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.

12051921826_3aafff45a9_b

Okinawan green tree frog

11695001605_f32e144de8_b

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

17022692518_99dd5e7837_b

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 !

Sword-tailed newt – Endangered species

The Sword-tailed newt (Cynops ensicauda) is an endangered species found on the main islands of Okinawa an Amami. It is currently listed endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. This amphibian is decreasing in numbers due to deforestation and road kill.

  • Scientific name: Cynops ensicauda
  • Distribution: Okinawa and Anami Islands
  • Habitat: Forests, wetlands and fresh water streams
  • Diet: Amphibian eggs, tadpoles, snails, worms and insects
  • Average size: 100-180mm
Sword tailed newt with stripes

Sword tailed newt with stripes

They all have bright orange bellies, which serve as a warning sign to predators that they are poisonous. When threatened they produce a transparent skin toxin.

  •  Poisonous animals are toxic if you eat them or ingest their secretions.  Irritations may occur after handling these newts if you have open wounds. Avoid rubbing your eyes or placing your hands in your mouth.

Photographed on a white field studio board for the Meet your neighbours global biodiversity project (MYN).  All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

MYN technique - Sword tailed newt

MYN technique – Sword tailed newt

11695868544_ae57a8196f_b

Sword-tailed newt- Okinawa, Japan

The newt photographed in its natural habitat.

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat

Sword-tailed newt in natural habitat


An average looking sword-tailed newt with a blood sucking leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

Sword-tailed newt with leech

The Sword- tailed newt is often found crossing the road on rainy days in northern Okinawa. The government has designed specialized wildlife steps for animals that get trapped in road side drainage ditches. These steps allow the newts to crawl out safely.

Wildlife steps

Wildlife steps

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa!

 

 

 

 

Testing the Venus Laowa 60mm F2.8 macro lens underwater

Laowa 60mmn f2.8 macro lens

Dive Team Miller Underwater set-up with Canon 70d Laowa 60mmn f2.8 macro lens-  Ikelite housing with 8inch dome port, 1 ikelite 160 strobe , 1 ikelite 200 strobe, 1 sola 600 and 1 gobe 700 focus light.

The Venus Laowa 60mm macro lens is a technical lens with great optics. The specialized lens is manual focus and manual aperture selection.  I had to use my wide angle dome port since this was the only port I had the lens would fit into. I preset the lens to a 1:2 ratio and used an aperture setting of F8. I went with the aperture setting of F8 since it was an overcast day and I wanted to see my subject through the viewfinder in the low light.  I used two modeling lights to add artificial light, which allowed me to see through the viewfinder at a depth of 100 feet. The focusing distance was already preset on the surface, so all I had to do was to move the camera until I saw the subject was in focus and take the shot.  It was very difficult to use with subjects that were moving. This was my first dive using this lens underwater and have more testing to do. Here are some of my images using the Venus Laowa 60mm macro lens underwater at Maeda point, Okinawa-Japan.

Tomato anemonefish -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Tomato anemonefish -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Cushion starfish underside abstract

Cushion starfish underside abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Clark's Anemonefish -

Clark’s Anemonefish – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract - Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Canthigaster coronata

Canthigaster coronata -Laowa 60mm macr0 F8

Bubble coral -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Bubble coral -Laowa 60mm macro F8

Coral abstract

Coral abstract – Laowa 60mm macro F8

Test dive two, I set the aperture to F11 with a focus distance between 1:1-1:2. It was  challenging working with all moving subjects. The dome port was to close for comfort for moving subjects such as fish.  Stay tuned for more images later this week!

Coral abstracts -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstracts -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Sea anemone -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Sea anemone -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Cushion star -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Cushion star -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstract -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Coral abstract -Laowa 60mm macro F11

Check out Thomas Shahan’s review of the Venus 60mm macro lens – The best of the best!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSpE_JE7Uyo

Check out Nicky Bay’s review review of the Venus 15mm Wide angle macro lens -The best of the best!   http://sgmacro.blogspot.jp/2015/06/review-of-venus-optics-laowa-15mm-f4-11.html

Check out Paul Harcourt Davies review on the Venus 15mm Wide angle macro lens- The best of the best!  http://learnmacro.com/closer-still-first-forays-with-the-venus-optics-laowa15mm-f4-wide-angle-11-macro-lens/

Have a great day!

Capturing fluorescence – Fluorescence enhancement photography by Shawn Miller

All photographers experience a time when their work becomes redundant and lose vision. The Light & Motion Sola Nightsea has opened up a new style of photography for me. Recently I have been blending the Light&Motion Nightsea blue light with ambient light and getting beautiful vibrant results.

Here are some of my favorite images using this fluorescence enhancement technique.

