Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Apr 29, 2011


Posted by Amami Superman

It's the beginning of Golden Week here in Japan. Golden week is a bunch of holidays clumped up at the end of April and the beginning of May. I decided to clean my camera gear up and get ready for this. Taking my camera out of my bag, I went to turn it on and, nothing. For just a few seconds, I went into a state of shock. I kind of got light-headed and I stopped seeing colors and everything turned gray. I've only had that happen a few times in my life, but not very recently.

It dawned on me that I haven't even turned my camera on in a few weeks and thought maybe my batteries were dead. I took them out and stuck one on my quick charger and none of the charging LED's would light up. I put the other one in and the same thing happen. I've had trouble in the past with my charger so I don't know where the problem actually lies. I figure there are a few possibilities.

1. My camera is busted and my charger is too.

2. My batteries were completely depleted and will no longer charge.

I know that the lith-ion EN-EL9 batteries for my camera have a tendency to not charge again after completely depleting them during use. It's kind of difficult to do, but I've done it twice before. Both times I had my camera connected to my computer and I was controlling the camera directly from my computer. I learned that if you run the battery down until it shuts off, you completely deplete it and it won't charge again. Maybe I just let the batteries I use now sit to long and the same thing happened? I don't know.

So I'm without a camera at the moment. I ordered two new batteries and also a new charger. Hopefully this will fix the problem and hopefully they'll get here before Golden Week is over. It was such a lovely morning and I was excited. Now I'm just pissed.

Apr 26, 2011

Women & Guns

Posted by Amami Superman

Canon PowerShot SD940 iS @ 5mm, 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 80 -- EXIF
No Solicitors!

This is Grandma Gerry. I call her grandma even though she is not a blood relative of mine. She is in-fact a good friend of mine's mother, my Uncle Steve. Now, Uncle Steve is not in-fact my uncle, but he raised us up when my brothers and I were young, and he is more than family. This shot was taken out in front of my Uncle Steve's house.

I decided not to bring my camera to America for our trip home last month. I knew I would have plenty of things to carry so decided against it. In all honesty, I was torn-hearted about it, but I think I made the right choice considering how much we had to take home with us. These photos were taken by my Uncle Steve and his compact camera, a Canon PowerShot SD940 IS.

While visiting, we had the chance to go out and shoot some guns. You maybe thinking, "Holy jeeze, GUNS!", but I grew up on a reservation and having guns was a normal thing. I have a great respect for guns and I thought it would be a good experience for my wife and daughter who never really get the chance to be around them.

Canon PowerShot SD940 IS, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 -- EXIF
"Am I holding it right?"

So we took a relatively short drive up into the mountains to find a safe place to shoot our guns. Where we were shooting was perfectly legal. Before shooting, we gave my wife some pointers about how to shoot a gun. She got the whole, "Keep the butt of the shotgun in your shoulder." But she kind of blanked out when it came to how she should be standing. Here is a video of her shooting her first gun.

So that is a video of my wife shooting a 12 gauge shotgun for the firs time. We told her how to stand, but she go her left and right foot mixed up and had her right foot forward when she was shooting. I didn't take this video, it was my Uncle Steve. He know quite a fair bit of Japanese so he's the one asking her, "Dou desu ka?", which means, "How is it?" I got a kick of her reaction. It was priceless, "Whoa!!!!!!" You can hear someone before she shoots to tell her to place her footing better. I laugh every time I see this.

We also had a Glock 17 and we let my wife try it out.

After that we decided to let my nine year old daughter try and shoot the Glock 17.

When I had Jade shoot the Glock 17, I only loaded 1 round into the clip and cocked it so she had only one round to fire off each time she shot it. By the way, that's me explaining to her how to shoot. I tried to get my Uncle Steve's younger brother to take some video with my Galaxy S mobile phone, but he didn't hit the stop while recording and I hit the back button when finished and it didn't save any of it, oh well. In the second movie of Jade, the spent shell casing popped up back into her face and that's why she was swiping the air. It was a new gun and even though there was only 1 round in the chamber and none in the clip, the gun didn't lock back into the empty position after firing off her round. My only thought is that is was a new gun and needed some breaking into.

It was a good and fun experience for both my wife and my daughter. And just to clarify, none of these photos or movies were taken by me.

Apr 25, 2011

Sumomo in 2011

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/125 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100 -- EXIF

I took this photo back in February. It was late in the season for sumomo, but I was able to get this shot coming home from teaching in Uken. Here is the post I made last year during the sumomo season.

My friend Jeffrey Friedl came up with a great plugin for Lightroom 3 that lets you use Photoshop, like a plugin, editing you photos in a non-destructive way. I tried his plugin for this photo.

I cropped the original in Lightroom and also adjusted some of the variable settings and then used Jeffrey's plugin to further enhance my photo in Photoshop duplicating the original layer and giving the duplicate a multiply blending and adjusting the opacity and fill. With this, I was able to bring the texture of the pedals out more, more than I could have in Lightroom 3 alone. Jeffrey's plugin made my work flow less of a hassle than I would have just editing directly out of Lightroom. I'm still getting used to using his plugin, but it makes my work flow much less easier when I want to edit photos more than the boundaries that Lightroom will allow. Much thanks to Jeffrey.

