Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Apr 30, 2009

Amami Sunset

Posted by Amami Superman

We've had great weather the past few days and it looks like it may continue for a while. I'm happy about that. We're finally getting the nice weather expected before the rainy season.

So yesterday I thought it would be good to get out and take some sunset photos. I had a plan for when I was going to leave and where I was going to go but it didn't go quite as planned. My daughter and wife had a party to attend and I needed to drive them there before I set out. My daughter was with her cousins at a park so I had to go pick her up before I took them to the party. It turned out, she went home with her cousins which happened to be the opposite direction from the park. To make a long story short, I spent too much time trying to find my daughter, got caught in the evening traffic and missed my opportunity. I missed the spot I wanted to shoot from by about 20 minutes. Instead I stopped on the road at a place I shot from before and snapped a few from there.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 200mm, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF

This photo is faked a bit. There really weren't any trees in this photo. There were trees in the other photos I took after this one but the sun was almost completely behind the clouds so I doctored this one up with the trees from another. HERE is the original.

As I was hurrying to get to the spot I wanted to shoot from, I realized I wasn't going to make it when I saw how low the sun was. I pulled the car over and raced down a footpath. Out of breath I put my tripod, camera bag and car keys in a patch of thick grass. After I finished I was cleaning up and couldn't find where I put my keys in the grass. I probably spent about 15 minutes looking until I finally found them. I usually put them in my camera bag but I was in such a rush I threw them down by it.

After I finished, I drove around the long way home hoping to catch a Habu or two. I noticed the waxing moon and stopped the car in the middle of no where to take some shots of it. I was surprised to see how much the moon and stars move in just 30 seconds of time. I thought long exposures would be good but it turned out they weren't with how fast the moon and stars move. Or... how fast the earth rotates? Either way, 30 seconds didn't work out. So as I fiddle around with different settings, I finally got a few good shots.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 200mm, 3 sec, f/18, ISO 100 -- EXIF

This photo is cropped a bunch. Although this photo is slightly out of focus or maybe has some motion blur, what I like the most about it is you can see the craters and the color. I thought it was kind of cool.

Apr 28, 2009


Posted by Amami Superman

This last week, my wife was reading the local newspaper and came across a photo contest being held by the newspaper. I've only been taking photos a short time now and have never entered any of my photos to a contest yet. They hold this contest every year and this is the 5th year.

This year's theme is 「川」(kawa), which means "river" or "stream". Lucky me, I like to take photos of streams! The contest ends on May 26th and the contest winners will be announced on June 1, which happens to be World Photo Day.

The contest rules are pretty simple. 5 photos per person is the limit. I already have a couple I would like to submit but I'm going to do my best to get out and take some more photos for this contest.

Today, I went out looking for different rivers to photograph. Looking for a good spot to shoot is pretty difficult. I try to look for the areas that are hard to get. I figure, the harder to get to, the better. That way I have less a chance of taking the same photo as someone else. I found a bunch of different places but none of them tickled my fancy.

I did take one photo that I KIND OF liked, but it still didn't spark my interest too much.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1.0 sec, f/32, ISO 100 -- EXIF

This was taken a little before noon. It was awful bright out. I'm thinking of buying some neutral density filters in the future. I would like to get a little longer shutter time to get some more motion blur in the water. 1 second doesn't seem to be enough to me. It's also been very windy these past few days. I didn't take one photo with everything sitting still.

Well, as I said, I'm going to be out looking for different rivers to shoot. I think my photos for the next month will mostly be rivers but I'll be out taking a little of everything.

Apr 24, 2009

Amami Black Rabbit

Posted by Amami Superman

My friend Kevin is visiting me for 7 weeks. He wants to learn Japanese and I'm trying to help him out. I also thought it would be cool if he experienced a few things here in Amami that only a few get to experience. One of which is "Habu Tori". Habu Tori means basically, "To catch Habu". Habu is one of the many poisonous snakes here in Amami and is probably the most poisonous. It's a pit viper and it's venom is a hemotoxin. One bite from a habu and it is sure death if you don't get the antivenom in time. But we'll leave this for another post sometime.

