About Me

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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The year that was....Part1



Well another year has gone. So long 2012, hello 2013. As I'm sure it was for many photographers, this past year has been one of challenge, change, great photographic opportunities and a lot of fun. I thought I would share with you some of my favourite images from the past 12 months. Some of it travel, some of it editorial portraiture, and some from my private vault of family pics. Because my family are the people who allow me to do what I do. They give me the inspiration to come up with new ways of seeing the world, the encouragement to keep going when things are tough, and the pats on the back when I score a home run or two.

OKINAWA

What can I say about this tropical paradise? It was one part of Japan I'd never been to before and when my wife suggested we go and take a look I was jumping up and down. The top image is from the Churaumi Aquarium and is definitely one of my favourite shots of the year. Three fully grown whale sharks in the world's largest tank? Pretty hard to top. Below are some more of my favourites from that trip.



Churaumi Aquarium backs on to the ocean, and much of its sea water is pumped into the park and then out again in a giant recycling system. Many of the tanks are open to sunlight above as well, which means that gorgeous rays slice down into the water to create beautiful natural effects.




This is another favourite from that day. Next to the giant Kuroshio Tank (where the whale sharks live) is a cafe where you can sit and have your lunch and watch giant grouper, Manta Rays and giant tuna swim by. A truly amazing sight.




Another wonderful attraction on the main island of Okinawa is Ryukyu Mura (Village), a historical museum/theme park set up to show what life was like in the Ryukyu Islands centuries ago. Many of the houses are original dwellings brought from the surrounding countryside brick by brick. This man is a wandering minstrel who entertains the crowds.



This lady performed a traditonal Rykyu dance on stage for visitors. Afterwards my ham of a son got a chance to go up and show his skills!

 KYOTO AND NARA

My second big trip to Japan this year was Kyoto, Nara and then up to Hokkaido for 3 weeks or so. As regular readers of my blog will know, my wife's family lives in Sapporo so we visit every year. This year we timed our visit for Summer and my eldest son went to school over there for a couple of weeks - which he absolutely loved.

But before we flew up to Sapporo we spent a week travelling around Kyoto and Nara, somewhere I hadn't been since I was an exchange student 23 years ago! Wow, I feel old now. :)




You could almost call this trip the Buddha Tour! We saw a lot of Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines. This statue is in the grounds of one of my favourite temples - Ryoan-Ji Temple. Buddhism was imported from China centuries ago and lives comfortably alongside the native Japanese religion of Shinto.



The other big theme this year was green! What amazing colours. The greens really are luminescent, and with all the rain we had the whole world was just glistening. This beautiful yellow leaf and moss is also in the Ryoan-Ji Temple.



These beautiful maple leaves are in the grounds of the Golden Temple or Kinkaku-Ji. Unfortunately (or not depending on how you look at it) it was pouring with rain so most of my shots were taken from beneath a protective umbrella and I hardly got anything worth showing of the actual temple itself. But what the weather lacked in blue skies it made up for in soft, overcast conditions perfect for details shots and bringing out the brilliant greens.



This is a small waterfall just behind the main Golden Temple. Without soft, cloudy light there is no way I could have held details in the highlights and the shadows.



Next stop was Nara and my favourite place was the divine Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, a Shinto Shrine. You are greeted at the door by lots of wild deer looking for a feed, giant barrels of sake (donations to the shrine) and hundreds upon hundreds of stone lanterns, probably the most famous sight of all.



These are the stone lanterns - or Ishidoro - leading up to the main Shrine. Simply stunning and a telephoto lens brings them really close together to give a sense of how many there are.



Another favourite from the Kasuga-Taisha. Usually I prefer portraits where there is obviously interaction between the photographer and their subject. In the case of shrine attendants that is often very difficult because many of them are quite reluctant to be photographed. So instead I tried to create a type of envrionmental portrait showing their relationship to their chose profession.



Of course no trip to Nara would be complete without getting up nice and close with some deer! This one fellow was lying beside the main entrance path to the home of the Giant Buddha - Daimonji Temple. He had obviously had his fill of deer crackers, patting tourists and crowds and was just taking it easy by the side of the road, watching the world go by. Needless to say he had to have his portrait taken. After Nara we headed back up to Sapporo. Most of the time was spent doing family things - which often involves a lot of baseball, playing in the park and eating yummy food! But I did also get to spend a day climbing the local Mt Maruyama with my father-in-law, a man in his late 70's and still fit as a fiddle. Here are a couple of my faves from that day's hike.



