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A Visit to Okinawa’s Kouri Island
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
The Lengths I Go To Get a Shot — on my belly in the middle of a Japanese road — -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
The Lengths I Go
To Get a Shot
— on my belly in the middle of a Japanese road —

I posted the other day a nice picture of the sun streaming down to light a bridge that I took during our New-Year's trip to Okinawa, and on that post I lamented about the general unexciting flatness of the pictures from that day.

Still, the visit to the small island was a fun excursion, so dull photo or not, here they come...

Kouri Island is a small, generally circular island about a mile and a quarter across, less than a mile offshore from the Okinawa mainland. It's connected by a big bridge, but not directly: you have to cross three bridges and two other islands, traveling about five miles, to get there from the mainland.

There's pretty much nothing on it of interest, but it was fun to explore.

View of the Island from the nearest intermediate island on the route in -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
View of the Island
from the nearest intermediate island on the route in
near the parking lot at the start of the bridge: Yellow, for a Change Japan has lots of red berries this time of year -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 66 mm — 1/125 sec, f/3.5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
near the parking lot at the start of the bridge:
Yellow, for a Change
Japan has lots of red berries this time of year
One-Handed Photography At 70kph through the windshield -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
One-Handed Photography At 70kph
through the windshield
First Stop on the Island -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
First Stop on the Island
Me ( photo by Fumie M. Friedl ) -- Kouri Island -- Kouri, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Fumie M. Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- Fumie M. Friedl
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm — 1/200 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Me
( photo by Fumie M. Friedl )

Despite the wide open views seen above, much of the island was covered with dense foliage of some sort... trees, sugar cane, etc., so if was often difficult to tell where you were if you couldn't see the bridge for orientation.

Shack -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Shack
Sugar Cane -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm — 1/125 sec, f/13, ISO 2800 — map & image datanearby photos
Sugar Cane

Sometimes roads were barely more than paths through the brush or sugar cane....

Tight Fit -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Tight Fit
Gunna' Get Tighter -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Gunna' Get Tighter

iPhone / Google Maps / Live GPS
in action

Half the fun of exploring new places is getting lost, but not too lost. The rental car had the navigation system, which was great, but what was fantastic was the real-time location on Google Maps satellite images, via my iPhone.

I snapped the screenshot at right while we were at an overlook at the highest point on the island (marked with a blue dot). I added the red arrow, to show where the two “tight fit” shots above were taken. (You can click on the “map & image data” link under any picture to see where it was taken.)

You can zoom in on the satellite images to fairly good detail (both on the iPhone, and in your browser) and get an amazing perspective on your location. There are a few drawbacks, as one might expect. The satellite views give you no sense of elevation, and on them the island looks flat. In reality, it's the top of a mountain sticking out of the water.

(As an aside, I'll note that Google Earth can give a great sense of elevation.... one that can be downright eerie at times. If you have Google Earth, click on this link to launch Google Earth and be brought to a view of a snowy area. Let it load completely, and be sure that “Terrain” is checked in the list of Layers. Try to visualize in 3D what you see. Then, try panning the image back and forth a bit, and suddenly it will all be clear.)

Anyway, while the location is real-time accurate due to the iPhone's GPS receiver, the images, of course, are not. When you zoom up to the area where the “tight fit” photos were taken, it looks like a perfectly nice, easily-passable road. Maybe the image was taken after the harvest. The location where the blue dot is is a park/overlook, but in the image it's a forest. I take it, then, that the overlook is new.

There's the Bridge Again ( the island is a small circle, so the bridge comes into view eventually ) -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/11, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
There's the Bridge Again
( the island is a small circle, so the bridge comes into view eventually )
And Again -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
And Again
Ferry Bypassing the Island no need for a ferry since the bridge was build, three years ago -- Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm — 1/2500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Ferry Bypassing the Island
no need for a ferry since the bridge was build, three years ago

I like the pictures for their memory value, but photographically they're uninspiring. Still, the day wasn't a total photographic loss. On the way there we saw wild cherry blossoms blooming in January, and on the way home I snapped the Lonely Island shot. And later that evening is when I had the amazing luck with the low-light photos at the hotel.


Comments so far....

“Shack” is my favorite photo from this set (though it hasn’t surpassed “Stream Bisecting Kinosaki’s Onsens” from a few posts back as my current “Holy Cow, my brother took that shot!” shot).

On a non-photo note – am I in your will – perhaps for your Nikon D700? Could I be? Because if you are lying in the middle of the road, and taking one handed shots looking through your camera while driving 70kph, this could be very pertinent in the near future!

— comment by Marcina on January 31st, 2009 at 8:37am JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I love the first picture, very brave ;-)

Not so brave, believe me. Fumie was standing watch, with a clear view 20+ seconds in both directions. I did risk getting my clothes dirty, so yeah, maybe it was brave :-) —Jeffrey

— comment by Gianluca on January 31st, 2009 at 10:09pm JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I found your blog a couple of years ago, when I was researching the purchase of my first DSLR (Nikon D80) and have kept coming back for the photos of Japan and its people. Do you have any idea if the iPhone will somehow connect to a D300 or D700 to provide GPS location to the camera? This would be very convenient and potentially more accurate in urban areas without line of sight to the satellites.

— comment by Tom Larsen on February 3rd, 2009 at 6:15am JST (5 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Aloha Jeffrey,

My mother nad I enjoyed your photos of Kouri jima, Okinawa. This is the island my mom was born on and retreated to during the Battle of Okinawa. If you have more photos of the town, its people, ….. anything, we would appreciate seeing them.

We were there visiting in March 2007. We still have family there.

Aloha, Sherrill

— comment by Sherrill on July 14th, 2009 at 4:42pm JST (4 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey, Just a note to say your photos and narrative of your Okinawa trip have warmed my heart! I spent my middle school years and first year of high school there from 1972-75 when my father was stationed there. Okinawa is a place I could not get out of my heart and I traveled there with the blessings of my husband and daughter in July 2008 and spent 3 glorious weeks by myself. I met incredible people along the way and had the experience of a lifetime. Needless to say, I did NOT get Okinawa out of my system, so your photos and descriptions were a wonderful find for me! Your photos represent Okinawa beautifully and they make me feel really nostalgic. I will definitely go back one day, but your photos make me feel I’m there today! Thank you so much from Atlanta, Robin

— comment by Robin on July 28th, 2010 at 11:29am JST (3 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Such nice comments! You deserve them.

— comment by Anne on September 16th, 2012 at 6:03am JST (1 year, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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