Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Nov 25, 2009

Trip to Kyushu

Posted by Amami Superman

The past 3 weeks have been pretty tough on me. I caught a cold that was very mild but I got ear infections in both ears from it. I used to get ear infection when I was a kid pretty regularly, but I don't remember them being this bad. It felt like someone was stabbing me in both my ears with screwdrivers. The pain was almost too much to handle even with the pain killers the doctor prescribed. I ended up having to go to the doctors again and they gave me some different medication to take. The pain killers seemed to work better but I'm still not over the infections completely even after taking all the medication they gave me over the last week.

My wife and I had been planning a trip to the mainland of Kyushu for a few months. I knew I would have a terrible time if I couldn't get over the ear infections so I did everything I could to get better as quickly as possible, but to no prevail. So the past few weeks I've been taking it easy and I haven't taken very many photos.

Last Friday we departed by boat for our trip but even though I was still under the weather, I tried to make the best of it photography wise. I was packing all the luggage so I didn't get a chance while boarding to take any photos but I got a few before and after.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/25 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
The Ferry

The boat we rode was regular size compared to some of the other ferries I have ridden in the past. Some of them have been bigger than this, some have been smaller. It was kind of weird because they had a boat similar to this from the same company capsize about a week before we left. You can find an article about it here. Only 28 people were on board that particular ferry, but there were way more people on our ferry that night.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/25 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Ferry Naminoue

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
("A" stands for "Arimura")

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 -- EXIF
Big Room/No Space

They try to get the most money for their space on these ferries. It's almost unreasonable they way they have the rooms set up. If the boat is crowded, you pretty much have to sleep shoulder to shoulder with the people around you. Your experience riding the ferry all depends on when you take it. If you take the ferry on a holiday weekend, you are almost guaranteed to be sleeping next to a strange old man who has had too much to drink and tries to fondle you in his sleep, or next to a restless child who spills his soda on your blanket and then continually kicks you in his sleep during the night. OR, you can catch the ferry on a day during the week and have loads of room around you, plenty enough to sprawl your luggage out and enough space to take up two sleeping areas without causing a fuss to anyone.

We were riding the ferry up on a Friday of a three day weekend. We had everything from high school volleyball teams to junior high baseball teams to the Japanese Defense Force riding the boat. It was pretty packed. But I have to say that the ride up was better than the ride down by far. After getting on board and getting our luggage situated, I went out on the upper deck to take some photos after we left port at around 9:20pm. It had started to rain so I didn't take too many.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600 sec -- EXIF
Amami City

As I said, it was jam packed and I decided to just put my camera away and try to find a spot somewhere to read a book.

We arrived the next day around 8:30am in Kagoshima. After getting off the boat we caught a taxi to the Mazda rent-a-car where we rented a car for our travels. This day alone was the main reason for our trip and we were pushed for time. I didn't take any photos along the way or even that night after we got to the hotel in Fukuoka. I was pretty beat and went to sleep right away.

Even now after we've returned from our trip, I find I'm still under the weather. We've been busy with work and it actually took two days to finish this post. I still haven't gone through all the photos I took for this trip but I should be able to this weekend.

Nov 4, 2009

Halloween Parade 2009

Posted by Amami Superman

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

We had nearly 60 children participate in this year's Halloween parade. We were still missing a few of them in this photo but by the time we got underway, they showed up and we were off trick-or-treating. During this photo, most of the parents are standing on the other side of the street where I am. It is a bit hard herding children through the downtown streets of Amami, but the parents were quite helpful this year and things went relatively smooth.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/100 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Dugwood Sand & Noboundaries

We first practice by going to my mother-in-law's store and my brother-in-law's store. I try to make sure that they are enthusiastic about what they're doing so they yell "trick or treat" as loud as they can and to also say "thank you" when they receive their candy. Then we move across the street and start the actual trick-or-treating.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Eco Support Amami

The first shop we hit up is Eco Support Amami. E.S.A. is ran by a family friend Takayuki Yoshikawa. He sells solar panels for residential homes. His wife, Yuuko, is a personality at the local radio station, D-WAVE 77.7FM, and speaks English very well.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/60 sec, f/4.0, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Tahara Megane

We then move right next door to a optical store called Tahara Megane. "Megane" means "glasses" in Japanese.

