In the Ballpark of Hope: Okinawan Grave In the Dark
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The other day I posted a tree/island silhouette that I took on our recent jaunt to Okinawa. The shot was taken in the rain under a gloomy overcast, near dusk. Because I was exposing for the silhouette, I could get by with a relatively undemanding exposure that I could have achieved even with my old D200...

Rainy-Day Gloom looks sorta' bright -- Oujima -- Nago, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Rainy-Day Gloom
looks sorta' bright
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I took the shot from a beach near the road, and while returning to the parking lot in the increasing rain, I noticed an Okinawan grave tucked away deep in a clump of trees, nestled in the darkness at the side of a hill....

, f/5, ISO 6400 — map & image data — nearby photos Okinawan Grave nestled in the darkness -- Oujima -- Nago, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/5 sec freestanding handheld, f/5, ISO 6400map & image datanearby photos
Okinawan Grave
nestled in the darkness

The picture is not going to win any prizes, but the fact that I could get anything in that situation is absolutely astounding. Prior to the D700, I would have never even considered attempting a shot without a tripod: the 100% chance of failure was not worth the calories it would cost to press the shutter button.

The D700's low-light abilities are amazing (see “Impossible Photography: No Light, No Tripod, No Hope”) but everything has limits, and in the murkiness under the trees against the side of the hill, it was too dark, even at ISO 6400. Still, it was now in the ballpark of hope, so I gave it a try – handheld freestanding at 1/5th of a second – and got acceptable results. Amazing.

It was actually darker than it looks in the photo, but the D700 sometimes meters a bit on the bright side. I actually had to lower the exposure 2/3rd of a stop in Lightroom just to get it this dark. If I actually lowered it enough so that it reflected reality, it'd be too dark to really see much, so what you see here is the reality/practicality balance I decided on.

Anyway, people have been living on these islands for 6,000+ years, so if you drive in rural areas you'll find these graves all over the place, alone or in small groups. This particular one is on a small (mall-sized) island that a road runs through (it's part of a bridge/island link to a much larger, populated island further offshore). Prior to the bridge/road coming through, it would have been isolated from the Okinawan mainland and too small to make travel to it worthwhile, so would have been supremely serene.

Here's the view from the grave....

A View to Die For serenity incarnate -- Oujima -- Nago, Okinawa, Japan -- Copyright 2009 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm — 1/125 sec, f/9, ISO 5600 — map & image datanearby photos
A View to Die For
serenity incarnate

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

The first time I saw the name Okinawa thought of what that location meant to many during the Second World War.

The grave sit is “in the middle of nowhere” as it were. The actual site intrigues
me by dint of the layout. A courtyard? in the front area, a white structure I assume would hold the body of the deceased although beings a large as it is I would expect more than one body an d some sort of shrine or similar up top. Am I correct in my description?

And what about the one portion of the tomb with a portion set in, from the rest, is there some reason, or would this have been the entrance the burial area at one time?

Looking out to sea to the lone island is different I must admit.

I don’t know the details, but the grave plots in Okinawa are very different from those in mainland Japan. They take up a lot of real estate, so I expect that this style is old. I’ll do a posting about them some day,
although it won’t have much more than pictures and speculation. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bryce Lee (not an Asian) on January 11th, 2009 at 3:40am JST (15 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

The hotel pictures are spectacular. How much is a room there.? I just called your Mom to ask her if she would like to go there with me. Surprise,she said no.
Loved the pictures of all the young people in Japan.

I don’t know how much the rooms were because the whole trip was free. (Well, my wife paid, but I purposefully remained ignorant of the price so that I could actually enjoy it. List price for our room was something like $600/night, but she got a package and so I hope she didn’t pay anything near that. I hope.)

My mom would love to visit it if she could drive it in one day. Anything else is too much hassle. She’s never been out of North America, and has little desire to change that. —Jeffrey

— comment by Judith Adamek on January 16th, 2009 at 2:02am JST (15 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink
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