So I took Kevin out to catch some habu. We did catch one but it was small and I did the catching. So we didn't take any pictures. When I feel confident he can catch one, I'll take some photos and post them here when I let him do it.

While we were driving around to different areas, we came across the Amami Black Rabbit several times. The Amami Black Rabbit is an endangered species, only found here on Amami Oshima and on Tokuno Shima.

We probably saw more than 20 last night while we were driving. We stopped to take photos but it's pretty difficult. By the time you have the camera ready and pointed, they're already heading for the bushes on the side of the road. We did, however, come across one that didn't run directly into the bushes. It's the first time I've ever seen something like this and it made me wonder. It was almost in the middle of the road and I went to drive around it. It then ran diagonal across my path to the other side of the road. I went to drive around it on the other side and it did the same thing. It ran diagonally across my path back to the other side of the road again. It kept this up for a good 100 meters at least. I got the feeling that it didn't want me to go any further or it wanted me to chase it. Why it didn't run into the bushes like regular, I don't know. Maybe it had some young it was trying to lure us away from. I don't know. Either way, I got a few shots of it.

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS, 5.8-23.2mm @ 5.8mm, 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 -- EXIF

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS, 5.8-23.2mm @ 18.6mm, 1/60 sec, f/5, ISO 250 -- EXIF

I forgot my D60 at home by the door when we left. I wish I had it then. I'll be sure to bring it along next time we go out. Funny thing about this, most people never get to see a Black Rabbit. Black Rabbits only come out at night and they're always way up in the mountains. I see them quite often on my ventures out to catch Habu. But I've never seen so many in one night like last night.

Apr 19, 2009

Anniversary Party

Posted by Amami Superman

My brother-in-law owns a clothing store here in Amami called Dugwood Sand. Last year he moved to a bigger location and rented out part of the store to a friend who started a surf shop called NOBOUNDARIES. It happens to be Dugwood Sand's 15th anniversary and NOBOUNDARIES 1st anniversary this month and they decided to hold a big anniversary party together this last Friday.

They asked me to take photos of the event and I was happy to oblige but I was worried how well they would turn out. I didn't have any experience photographing indoor events like this. I ended up taking close to 700 photos. I really wanted to get a feel for taking indoor photos without a flash and I tried to take most of the photos with manual settings. I also had to switch the white balance quite a bit during different stages of the night. I think I understand now just how much practice is needed to know your camera, the different settings needed for different shots and the ability to shoot fluidly without thinking. I suck.

Even after I went through all the photos and selected the best looking ones, I still had well over 200 photos. Obviously I can't post them all so I chose just a few to give you an idea how the night went.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 -- EXIF
Event Poster

This the poster I designed for them at the beginning of this month. They didn't have any photos or graphics they wanted me to use so I threw a background together with Photoshop and finished it in Illustrator.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 720 -- EXIF
Oiwai Hana
(Flower arrangements for celebrations)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 -- EXIF
More Oiwai Hana

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF

The band name for the above photo is called INOO pronounced "EE-NEW". It's kind of a hard name to explain. Inoo is a word in the Amami dialect that means the first two kanji which isn't a real word in Japanese. The first two kanji seperately mean different things. The first is UMI which means ocean or sea, and HATAKE which means field or garden. The word in Amami dialect means the tide pools made by the coral reefs when the tide goes out. The reefs isolate fish inside the pools and just like a field or garden, you harvest the food. Does that make sense?

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Feel Good Song

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Good Music, Good Company

The night was a bit slow getting started but eventually it became jam packed.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Salmon & Garlic

Salmon & Garlic is a comic band. They got their group name from the more famous, Simon and Garfunkel. They have become very well know here in Amami.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Put Your Hands Together

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Festival Band
(Another comic band)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Best Hair Style Ever...

The guy on the piano at the left, Shoichi, is really mostly bald. Part of their skit is his hair. He has a shoe taped to his head and he pulls out a long comb and combs it as they would do back in the 50's and 60's. I was having a hard time trying to take photos of this... I was laughing too hard.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
The Main Event

From left to right: Morishima-san, Daigo-san, Kazuhito-san. Kazuhito, the guy sporting his gang sign pose, is my brother-in-law. Daigo runs the surf shop. Morishima is the owner of the surf shop. He also owns a surfboard and wetsuit company. AWOL surfboards(Another Way Of Life) and Crank 7 wetsuits.

