Hello to Mrs. Reynoso’s 4th Grade!

A shoutout to Mrs. Reynoso’s fourth grade class at John Drugan School in El Paso, TX from the Enoshima Aquarium near Enoshima Island in Japan.

 

 

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Tokyo SkyTree Shout Out

Yesterday we visited the Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure on Earth at 2,080 feet tall!  It’s actually for sending radio and television signals but has observation decks for tourists.  Shouting out to Mrs. Reynoso’s fourth graders at John Drugan School in El Paso, Texas!

 

 

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Hakone, Japan

This is a shoutout from my daughters to their aunt who teaches at John Drugan School in El Paso, TX! This week we are also still on vacation here and went to the Hakone Shrine in Hakone, Japan and were able to see Mount Fuji from here as well.  Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest peak at 12,389 feet high and looks very cool when it’s covered in snow!      

 

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My first video

Here’s my first attempt at a video, it combines still and time-lapse images. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it!

https://www.billchizekphotography.com/Video/i-LcTDj7D/A

 

 

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Shout Out to Mrs. Reynoso!

It’s that time of the year where we start getting out checking out the sites here in Japan.  Here’s a shoutout from our kids to Mrs. Reynoso’s fourth grade class at John Drugan School in El Paso, TX from Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan near Tokyo.

 

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Just another day…

Today I’m shooting the USS Ronald Reagan departing Yokosuka, Japan on a Tiger Cruise this morning. A Tiger Cruise is a one day trip where family and friends come along, very cool.  Living on a naval base has its perks!  Look for pics in the future, meanwhile check out my photos at BillChizekPhotography.com.

 

Waterfalls today

Well, today was spent mostly on buses with a tour, other than my wife not being able to go because of work, it was pretty awesome. First up was the Yudaki Waterfall (below) and second was the 320 foot Kegon Falls (above). Lastly, we ended up at the Toshogu Shrine dating back to the 17th century! While it was amazing, it was hot, we got rained on, and was humid the entire day but I think I got some good shots, we’ll see. It was the first test of my Mindshift Messenger Bag, I’ve had for about four months but this was the first time I lugged it around all day. It worked great! These photos were all taken with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Loving Japan, looking forward to blogging more when out shooting but for now I just need to get off the bus and in bed. Do I sound whiny? Yup! Oh, please check out BillChizekPhotography.com!

Tokyo Disneyland!

Upfront, I had a great time at Tokyo Disneyland, this paragraph might not start like that, but it was very cool.  This week we had a family trip to our local Tōkyō Dizunīrando and as someone who has been to Disneyland or Disneyworld no less than a half-dozen times or so, I’d honestly love to go somewhere else sometimes.  The first couple of visits were cool, but the ever-increasing ticket prices, paying top dollar for cafeteria food, and long lines, seemed to wear me down.  Fortunately for me, my wife is like-minded in that if there’s a long line she’s not likely to stand in it either, there’s lot of other things you can do in that hour besides wear down your iPhone battery.  Two years ago we did a three-day park hopper pass at Disneyland and it was about 2 days too much, she handled it better than me.  This photo at the right shows me on day three and after 72 hours of all things Disney and Mickey the Rat, I was done.  This is the only photo from that fun fulled excursion, the others on this post are from Tokyo Disneyland.  19756701_10155732733276494_7057349512680706714_n I’d like to say that the heat, the crowds, and long lines weren’t so bad and that I wouldn’t mind doing it again, but that’s what I’d like to say…  However, given all these complaints about theme parks, and Disney in general, I have to say Tokyo Disneyland was pretty darn cool!  I don’t know if it was just because we caught a bus there, spent the day, and took the bus home or that it was just different enough to keep me engaged.  I am an oddity when it comes to Disney parks, I actually prefer Disneyland over Disneyworld.  Huh?  Yup, because I love history; Disneyland was historic and the first of the mega theme parks.  I really don’t care about Disney’s new tribute park to Star Wars and Luke SkyVader, it’s the old stuff that I love.  America had nothing like this until Walt Disney came along, sure there was Coney Island and world fairs, but nothing on a scale like what Disney proposed.  By the time Disneyland opened in 1955 the entire world was already in love with the famous Disney cartoon characters!  I also love that Walt Disney actually lived over Disneyland’s firehouse and that they’ve preserved his apartment.  While the park was being built, Disney would often stay above the firehouse with his wife, click [ HERE ] for a video and more info about the apartment.  At Disneyland, I love sitting in the back of a boat on “It’s a Small World” with my young daughters.  Yes, it’s corny but I love it.

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Overall, Tokyo Disneyland feels very much like Disneyland in Anaheim, with a couple of exceptions.  One of the most visible is that the main street is covered, which I actually liked because you can get out of the sun and if it rains, you’ve got somewhere to go.  I’m IMG_2681sure it doesn’t hurt the Disney bank account when thousands of park visitors are trapped in their stores because of the weather.  Also, Tokyo Disneyland is newer than its American counterparts, this means it lacks the tall trees like the older parks that provide much-needed shade.  The place is somewhat deceiving in size, after driving by Tokyo Disneyland a few times it just didn’t look very big.  My family also thought the same after seeing it from a distance, wondering if there was enough there to fill an entire day.  However, Tokyo Disneyland is actuallyIMG_2690 about 30 acres larger than Disneyland in Anaheim!  Is it done with Disney magic?  Not sure, but once we were on foot in the park we realized it was huge.  Many of the rides are very similar to Disneyland as well, outside of the Japanese language, you’d never think you were sitting in Tokyo.  Disney goes very far to make language a non issue, we had no problem getting around, having fun, or felt like we were missing out on the experience because we don’t speak Japanese.  Some places, like the Tiki Room, even provided electronic devices that translated, something we didn’t expect.  There were no major cultural or linguistic stumbling blocks whatsoever, at one point a Disney employee actually came up to us wanting to help after seeing us stare at our unfolded map.  The classic Disney parades that happen in the American parks were no different, my kids enjoyed them just as much.  The parade featured the same familiar Disney characters and music, almost exactly like Disneyland.  The food was very cool too, a mix between American and Asian could be found all over the park.  Again, Disney is trying to please everyone, nobody starved on this trip, although I wasn’t a fan of the butter and soy sauce flavored pop corn…  We did eat dinner at a buffet that was actually pretty decent.  Yes, I just called Disney food “very cool” and “pretty decent” after complaining about their cafeteria food.

