Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

January 23, 2012

Japanese Culture

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 10:36 am

Furano Cultural Night.

Last night I headed up the hill to the second floor of Furano Ski-jo for the first Japanese Cultural night for 2012. Last year I made a few videos of the cultural performances, and this year I had my camera. The light was not so good, so I was struggling to get decent photos.

hand painting
Hand painting

When we first went in, the kids were getting their faces and hands painted by an artist. They were similar in style to the belly paintings which you will see later.

Japanese dancer with fan
Japanese Dancer with fan

There were a few groups of dancers and they got some of the Gaijin (Westerners) up to have a go at using a fan and juggling. This lady looked like she was having a good time.

Furano Dancer
Japanese Dancer

Afterwards, the ladies got up on the stage so the gaijin could get their photos taken with the dancers.

Japanese dancers
Photo Opportunity

The belly dancers have faces painted on the bellies and then they dance around. This guy has been in training all year down the pub.

Furano Belly painting

Furano Belly Painting

Here is a shot of the guys dancing with the belly paintings.

Furano Belly Dance
Furano Belly Dance

January 17, 2012

Japan Mountain Landscapes

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 5:24 am

Snow Scenes.

We have not had any new snow for about three days now. It is getting a bit dire. I thought I might do some landscape shots today. I thought I might get the surrounding mountain sides around the ski resort at Furano. This one is looking to the right from the top of the Ropeway.

halfway between gondola and ropeway
Halfway between Ropeway and Gondola

Here is what is called the Premium Zone or Kumatoshi. There is a massive crack about half way down so it is closed.

Premium zone
Premium Zone

This slope is called the Widow-maker for obvious reasons and is Keith and Grommet’s favourite run.

The widow-maker
The Widow-maker

Above the Ropeway there is a double chair with pistes going off either side.

Above the ropeway
Above the Ropeway

And finally this is the jaws of ice hanging off the roof of the restaurant at the top of the Ropeway.

jaws of ice
Jaws of Ice

January 14, 2012

Furano Skiing 2012/01/14

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 4:47 am

A Windy Day.

This morning I was not going to go for a ski because we only got less than five centimeters of fresh snow last night and the wind was howling. So, my reasoning was that the fresh snow would be wind-packed and not very nice to ski. But later on in the morning the sun came out, so I decided to go out and take some photos.

top of the gondola.
Looking towards the top of the gondola

When I got outside the wind was still blowing a bit, but I kept going, seeing it was such a drama getting all my ski gear on. I could not find hardly anyone to take any photos of. There were hundreds of beginners on the lower slopes but hardly any good skiers around.

downhill training
Downhill Racer training

The sun had started to disappear by this time, and there were clouds rolling in a when I took my gloves off to take photos, my hands would start freezing up. It was so cold.

boy racer
Grommet downhill racer

I eventually managed to get some of the racers training on the training run. At least I got some shots this morning. The snow off-piste was horrendous. As I had forecast, the fresh snow had been packed and was all crusty and yucky.

downhill racer
One of the big boys having a dig

Most of my photos today were taken at 1/1000 shutter speed and aperture of f/8.0. I had to up the ISO to 200 because the sun had gone away. The Canon 350D seems to take pretty sharp pictures for an old camera, but the burst is pretty horrendous. You can only take about four or five photos in a burst. It must have a pretty tiny buffer. Oh well, you make do with what you got.

January 8, 2012

Extreme Snowboarding

Filed under: Japan,Skiing — Tags: , — admin @ 5:36 am

Furano, Hokkaido.

This morning the sun came out and there was no new snow, so I thought I would get out the camera and take some photos. I had been wanting to get some photos of the extreme snowboarders. Guys who lay right into their turns and are almost horizontal when they hook into their turns. I do not know what it is actually called. I just think it looks cool.

Extreme Carving
Laying it over

I did some research on that interwebby thingo and found out it is called Extreme Carving and consists of totally laid over in the snow with full body extension and linked heel and toe side turns. Extreme carvers aim to be smooth and fluid. I have been watching this guy ski all week and had wanted to get some photos of his turns, so today I finally did get some.

Extreme Carving
Extreme Carving – Turning almost horizontal

The backhand turns are just as good.

Extreme Carving
Backhand turn

Some other guys on ordinary snowboards were doing some nice turns as well. I think this dude is an instructor or something.

The Green Lantern

I overexposed most of these shots about a stop. That is to compensate for the brightness of the snow and to get some decent exposure on the snowboarders.

Close-up on the turn

And finally, from behind and going down the hill to get another perspective.

Extreme Carving
Going down

January 7, 2012

Japanese Wagtail and White-tailed Eagle

Filed under: Birds,Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 12:59 pm

Hokkaido Birding 7-1-2012.

This afternoon I set off with my video camera to get some footage of the Japanese Wagtails that I had seen under the bridge over the Sorachi River the other day. I stopped on the bridge and had a look at the gravel bank in the river under the bridge. Pretty soon I spotted a few Japanese Wagtails and eventually got some footage.

Sorachi River
The Sorachi River

After I had got my footage of the wagtails, I spotted a White-tailed Eagle, and then another one. Eventually I spotted four all up. They were soaring above the river and finally came down to roost in some trees. I went for a walk to see if I could spot them in their roost, and by golly, that is what happened.

Video footage of Japanese Wagtail and White-tailed Eagle

I kept going for a walk along the road by the river and came to this little creek, which had been frozen over a little bit.

Frozen Creek
Frozen creek

This is a shot of the valley which must be farmed extensively as soon as the snow melts.

Valley in winter
Furano Valley

Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis).
The Japanese name for Japanese Wagtail is Seguro-sekirei. Se means back and kuro is black. Sekirai means wagtail. They are in the family of pipits and wagtails called Motacillidae. They breed in Japan and Korea, and are common in Japan from Kyushu north. They prefer the edge of waterways on gravel rivers, ponds and inland seas. The population seems to be stable and therefore is not approaching the thresholds for being declared Vulnerable.

White-tailed Eagle (haliaeetus albicilla).
The Japanese name for the White-tailed Eagle is Ojirowashi. They are a brown sea eagle with a white tail in the shape of a wedge. They migrate from Russia during the winter and breed in Hokkaido. In Northern Hokkaido, they feed on salmon after spawning in the interior rivers. They are related to our Australian White-bellied Sea-eagle, and is a close cousin of the American Bald Eagle. Females are a bit larger than the male. They have broad wings, a large head and a thick beak. Like the Stellar`s Sea Eagle, they have yellow talons, beaks and eyes when adult.

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