A local squirrel - the Ezo squirrel - half way up the mountain. They are quite tame and a local photographer had been feeding it some sunflower seeds in just the right position for a nice backlit shot. The elderly lady photographer kindly showed me the best position to be in. That's what I love about photographing in Japan - people just respect what you do and try to be as helpful as possible.



To be honest I can't really tell you why this one appeals so much. I think it might be the deep green, and the naturally vignetting darker leaves in the corners. As soon as I walked past this spot I just had to grab a photo.

Of course my trip wasn't a solo effort. I had my wife, two sons and father-in-law along as well so my favourite images of 2012 wouldn't be complete without some of them!













I bet you never knew I had an afro! Rocking the funky look here. :)

Stay tuned for Part 2! This time I'll move on to the great fun I've had creating memorable environmental portraits here in Cairns over the past year.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hoping for gloomy weather



I'm sure it's not every photographer who actually hopes it's going to be grey, cloudy and miserable but I found myself wishing that a few weeks back. I had another portrait shoot to do for James Cook University - this one was of Allana Brown who is a Senior Project Officer at the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Programme. So I knew I wanted to photograph her outdoors.

I also knew that later in the morning I was photographing another one of of JCU's Sustainability graduates in the tropical rainforest so I went for the ocean part of her job title!

Sunrise in the tropics is very hit and miss -as evidenced by all the people left grumpy after clouds obscured the solar eclipse from some locations last week! We always have clouds on the horizon, and often totally in front of the sun.

In my case I was looking forward to trying a technique I'd read a lot about but had never had a chance to put into action. It involves using the Tungsten white balance on your camera to turn the grey background into a lovely shade of blue. Perfect for when it's really a lovely shade of horrible grey!

Of course when you do that Allana goes blue as well, so to combat that you need to light her with a flash - in this case a 580 EX II speedlite. Just shooting straight flash would still turn her blue so you need to put a CTO (orange) filter over the front. The strength of the orange colour will affect what colour Allan is without affecting the background at all. In this case I wanted it to seem like the sun was shining golden so I added quite a strong filter to the front and shot with a telephoto lens to bring the background mountains in nice and close.

I love the combination of orange subject and tranquil blue background and this is definitely a look I could get used to on those frequent cloudy days.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A lovely day for beach volleyball


Well I have to admit I'm probably not particularly well known for my sports photography.I don't think the Olympic Committee is going to be calling any time soon but the week before last I had an absolute blast covering the National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games (NITESG) for James Cook University.

I photographed the students playing netball, basketball, touch football and this very photogenic sport - beach volleyball. It was great to be down on the beautiful Cairns Esplanade with sensational blue skies above and balmy temperatures - at least for the competitors who had come up from down south.

It's great to see young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students coming together and showing their sporting prowess while having a really good time. Needless to say JCU Cairns won the event. :) Hey I'm allowed to be biased.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Envrionmental Portraiture in Cairns

  There's a little known secret about travel photography - many of its practitioners earn part of their living from other areas of the business. It may be writing, it may be teaching and leading photo tours or it may be working in other areas of photography as well.

In my case I write a little, teach a little and have the great pleasure in creating dynamic portraits of some really amazing people here in Cairns for both editorial and commercial clients.

Over the years one of my favourite clients has been James Cook University. Not only are the assignments often a photographic challenge - eg illustrate a postgraduate student studying terrorism! - but they give me the opportunity to meet some really interesting people.

One such lady was the amazing Jennie Gilbert. Jennie runs the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre out on Fitzroy Island, just off Cairns, and is also studying her post-graduate at JCU. She's just about to officially open a brand new facility over on the island, and in the meantime I had the opportunity to photograph her at a makeshift facility in the port area of Cairns.

The biggest challenge here was visual. The turtles live in big plastic tanks under a green shade cloth, surrounded by a lot of debris as they were packing up to move house! So we couldn't shoot wide because we would get all that stuff in that photo. The other challenge was it was very bright outside and very dark under the shade cloth. So in order to have Jennie appear nice and bright whilst still showing some sky in the background we needed to set up lights.

