If there's one thing I love to do as a photographer, it's to venture out and capture images of rustic life in the villages. A terrific place to do this is Ikei Island on the east coast of Okinawa, accessible by causeway from Uruma City. I was only there for a morning and had other business to attend to, but I brought my camera bag along in the hope that I'd find something worth shooting. Intuition paid off. In the brief time I had, I managed to acquire some pictures I really like.
The first thing I went looking for was a set of Shisa Lions. These aren't hard to find in Okinawa, where they guard the entrances of just about every house and apartment, but the kind of beautiful background I like to shoot has proved more elusive. Fortunately, Ikei Island offered up exactly what I was looking for on a nice bright day perfect for shooting.
Generally, shisas are found in pairs, one on each side of the gate leading to the front door of the house. Sometimes, they are found on the roof as well. I wanted to frame the shisas in such a way that both were in the frame, but only the near shisa was in sharp focus. I also wanted the background out of focus, but not so soft that the texture of the trees would be lost. Shooting fully extended with a 55-200 EF lens on my Canon 5D Mk2, I managed to get what I was after, with some nice bokeh to boot. I used ISO 400 so I could set a fast enough shutter to reduce camera shake and shot at f/5.6, which for this lens at 200mm is wide open. The image was cropped and processed gently in Adobe Lightroom.
After I nailed enough two-shots to satisfy me, I looked for a single, ideally a closeup. It's not always easy to find pleasing foreground, but Ikei Island gave me exactly what I was looking for. This subject of this shot is the far shisa in the photo above, shot from the opposite side, using a manicured tree as green foreground. It puts more depth in the frame, provides additional context and make the picture more intimate. The shisa almost looks like its hiding behind the tree.
Of course, there was a lot more to shoot than shisas. Walking through the narrow roadways, which were blissfully quiet except for the sounds of birds and other tiny critters, I happened upon a mikan tree, the ripe fruit of which was falling to the ground. I wanted a shot that would allow me to capture the timeworn stone of the walls on the opposite side of the road, but which also featured the fruit and other debris in the immediate foreground. In order to enhance the rustic feel, I went for a soft look, shooting full wide at f/4 on my 24-70 Canon zoom lens. My intention was to make one of the oranges perfectly sharp, throwing both the foreground and background out of focus. I further sharpened the center orange in post processing to accentuate the difference and slightly boosted the saturation and luminance of the fruit.
I shot a few more images, which I won't share here today. Unfortunately, time constraints put a limit on the number of exposures I could take, but I'd have to say I'm happy with what I got in the limited time I had. I'm glad I brought my camera!
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My simple blog about the art and science of photography.