For the main event of the night, they had a Rock-Paper-Scissors competition. They had loads of prizes to give away, but before they got started, they had a small announcement to make. Some of the local skaters were trying to gather funds to help build an indoor skatepark and they asked the people for their support.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/15 sec, f/2.0, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Support Funds for Skateboarders

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Nice Jacket...

Finally, they got on to the Rock-Paper-Scissors event. It was quite a sight to see all the hands go up.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/320 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF

Not every one participated every time. They had prizes for men and women so they took turns. But for the the very last, the prize was a brand new surfboard.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
And the crowd goes WILD!

When Daigo walked out with that surfboard, you could hear a gasp then everyone cheered. This time everyone participated.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Field of Hands

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 -- EXIF
And the winner is...

It just so happen to be this girl's birthday that day. What a great birthday prize. She was so happy.

The night rolled on with more bands and DJs.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/4, ISO 400 -- EXIF

People enjoyed themselves. As it got later and later, people got more and more drunk. I get a kick watching some of them.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/1.4, ISO 400 -- EXIF
More Gang Signs...

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Drunk as they come

It was starting to thin out and I decided to try and take some photos with the flash and try out some of the different settings. I'm going to learn how to use flashes and try it more in the future. Too bright doesn't look that nice but I found the setting dialing down the flash. I didn't know I could do that on my built in flash. More things I need to study up on.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 720 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/25 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Too Much?

Well, those were some of the photos I took last Friday. I had fun and it was a good experience for me taking photos for an event like this. I can't imagine what a wedding must be like to photograph.

Apr 15, 2009

Nice Weather

Posted by Amami Superman

We haven't had that great of weather lately. I've been antsy to get out and take some photos. Today was relatively nice so after a bit of work in the morning I took the afternoon off and went out to find some places to shoot.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1.0 sec, f/20, ISO 100 -- EXIF

We have a flying insect here in Amami called a "BUTU" in the Amami dialect. It's pronounced "boo-too". It's a small bug about the size of a fruit fly but packs a punch much worse than a mosquito. When bitten by one, you bleed from the spot you were bittin. Then it gets red and swells a bit anywhere from the size of a Dime to a Quater and the temperature of the skin in that area goes up. This redness and temperature last for a day or two. I've heard cases of people getting bit multiple times over their bodies and had to go to the hospital for it. They can be pretty nasty if you don't have any bug spray around. These little pests were out in force today and I was bitten 8 times. I'm rarely bitten by mosquitos and when they do bite, I'm mostly unaffected. But these guys do a wammy on me. I was itching like crazy all over my legs.

So as I was driving around in the mountains, I came to a park they have in the middle of no where. I've been here many times but I've never taken any photos. As I drove down in to the parking lot, I noticed these white flowers on some trees. I was excited to get out and take some photos. As I drove up closer, I noticed they were SAKURA! Most of the sakura here in Amami are dark pink and bloom in January. But these weren't pink. The only thing I could think of why they were blooming now is they maybe a different variety than the ones they have planted around Amami. I've never seen any other sakura blooming here in Amami this time of year.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 34mm, 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO 100 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 45mm, 1/800 sec, f/5.3, ISO 100 -- EXIF

I went hiking down a trail in the woods taking of photos of whatever I saw.

Nikon D60, 30mm f/1.4, 1/400 sec, f/1.4, ISO 100 -- EXIF

I was having fun hiking around but I was getting tire of being eaten so I decided to head home. I wanted to take some night time photos of the city.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, 30 sec, f/29, ISO 100 -- EXIF

This shot was taken from a spot called "Ogamiyama". It's a pretty nice hike to this spot. There's a fair bit of stair climbing you have to do. My legs felt like soft spaghetti noodles on the way back down. All in all, it was a good day.

Apr 14, 2009


Posted by Amami Superman

It was the beginning of class and we heard a fire alarm go off. It was loud enough to know that it was pretty close. I poked my head out the window and look for smoke in the direction the alarm was coming from and little by little smoke started to rise. I grabbed my camera and went out for a look.

