July 17, 2018 Last weekend the conditions were good for photographing the heavens. Mainly good weather without any clouds, and a new moon. I decided to find a place I had never been to that is far away from big city lights. To do this, I used a light pollution map at Darksitefinder along with Google Maps. I discovered a place on the east coast of Kyushu, in Oita prefecture that looked promising. There, on a peninsula that stuck out into the Bungo Channel which leads to the Pacific Ocean, I found Kamatozaki Tenbodai. Tenbodai means observation tower in English. I decided to go there based on the recommendations and photos on Google Maps.
It is about two and a half hours by car from Dazaifu, mostly on the Oita Expressway. From the parking area, I climbed up a lot of steps. After 600 meters and a lot of sweating, I arrived at the tower at around 9:30 at night. On the third level, part of the observation deck juts out from under the roof. It was a perfect place to set up the tripod and camera. That night the stars were amazing, and I had them all to myself, except for a pair of racoon dogs (tanuki) walking around at the base of the tower and a few bats. The camera that night took about 700 photos, which I used to make the time lapse below. After arriving home, I put up the photos on the TV and found a meteor in one of the frames. The light pollution on the right side of the video is from the small town, (population-wise) of Saiki, 12 miles to the southwest.
Saiki City photo above. The bright yellow lights are from a cement factory.
A meteor streaking down and Mars in top left corner.
Click photos below for enlarged view.
July 6, 2018 One of my students told me of a good place for bird watching. It is called the:
It is about a 30 minute drive from my home, and also free and open to the public. It’s main features are a small lake with various types of trees and plants surrounding it. It is circumnavigated by a trail that meanders through the botanical forest. I got there just before it opened and was the first to enter.
My student also mentioned a stand of Bald Cypress, (Numasugi in Japanese) that were there. Brought in from the United States, they are rather rare here in Japan.
As I was walking around the trail, a female Blue and White Flycatcher came rather close and began scolding me. I suspect here nest was nearby, as she had something in her beak. The male is a beautiful vibrant blue on top with white below. I include a photo of a male which was taken in Yasukogen a few years back.
Blue and White Flycatcher: FZ200, 400mm cropped, ISO160, F4, 1/800 exp.
Last June I drove to Shiraito Falls, on Haganeyama Mountain in Itoshima. It was an overcast day, with light rain and mist. Good weather for photographing waterfalls. In the summer, it is a popular destination for it’s cooler temperatures, with rock pools for swimming, and trout fishing too.
Lastly, I include a few other pictures from last June. A sunrise taken from Kusenbu Mt., and a photo of a Crested Kingfisher (Yamazemi). The Crested Kingfisher was perched on the exact same wire the day before, but my camera was not at the ready. The very next morning, it was at the exact
same location, and this time my camera was on the car seat next to me.
Crested Kingfisher photo: Panasonic FZ200, 400mm, ISO100, F3.5, 1/125 exp.
Click on images below for larger view.