In the end, this photo isn't that great and I probably did more to it that I should have, but it was just a test for my friend's plugin. I think it worked pretty well. Here is the original photo if you want to know what it looked like.

I probably didn't explain how Jeffrey's plugin works to it's full potential, as I don't know myself, but it helped my work flow become a lot easier.

Apr 24, 2011

Aloe Vera in Bloom

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/60 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF

I've seen plenty of aloe vera plants, but this is the first time I've ever seen one in bloom. I imagine that aloe vera are succulent plants, kind of like cacti, and only bloom once a year. I'm not sure how rare this is, but it's the first time I've seen it.

I took this photo on an family outing we had to go see the cherry blossoms early February. It's the first time I've seen anything like it so I though I would share it with you all.

Apr 23, 2011

Deconstruction in Downtown Amami

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/1600 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400 -- EXIF
All Walled Up

In the past few years here in Amami there has be planning going on for rebuilding parts of the city. It's a very controversial matter with different politicians and political groups about how Amami should be spending their money. I don't have any voting rights so it hasn't really sparked my interest as how it will affect me. I'm an English teacher and if it helps bring more people to Amami to live, I'm all for it. If it's just another way to attract tourists to a beautiful community, then yes, they could find another way to spend their money. But in that same sense, if by having more tourists come, income will increase giving the means for more people to send their children to me to learn English. Either way, I win. But, I really don't have an opinion.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/125 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Poster in the Window

This is a real photo of the city enhanced with 3D graphics to show the portions of the city they plan on changing pertaining to the area I live in. My mother-in-law's house happens to be just beside the road they are going to make, but doesn't fall into the plan. If it had, she probably would have gotten a new house out of it.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/1600 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Pinching Pieces Away

The buildings are so close together in Japan that all they can do is put up some scaffolding to protect the neighboring building from falling debris.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/2000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400 -- EXIF
Hosing the Rubble

I'm not sure why they water down the rubble. If I had to guess, I would say it was to keep the dust levels down. The only other thing I could think of was to prevent fires. I don't know.

These photos were also taken last January. I've been trying to go through the photos I've taken over the last 6 months, but there's just so many, it's almost discouraging. I suppose I have to be more strict with how I spend my time each day and set aside some time to write up post for the photos I've taken. The problem is being strict with myself. Sometimes I'm just so tired, I don't want to do anything but eat some dinner, take a shower and go to bed. I suppose that if a hobby feels more like a chore, it's not a hobby. But it's something I love to do so I'll be more strict with myself and try to set aside more time to do what I love.

Apr 22, 2011

Blown to Bits

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Happy to See Me

This photo was taken along with the photos of my previous post. The third grade at Jade's school had an open house and after it all finished I was waiting for her out in front of the school steps. When I saw her come down I absentmindedly turned on my camera and snapped this shot without checking my settings from previously shooting indoor. I can't tell you how many times I've ruined shots like this because I forget to check my settings.

Anyway! Although it was a very blown out photo, I messed around with it in Lightroom 3 to see if I could make something interesting out of it and this is what I came up with. Here is the original. I did a bit of cropping, upped the recovery to full and upped the blacks a bunch. I also added a bit of clarity and gave it some graininess along with a vignette. I kind of like it considering it was a completely worthless photo to begin with.

Apr 21, 2011

Jade's Shining Moment

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Open House for the Third Grade

My last post was about a picture my daughter drew and had displayed on her classroom wall when I went attended an open house back in January. During that open house I got to watch as the teacher taught double digit multiplication.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/160 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Waiting for Class to Start

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

Here the teacher is teaching the students just what's happening in the multiplication process. Although her method of teaching the was a bit different from how I was taught in school, I thought her way was pretty effective and easy to understand. As you can see in the above photo, she gave the problem 12x23 and divided the equation into two parts: 12x20 and 12x3. She then asked the students how they would solve this problem without dividing the equation.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Solving the Problem

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Jade's Notebook

At first you can see that she has made a few mistakes. It was after this that I gave her a small whisper and told her to remember what we studied that morning. She then furiously started to erase what she had and started over. Jade is a very bright girl, but math and Japanese is not her strong point. Knowing that, we take every advantage we can to help her with her studies. They have a supplementary study program here in Japan called Challenge. This program has different levels gauged towards which grade the student is in providing text books to help them better understand what they learn in school and give them more practice using what they have learned. Every morning before Jade goes to school we have her complete that day's portion of the Challenge program and help her if she has any problems after we check her work. Just that morning we had been practicing these same kind of problems and my method of teaching her was a bit different from what the teacher was teaching. So she did it my way.