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Anaheim, California is home to Disneyland and another park across the street called California Adventure.  Tokyo Disney also has another park nearby called DisneySea which was the fourth most visited theme park in THE WORLD in 2018!  We haven’t gone there yet but it’s on the list.  I have to say that Tokyo Disney was a pretty cool experience and I’d do it again as a day trip.  One last piece of advice, leave your big camera at home and just use your cellphone, you’ll have more fun.  I used to be that guy carrying my camera to Disneyland, getting on rides, lugging my crap around.  Cellphones do a great job for capturing family fun, the below shot, called Castle Garden, was taken with an iPhone 7 Plus as were all the others taken and shown on this post.  All in all, I’m not a three-day park hoppin’ Star Wars lovin’ theme park guy, but I’d go back to Tokyo Disneyland again and definitely planning on visiting DisneySea.  Regardless of what I think of theme parks, it’s not about me, my kids have fun and that’s the most important part.

 

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A flower in front of the castle at Tokyo Disney (iPhone 7 Plus).

 

Third time’s a charm…

For those of you who don’t know, when it comes to photography I’m what you might call a late starter.  I became interested in photography after joining the US Navy in 1981 and my first camera, the Canon AE1 Program (left) cost half of my monthly salary.canon_ae_1_program_35mm_slr_305135  I was living in Italy and shooting with film was crazy expensive, plus I was a really crappy shooter.  To save money, I sent my film to a company in California, they would develop the film as slides and send them back; it was cheap.  Then I could pick out the keepers, send back the slides, and they would return the slides with prints. Why all this?  Well, it prevented paying for multiple blurry photos shot with different settings (the crappy shooter thing) but it also took weeks to get prints.  At just twenty years old, living in Italy, I wisely chose sell the camera gear and spend the extra cash on Napolitan pizza, pasta, and European beer.  In the last years of my Navy career, I took up photography again with a little Sony DSC-W7 digital camera
Morning Bluesand eventually moved to DSLR’s. This photo of Mount Vesuvius, at right called Morning Blues was taken with that camera.  Retiring in 2011 after 30 years as a US Navy Musician, my remained on active duty.  By 2014, photography was getting to be a serious hobby so I began blogging, it was a way to post what I was doing as well as talk about my photos.  I currently hold the titles of military retiree, military dependent, and stay at home dad which is WAY harder than it sounds.  In the summer of 2017, my wife transferred and we moved from Coronado, CA to the Washington, DC area.  I couldn’t have been happier, my love of photography is paralleled by my love of history!  My wife’s transfer put us smack in the middle of everything I loved!  I was so floored by everything around us in the northern Virginia/DC area that I completely let the blog fall by the wayside…

By the summer of 2017, the blog was a memory, not intentionally, there was just so much to do and see near our new home.  I didn’t leave the house without a camera it seemed.  We lived thirtyDiving Duck minutes from a half dozen Civil War battlefields, the Smithsonian Museums, near the colonial city of Alexandria, and everything that comes with Washington, DC!  The last blog post in September 2017 was The Old Switch-a-roo detailing my recent switch from a Sony a7R II back to the Canon 6d Mark II, a move I don’t regret to this day.  I had also been a user of Peak Design bags for a couple of years and loved them. However, after moving to DC, there was another company that I loved, more on that later – maybe a future post?  I was selling stock photography at this point for about six months and was making a few bucks.  screen shot 2018-02-20 at 10.29.51 Since then it has taken off in a big way, it has become a small business.  Stock photography is tricky and it’s difficult to know where photos are used unless I search or someone tells me.  By the time the blog died in September, I discovered one of my photos had been used on the cover of National Geographic India’s Road Trip Edition the previous April.  My car photo, The Fifties, was used as a composite image where another photographer’s photo was used in the hubcap (right).  I couldn’t have been happier, especially when credited for the photo inside the cover!  It seems every photographer’s dream is to end up in NatGeo any way possible, that was simply amazing.  Since then, my stock photos have been used many times, pretty happy about that too; click [HERE] to view them.

After a little more than a year in DC, my wife was transferred again; this time to Japan where this post is being banged out.  While I hated leaving DC, at least it was for a place as cool as this.  However, I recently pondered the mistake of not blogging while in DC and decided not to make that mistake again.  I went back to WordPress, reactivated the old account, and quicker that jack rabbits making love – everything was sitting there just as I left it.  It was as if Congress was asked to do something with it, nothing happened at all!  Everything was there, even the previous followers!  The goal now is to post something thought out, or as much as this brain can manage, every two weeks.  In between those posts I’ll post live from wherever I happen to be shooting from, something for which I currently use Instagram (@ BillChizekPhotography).  If you’re checking this out for the first time, THANK YOU!  You can follow or subscribe on the right side of this blog to receive notifications for new posts.  If you’ve returned, welcome back and thank you as well!  I’m really looking forward to this blog and future feedback, hope to hear from you!

Bill

Fuji 1 My first time shooting Mount Fuji as seen from across Sagami Bay near Hayama, Japan.