Sunday, November 22, 2009

Okinawa Dining Out

We went out to dinner last night at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Well, I suppose it's actually a Japanese restaurant (Okinawan to be specific), but they serve their version of Chinese food. The prices are low, the portions are enormous, and the food is quite tasty.


We had to park on the roof of a nearby discount store (parking on the roof is quite popular here; think "up" instead of "out"), and I saw a nifty shirt in there. If you've ever visited, you've probably seen plenty of similar products. I don't know what this shirt is supposed to mean, but somebody, somewhere, thought it was clever!


More vending machines! Some of the drinks look pretty interesting.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Kin Sunrise

I snapped a picture on the way to work a few weeks ago, and I realized that I really liked it. This is looking ESE at about 5:15 AM. I love that you can just make out the oil pumping derricks at about "7 o'clock" under the sun.

Kin Sunrise1

It was interesting to see what my little camera would do while pointed directly into the sun.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Canon Powershot SD780IS Review and Blogger Notes

It's been several weeks since I got my Canon Powershot SD780IS "Elph." Here's my take on it, and please keep in mind that I am NOT a photographer (that should be obvious when you take a quick look at my previous posts and pictures). Image above was actually swiped from (click here for it) another review.

I went downstairs to dig up the receipt for this little camera, just because I'm trying to figure out how long it has been since I've charged the battery. I charged it immediately after purchasing this little powerhouse (mid September), and it hasn't required a charging since. I've never been a big fan of devices that have a discrete battery, vice those that use common AA or AAA sources, but this one seems to be a winner. It also uses the same battery as a couple of other Canon models, so it should remain easily replaceable if it suffers some type of failure, or develops a memory.

This little point and shoot camera is a direct replacement of a very cheap model that my wife got me a year or so ago. That "El cheapo," as I like to call it, model took a licking, and it finally stopped ticking. Actually, it will still take pictures, but the internal optics failed to hold up to the environment here in Okinawa.

The SD780IS has been very easy to use, fast to power up, focuses well in AF mode, and has intuitive features that even a dummy like me can figure out. The image quality is far superior to that of my previous camera(s), and it even has the capability to take 12.1 MP shots, which can be a boon if I want to enlarge them. When I examine the raw shots on my wife's fancy big monitor, they look great! The camera produces some pretty big files, though, around 3MB per picture at a moderate setting for size and a high setting for quality.

I've been very impressed with this camera's ability to take good macro shots. I'm still experimenting, but there will undoubtedly be more pics of bugs and flowers in my future. A couple of reviews that I read elsewhere mentioned that it has a slightly smaller lens than some previous models (which can affect wide angle and telephoto shots), but this is also one of the smallest cameras that Canon makes. They packed plenty of features into it, though, including the ability to shoot HD video. With some experimentation, I quickly discovered that the audio associated with video is pretty poor (a little tinny, with little or no bass).

It produces very rich colors, even with the "auto" settings enabled, and a little tweaking for sunsets, or portraits helps a lot! I've noticed that it tries really hard to help me out when I leave it in the simple auto mode, but that can only do so much. Facing into the sun has predictable results, but still generates some interesting shots, especially over water. The face recognition feature is neat when dealing with kids! The aperture size and shutter speeds are easy to manipulate in manual mode, if you know what you're doing (I don't), and give you the capability to tailor the shot to the conditions. ISO setting can be quickly accessed as well, as can various "dumbed down" settings that accomplish the same thing (sports setting, etc).

My biggest source of pleasure with this camera is the fact that it is SO easy to keep with me, and employ in time of need. With my current profession, I have a deep appreciation for a quality product that can be put into use quickly, and efficiently. This camera indeed does that, and it does that very well. With almost little thought, I can capture quality images, and rely on this device to do it every time. Isn't that what a point-and-shoot camera should be?

My greatest source of displeasure associated with this camera actually has nothing to do with the camera itself: Blogger. I do not like what Blogger does when I upload an image. The resizing and dramatic reduction in quality are obstacles that I've not yet figured out how to overcome. I've seen numerous Wordpress themed blogs that have much better looking images on them. Mine are nowhere near what their original form looks like (even when clicking to download the larger version).

In a nutshell, I would definitely recommend this camera to someone looking for a quality point-and-shoot model that is easy to use. Fast, dependable (so far), and a producer of good images, this camera is a keeper.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sugarcane and Habu


This is one of the many sugarcane fields here on Okinawa. They are everywhere! You can find small cane fields just about anywhere on the island, from downtown Naha, to the rural northern areas. Anywhere that there's an open spot of dirt, somebody will plant a crop of some kind, and sugarcane is one of the most popular here.

The sugarcane, and other crops, are a bit of a double edged sword: They provide income and food, but they are home to one of the island's more dangerous inhabitants, the habu. Habus are a local species of viper, similar to a rattlesnake, and easily irritated. If they feel threatened, they will bite. The crops draw mice, and the mice attract the habu. Luckily, the habu's venom is only fatal to about 3% of its victims. On the other hand, bites are actually pretty common, at about 1 per 1,000 people (article here). That can make Geocaching pretty interesting.

Here's a picture of a habu:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Harvest Time

I previously posted (click here) about the local farming of rice. Guess what? Time to reap the harvest!

It's still harvested by hand here, and the farmers hang it up in various locations to dry. In this picture, you can see that it is hung along the highway for a significant distance. Those railings come in handy! As usual, you can click the pic for the full size version.