After giving the students a moment to try and solve the problem she gave them, she called on a few to give their answers and tell the class how they came up with that answer. The first three students skipped a few steps and came up with the wrong answer. Then she called on Jade to give her answer.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
"Yikes! She called on me!"

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Explaining Her Answer

The teacher asked the first three students how they came up with their answers and wrote it on the board as they explained. The problem just to the left of Jade's paper is from the previous student's explanation. Since Jade got the answer right she just had Jade explain what she did. Since my method of teaching Jade was a bit different from how she was teaching the students, she didn't write what Jade was saying on the board. I was all "Come on!"

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
"My daddy taught me."

So the teacher asked Jade how she learned how to multiply like that and she told the teacher that I had taught her. In all honesty, I don't think my method is any different from what most people learn in America. I just think it's one of the differences learning mathematics in Japan.

Then the teacher had Jade sit down and actually went in detail how Jade got her answer as you can see in the next photo. I was happy she explained it that way. I thought it was easier for the students to understand.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
End of Class

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/200 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Bashful Girl

After class ended we congratulated her and she got embarrassed. Jade is easily embarrassed and I'll admit that I sometimes take every chance to embarrass her. I am a proud parent and it's times like this that makes me want to stand up and say, "That's my child!" But then I would probably get a punch from my wife.

Jade made me very proud when we returned home to America to visit family last month. We only speak English in our home and I do my best to help her learn English. We only watch movies in English and she only watches American cartoons in English. You may think this is plenty for a child to learn English, but in my mind, it's completely minuscule when compared to the amount of time she spends speaking Japanese at school, with her friends, cousins and other family. But when we went to America, she put my mind at ease as she slipped into a state and English took over. Obviously it wasn't perfect English, but it was good enough that I think a few of her relatives completely forgot that she lives in Japan and speaks Japanese. I couldn't ask for anything more. So when I see that she may not be that great at math and Japanese, I know for dang sure that she can beat the pants off most Japanese speaking English.

Apr 20, 2011

Instant Feast Machine

Posted by Amami Superman

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800 -- EXIF
Feast in an Instant

I had the opportunity to attend an open house for my daughter last January. Some of the pictures the students had made were displayed on the walls of the classroom and I got a kick out of Jade's. When I asked what kind of machine it was, she told me it was a machine that magically zaps the food together. As you can see, she was probably hungry for something along the lines of a happy meal when she was making the picture. Although we don't have a McDonalds here in Amami, we do frequent the MOS Burger here. MOS Burger is a known gourmet fast food chain establishment throughout Japan. MOS stands for Mountain, Ocean and Sun.

When you first try any of MOS Burger's burgers, you think they taste pretty good. But after a while you get used to the taste and then it's not so tasty. I prefer my own barbecued hamburgers with pickles, lettuce, tomato, onions, smothered with American style barbecue sauce. Dang, I'm getting hungry!

Apr 19, 2011

Early Spring Day

Posted by Amami Superman

I know, long time, no posts. sorry It's been a hectic few months. In my last post back in January, I said that I was getting over a case of influenza. I missed a bunch of work that I had to make up and with as busy as my schedule is, it was hard to make up. We also had a trip planned for the end of March to the States to go visit family which made things even more difficult. I haven't been back home to the States in 8 years so dealing with getting new passports for the family and re-entry visas for myself, it was quite a hassle with no immigrations office here in Amami. To make matters worse, I got ear infections in both ears 3 weeks before we were set to leave. A few days before our departure date, my ears had not yet cleared up and I ended up getting minor ear surgery on my right ear. I'll tell you about that some other time. It wasn't pleasant.

So we got back to Amami the first week of this month and did our best getting back in to the groove of things. It was a new school year for Jade so we were busy trying to get her prepared. We had only returned home the day before school started for her. It being a new school year, I also was busy with my teaching job out in Uken. We had a whole load of teachers transfer out which meant we had a whole load transfer in. They had a welcoming party that weekend that I had to attend. I got to meet all the new teachers and found that most of the teachers I work with teaching English had transferred out. Now I'm in the process of learning to work with new teachers.

I got the afternoon off today and I thought I would go and look at the photos I've taken over the past few months and was surprised at how many I have. Although I haven't been posting, I'm still taking my camera out with me and taking photos of whatever. These photos were taken back in January at one of the schools I teach at. I'm not sure what kind of plant this is with the red leaves (are they leaves or flowers?), but they looked pretty so I shot them.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 18mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.0, ISO 200 -- EXIF
Kind of Late For Christmas
But pretty non-the-less

They kind of reminded me of poinsettias which they very well maybe, but I really don't know. It had rained earlier that morning and there were still water droplets on the red leaves which I kind of thought looked cool.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF
They sure look like it.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Hanging On

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 -- EXIF

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 24mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Papayas in the Jungle

Just up the hill from where I was shooting, I noticed this papaya tree with a load of papayas growing. This last photo was doctored just a bit. I dropped the clarity a bunch and upped the blacks to give the brighter areas in the leaves a glowing effect. I thought it looked nice so I threw this one in too.