Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

At the lotus pond

Today was my last day at my radio program, Earth Feeling. When I started doing this back in 1998, I never imagined I'd be doing so for nine years. Even more surprising, I've been invited to return whenever I get back to Fukuoka. That makes leaving very sweet.

After the program I did a bit of this and that in preparation for leaving for the US. We depart Fukuoka Tuesday morning, July 31st. On the way home I stopped for a photo assignment at the moat surrounding the remains of Fukuoka castle. It's stilled filled with water and at this time of year brimming with hundreds of the magnificent elephant ear-sized leaves of the lotus.

Lots of dragon flies, too.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Depth of Field

Week three of my photography class has had us experimenting with depth of field. Here are a couple of composites I submitted. Click on the pictures for larger images.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kusagae Moon

Last night saw a beautiful orange half-moon that turned red like the sun when it set behind the mountains surrounding Fukuoka. These shots were taken around 23:00. The colors are as they were captured by the camera.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Bell at Ankokuji

Saturday afternoon I went to Ankokuji (安国寺) to take some photos for this week's assignment. To my surprise I found the temple has installed a new bell, and to my delight I arrived just as it was being rung. Apparently, this happens once daily at 11:00am.

The bronze bell weighs 10 tons, and is 1.8m in circumference and 3.1m tall. The manufacturer also made the bell for the UN Headquarters in New York.

I wasn't successful in capturing any useful images for my assignment, but I did get a few good ones of the bell, including the ceiling painting.

For those in or near Fukuoka, Ankokuji is located in the Oyafuko area of Tenjin.


Zazen and Tom Yam Kung

Last night, 21 July, a small group attended zazen at Myokoji, followed by a lovely Thai dinner at Bandar. Thank you all for a lovely evening.

LtoR: Kiwa, Moon, Jeff, Mutsumi, Szabi, Emi, Hide


Thursday, July 19, 2007


For those who don't read Japanese, this is a typical street sign, which shows the name of the neighborhood (Kusagae) and within that the area and the block. As you can see, this one has been beat up just a bit. It hangs on the fence surrounding the small neighborhood park just next to our apartment building.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More aperture and photoshop experiments

The Seki sisters gave me a pencil sharpener for my birthday. It's not such a silly gift when you consider I'll be returning to art school, but when you have a look at it you realize the gift givers had something else in mind.

So here it is in a composite of images I shot experimenting with Fstops.

Thanks, Yumi and Hiroko.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Shining brightly

Last year I had a wonderful group of freshman, one of those classes that was like a pet dog - always happy to see you and always eager to play.

Often in these groups there are one or two bright personalities whose magnetism draws out the light in those around them. In this class, there were a good half dozen such lamps. It was a class that added a bit of anticipation to the morning.

Front: Mina, Kae, Ayaka
Back: Fumiya, Ryoko, Rumi, Jeff

Several afternoons ago I was leaving school and ran into one of the young ladies from this class. We spent a few minutes catching up and I don't remember now who did the inviting but we ended up having lunch together the following week. Ryoko asked if she could in the future bring her classmates and for the past few Thursdays we've again been enjoying each others' company.

Last week they brought me a small gift of sembei and the card you see below. I almost cried.

If you guys are reading this, thank you so much. You have given me the best gift anyone could ever give - your time, warmth, and kindness.

I look forward to showing you around Kathmandu!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Opening the aperture

This week's lesson has us experimenting with the aperture, the adjustable opening through which you can control how much light enters the camera. As I didn't feel much like going out this morning, I fooled around at home for a bit shooting a Buddha from Nepal against a piece of aizome (a traditional Japanese indigo fabric) hung in front of a window. What you see below is a composite of three images to show the differences in F stops, from larger at the left to smaller on the right.


Birthday 46

Yesterday was a pretty good day.

It started with radio (where I received a large number of congratulatory emails and faxes, thanks in most part to a campaign organized by Mutsumi), then to university for three make-up classes, one of which was canceled due to a typhoon far south of here that never did more in Fukuoka than sprinkle a bit rain and rustle a few leaves. We didn't even have any decent winds.

Dinner with my old friend Hide was also canceled because train service was suspended and he couldn't get to Fukuoka, so plan B turned out to be yakiniku with Mutsumi and the Seki sisters. Yumi and Hiroko are dear friends with whom we have shared many dinners and a few concerts. We also spend time together each week in the English conversation class I teach at the local community center.

Mutsumi, Jeff, Yumi, Hiroko

This morning I"m overfed, it's raining, and I feel like doing nothing more than laying on the sofa for the rest of the day. But because I feel guilty doing that, I'm here at the computer trying to make myself feel like I've accomplished something.

Maybe I should just go out and play in the rain.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Nothing better

It doesn't happen every semester. Sometimes I wish it would, but I also know that if it did, it wouldn't be nearly as special as when it does.

Today we were finishing the story of the Elephant Man, which we've been reading and watching for the past 12 weeks. The ending is ambiguous as to Joseph Merrick's death, a perfect set-up for the final writing topic: "Did Merrick commit suicide?"

I've read about 150 papers on the topic this semester and this one stood out not so much for what was written about the question of intentional death, but for what the student revealed about his experience in the class.

He writes:

The Elephant Man gave me a lot of important things. The kind, angry, happy, sadly. - I was very happy. It was very important lesson for me. I am going to become very kind man like Dr Treves, and very happy man like Merrick.

Treves, as you might know, is the doctor who first approaches Merrick as a scientific curiosity, only to discover through his work with him the depths of his own compassion. Merrick, the Elephant Man, hides under a grotesque exterior the heart of a child, able to love the world and everything in it despite having been treated for most of his life like a monster.

My birthday is tomorrow. This is one of the best presents any one could ever think to give me.


Monday, July 9, 2007


The end of building is ruin.
The end of meeting is parting.
The end of accumulation is dispersal.

The end of birth is death.

- Ken McLeod, 2001

From the veranda, 09 July 07


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Swish! - Playing with the shutter

My first lesson arrived this week and I've been out and about, here and there, trying to capture images for my assignment. Mostly I've been playing around by experimenting with various settings. The theme this week is shutter speed, which means capturing movement. Unfortunately, its been raining most of the weekend. Even so, I've managed at least 500 shots, most of them crap, of course. Here are a few that are not so crappy.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Registering for photography school

I’ve got this great camera that I bought before leaving for Nepal. I took some great pictures, but still I feel like I’m not getting as much out of it as I can. I’ve looked around a bit for books or online lessons, but the free stuff online tends to be very general and there are so many books its hard to know where to begin.

In my searches, I ran across, an online resource for professional and amateur photographers with lots of free content, as well as online courses delivered by professional photographers. And rather than fool around ordering a book and having it sit on a shelf for weeks or months waiting for me to get to it, I thought I might try one of the online courses at

I choose Gain Control of your Camera because it focuses on the basics, is only four weeks, which means it costs less than a more thorough eight-week class, and also allows me to finish literally just before leaving for the USA on July 31st.

Registration and payment took no more than five minutes. I got a welcome email with links to online forums where the class will “meet” to discuss the photos we have uploaded. It took about an hour to fill out the class survey (information for the instructor such as personal equipment, interests, and goals), and to write a short self-introduction. The photo here, taken with my Nepali niece this past March in Kathmandu, I posted as my class portrait.

The first lesson is due to arrive July 4th. Hopefully I'll have some interesting photos to post over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned.