One of the features this camera has that the old one didn't is the ability to shoot HDR in camera. To do that with my old one, I'd have to take a series of three to five individual shots at different settings and then try to merge them into one using developing software. Hell, I can barely navigate the features of this blog software, how in the hell do you expect me to merge three to five photos?
(The contrasts of shadow and light made this a difficult shot. The roofed section to the right is where the old public bath is located complete with functional traditional wood burning water heater)So the other day when Ryukyu Mike and I stopped by an old village spring called Nakandakarihijya to do some shooting, I decided to give it a try. The weather conditions weren't that great as the sky was vivid blue and the shadows extremely dark. The high contrast was giving me fits so when Mike suggested taking some HDR shots, I said to myself what the heck!
This old spring is a really neat place located not far from the Sefa Utaki, one of Okinawa's many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It had been destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa but, because it was designated a tangible Cultural Asset by the Okinawa Prefecture government, was restored to it's former glory.
(A similar composition using the camera's built in HDR feature)
The one thing that makes this place different from all of the other natural neighborhood springs that I've found here is that this place also had a traditional Japanese style communal bath or "sento" added to it. Most others around the island are just for drawing drinking water for the home, washing off the vegetables you picked from your garden that morning and even doing the laundry. The bath feature makes this one pretty unique.
As we were snapping away one elderly lady passed by and looked at us rather suspiciously. I greeted her with the traditional Okinawan Hogen "Haisai" or hello and asked how she was doing with the traditional "chaganju?" Immediately she smiled and chuckled to herself and in perfect English replied, "I'm fine thank you!"
It turns out that she was a retired U.S. military base worker and more than just functional in English. It made me jealous that after having lived here a few years my Japanese is still at the two year old child level. I asked her if they still used the bath, not that the site of some elderly Okinawan lady or gentleman coming out in a bath towel might thrill me but, more about is it still utilized in the traditional way. She said that it hadn't been used that way since before she was born.
We snapped a few more pictures here at this site and headed out on more adventures about the island. As you can see from the photos posted here, I still have a little more experimenting to do in HDR but I'll get there eventually. But, this little adventure told me that if you just take a little time and treat the locals with a at least a modicum of respect, there's no limit to what you can learn about life on Okinawa. It's a wonderful place if you take the time to get to know it!