At first I thought it was just something small with the little puffs of smoke I saw. But when I headed downstairs and got outside, it really started billowing.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, 1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 -- EXIF

As a walked a little further down the street, the clouds of smoke became much more darker.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 180 -- EXIF

The lady in the silver jacket at the bottom middle part of the photo is my wife's cousin. She is a volunteer fireman... firewoman? FirePERSON

By the time I got remotely close, there was a rather large crowd of people on each corner of the intersection. This was the first glimpse I got of the fire.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 36mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.3, ISO 200 -- EXIF

When I was in Junior High, my own house burnt down in a fire. I can imagine the thoughts going through the owner's minds.

All of a sudden, it started to pour rain. Luckily, I was standing next to an indoor garage and I jumped inside.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 52mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF

As people from around the corner rushed in the garage to get out of the rain, I was pushed further and further back into it.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 50mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF

As you can see, it really started to pick up. Even from as far away as I was, I could still feel the intense heat of this fire. I can only imagine how hot it must be for the men and women fighting this fire.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 160 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 38mm, 1/30 sec, f/5.3, ISO 220 -- EXIF

A lone police officer did his best to redirect traffic. Eventually they closed the streets down around this area which lead to large traffic jams around the city.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 200 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 125 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 140 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/40 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF

The man in the white t-shirt is barefoot. I can't imagine what it must be like to flee a burning building. The man across the street wearing the hard hat next to the boy on the bike is taking photographs of the crowd. If this fire is a case of arson, they view the photos of everyone watching. They do this because some arsonists like to view their own work.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 29mm, 1/80 sec, f/4.8, ISO 200 -- EXIF

I'm not sure how many fire engines were on the scene, but I'm sure they had the block surrounded.

I couldn't believe how many people were crowded on the streets to watch this fire. As I tried to make my way back home, I tried taking a few more shots as they got the fire under control.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, 1/50 sec, f/4.2, ISO 200 -- EXIF

I ducked below all the umbrellas to take this shot.

Nikon D60 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22mm, 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 -- EXIF

You can see here the policemen diverting traffic. I had to run some errands and the traffic was horrendous while trying to return home.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 200 -- EXIF

As I said before, when I was a kid, my house burnt down. It wasn't completely destroyed, but it was burnt never the less. I know some of the difficulties these people have to face when picking up the pieces.

I don't know how dramatic these photos may seem. Everything happen so quickly. Only 10 minutes lapsed from the time I took my first photo to this last one. The fire teams did their jobs well in getting the fire under control quickly. I was pretty impressed.

I don't know if anyone was seriously injured in this fire. I heard a few ambulances so I imagine there were. Fire can be a terrible thing. It makes me think twice about the situation in my own home.

Purple Flower

Posted by Amami Superman

My friend Jeff introduced me to Lightroom and a few of its plugins that he created. I've been trying to study up on how to use them and thought I would practice on this photo.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 48mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 -- EXIF

There's nothing particularly special about this photo. I took this last month at my wife's uncle's house in Tebiro. I was trying to practice taking photos with a thin depth of field.

Apr 11, 2009

Loop Bridge

Posted by Amami Superman

My friend Jeff, who lives in Kyoto, asked me to take some photos of this bridge if I got the chance. I wanted to wait a bit until I got some polarized filters and take some photos in the afternoon on a nice day but I thought it would be cool if I took some night shots of it first.

I looked around for some good shots to shoot from but I didn't find many. These are the two that I decided to go with.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 22mm, 30 sec, f/25, ISO 100 -- EXIF

I took a few shot from this spot. I tried to take some without any cars but it wasn't going to happen at that timeframe. So I took a 30 sec exposure. It think this one turned out pretty nice.

This next one was taken from across the main road. I climbed up to the top floor of a nearby apartment building to get this shot. Most of the other spots I chose had telephone lines and what not.

Nikon D60, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 52mm, 30 sec, f/10, ISO 100 -- EXIF

This bridge was finished in 1997. I remember when I first came to Amami, they were still constructing it.