Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

December 31, 2016

Portraits and a bird

Filed under: Japan — Tags: — admin @ 5:21 am

Furano, Hokkaido

It is the last day of the year. This morning I took some portrait shots of the guests at the hostel at which I am staying. The first one is of Yong, from Korea. He is a fantastic photographer.


Ben just gave himself a mohawk last night. He looks the part of badass backcountry snowboarder.


And my good friend Rohan. From New Zealand.


After breakfast, I took off down the snowy road towards the river. I was hoping for White-tailed Eagles and Large-billed Crows, but alas, never saw them. The walk along the Sorachi River was quite refreshing and brisk.

Sorachi River
Sorachi River

I saw one bird. And I could not positively identify it. doh! Was it a Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)? possibly. MARSH TIT ? no. Coal Tit ? no.

Willow Tit , maybe
Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)?

According to Lizzie Harper: “The Willow tit is a slightly yellower grey-brown than the Marsh tit, and its black cap extends further down its neck. It also has a black bib, but this tends to be messier than that of the Marsh tit. It also has a pale panel on the wing which is lacking in both its cousin and my illustration. It’s chest and stomach are slightly less pale than the Marsh tit.”

December 23, 2016

Furano, Hokkaido Ice Bar

Filed under: Japan — Tags: , — admin @ 11:46 am

Kan Kan Mura.

It has been snowing since yesterday. The lifts were all closed today because of the high winds. Hoping for some skiing time at Furano tomorrow. The boss invited the boys at the hostel to the opening of his ice bar at Kan Kan Mura, which is just below the Furano Ropeway.

alex and yosta
Alex and Yosta before the event.

Futoshi the boss took us in his Toyota Hi-ace. The roads are all covered in snow and it was an adventure-filled ride.


We had some drinks at the ice bar, then went for a wander around to see the sights.

ice bar
Ice Bar.

Someone had made a teepee out of plastic and put coloured lights inside. It looked pretty fabulous.

snow teepee
Coloured Snow Teepee.

The trees were all lit up by coloured lights as well.

lit up tree
Lit-up tree

Thank you very much Futoshi-san for taking us to the ice bar. 🙂

December 14, 2016

Daet – Camarines Norte

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 11:50 am

Bagasbas Beach, Camarines Norte.

I am about 370 kilometers from Manila, my final destination in the Philippines. Daet is a smallish city in the Camarines Norte, a region of Bicol – South-East Luzon. It has been raining heaps. It pours rain for about 10-15 minutes and then just stops.

Babasbas Beach
Bagasbas Beach.

Yesterday I walked into town and got a tricycle to the beach at Bagasbas, about 3 kilometers from the city. It was windy onshore with horrible messy surf. So I just went for a walk along the beach to the estuary.

Bagasbas Beach estuary
The Estuary.

There were lots of fishermen on the beach and estuary fishing with small nets.

net fishing
Net Fishing.

A huge flock of Greater Sand Plover were plonked on the sandbank at the estuary. They were a bit far away and I could not get closer. A few of them took off and flew over to the beach.

Greater Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)

The fishermen had a bit of competition with this Collared Kingfisher.

Collared Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher

Brown Shrike
Brown Shrike

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul

Bagasbas Beach bird list

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Collared Kingfisher
Brahminy Kite
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
Brown Shrike
Zebra Dove

December 10, 2016

Naga, South-east Luzon

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 2:52 am

Camarines Sur, Bicol.

I am now in the city of Naga, about half way up South-east Luzon. It is a pretty big city. With lots of people and vehicles. Very busy with lots of pollution from all the exhaust fumes.

street view
View from hotel.

This is the view from my expensive hotel. At least the bathroom does not smell like piss, as per usual. And I have a hot water shower. whoopee!!


There are thousands and thousands of tricycles over the Philippines. They are usually Honda motor-bikes with a sidecar manufactured for carrying passengers. The bikes can hardly carry me with my luggage they are so gutless. I do not know how they carry up to five people and sometimes hundreds of kilos of cargo.

armoured van
Armoured Van

You see these things everywhere in front of banks. I have not heard of any bank robberies yet. I have no idea if they happen or not. There are heaps of security guards everywhere, often with shotguns at the ready. It is a bit scary at first but you get used to it after a while.


