Monday, October 20, 2014

Flower Photo: Fringed Hibiscus

Hibiscus schizopetalus

These delicate flowers were blooming in many locations, before the last typhoon.

One day, as the wind started picking up, I went out and rescued this one.

A black background was utilized to make the colors pop, for you.

Indoors, using available light, I shot it without any wind interference.

The flower is also known as Spider Hibiscus, Coral Hibiscus or, Japanese Lantern.

I sort of like the Latin name: Hibiscus schizopetalus

They seem to have all blown away during the last typhoon.

My guess, is that they are really hardy plants and will spring to life again soon.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

10 Night Scenes from a Mountain Highway

Chasing Ghosts -- Exhausting Work



Even though, I personally, don't believe in ghosts, I love a good spooky story.

It has to make the hair on your neck, stand up and give you goose bumps.

And, it has to be reasonably, believable.

Based upon leads from several sources, we decided to visit this country road late last night.

No witches or, goblins were captured in these photos.

But, the Map It Okinawa dude and I, learned a lot from our excursion.

Chasing ghosts in the mountains can be dangerous.

night, HWY 71, Matsuda,Ginoza,Okinawa,Japan

This two lane highway is very dark after 10:45 in the evening.

There are no streetlights on this winding road and parking a car is nearly impossible.

Wanting to take several shots from the same position, I used a tripod.

The exposure on this image was f/3.5  20.59 seconds at ISO 100.

HWY 71, night, Okinawa

Vehicles, speeding along the road made long exposure shots a bit difficult.

So, I switched the camera to ISO 400 for the remaining shots.

Illumination coming from vehicles passing in front or, to the rear enhanced some photos.

Many, with the glare of oncoming headlights, were deleted.

Exposure above: f/3.5  14.35 seconds at ISO 400

mountain, silhouette, HWY 71,Okinawa

Notice the weeds and drainage ditch in the lower right corner of this photo.

My tripod was set up, straddling the ditch and, to the right of the white line.

It is a narrow, two lane road, with barely room enough for two cars to pass each other.

When vehicles came from both directions, I would jump across the ditch for safety.

It would probably have been a good idea, to wear white clothing.

But, I didn't want anybody, thinking, I was a ghost !

Exposure on this image: f/3.5  12.4 seconds  ISO 400

night, HWY 71, approaching headlights

One of the lessons learned on this visit was, after midnight may be a better time.

Traffic, going both ways, ruined more than a few shots.

Exposure: f/3.5  7.20 seconds

mountain, lighting from rear,HWY 71, night

A vehicle, coming from behind, lighted this scene up nicely.

But, passing clouds, covered the star, above the silhouetted mountain.

Maybe, we'll do this again, on a clear moonlit night.

Exposure: f/3.5  10.29 seconds

long exposure,HWY 71, night, mountain, star

In this long exposure, you can see the star and, some streaking taillights.

Exposure:  f/3.5  32.3 seconds

It was nearing 11PM when this shot was taken and, we decided to move along.

Notice, the star above the mountain, became covered by clouds, again.

This would be the last photo taken at ISO 400.

We were moving to an area with some better lighting.

Exposure:  f3.5  27.94 seconds

HWY 71, night,streetlamps

Back closer to a major highway and, civilization, they have streetlamps.

So, I took this shot of the road, leading up the mountain.

Exposure:  f/8  10 seconds  ISO 100

HWY 71, Matsuda, Ginoza, Okinawa, night

Deciding to go for more depth of field, I took this shot a f/11 15 seconds.

There was no traffic, coming my way and, I liked that.

HWY 71, Okinawa, Vehicle lights from both directions, night

So, I figured, I'd take another shot at f/16  30 seconds.

Now, you can see what it looks like when lights come from both directions.

And, I grab my tripod, jump out of the highway and say, "Let's get out of here."

Now, I don't mind going after a good ghost story for y'all.

It's just that, I don't think, I'm ready to joint the Ghost Association in the sky, yet !

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today I went Down Some Spooky, Old Stairs: Photo Essay

Halloween,broken concrete stairs

Originally Published OCT 2011




Reviving this popular post may be a good idea.

It happens, the Map It Okinawa dude and, I are going on a ghost hunt tonight.

Enjoy this old Halloween tale just in case we don't make it back before sunrise !

In order to get in the good old Halloween spirit I have come back and edited this post.
Halloween doesn't really have the meaning, over in my part of the world, that it does for most western cultures.  In fact, if it hadn't been for a great friend on StumbleUpon (LINDARAMA)  sending me mail when she read this, I wouldn't have known Halloween was just around the corner.

On the outer islands of Okinawa, Japan there are many old caves and sacred wells.

Some of them are pretty cool and they make great subjects for photography.

It's best to make sure you don't disturb anything when you go to them.

There are a few places where the stairs are so old they are crumbling.

Wherever I go, I try to get the best possible photos without disturbing anything.

That plastic ladle just didn't seem right next to those old coins I wanted to shoot.

So, I moved it out of the scene for a few seconds.

Then, put it back exactly where I found it.