Green fire- coral polyps

Green fire- coral polyps

nightsea and sola 600 blended

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended,  -  fluorescence

Coral  art

Coral art

Coral Okinawa

Coral Okinawa

Tube anemone -

Tube anemone -

Patterns and texture-

Patterns and texture-

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

blue light ambient light no ylfilter.jpg 4

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

nighsea and sola 600 blended no yl filter 1

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Coral with Acoel flatworms

Coral with Acoel flatworms

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended-  fluorescence

Razor coral-

Razor coral-

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- Luminescence a fluorescence

Nightsea and Sola 600 blended- fluorescence

Learn more about Light and Motion lights - http://www.lightandmotion.com/the-perfect-light

Have a great day-

Fluoro fingerprinting by Shawn Miller

On February 16th 2015, I went out reef walking at night during low tide. I brought my Light and Motion Nightsea blue light in search of marine life fluorescence. I stumbled upon an interesting find in the world of science. I call it Fluoro fingerprinting.

I flipped over a rock, a small sea cucumber fell off and began to fluoresce under blue light. I found another sea cucumber and photographed it using the blue light and yellow excitation filter but it did not fluoresce.

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis under blue light

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis under blue light

I gently touched it with my finger and it fluoresced bright green, leaving the print of my finger on the surface of the sea cucumber.

Fluoro fingerprinting. Okinawa-Japan

Fluoro fingerprinting. Okinawa-Japan

I checked my finger and noticed it fluoresced light green under blue light.

fluoro fingerprinting

Fluoro fingerprinting

I was excited about this find and posted it Flickr for some Identification help and explanation. Curt Fieldler emailed the photograph to Dr Alexander Kerr from the University Of Guam Marine lab and he was kind enough to assist.

 Dr Kerr stated that the species is known to have green pigment that I have seen in other Sea cucumbers. As far as the fingerprint, It seems to indicate that touching the surface of the Sea cucumber exposes the underlying carotenoid, perhaps by mobilizing the the melanin pigments. So I think you have made an interesting find. 

The next step was to photograph Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in a studio aquarium using the Meet your neighbours isolation technique.  I wanted to show the animal stretched out displaying  the tube feet and feathery feeding tentacles.  

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis  -MYN

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis -MYN

The last step was to photograph Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in its natural environment during the daytime.

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis

Holothuria (Platyperona) difficilis in natural environment

Learn more about capturing fluorescence http://www.nightsea.com/

Learn more about the lights used http://www.lightandmotion.com/

Learn more about Meet your Neighbours Project http://meetyourneighbours.net/

Have a great day!

 

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) -Endangered species

Pryer’s woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) is the prefecture bird of Okinawa and designated as a natural treasure of Japan. They are a rare species only found in the northern part of Okinawa and are currently listed critically endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

  • Scientific name (Dendrocopos noguchii)
  • Distribution:  Northern Okinawa
  • Habitat: Yanbaru Forest
  • Diet:  Beetle larvae, moths, spiders, centipedes and fruit
  • Average Size:  30cm – 35mm
WILDLIFE AS CANON SEES IT -Published National Geographic May 2015

Shawn Miller featured – WILDLIFE AS CANON SEES IT -Published National Geographic May 2015

The woodpecker can rotate its head 180 degrees to capture the difficult insects. This is the first and only time I have observed this occurring.

Pryer's woodpecker  180 head twist

Pryer’s woodpecker 180 head twist

This woodpecker is unique. It feeds its young only one insect at a time.

Pryer's woodpecker in flight

Pryer’s woodpecker in flight

Both parents stay busy feeding the chicks. The nests can have up to three chicks.

Pryer's woodpecker feeding chick

Pryer’s woodpecker feeding chick

The woodpeckers biggest threats are deforestation and natural predators.

The woodpeckers natural threat

The woodpeckers natural threat – Jungle Crow

My favorite image of The Pryer’s woodpecker.

Pryer's woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Pryer’s woodpecker (Sapheopipo Noguchii) Yanbaru forest

Lets protect the wildlife of Okinawa.

Have a great day!

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko, Threatened species!

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko is an endangered species found throughout Okinawa. This lizard is decreasing in numbers due to poaching, deforestation, and the threat of feral cats. The lizard is high valued in the illegal pet trade market and needs to protected. This is my favorite reptile to photograph on my night adventures in Okinawa.

  • Scientific name: Goniurosaurus kuroiwae
  • Distribution:  Okinawajima
  • Habitat:  Leaf littered forests 
  • Diet:  Worms and insects
  • Average Size:  110mm -130mm
Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

This is the first ground gecko I photographed in 2010. I found it under a piece of carpet in Onna Village. Illegal dumping is a huge problem in Okinawa.

1st Ground Gecko

1st Ground Gecko

In the daytime they live in caves, crevices and holes in the ground

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

They come out to feed at night.  

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

When they feel threatened they will stand up on all fours and try to intimate you with a stare down.

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko

Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko

Photographed on white for the Meet your neighbours global biodiversity project. All images are used for conservation awareness and educational purposes.

Kuroiwa's Ground Gecko -MYN

Goniurosaurus kuroiwae orientalis – Ie Island

We found this juvenile ground gecko in the Yanbaru forest in Northern Okinawa.

Juvenile Ground gecko

Juvenile Ground gecko

A wide angle macro perspective .

Ground gecko -WAM

Ground gecko -Wide angle macro

Pay attention to crossing wildlife!

Kuroiwa's ground gecko -endangered

Kuroiwa’s ground gecko -endangered

Let’s protect the beautiful animals of Okinawa!

Have a great day!