It’s been a while…

But I’m back to blogging!

Well, much has happened lately, but 90% had zero to do with photography and everything to do with life/family. In fact, I’ve only been shooting three times in almost six months. First, we relocated to El Paso, Texas from Yokosuka, Japan after my wife retired from the US Navy (couldn’t be more proud of her!!). It’s a major transition for our family to say the least. Part of that trip from Yokosuka will likely be my next post, watch for it, it’s interesting and falls sternly in to realm of Murphy’s law. Then, after settling in Texas, we bought a new home and that process in itself was no simple task. With moving, being boxed in again after moving to a new house, unpacking hopefully for the last time, getting the former house ready to sell, and all that comes with getting reintegrated in to family here while adjusting to civilian life, means there’s been big things happening. I retired after a 30 year naval career myself, then spent the last ten as a military dependent. My wife retired after a 26 year naval career, so our kids have grown up in the military since birth and this transition has been huge. That means photography hasn’t been a priority, we’ve had bigger fish to fry. This morning is the first time I’m getting in my Jeep and going out shooting, no plan, no idea if I’ll get shots (or not), but just heading out to shoot with no agenda and it feels great! The one thing I do know, I have a full tank of gas. 😎

I’ll be back blogging here so don’t write me off just yet. Just trying to get settled as a family, make new friends at 59 years old which is harder than it sounds, and find my place in life’s next chapter. Below are just a few photos I’ve taken since coming back to the US and hoping to have many more soon. As always, I appreciate your support!

Kyoto Weekend

Kyoto Weekend

This morning: The To-ji Temple

This weekend we took a last family trip to Kyoto, Japan. It’s me with my wife and two daughters, since there’s no hope for departing the room before 10am I decided to head out on my own this morning to check out the local area where we are staying with AirBnB. On Billy’s personal agenda was the To-ji Temple and its 180 foot tall pagoda built in 1643, about a 15 minute walk down the road. On the way there, it was pretty chilly and my hands were getting pretty cold, I didn’t bring gloves… But this is Japan and nothing that two hot cans of coffee from one of the many machines I passed couldn’t fix. Instantly, liquid hand warmers for my jacket pockets, a wonderful thing! This morning was exceptionally beautiful and honestly, I couldn’t decide which I liked more, shooting the pagoda and temples or the autumn colors surrounding them!

This is our family’s last trip in Japan, we’re out of here in less than two weeks. In a few days we’ll be home and without a car, so I’ll be on foot capturing as much of Yokosuka as possible with my camera. Leaving Yokosuka is somewhat bittersweet, it’s a very underrated city and great location for sightseeing but at the same time going home to Texas is exciting as well. For much of our time here we couldn’t venture far from Yokosuka because of Covid-19, so most of my photography has taken place very close to home. While I’ve kind of become attached to this city, it’s also time to move on. After three years, there’s still a lot I want to shoot in this amazing place, so I’ll be out on foot once again and getting the last shots in. For now, Kyoto has been amazing in just about every way, including the food! This is also a target rich environment for photographers, just about everything here catches the eye in some way. Yesterday I spent 15 minutes shooting only the neighborhood intersection at the end of our street, yes I’m easily entertained.

All photos on this post are unedited and taken with the iPhone 12 Mini.

