is Japanese for labor which is in the news a lot lately.

Roke (ロケ) is actually short for rokeeshon (ロケーション) which means ‘location’ in English. During camera society meetings we use roke a lot.

Today’s post is a little short, but it’ll have to do; in the early morning I will be helping carry the mikoshi (神輿) from the local shrine around the neighborhood for the Tsu Festival.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

2011年 9月 14日

Being thrown curve balls of all manner, including a police interview regarding the apparent murder at one of my schools, so can’t yet get back to proper (excessive) posting frequency. After the move on Saturday, and the lag in getting internet connected at the new house, I should have an extra 20 hours a week to fill. I plan to use half of that for sleep, and a significant portion for late paperwork, but perhaps a portion can be used to fill these pages with tastes of my life in Japan.

Readers have made considerable requests for more of my photography and I hope to oblige. Various standards and rules prevent me showing certain works under consideration for contests; however, there is plenty of material otherwise uninhibited. Dog on Board (original)Here is a photo I took in Ise-Shima while on a photo trip with my chapter and a chapter from Nagoya. There was a surfing contest at this beach, but the waves were small: and the surfers, bored; which is a recipe for amusing behavior. This French bulldog really had a fascination with the board.

I was initially drawn to the scene because a number of senior members were shooting furiously from the bow of the board. As I moved quickly down the beach, I was approaching from the side; which is generally considered less favorable, but the dog cooperated by facing my direction. To date I have seen no other works including the dog on the board, so I may have been lucky with the angle. Odd angles seem to be my way (which could be a future post).

My friend who has been encouraging me in my Ubuntu usage, also impresses upon me to make use of GIMP for editing my photos. Even though an artist friend has made other software recommendations, the generally utility and free price of the GIMP make it very attractive. Dog on BoardHere is an image from the same photo with some intense color enhancement, which is only possible due to learning about more of the powerful selection tools in GIMP. Early color enhancement efforts would leave the dog looking yellow, or both the dog and board a bit blue. Here, I was able to make the yellow on the board stand out and change the almost murky water into a bright blue without damaging the dog’s appearance. Yet another critical point is that I could also keep the breaking portions of the wave looking sharp crystalline or white.

Ultimately this photo can’t be used for the Tsu Exhibition this year: not sharp enough to enlarge to zenshi-size; no other subjects to tie this to reality; and doesn’t include the board tip among other points. I will be submitting a photo this year and it will be one with the dog, but you’ll have to wait for more on that. Perhaps it can be my Christmas present to you all.

Black Crow Castle

2011年 9月 5日

Every time I think my schedule is tidied enough to allow multiple weekly posts, life swells up to squeeze that space; however, not to be deterred, I am looking forward to gaining ten to twenty hours of free time per week via our upcoming move. For now, rather than apologize for the dearth of trip photos, I will post one gem – if I may arrogantly label it thus – from our return trip, with promises of more.

Black Crow Castle 1
We stopped at Matsumoto on our way home from Niigata. Japan has a fascination with lists of threes: 3 must see tourist spots, 3 must see power spots, … Castles are not to be forgotten here, with: Himeji, Matsumoto, and Hikone (if memory serves) making the grade. Matsumoto castle, also called Black Crow Castle, was built in the 16th century and still stands today. Many points, including its master, make it interesting. Two towers in the main structure – visible in this photo – are one unique point. There is also a moon-viewing platform, which I will reveal in later uploads.

Another unique design feature is making the internal stairways extremely steep and making each step high, some as high as 50cm. Navigating your way inside is quite a chore. Samurai living inside such a building would be very adjusted to the stairs, but any invader unfortunate to survive all the way to the keep would be met with an unexpected challenge.

In the previous post, my final sentence was a bit of irony. Most people heading for Matsumoto have this historic structure on the top of their list but, for my career educator/administrator father-in-law, the historic school was his main focus. Black Crow castle was just bait to draw us into accepting his plan.

Confession time: another reason exists for not uploading photos right away. Submissions to contests are generally kept off the internet, at least until after the contest is completed. People are still waiting for me to upload a couple honorable mention winners.

Full of Hot Air

2010年 10月 14日

Scheduling and use of my time, as well as my treatment, vary dramatically by school. For example, the school I am at today makes sure that a certain number of my days are set aside as preparation days. Generally they choose the days to coincide with times that other activities (which would preclude my classes either way) are scheduled. Anyhow, today is one of those days.

Since lesson planning has been taken over by the home room teachers and I made a ton of teaching materials during the summer break, other than paperwork, I don’t have a lot of pressing tasks. Were something to grab my attention, it would be easy for me to drop everything and investigate. Perhaps you are thinking, “What an odd thing to say.” Well, during second period, I looked out the window toward the playground and saw a giant, tetrahedral balloon hovering over the head of a special needs student. Step by step I was drawn in and eventually my inner nerd (which is not so much ‘inner’ as some would like) took control.

