Meet Your Neighbours project – Okinawa, Japan

Founded in 2009, Meet Your Neighbours is a worldwide photographic initiative created by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. The project is dedicated to reconnecting people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps and enriching their lives in the process. These creatures and plants are vital to people: they represent the first, and for some, the only contact with wild nature we have. Yet too often they are overlooked, undervalued.

There are seventy-five worldwide contributors to this powerful project. I am currently  the Japan contributor to this project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.  Below are some of my favorite images.

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Okinawan green tree frog

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Percnon planissimum – crab

Cherry blossom  -Mt Yaedake

Cherry blossom -Mt Yaedake

Crabs with beach trash homes

Crabs with beach trash homes

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko -MYN

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Porcelain crab ( Petrolisthes hastatus ) -Okinawa

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Ryukyu odd-tooth snake ( Dinodon semicarinatum )

Scopimera ryukyuensis - Ryukyu Islands

Scopimera ryukyuensis – Ryukyu Islands

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Fern – Ryukyu Islands

 

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Gray faced buzzard eagle

Princess habu -MYN technique

Princess habu -MYN technique

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

Charybdis japonica -Yagaji Island

American bullfrog - Izena Island

American bullfrog – Izena Island

Chinese cowrie

Chinese cowrie

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan Habu- MYN field studio technique

Okinawan mud lobster

Okinawan mud lobster

Sesarmops intermedius

Sesarmops intermedius

Air breathing marine slug

Air breathing marine slug

Unidentified earthworm -  MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Unidentified earthworm – MYN and under Blue light Kume Island

Geograpsus grayi

Geograpsus grayi

Anderson's crocodile newt

Anderson’s crocodile newt

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Blueberry hermit crabs (Coenobita purpureus)

Have a great day !

Endangered – The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) Okinawa, Japan

The Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a common winter visitor in southern Okinawa. The spoonbill is currently endangered and has an estimated population of less than 3000. It’s biggest treats are habitat loss, pollution and pesticides. The Black-faced spoonbill is currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Platalea minor)
  • Distribution: Okinawa, Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan
  • Habitat: Mud flats, mangroves and wetlands
  • Diet:  Fish
  • Average Size:  73.5 cm
The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill in flight

The Black-faced spoonbill is a magnificent animal.

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The beautiful Black-faced spoonbill

The Black-faced spoonbills work as a team when hunting for fish.

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-community hunting

Out of all the birds at the mudflats, the spoonbills are the most consistent hunters. They rest most of the day, but when its time to fish they always catch one fairly quickly.

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Black-faced spoonbill-hunting

The Spoonbills in flight

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Black-faced Spoonbill in flight

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor)

The Spoonbill landing – The art of conveying Motion !

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Th Black-faced spoonbill -landing

Let’s Protect the beauty of Okinawa!

The Art of Wide-Angle Macro Photography by Shawn Miller

Wide-angle macro photography is popular with wildlife photographers. The technique allows the photographer to document the animal in its natural habitat and show the full scene it lives in. The photographs have great impact and deliver a bug eye perspective using a wide angle lens.

I generally use off camera flash with a custom soft box to make these photographs. Lately I have been testing a variety of on camera flashes to achieve a different perspective. One of the biggest challenges is lighting the subject evenly with soft diffused lighting.

The most popular lenses used for wide angle macro photography ( WAM )  

  • Tokina fisheye 10-17mm f3.5-4.5
  • Nikon fisheye 10.5mm f2.8
  • Sigma fisheye 15mm f2.8 E
  • Venus Laowa 15mm f4 –    (Manual focus only)

Here are some of my favorite wide-angle macro images photographed in Okinawa-Japan.

Fighting pose - Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Fighting pose – Preying mantis, IPhone 6s

Hermit crabs of Okinawa

Hermit crabs of Okinawa

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Geograpsus grayi with eggs

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog – The most beautiful frog in Japan

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset

Horn-eyed ghost crab at sunset -Nikon 10.5mm

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Herping in the yanbaru forest

Crabs with trash homes - Sesoko

Crabs with trash homes – Sesoko

I own this fence -Golden habu

I own this fence – Golden habu

Ghost crab - Nagahama beach

Ghost crab – Nagahama beach

Pryer's keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Pryer’s keelback feeding on a white jawed frog

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

Baby loggerhead leaving the nest

coconut rhinoceros beetle

Invasive – Coconut rhinoceros beetle

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Blue rock-thrush with wings spread

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Princess habu -Yanbaru

Kuroiwa's ground gecko crossing the road

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko crossing the road

Okinawan green tree frog

Okinawan green tree frog

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus)

Giant stag Beetle (Dorcus titanus) -Ie Island

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Okinawa tip-nosed frog ( Rana narina )

Hermit crab at sunset

Hermit crab at sunset

Land crab crossing the road  at night

Land crab crossing the road at night

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

Hermit crabs with beach trash homes

on the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

On the move- Black-breasted leaf turtle

Asian long horned beetle

Asian long horned beetle

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Crabs with trash homes-Yomitan

Road dweller- Namie's frog- Stella 2000

Road dweller- Namie’s frog- Stella 2000

Praying mantis

Praying mantis -with kenko 1.4 T

If you would like to learn more about this technique I recommend                                          Wide-Angle Macro: The Essential Guide by Clay Bolt and Paul Harcourt Davies

  http://www.e-junkie.com/shop/product/482943.php

 

 

 

 

 

Using the Light & Motion Sola red light feature to document the marine life of Okinawa

I have been using the Light & Motion Sola series underwater lights for over two years now. They are the most reliable lights I have ever used underwater. The Sola photo series 800 and 1200 offer a red light feature. This feature enables the user to photograph the marine life without disturbing them. Most marine animals do not see or react to the red light.