When we first started our trick-or-treat parade years ago, we used to buy all the candy and divvy it out to all the different stores we were going to visit. The downtown part of Amami where all the shops and stores are have a thing called "torikai" (A torikai is a sort of group the local store owners on a particular street make to help with find ways to stimulate their businesses). The torikai hold festivals on these streets 3 or 4 times a year and they asked us to do our trick-or-treat parade on the day they hold their autumn festival. That means they provide the candy, but we don't get to choose the stores we get to visit. This was OK with us so we have been correlating with the torikai when we do our trick-or-treat parade for that past few years. It works out for all of us. Since it's a festival and we're walking down the middle of it, everyone wants to know what we're doing and how they can join us next time. It's a great way to promote our business.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 44mm, 1/100 sec, f/5.3, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Slow Moving

Some kids have really awesome costumes, but they're not the most easiest costumes to get around in.

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

As I mentioned before, we don't get to chose which stores and shops we visit. This year we got to visit a lingerie shop. I kind of blushed we came to this shop.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/100 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Taking the Arcade by Storm

We then made our way to around 20 shops or so. The kids collected quite a bit of candy and after almost 2 hours, we were almost home. At the very end, we made our way down the indoor arcade they have near the post office. It was pretty cool looking back at all the people from our group walking down it.

I said at the first of this post that things went relatively smooth and they did, but it still takes a lot out of you. I have a pretty audible voice, but making sure everyone could hear me took it's toll. The day after, because my voice was so gone, everyone asked me if I had a cold.

Nov 2, 2009

Halloween Portraits 2009

Posted by Amami Superman

Every year we hold a trick-or-treat party/parade for our students. We always put some wall decorations together for a background and took commemorative photos of all the kids and their costumes. Every year I tried to make the background better and better and tried to make the photos look a little more nice. Here is a photo we took in 2006 for Halloween of our daughter Jade. As you can see, there's not much to what we did for a background.

I bought my camera last year in October and decided to do something extra special for the Halloween photos last year. I had this image in my head of the kind of photo I wanted to take but not having hardly a lick of photography experience, I pretty much screwed them all up. The background seemed gaudy and too bright. I didn't know how to use the different settings on my camera and couldn't take consistent photos from the auto setting. I suppose they're not bad for my first time, but in all honesty, I'm pretty embarrassed to show them to anyone. Here is a photo of our daughter Jade from last year's Halloween set I made. (cringe)

Over this past year, I've tried my best to take better photos and to study up on how to use my camera. I took what I learned from last year's Halloween and what I've learned over this past year and decided to try and step it up a level. This is what I produced.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Captain Hook & Peter Pan
(Asahi & Hokuto Nakamura)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
(Rin Tateishi)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/1.4, ISO 200 -- EXIF
The Amazing Spiderman
(Shouma Kawabata)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Fairy Godmother
(Kinzan Koyuki)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
(Yuutaro Yokoyama)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/60 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
(Jade Barr)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/125 sec, f/2.0, ISO 400 -- EXIF
(Naoki Izumi)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/60 sec, f/3.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Naruto - Wizard - Pirate
(Rintaro, Tenshin, Shousei Toshima)

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/60 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400 -- EXIF
(our dog Missy)

I didn't do too much post processing for these photos. I used Lightroom 2 to adjust the white balance (I was using tungsten lights in my soft boxes), and used the vignettes effects to get he blackened edges and just a bit of cropping.

The background I made for this year was pretty much free. I went to the dump for the lumber and used nails I found around the house. We've been using the same fake spider webs for a few years now and the leaves we picked up in the mountains off the side of the road.

We had close to 60 kids participate in the parade. I took portraits of most of them. There were some really great costumes this year. I was thinking of saving most of them for a different post.

All in all, I feel this year's photos turned out much better than last year's. I still did loads of things wrong this time, but I know what I can do better and I'm even more excited for next year.