One student and his assigned teacher, having cut open and taped together numerous trash bags, were attempting to hoist a digital camera up over the schoolyard while shooting video. Unfortunately the balloon was a little too leaky and couldn’t maintain enough lift to support the camera. Depending on conditions; however, they were able to launch the balloon up a good 20 meters or so.

We discussed design concepts a bit, such as why only about 30 percent of the bags were black. Recently, in Japan, there has been a demand to police everyone’s garbage, so most manufacturer’s are only producing clear bags. General agreement was that black bags would have generated more hot air inside the balloon and provided more lift. Personally, I was amazed at how much lift could be generated without any mechanical heating process.

Anyhow, the student was excited, and we only slightly disturbed classes which noticed it out the windows. Big success for the day.

So Long and Thanks for All the Support

2010年 1月 5日

My regular readers can see that I enjoyed my holidays by my lack of posts. One friend pointed out a few years ago the irony of blogging: when we have interesting stuff to post, we are too busy to write; when we have time, we need material. Anyhow, lots of material backed up… let’s see if I can find time to write.

Last year I was planning to spend the holidays in Japan to experience traditions with my girlfriend’s family and to propose; however, my father went through a pacemaker surgery, so I headed to Seattle. My Japanese holiday season was postponed for a year, but the proposal wasn’t.

One of the traditions, in which my girlfriend insisted I take part, is called oosouji (大掃除) or Big Cleaning. At the end of the year, it is traditional to do a thorough housecleaning to prepare for the New Year. Scrub and wax the floors; wash the curtains, windows, and screens; clean around and under appliances in the kitchen; discard unneeded items; sanitize the toilet room and bath room; etc.

I like a clean house, but I’m not always a big fan of cleaning. Spring Cleaning in America is a quite similar tradtion, so I tried to postpone the cleaning – under the guise of cultural exchange – by recommending we do Spring Cleaning. Naturally, she replied back without pause, “Yes! Let’s do Spring Cleaning, too!”

One of my first tasks was purging photos. I’ve been paying to transport thousands of photos around with me and they clutter up my storage. Well over 90 percent of them sit in boxes because they aren’t worth displaying and I have negatives, slides, or digital images of them, so they can be reproduced. Anyhow, I got them down to one large moving box and need to find time to attack them again soon. Ideally, I’d like to scan the negatives into the computer, and just store a boot box of negatives and a small number of photos.

Mixed in with the photos were postcards I have received over the last 25 years or so, and a few other odds and ends. Perhaps the most amusing find was a few pages of notes from my first trip to Japan in 1989. I scrawled 28 kanji characters with my guesses at their meanings. Providing embarrassment doesn’t take over, I plan to show them to my calligraphy teacher for some laughs. Also, I now have greater understanding of how Americans end up with bad kanji tattoos. The last page contained two sentences written in horrid phonetics with amusing translations.

  • Kino a domo. Arigato Gozaimashte.
  • I had a good time last night. Thank you very much.

The translation is not too bad, but the next one has made us giggle through the holidays.

  • Domo osewa ni narimashite
  • (Good Bye?)

This is a phrase to thank people for having taken care of you and built a good business relation; however, I noted that we always said it when departing the office at the end of a business trip – hence, “Good Bye”.

Correct sentences should be:

  • 昨日はどうもありがとうございました。(Kinou wa doumo arigatou gozaimashita.)
  • どうもお世話に成りました。(Doumo osewa ni narimashita.)


2009年 8月 8日

Camel?My chapter of the All Japan Association of Photo Societies (AJAPS) was responsible to host this year’s seven chapter photo shoot. We took them to a horse training facility to watch practice, drills, cleaning, shoeing, and a little trail ride. I didn’t manage to capture anything special even though I shot off about 500 frames.

Here’s one that we thought was amusing. I laid down in front of my friend’s horse to get a different perspective and took this shot. He’s a thoroughbred from Australia, but he looks like a camel in this shot.

I want to bring my camera to Seattle with me, but I’m wondering if I’ll find time to take photos. Something I’ve always noticed is that when traveling with normal people they aren’t very tolerant of cameramen wanting to step up on things or squat down in odd places to take photos.

Serendipitous Sunflower

2009年 6月 28日

Odd how certain chances pop-up. We were returning from a photo shoot, so my camera was on hand. I was admiring the flowers, but didn’t think to grab the camera until I saw a giant bumblebee playing around. I think I can upload a couple of his images later. This was taken in a friend’s garden in Hisai.Backlit Sunflower