I decided to put the Sola red light to the test on some marine subjects. I first setup a small studio saltwater aquarium to place the specimens in.

Aquarium setup - Documenting the Marine Life of Okinawa

Aquarium setup – Meet Your Neighbours Project

I wanted to photograph some marine gastropods with their shell and body showing. I first tried using white light, but they immediately retreated back into their shell.  As soon as I turned on the red light the marine snails crawled around as if it was nighttime. This red light feature allowed me to get the documentation photograph that I planned.

Cowrie shells are one of many beautiful marine animals found in Okinawa. Photographing the animals on white isolate the subject without any distractions.  

Chinese cowrie ( Ovatipsa chinensis )

Chinese cowrie ( Ovatipsa chinensis )

The animals are handled with care and then released back into the the environment without harm. The Images are used for conversation awareness and educational purposes.

 

Teres cowrie shell ( Blasicrura teres pellucens )

Teres cowrie shell ( Blasicrura teres pellucens )

I usually use the Sola Red light underwater. This is my underwater rig with the Light & Motion Sola 600 mounted on top of my Ikelite underwater housing. 

Underwater setup with sola 600

Underwater setup with sola 600

Learn more about the Light & Motion Sola series.   http://www.lightandmotion.com/choose-your-light/sola

Learn more about the Meet Your Neighbours Project.   http://meetyourneighbours.net/okinawa-neighbours/

Have a great day-

Slow Down! – Let’s Protect The Okinawa Rail

The Okinawa rail is a flightless bird only found in the northern part of Okinawa. It is a protected species and declared a living natural monument. It is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species.  In 2012 populations of this endemic bird were estimated at 1500 by the Environment Ministry.

okinawa rail

The Okinawan rail -

The rail is often found feeding on the side of the road. It feeds on worms, snails and insects.

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

Okinawa rail posing ( Hypotaenidia okinawae)

When defending its territory, the rail will become aggressive and flare its wings.

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

Angry Bird- Okinawa rail

 

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted along the main roads in northern Okinawa for their protection.

Okinawa rail awareness signs are posted

Okinawa rail awareness signs

The speed limit is only 40km/h so watch your speed for the protection of the wildlife. The rails are often seen feeding on the side of the road.

40km/h speed sign

Posted speed limit is 40km/h

I have observed these birds crossing the road on many occasions. They have no problems crossing when people are driving the speed limit. Speeding decreases your reaction time so slow down and pay attention to all crossing wildlife.

Okinawa rail crossing the road

Okinawa rail crossing the road

 

An Okinawa rail that was killed by a speeding motor vehicle on Route 2 in northern Okinawa.

okinawa rail - road kill

okinawa rail – road kill

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa, Japan.

Have a great day!

Facing extinction – Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)

Ishikawa’s frog (Odorrana ishikawae) is the most beautiful frog found in Japan. It is only found in northern Okinawa and currently on the endangered species list. It is one of the many endemic species facing extinction due to habitat loss. Ishikawa’s frog is a designated national monument of Okinawa.

This is my favorite frog on Okinawa. I have only seen about a dozen in the last three years.

shikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)  Night dwelling in the Yanbaru forest, Okinawa

They live around mountain streams in the Yanbaru forest. They hide in cracks and crevices in the rocks making it hard to photograph them at times.

Ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Adult Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)   ” out of the den “

They are also masters of of camouflage. The unique pattern helps them blend into the the moss and leaves on the riverside.

ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)       ” blending into the surrounding  “

Iskikawa's frog searching for a meal

Iskikawa’s frog searching for a meal

Photographing the frog on white ( MYN technique ) isolates the subject without any distractions. The images are used for conversation awareness and educational purposes.

ishikawa's Frog (Odorrana ishikawae) Yanbaru forest ,Okinawa

Ishikawa’s Frog (Odorrana ishikawae)     MYN  - Isolation Technique

A juvenile Ishikawa’s frog searching for food.  (Wide angle perspective)

herpetologists dream come true - the find

herpetologists dream come true – the find

Sometimes they can bee seen crossing the road !

Crossing the road - Kunigami Village

Crossing the road – Kunigami Village

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog – Photographed using the L&M Stella 2000

Top view- Ishikawa's frog

Top view- Ishikawa’s frog

Be careful and pay close attention to crossing wildlife.

Ishikawa's Frog

Ishikawa’s Frog -Wide angle macro photography

Let’s protect the wildlife of Okinawa!