Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 29, 2011

Snow Clearing

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 7:20 am

Furano, Hokkaido

This morning on my way up to the ski lift I spotted all the snow-clearing action, so I whipped out my camera to get all the Tonka-toy action. Us blokes love a bit of machinery. The snow had been piling up in bit lumps along the side of the roads, so I guess it was the day to clear it all up.

Clearing Snow
The snow chomper dumps it onto the trucks

Snow gobbler
The snow chomper eats up the snow and funnels it out to the trucks.

The grader comes along and cleans up behind the snow chomper

snow clearing
the procession winds down the hill

the digger cleans up the stuff left behind

snow plough
the snow plough pushing the snow onto the side of the road

And everything is all cleaned up. The snow is taken away and dumped somewhere in the trucks. Nice clean streets again until it snows again. Which is tonight. See you next week.

December 27, 2011

Ski Photography

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — admin @ 7:47 am

Furano Ski Resort 27/12/2011

Ohiroma Run
Telemark skiing on Ohiroma run

Furano Town
Looking down on Furano town from the top of the Kitanomine gondola

Snowboard Link Powder
Snowboarding the powder underneath the Link chair

Telemark Skiing
Elegant telemark skiing on the Technical run

Dai-san Telemark powder
Telemark powder skiing on the Technical run/course

Dai-san Telemark
Telemark powder skiing again

Dai-san Powder
Skiing the powder on the Technical Course

December 25, 2011

A White Christmas

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:31 am

Feliz Navidad.

I woke up this morning and did not realize that it was Christmas Day. I was wondering why everyone was going Merry xmas on Facebook, so I had a look at the date and it was the 25th. Doh! I had lost a day somewhere. But all was not lost. It was snowing outside and it was my first xmas in the snow. And it was snowing, so it was all good.

Snowing on xmas day

I got all dressed up and headed out to the gondola. First run down and there was fresh powder all over the place. There was even boot depth on the pistes. It was nice and light as well. The previous few days have been a bit wet and heavy. I headed over to the link lift and had a ski down that and it was glorious. There had been a few other people on it earlier but there was still some nice fresh snow.

Kitanomine xmas day

The Furano side had some great snow and I was able to snaggle some nice stuff. Then I went up the chair lift higher than the ropeway and found some really deep snow right along the side of the piste. Some of it was knee high. It was light and fluffy and I had a ball. I skied that run until midday, then had some lunch at the bottom of the ropeway and had a few more runs, and by then I was pretty much exhausted.

Furano Ski
Guy skiing down the road

When I got back to the hostel I took some photos of the receptionist’s dog. The dog’s name is Kai, which means “sea”.


All in all, it was a great xmas because I got a great present – a nice day skiing powder. That will do me. It has been the best day so far.

Bonsai tree
A bonsai looking tree

December 21, 2011

From Osaka to Furano

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 11:36 am

Finally Skiing.

I checked out of my hotel around 9am and headed for Shin-Imamiya train station. Jumped on a train going around the Osaka loop line and got off at JR Osaka. Then shifted across to the Kobe line and rode the rails to Sannomiya Station at Kobe. I was really early. I had miscalculated how long it would take to get to Kobe. I had a coffee at the station and took a few photos while I was waiting. There was a big long line of taxis waiting.

Taxis at Sannomiya station
Taxis at Sannomiya Station

This is the Port Liner, which goes from Sannomiya to the Kobe Airport. I guess it is sort of like a monorail because it goes up over the city and across the harbour to the airport. Anyway, it is very good and just shunts you out to the airport with the minimum of fuss.

Kobe Port Liner
Kobe Airport Port Liner

I took a few shots of the planes landing and a few general scenery shots. I did not catch this one. I was on Skymark, which are pretty good. They get you there relatively cheaply.

kobe airport
Plane landed at Kobe Airport

I landed at Shin-Chitose airport on Hokkaido and had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to go to Furano. I was the only one on the bus, and halfway to Furano, it started snowing. I arrived at the hostel and find out that I am the only person staying there so I have the whole place to myself. This morning I headed up the hill and the Kitanomine side had been groomed to the max. There is heaps of snow and it makes a great base seeing it is so early in the season.

Furano Ski-jo
Furano Ski Resort

This shot is from the top of the gondola looking towards the town of Furano and Tokachi-dake mountain. Luckily it was a pretty clear day and you could see the mountains really well. Most of the time you cannot see them.

Furano and Tokachi-dake

I just pottered around the slopes getting my legs in and learning how to ski again. I had a bit of a wander off-piste but it was very heavy and wet so I did not spend much time there. The trees were all full of snow, so I guess there has not been much wind lately.

snow on trees
Snow-laden trees

This afternoon I went shopping and got all my groceries for the week. Tonight I cooked up this wicked Soba noodles and pork and vegetable stir-fry. I am going to have to do a post about one of my culinary creations. When I get inspired, perhaps.

December 19, 2011

Back to Osaka

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 10:10 am

Kansai Photography.

Today I got out with the camera in Osaka. After a very long day flying from Sydney to Cairns, then to Osaka, I woke up feeling a bit dodgy and it took me a while to get going, after going to the 100 Yen shop and then the supermarket. Breakfast was coffee, toast and a boiled egg.