In this case I used a nice big shoot--through umbrella with a Canon Speedlite shot through it. I usually use TTL but my infrared trigger wasn't working too well in the bright sun. Enter my super-duper long TTL cord. It runs about 7.5 metres and I use it outside all the time.

We had to work quickly and efficiently so the turtle didn't get too stressed at being out of the tank. On this shoot I got to take my boys along as well and they were so impressed at being able to hold a turtle. I'll let you know when the Fitzroy Island site is up and running - it should be fantastic!

Monday, August 27, 2012

New gallery of images from Japan


Well it took a little while but I've finally finished keywording, captioning and uploading my recent batch of images from Kyoto, Nara and Sapporo, Japan.

Regular readers of my blog will know that my wife is Japanese and we go up there at least once, sometimes twice, a year. Usually we just fly up to Sapporo to visit family but this time we spent a week with my father-in-law travelling around the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara.

And what a treat it was. Heading into spring meant that all the new growth was out and everything was bathed in a luscious green. The image above is from the Kasuga-Taisha Shrine in Nara, which is famous for the thousands of stone lanterns, known as 'ishidoro' which line the main path on the way up.

It's a beautiful. peaceful place interrupted only by the marauding deer that nearly bowl you over in their quest for a feed!

So pop on over to my Latest Work gallery where you'll find some of my favourites.

Also I have been regularly posting new photos from this trip over on the Have Camera Will Travel Facebook page. So if you haven't Liked us yet pop on over. I regularly pass on little tidbits and pieces of photography news that I discover on the web.

I look forward to seeing you there and having some conversations!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The green of Japan





This was the first year in quite a while that I'd visited Japan in spring and I'd forgotten how stunningly green everything is. In the days of slide film (and I know a few of you are still enjoying them!) there was a film made by Fuji called Velvia. It was ISO 50, which for those of you who are lamenting the fact that your camera doesn't go to ISO 12,800 must seem slower than a tortoise with a broken leg. You usually had to shoot it on a tripod and it was incredibly contrasty - forget about capturing any details in the shadows if you kept your highlights in check.

But the one thing that film did incredibly well was saturated greens. People here in Australia would often complain that they would look unnaturally green. I used to think that in some situations that was true, and then I saw the greens in Japan and understood where the film had come from.

It's one of those colours that just has to be seen to be believed. A brilliant irridescent green that seems to cover the entire world. Here are a couple more shots from that day. I hope you enjoy them.




Friday, August 3, 2012

Kyoto trip sneak preview!


A young couple pose in traditional Japanese dress in Kyoto, JapanThe downside of digital photography? Editing, keywording and captioning thousands of photos after a trip. Although I have to admit I do enjoy looking at all the images I've shot and reminiscing about what a great time I had!

This trip was a bit of a blast from the past for me. I lived in the city of Kobe, in Western Japan, as a high school exchange student in 1989. So I often visited Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. This year was the first time I had been back since then - so roughly 23 years!

The overwhelming theme for me this trip was green. It was Spring and all the trees were bathed in their new growth foliage. You can see why Fuji invented Velvia slide film. For those of you who've never shot slide film Velvia was famous for its highly saturated blues and greens. I used to think that the colours were pretty over the top until this trip where I experienced them for myself in real life.

We spent a lot of time visiting various temples and shrines. The difference between the two? Temples are Buddhist and shrines belong to the Japanese Shinto religion. They are often found side by side as Buddhism was imported into Japan and had to find its way alongside the already ancient Shinto traditions and beliefs.

You can tell Shinto shrines by the famous Japanese torii gates that are often found at their entrances. Shinto believes in gods residing within every living thing so often you will find sacred ropes tied around large trees which are believed to house gods. Buddhist temples are of course famous for their iconic statues of the Lord Buddha in many different forms.

Anyway I'm still busy keywording and captioning but wanted to show a quick preview. The first image is a young couple on holiday who are having their photograph taken in traditional Japanese dress - a kimono for the lady and a yukata for the man. This was taken from a small street in Kyoto just near the famous Kiyomizudera Temple. I was walking past and just noticed it out of the corner of my eye so made a quick image. I love the pose of the photographer - any lower and his bum'd be hitting the ground!