Jeepneys are used for short-haul trips to towns closer by. To do longer trips, there are buses and air-conditioned Hi-Ace vans.

Social Realism
Heroic Statue.

I have no idea what this is all about but it has definite overtones of Social Realism.

river at naga

This river runs through the city and it is pretty filthy.

Draining into the river

And I guess this is probably one of the reasons, with stuff like this going into the water.

December 8, 2016

South-east Luzon

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:14 am

Samar to Bicol.

Last post was from Catbalogan in Western Samar, Philippines. From there I caught a van to Calbayog, then another one to Catarman. Not much at Catarman, and I could not work out how to get to the beach. From there I caught a bus to Allen, which is at the northern end of Samar.

Home on the river
A home on the river.

This is the other side of the river, some more huts and fishing boats. I really liked Allen. It was only a small town and my hotel was in the countryside a bit, so it was nice and quiet. I wish I had spent more time there.

river village
The other side of the river

The next morning I went to the port and caught the ferry to Bicol. There is no schedule and they just go when they are full of vehicles. This one was coming the other way.

philippines ferry
Ferry to Allen

Just near the port of Matnog on South-east Luzon, I saw this perfect set-up for surfing. This right hand point looked fantastic. Too bad it was only one foot waves. The other side of the island had a left-hander point.

perfect surf setup
Perfect surf set-up.

Here is a roro, Roll on, Roll off ferry at Matnog. Good viewpoint showing how they are utilised.


Now at Sorsogon, just a hundred kilometers up the island of Luzon.


December 3, 2016


Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 12:00 pm

Western Samar. The Philippines.

Another town. They are starting to blend into one another. This is one way to make a garage door – just smash the wall in.

how to make a door
Door-making Skills.

This truck worker wanted me to take his photo, so he stuck a typical film star pose. I think he looks pretty cool.

Cool Truckie
Cool Truckie.

I missed this banca going out against the sunset but it doubled back a bit in time for this great photo.

Sails in the sunset
Banca against the sunset.

These dock-workers were unloading a boat full of cement. Not a job I would like to do.

unloading cement
Unloading cement bags.

Up the river a bit, some bancas had loads of pigs in pens on the boats and people would come and buy them and take them away in tricycles. This pig cost 520 Pesos, about AU$15. The pigs are usually baked on a spit.

This little piggy went to market
Oink Oink.

And a panorama looking over the harbour from the coast guard lighthouse hill.

catbalogan harbour panorama
Harbour panorama.

Another panorama looking inland over the town and the hills behind it.

town panorama
Inland panorama.

An ad for some miracle medicine. A 66 year old Zumba lola and a 99 year old weight lifting lolo use this stuff, so it must work!

Miracle drugs
Lola and Lolo Miracle Supplement!

December 1, 2016

Surf City Eastern Samar

Filed under: Surfing — Tags: , — admin @ 1:04 pm

Borongan. The Philippines.

I have been looking forward to seeing some surf in the Philippines, but when I got here it was onshore and very sloppy. But at least there was something. Yesterday late afternoon, I went for a walk to see if anyone would be going surfing.

Bay Bay Beach
Surfing at Bay Bay Beach

It was raining and horrible but a couple of guys went out and had a go. They were keen as mustard.

Surfing Bay Bay Beach
Sharing the wave.

The next afternoon I went for another walk down the beach. At least the sun was out and the wind had died down a fair bit. There were some kids riding the waves on some home-made boogie boards made out of koolite and wood. This kid even had a fin on it.

Home-made sufing gear
Home-made surfing utensil

The fishermen were coming in on their bancas through the reef.

Bringing the catch home.
Coming home with the catch

It took a few men to carry the boats up onto the beach.

Carrying the boat in
Boat Hauling

These guys were loading into the fish boxes a hundred kilo tuna. It was massive.

100 Kilo Yellowfin Tuna
Hundred Kilogram Yellowfin Tuna

The fishing harbour was inside the rivermouth. It looked like an excellent anchorage.

Fishing harbour
Fishing Harbour.

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