People in Okinawa believe there are spirits in these old caves and wells.  Many of them come to worship and make offerings at the sites.  So,  I like to make sure nothing has been changed by my presence.  You should do the same, anywhere you go.


The culture of Okinawa consists of a strong belief in spirits.  So strong, that something like Halloween is really unnecessary.  Spirits are felt and communicated with on a daily basis.

While I may have been raised as a Christian in my early years, I have also studied some Confucianism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Animism and even a bit of alcoholism.  We happen to have a little bit of all those here, along with a strong belief in ancestor worship.  There are gods of the sea, mountains, rocks, wind, trees, earth, fire and all of nature (called kami sama) you'd rather see smiling than frowning upon you.  That's in addition to any departed members of the family tree.

So, on any given day you may see me raise my eyes towards the sky and and talk to "Kachan" (departed mother-in-law) and thank her spirit for my good fortune.
Or, I might say something like, "What are you trying to do to me?"

Whenever I find myself going to some sacred site in Okinawa, Japan like those spooky old stairs, it's not the ghosts or goblins of Halloween I'm thinking of; it's the spirits of someone else's ancestors I have to worry about.  Some people had mean old mother-in-laws, you know.
I wouldn't want to cross paths with their spirits.

There's really no such thing as ghosts.



To get yourself in the Halloween spirit, or add your goulish story to an already excellent collection, visit my good friend in Australia, LINDA HEAPHY, she'll get the hair standing up on the back of your neck !

Sharing this post with Budget Travelers Sandbox will be my contribution to the world of travel photographers for TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY



Friday, October 17, 2014

Travel Photo: Important Cultural Property of Izena Village

Meikari-ka house,銘苅家住宅

This photo was taken on a trip to Izena Island.

It is a building, off to the left of what is known as the Mekaruke Old House.

The buildings on this site have been designated, important cultural properties.

Meikari-ka and Mekarauke, are the terms found in researching this site.

They may simply be different translations of the local dialect.

It is a large estate, for housing, on such a small island.

The property was not destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa and, is well preserved.

One source reveals, that is was the residence of a senior samurai.

King Sho En's uncle Makoto Saburo, resided here.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Long Time Coming But Progress Is Being Made

Travel in Japan Became Easier




For the Western traveler, visiting Okinawa, some obstacles can get in the way.

The biggest one being, the language barrier.

Learning to speak a foreign language, is one thing. Reading is another.

dragons,flag in Ginoza Village Museum

A visit to the Ginoza Museum, inspired me to write this post.

In the past, I've visited several times and, didn't really need to take anymore photos.

The gal at the front desk gave me something that just made my day.

So, I figured it was worth a few hundred yen, go in and shoot one photo.

Maybe, I should print, frame and give these dragons on a flag, to her.

Ginoza Village, Okinawa,book, Japanese and English

Here's what, I walked away from the museum with.

It's a 60 page book, covering Ginoza Village's history, culture, nature and industry.

It's written in Japanese and English and, contains a map of the whole area.

Something like this, is worth it's weight in diamonds but, she gave it to me for free !

Things Like This Could Revolutionize Tourism in Okinawa




One afternoon, I came across this 45 page paper while, researching online.

It is in PDF format so, you can download or, read it on your computer.

 It is something, everyone in the travel and tourism business should be reading.

The author, Shigefumi Asage, hits the nail squarely on the head.

Windows Tablet,English, multilingual


 The Yambaru Wildlife Center, surprised me with this gadget, recently.

For those who don't read or, speak Japanese, they have a tablet.

It is multilingual so, you can give yourself your own guided tour and, it's free.

Naha, English Guide Book

Naha City Tourism Association publishes this pamphlet.

It contains enough about the big city area to keep you busy for days.

They give you maps, some history, where to go and, what to do.

And, on the last page, they have phone numbers for, When You Get in Trouble.

Nanjo City Tourism Map, Japanese and English

Not to be outdone by the big city folks, Nanjo City has this.

It is a Japanese and English, Nanjo City Tourism Map, which, I use a lot.

This one is crammed full of enough information to keep travelers busy for months.

Just the Beginning of Okinawa's Tourism Revolution



Things are off to a great start but, it could get better.

Over the past year, I have noticed these improvements and gathered some materials.

A few months ago, we discovered something, on Izena Island.

There is a free, Multilingual Call Center

The Map It Okinawa dude, tested the number, to make sure it works.

And it does.

You could probably, call from anywhere in Okinawa and get translation help, FREE !

Old guys, don't listen to telephones very well.

So, I usually just strike up a conversation with an old woman, when, I'm in trouble.

Multilingual books, maps, pamphlets and tablets are the way to go.

Those cities, towns, villages and outer islands, that have them, are going to do well.

Road signs, historical markers and ATM machines could be multilingual, too.

The easier it becomes for travelers, the more they will come.

While, printed and painted materials are helpful, there is another area of concern.

Websites, for many potential tourist attractions, need to be multilingual, too.

Some sites have the capability and are extremely useful.

Others, leave tourists at the mercy of mechanical translation. Groan

All of Okinawa needs to do what the folks above have started.

Or, I'll just keep on talking to old ladies !

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