This second image was taken inside the grounds of Ryoan-Ji Temple - home to the famous raked gardens and rock islands seen in so many tourist brochures. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the greens but, like the rainforests here in north Queensland, knew that just green alone a photo does not make (I sound a bit like Yoda!). Anyway I was thrilled when I came across this conveniently placed Japanese Maple leaf, one of only a few which had just started to turn yellow.

Anyway back to the keywording! Keep tuned and I'll have some more images to come as we go along.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What does a professional photographer do?



I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and he made an interesting comment. We were talking about the business of photography (he's not a photographer or involved in the industry at all) and he made the remark that it must be hard to sell services as a professional when cameras are so good these days that anybody can take a fantastic photo. Ouch.

But you know what? Cameras are really good these days. Fast autofocus, brilliant exposure metering and even the ability to change things up in post-processing afterwards if you want. So what is it exactly that a professional does differently if the taking of the photograph is so easy?

Firstly there's the illusion that it is easy. In the right light, if you're in the right position and there's a nice moment in front of you then everyone's chances of getting a nice picture are pretty even. No questions about it. If we're both standing in front of Uluru (Ayers Rock) during a beautiful sunset we're going to come away with something pretty special.

But what happens for the 99% of the time when the conditions aren't co-operating? What happens when you have to shoot a portrait of somebody outside in the middle of the day? The professional will know to put up a scrim to soften the light. They'll know to break out the lighting to fill in the shadows, and the optimum position to put that light for the nicest effect. They'll also know what to do to the background exposure to create a spectacular effect. And they'll know how to do it every time no matter what the weather is doing. Oh and they'll also know to get on fabulously no matter how much of a bad mood the portrait subject is in and to get legally binding model releases signed so you don't find yourself getting sued down the track!

OK so maybe a deep knowledge of lighting is something that can help separate a pro, but what about those who only use natural light. Let's take a travel assignment. The professional will, before they even leave, have ascertained what direction things are facing. Why? Because if you need to use natural light, and we know that sunrise and sunset are the best times of the day, then you want to know what you need to photograph at what time of the day. East facing buildings are a morning shot, west facing buildings are an evening shot. But the professional will also be on Google Earth checking out if there are any impediments to the sun meaning you need to be there later or earlier than usual. For example here in Cairns the sun goes down behind the mountains at about 5pm. No point finding out that the sun sets at 6.30pm only to find out that everything has been in shadow for the past hour and a half. Research is a huge part of what a professional photographer does.

The professional also knows why they're photographing what they are - the significance of an event, action or object. Take a couple of photographers at the Sumo. One has never been before and just snaps away willy nilly, getting some great action shots. The professional who has done his research is concentrating on the details everybody else misses. The ceremony of purification as the wrestlers throw salt into the ring. The wince of pain as the grand champion bends down on the knee he hurt in training the previous week. Background knowledge is as much, if not more, important as the images themselves. If you know the significance of certain things the photos themselves have more meaning.

The same goes for portraits. I recently did a big shoot for James Cook University where we photographed people in various fields of study including Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, Turtle Rehabilitation and Pub Management! Try illustrating some of those in a single image.

Take the Terrorism shoot for instance. I had an idea for a dark, brooding portrait. I had to make sure that the image didn't allude to any particular nationality or religious inclination and I didn't want it to be bright and airy. So we chose to photograph her in her office - at least that was how she described where she worked. Turns out it was a 50cm by 50cm boring grey cubicle in the corner of a tiny room filled with other boring grey cubicles! A visual nightmare. This is when the professional's experience comes into play. When knowledge of your equipment is good enough to be able to cope with any difficulty thrown at you. People with less experience might just throw their hands up in frustration.

And the other differentiating factors come after the shoot is finished. Can the amateur be trusted to have triple copies and back ups of everything they shoot in case of hard drive failure? Can they provide low res jpegs for selection purposes on a password-protected website (so your competitors can't accidentally see them)? Will they invoice on time and in the format that Accounts Payable needs to process it promptyly, or will it require a telephone call or two to sort things out?

So yes, whilst I agree that the advancement of technology has made taking good pictures a lot easier - particularly in the perfect situation - I think when using a professional photographer is absolutely vital is the other 99% of the time. In other words when the shit is hitting the fan and you need someone with the experience to get through with a smile, a laugh and great images no matter what the world throws at you. That's what a professional photographer does.

Oh, the image above was taken on the Japanese island of Okinawa. A tropical paradise famous for its world class beaches, beautiful aqua skies and water sports. Only the week I was there it rained the whole time and the sun never came out once! No point telling your editor the weather is terrible. You need to change tack and find a different angle to your coverage. Anything less would be totally unprofessional.

Any and all comments appreciated below!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Attention to Detail


Just got back from another trip to Japan - the second this year! This time around we spent a week in beautiful Kyoto and Nara, before heading up for a couple of weeks in Sapporo.

It was the first time I'd been back to Kyoto and Nara in more than 20 years. Yes I really am that old and yes I really have been going to Japan for that long.

Because I spend a lot of my time up in my wife's home island of Hokkaido, which has only been settled by the Japanese for a couple of hundred years or so, it was wonderful to get in touch with a side of Japanese culture that is measured in the thousands of years.

We saw lots of big things. Big temples, grandiose shrines, gigantic wooden Buddhas. And it was all very spectacular of course, and beautiful as well. But for me this trip the beauty was found in the tiny things.

It is impressive that these talented artisans and craftsmen constructed five-tiered pagodas and 40 foot high statues. It was much more impressive to me to not that they hadn't just stopped after building these incredible structures, but had then started work on the fine details. Fine swirls and lines on every nook and cranny, intricate carvings on the smallest, seemingly insignificant facade. In other words they hadn't rested on their laurels creating something big, they had then gone over their creations with a fine tooth comb and created sublime pieces of art from top to bottom. Even in places that people might never, ever notice but one would think their pride as artists compelled them to complete.

So for me that was one of the highlights of this trip. Noticing how those artists from thousands of years ago had taken so much pride in their work. And it made me pay more attention to the fine details of my photography.

By that I don't mean simply concentrating on the fine details themselves - I did plenty of that. Rather to pay attention to those little things that might not necessarily make a break an image, but if done right help elevate it to a higher level.

Things like choosing the right aperture for the job. Using the depth-of-field preview button to make sure you are creating the image you have in mind. Making positive that background is neither too clear, nor so blurry it doesn't make sense. Paying close attention to where you focus so that the most important part of the picture is critically sharp. Taking the time (at least as much as you can with two young boys telling you to hurry up!) to wait for the background elements to be perfect.

I figure if the artists who created a 40 foot Buddha statue weren't satisfied until they'd carved fingerprints into it then I could be more careful with my art as well.

Stay tuned for images from my most recent trip on the website. They've all been processed, now it's just a matter of captioning and keywording! The above image is from Kasuga-Taisha Shrine in Nara.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Money isn't important when you have passion...


...unless you wanna work in retail.

At my sons' school there was a Mum who worked for a major portrait studio chain. I remember her because she complimented me on my work, which was very appreciated. But then she said something that kind of struck me as odd. She mentioned that she liked my work because I seemed to know about 'apertures and stuff' and how to use it to good effect.

I came to the conclusion that in the studio setting in which she was employed, technical knowledge like that wasn't as important. The lights were set to give her a proper exposure at f8 and she just had to concentrate on wrangling the kids and getting great expressions. A difficult enough task in itself without a doubt. Both the technical and creative sides of photography usually come into play, but sometimes one has more precedence than the other.

A couple of months later when I ran into her she told me that she had decided to quit her job and set up her own business taking portraits. Good on her I thought. Following her passion. She already has the experience shooting the portraits so it should be a cinch.

But then she floored me again. She told me that her whole business plan was to sell it cheaper than her old boss had at the shopping centre. As in the kind of place that charges you $9.99 for a sitting and a free print in the hope that you'll purchase more.

More after the jump...


Okinawa Dreaming

Those who know me well will tell you - I'm no trendsetter! I like to think I'm pretty stylish in my red Converse and jeans but I'm certainly not on the cutting edge of fashion. I leave the really trendy clothes to my two boys - Mirai and Keyra - here seen in traditional Okinawan dress on our recent trip.