Tempura Vegetables
Tempura vegetables in Kuromon market

After I got organised, I walked through Shin-sekai, then down to the Kuromon markets, which has a whole bunch of seafoods and other food-stuffs for sale. There were tempura vegetables shown above and these delicious tofu-wrapped rice balls below. I forget the names for these but I have made these myself. You roll up the rice and stuff them into these tofu pockets. yum yum.

Rice balls in tofu pockets
Rice balls in tofu pockets

There were heaps of sea-foods as well. This was an octopus and some sort of rock cod I think.

Octopus and fish
Octopus and fish

There were puffer fish alive in tanks waiting to be skillfully made into fugu. I do not intend to try these. If they do not get all the poison out of them properly, you die!

Puffer Fish
Live Fugu

There are pickled vegetables as well as copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits.

The veggie shop
Vegetable Shop

After that, I trekked on over to Namba and stopped on the bridge at Dotonburi to take some photos of the fashionable locals. There were a whole bunch of boys hanging around and going up to girls and working some type of scam or other. I never did find out what their gig was.

Cool Dude
Cool Dude

Workin the streets
Working that scam

The ladies were all decked out in their finest and looked absolutely fabulous.

Going shopping
Going Shopping

I was having heaps of problems with my exposures and kept switching from Aperture Priority Mode and Manual mode. I am still not used to this camera. I stuffed up heaps of shots by making them too dark.

Waitin for my man
Waiting for my man

There was not a lot of light as it was an overcast dark day, so the photos are not as sharp as I would like them. I could not get a fast enough shutter speed. Also, I am not so great at photographing people, so I will have to practice it a bit more. I must admit that I find humans to be quite interesting animals to photograph.

How dare you take my photo!
I vant to be alone

December 15, 2011

Canon 350D

Filed under: General — admin @ 5:30 am

Testing the old 350D

Yesterday I resurrected the old Canon 350D from the dusty storage bin. I had the battery on charge all night but still in the morning it was only a quarter charged. I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be disfunctional. I used it today and shot about a hundred or so photos before it died. I have put it back on charge all day and will leave it on all night and see what happens. I took some photos of the kids this morning and took a while to remember how to drive it. This one is shot at a shutter speed of 1/90 and an aperture of f/1.8.

Portrait 84

After breakfast I went for a walk down the beach to give the camera a run. I am using a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens which is one of the best value for money lenses that you can get. I took a few photos of the cliffs around the beach.

caves cliffs
Cliffs at Caves Beach, 1/500, f/8.0

It was difficult getting used to the way the 350D works. I had to try a few different buttons to work out how to change the aperture in Manual mode. After a lot of trial and error, I finally got something working. It is still too slow so I need to do a lot more practice. I could use Av mode I suppose but I just do not like it very much.

Caves beach
Caves Beach 1/500, f/1.8

I am not real flash with landscapes. I think you need a tripod and a really small aperture to get maximum depth of field.

Pinneys beach
Pinney Beach and Mawson Breakwater 1/500, f/1.8

December 14, 2011

Galgabba Point Return

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 11:52 am

Back to the Roots.

I am now back in Newcastle for a few days. This morning I got on the push-bike and treadled down to Galgabba Point to have a walk along the track. The first thing I spotted was some weird fungi that were growing out of the path.

White Fungi

Then I walked further down the track past the Bellbird colony. I spotted a lot of blue objects in the bush to the side of the track, so I walked in to investigate. At first I thought it was an old bower of a Satin Bowerbird, but I did spot a male bowerbird up in the tree near the bower and heard him grizzling for a while. There was a Whipbird going off right next to it.

Satin Bowerbird Bower
Satin Bowerbird bower

The Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) male has striking glossy blue-black feathers, a pale bluish-white bill and a bright violet-blue iris. Females are olive green with scalloped green and dark fronts. They are found along the east coast of Australia and prefer wetter forest. They feed mostly on fruits and insects. The male decorates a bower built of sticks and collects blue objects to spread around outside to lure any impressionable females.

Satin Bowerbird bower

The video I took is mostly relevant for the audio of the Eastern Whipbird call, as well as the calls of the Bell Miners that are constantly calling.

Whipbird, Bell Miner Audio with Bower

I walked the rest of the way to the lake but did not manage to spot many birds except a mob of Red-browed Finch.

Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie

Galgabba Point bird list

Little Wattlebird
Noisy Miner
Australian Magpie
Crested Pigeon
Red-browed Finch
Bell Miner
Lewin’s Honeyeater
Eastern Whipbird
Black Swan
Australian Pelican
Eastern Whipbird

December 9, 2011


Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 7:36 am

Order: Falconiformes.

Family: Accipitridae – hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures

Black-shouldered Kite
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

White-bellied Sea-Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Swamp Harrier
Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans)

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus)

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

Black Kite

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Square-tailed Kite
Square-tailed Kite (Lophoictinia isura)

Wedge-tailed Eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle

Subfamily Accipitrinae – goshawks, sparrowhawks

Brown Goshawk
Brown Goshawk ( Accipiter fasciatus) at Euston Weir, Victoria

Family: Falconidae – Falcons and Caracara

Southern Caracara
Southern Caracara (Caracara plancus)

Chimango Caracara (Milvago chimango)

Brown Falcon
Brown Falcon (Falco berigora)

Nankeen Kestrel
Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)

American Kestrel
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

Australian Hobby
Australian Hobby ( Falco longipennis)

Black Falcon
Black Falcon (Falco subniger)

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Family: Pandionidae

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Family Cathartidae – Condors and Vultures

Black Vulture
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Andean Condor
Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus )

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