Two Months Left in Japan

Two Months Left in Japan

Trying to be better about blog posting has been something I’ve written a gazillion times before. We’ve got two months left in Japan and my photography goals are to get better at street shooting and to attempt to capture Yokosuka as I see it around me! Those two goals go hand in hand and it means lots of people pics, food, transportation, animals/pets, and just plain life. Those are the goals while trying to get out and shoot every remaining day before we leave. Yesterday, the plan was to shoot at Yokosuka’s JR Train Station and on the way to get some shots at Verny Park. While in Verny, I decided to shoot some Japanese naval ships in the harbor followed by the selfie that’s on this post. I sat down on a park bench, a minute or two later an elderly lady sat down next to me. Doing a few things on my phone, I noticed her taking out art supplies and she began sketching the US Navy ships across the harbor at the US Naval Base. Watching her, others also started setting up around us and began sketching various harbor scenes as well. I got the attention of the lady, pointed to my camera, indicated that I’d like to take her photo. She smiled as only Japanese people do and nodded ‘yes’ and I began shooting her. This was so cool and the other artists took notice and began to talk. I pointed to my camera, sort of gesturing for the their collective permission to shoot them. They all smiled nodding ‘yes’ as well. Well, this was making for an interesting morning!

This is what living overseas is all about, meeting locals, being part of the scene, and it was just beautiful. This was in line with the new goals, shots of life in Yokosuka with artists no less, and it was a fun experience. This got me out of my comfort zone to say the least. Finally, when done, I sat back down next to the lady, glancing at her progressing sketch, this nice little old lady obviously had skills. Who wouldn’t want a photo to remember this wonderful experience? I waited for her to take a break, politely and quietly got her attention again, indicating with my phone that I wanted to take a selfie with her and, again, she sweetly smiled like sweet grandmother nodding her approval. After the selfie below with her pointing to her sketch, watching her for a bit, I didn’t want to be rude and just walk away. A ‘thank you’ seemed like the proper thing to do at this point. Wanting to get the grandmotherly artist’s attention, I waited for an opening and did the light cough, a-hem, and she glanced up so I gave her my best thank you in Japanese (Arigato gozaimasu) followed by a traditional bow. I needed to get this right. At this point, she angrily waved her hand with an irritated “get the hell of my lawn” look and grumbled something gruff in tone. I had obviously annoyed this crap out of this lady…

The Last Carrier Departure.

Yesterday I was able to go out and shoot the USS Reagan as she departed for sea, through Tokyo Bay, from her homeport in Yokosuka, Japan. I was sitting at a parking lot on base looking in to the foggy bay, shooting in the rain, when my wife who is active duty Navy came from work. She came to have a glance mentioning this would probably be the last time she’d see an aircraft carrier departing. My wife is retiring at the end of the year and we’re off to Texas and we’ll both be retired, I retired 10 years ago. Until she mentioned this, the last time she’d watch a carrier depart, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It kind of hit home that I’ve been around the US Navy for 40 years now, I realized I need to get out there and shoot plenty of ships before leaving as the chances of finding ships in El Paso, Texas are fairly slim.

The USS Reagan, CVN-76, departed as I was shooting with a handful of families around me having soft conversations. It’s the part of the military most people don’t see, the part families don’t look forward to… Departing ships aren’t as much of a big deal as when they return, there was no band or ceremony, just these few families. There is nothing like the aircraft carrier departing, seeing the harbor tugs out there before waiting and clearing out the boat and ship traffic to be followed by a helicopter flying circles around the mighty ship slowly moving through the water; it’s a big evolution. On this rainy day, the weather was less than desirable as I stood there with the families photographing the Reagan. Now she slipped in to the fog bank quietly, with the loved ones aboard of those few around me.

Behind me is the USS Ronald Reagan departing Japan.

Verny Park Backup Plan

Today was a good day of shooting in Yokosuka, although it meant going with my back up plan of shooting in Verny Park.  I’m very fortunate to live in Japan and especially love shooting the western coast of the Miura Peninsula.  Why? because there are seascape shots, harbors, plus rock formations and on a clear day Mount Fuji is visible.  It’s a good thing any time you can have this snow-capped, iconic, mountain in photos.  The problem is that it’s not always visible, the solution?  Well, about two blocks from my house is a place where, between buildings and hills, is an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji.  On days when I can see Mt. Fuji, I drive to the other coast; however, when it isn’t visible it’s time to go with the backup plan and today that plan was to shoot at Verny Park right here in Yokosuka.  Verny Park is located on Yokosuka’s harbor, across from both a US Navy base and a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force base where ships of both nations can be found.  Not to mention the park itself with people, a fountain, some interesting Japanese architecture, and a host of things to shoot.  These are all iPhone 7+ shots of today, so it was a good day!