More after the jump...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Must read article on a career in travel photography



Today I'd like to send you to another blog. Not that I don't like you having you on my blog mind you. It's just that my good friend and wonderful travel photographer Ewen Bell has posted a great piece entitled Five Philosophies for a Photographic Career.

In this day of unbelievably high ISOs, massive amounts of Megapixels and more video options than you can poke a stick at, it often seems that a prerequisite for working in this field is having the latest and greatest equipment.

It's just not true and Ewen really tells it like it is. Here's a quick excerpt:

'Travel is ultimately about people, so your relationship with people is the key ingredient to your photography. Anything less is a compromise. And it's not just respect for the people you photograph, it's everybody else too. Humanity is all around you, but it's also within you - unless you honor the humanity within you're just a lump on a rock instead of human on our planet. Everybody you meet deserves respect, from the security guards at a temple, girls working at a coffee shop, the van driver who gets you to the shoot, and even those annoying tuk tuk drivers who try to cheat unwitting travellers.'

Couldn't have said it better myself! There's a lot more great information on the Photography for Travellers site so I would really encourage you to dive in and have a look around. I've known Ewen for many years and he is a man of great integrity and a good friend who, fortunately for him, takes a pretty awesome picture,as you can see above. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Perfect weather for paddling.

If you're thinking of coming to Cairns for a holiday better get on a plane quick smart! The weather up here is simply sensational at the moment. Beautifully warm days, cool evenings and the mozzies are all gone. It's perfect weather to get that kayak out and go for a paddle. This image was shot off the coast of Port Douglas, just up the road.

It's a super wide-angle lens with a small aperture for a large depth-of-field, as well as a polariser filter to really make those bright colours pop. The trick is to get all paddlers to come past me in the right place, and have them al paddling together! It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it. :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fantastic FNQ Photo Friday

 

I'm not really sure what it is with me and aquariums. I seem to end up in one no matter where I am in the world. Sydney, Singapore, Okinawa and this one...Reef HQ in Townsville. A bit closer for me than all the rest and just as spectacular. Of course the fish, sharks and turtles are all really great but nothing is as exciting to a small child as a cleaner in scuba gear and face mask cleaning the inside of the glass!



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ryukyu portraits


A decided lack of sun in our week in Okinawa meant that there wasn't a lot of time spent on the beach! In fact our days were mostly filled visiting the various attractions on the island - such as the Churaumi Aquarium and this place. Ryukyu Village is like a theme park, for want of a better word, that shows ancient Ryukyuan culture. There are examples of traditional arts and crafts, dancing performances, even a water buffalo crushing sugar cane! The highlight of our visit though was the people working there. Without a doubt some of the friendliest, most helpful people I've ever met. Many of the workers are elderly Japanese men and women who really seem to enjoy talking with tourists and explaining their culture. This fellow above was one of the wandering minstrels who would sit down and play his 'shamisen' - a traditional Japanese stringed instrument - and sing for the crowd.





This lady was selling traditional cookies at one of the recreated traditional houses. What a fantastic smile.




Another fantastic smile - this lady had remembered my kids' names and brought them out to dance with her on stage at a large dance performance at the end of the day.



The Ryukyu Mura is a great place to watch traditonal Okinawan dance, performed by women in costumes worn by their ancestors. You can really see the Chinese influence from an island which traditionally had very close links with that part of the world.


Here's our wondering minstrel friend again, this time with his mate the Lion God - or Shisa as it's known locally. And here are some more portraits of the fantastic people we met that day:



















A really wonderful day with some incredibly hospitable people. Again it's one of those experiences that I would highly recommend but the recommendation comes with a caveat. It was so wonderful for me and my family mainly because we speak Japanese. I didn't see much evidence that the people there spoke much English at all. Of course I wouldn't expect them to, as I don't expect anybody to anywhere I go. But without a doubt being able to communicate was a huge part of what made the day so much fun for us. I did see a lot of American families there (Okinawa is home to a huge US Military base) and they seemed to be having a great time as well - just in different ways. Anyway I hope you like the portraits. For the technical amongst you they were mostly taken at ISO 400 or 800 with a 24-70 f2.8 lens. Except for the first shot of the minstrel - that one was the 10-22mm, and the one of the minstrel performing with the Lion God was the venerable 70-200 f2.8. Enjoy!