I was feeling just dandy last Saturday morning while we awaited the airport shuttle to pick us up to start a five-day mini vacation to a somewhat tropical island in southern Japan, so I was more than a little dismayed when after hauling the luggage down to the van and settling into my seat that I suddenly realized that my cold – one that plagued me for a month but had, I thought, been over for the last week – had returned with the almost audible thud of a proverbial ton of bricks hitting me. I suddenly felt miserable, and the shuttle driver hadn't even returned to his seat after loading our bags.
Our flight and five days in paradise awaited.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/5, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Dead sunflower in a field of pretty red and pink flowers
Amami Ooshima, in the East China Sea in southern Japan
Other than being sick the whole time, it actually was a nice trip, but being sick was only the start of what seems to have been a cursed vacation. So many little things went wrong that it started to become comical even while we were being besieged by them.
I don't like to complain (too much) on my blog, but I do want to record some of the issues we faced just so that I can revisit and laugh at them in later years. It was not a “vacation to hell” or anything like that... just a “one of those days” type vacation.
We went to Amami Ooshima Island in southern Japan, repeating an excellent new-year's trip that produced a bunch of posts with more still in the queue. The primary goal this time was for Fumie to attend a concert event that included an appearance by Kousuke Atari, a Japanese pop singer we like and have seen many times before.
Anyway, let me list some of the “issues” we faced....
I was sick the entire time.
Fumie's attraction for this particular Kouskuke Atari concert was that it was being held in his home town (the small city of Naze, on Amami Ooshima Island) and due to the nature of the event, he was expected to perform the traditional folk singing he was locally famous for before becoming a professional pop singer. I don't care for the twangy nature of this genre so didn't attend the concert, but Fumie was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it turns out that he did only one such song, as an encore. His concert was otherwise pretty much the same as all the others we've attended (which isn't bad, but disappointing considering the expectations).
(As an example of this traditional music, try track 5 on this page for a CD he made six years ago, in his early 20s. Contrast that with his latest pop single, which (annoyingly) starts playing automatically when you visit his official site at his record label.)
Fumie's goal for the trip was the concert, but for myself, I wanted to be sure to visit Honohoshi Seaside, a “beach” that has grapefruit-sized smooth rocks instead of sand (seen on this earlier post), to make an audio recording of the surf, which – due to the rocks – makes a wonderfully interesting and soothing sound.
We tried to make the two-hour drive on the 3rd day, but I was just too sick, so we had to return. I felt a bit better the next day, so we made the drive and arrived to promptly find that the video camera I'd prepared was not in my A/V backpack where I thought it was. I had the external mic and extra batteries, but no camera. I tore the car apart looking for it, but we must have left it at the hotel. Sigh.
To add insult to injury, I found out the next day that it was in the car while I was looking for it, but in an arm-rest compartment that I didn't realize was there (at least, not after having apparently placed the thing inside earlier in the trip).
After spending a few frustrating minutes trying to attach a polarizing filter at the beach, I discovered that I couldn't do so because there was a dent in the outer edge of the lens where the filter threads are.
I've traditionally kept clear “protect” filters on my lenses, but lately have wondered whether the protection they afford is worth whatever degradation they cause to the image. I know that these filters can cause ghosting in really dark situations, but otherwise I've assumed that they don't degrade the image. Lately, though, I've thought to try without them until I can quantitatively measure their effect, so last week I took them off.
Thus, when I bumped the edge of the lens sometime since then, I ended up damaging my $2,000 Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 zoom instead of an $80 filter.
After leaving Honohoshi Seaside, we thought to make a couple-hour detour toward the western (largely unpopulated) edge of the island to see the sunset. I used the map in the car navigation system to pick a likely spot, and we made the drive only to arrive to find that I'd not noticed a huge sub-island right off the coast, totally blocking any concept of a sunset. It was right there on the car-navi map; I was just stupid for not having noticed it earlier.
So, we returned to the hotel just in time before the restaurant closed, and our dinner was waiting for us. While eating, we found out that Kousuke Atari had eaten at the table right next to us, a couple of hours earlier. Had we not made the ill-fated attempt to see the sunset, we would have had dinner right next to him (and we would have become a bullet point on his “things that annoyed me during my trip home” post )
Our hotel package came with pre-planned breakfasts and dinners, and the volume of food they brought was so overwhelmingly astounding that I continually felt really bad about the egregious waste of food that no one human could possibly eat, even when not having a cold.
The one day that I stood a chance to actually make a good dent in what they offered – the yakiniku barbecue on the night we just missed Kousuke Atari – I felt a bit queasy from the cold and couldn't do more than nibble.
At some point while taking pictures of Anthony running around on the beach, I realized that my camera was not in its highest-quality “raw mode”, but had somehow gotten switched to low-quality “basic jpg” mode. Ugh. I'm still a bad enough photographer that I rely on the latitude that shooting raw affords, and that was lost for a whole day's worth of pictures.
I got a call from Zak telling me that my blog had been down for the last couple of days, in case I wasn't aware of it. No, I wasn't. (With help from Zak and my brother, I was able to get things repaired, so their help is a bright spot that I appreciate.)
There really were some wonderful moments (and I'll share them another day), so I'm glad we went, but it did feel a bit cursed at times. I enjoy the location, so I look forward to going again sometime, preferably when I'm not sick(!)
Having gone also saved us from the apparently horrible cold and rainy weather in Kyoto during the time. We returned yesterday afternoon to a dreary Kyoto, with cherry blossoms approaching full bloom but appearing totally drab and pathetic. Traffic in our area was a nightmare, as it is twice every year, during cherry-blossom and fall-foliage seasons.
I returned to find 510 emails messages in my queue (all but a few being spam or related to my server problems), 360 unread messages on the private Lightroom beta-testers forum, and 100+ unread items on the blogs I read. Add to that the release of Lightroom 2.0 beta that I was out of town for, and the 1,207 photos we took, and I had my work cut out for me.
Today, my cold is a bit better and the weather is wonderful. The sun is out and the cherry blossoms look great, just begging to be photographed. I'm not sure I quite have the energy today, but the forecast is for ever-improving weather for the next few days, so things continue to look up.