 

 

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5 Photos in digital expositions!

Yes, five, pretty happy about that!  From time to time I enter various photo contests in hopes of being published, making the cut for expositions, or to simply get exposure. Many times it’s through Gurushots.com, a great place to find photo inspiration and check out the work of others!  When I do make the cut, it’s usually for a digital exposition; however, it has resulted in being published in a books, twice!  Recently, five of my photos were selected for digital displays at various locations.

Yakitori Stand was selected for digital exhibit in the People in the City exhibition at the Valid World Hall Gallery in Barcelona, Spain on November 1-3, 2019.  ItYakitori Stand was taken at one of my little stops when I’m out shooting here where I currently live.  It’s in an alley just off Blue Street in Yokosuka, Japan at a yakitori stand where they grill meat in front of you and you stand in line and eat.  Each piece of meat is on a kebab stick, eat as much as you want, they count the sticks at the end.  80 Yen per stick or about 75 cents in US Dollars, not bad.  Love eating here!  I chose to shoot this at night because I wanted to capture just a little motion, also it’s just more colorful in the evening with the lights and coffee machine.

Kegon Falls 6 will be digitally shown in the Our Amazing Planet Exhibit at the Annual Photography Conference held by the Galitz Photography School in Tel Aviv, Isreal Kegon Falls 6on November 26, 2019.  This is the amazing Kegon Falls near Nikko, Japan.  To say this place is breath taking is an understatement, it’s incredibly huge and has several smaller falls surrounding it.  Kegon Falls is considered one of “Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls“, according to a listing published by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment in 1990.  I’m already planning return trips in autumn and winter!

This photo, Closing Time, was chosen for digital Exposition for Dramatic Lighting at the Valid World Hall Gallery in Barcelona, Spain on November 2-3, 2019.  It was taken at Closing Timethe Taiko Drum Festival in Narita, Japan.  The festival was over and we were waiting to board our bus to return home when I spotted these guys cleaning and prepping the kitchen for the next day.  I didn’t bring a tripod, so this was shot completely handheld at ISO 3200 while steading myself a telephone pole!  I’ve read all the reviews about how the Canon 6d Markii is totally inadequate in low light situations, I don’t buy it.  I like this camera so much that I purchased a second one as a back up!

Chureito Pagoda 5 was picked for digital display in the Artistic Photography Exposition at the Thessaloniki Art Fair, November 21-24, 2019, Thessaloniki, Greece.  It was taken atChureito Pagoda 5 one of the most iconic Japanese shot locations you can get, the Churieto Pagoda near Fujiyoshida, Japan.  First you have to climb the 400 stairs, but once you’re up there it’s pretty incredible with an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji.  I was really to go for something different in the black and white genre here, I already had a bunch of shots showing how beautiful this place was.  I was trying to give it a mysterious look without being gloomy, because that’s how the Churieto Pagoda feels, beautiful and mysterious.  I’m hoping to get back this year when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom!

This photo, called Skipping, was chosen to be digitally shown at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece on December 13-15, 2019 with the At the Beach Exposition.  I had justSkipping received a new lens in the mail (Tamron 150-600 G1) and my girls wanted to go to the beach, so we went and I let them run while trying out the lens – win/win!  This photo, taken at Imperial Beach, CA, kind of describes my daughters personalities. On the left is the older and more grounded one who doesn’t take chances, plays it safe, probably future Jeep owner who won’t leave second gear.  On the right, in the air, is the younger who operates at full speed 24/7, throws caution to the wind, and totally opposite of her sister.

I truly appreciate the support I receive through my website and this blog, thank you all so much as well as Gurushots!

 

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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.

 

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.