Archive for September 30, 2012

Japan Meteorological Agency & weather information

Information issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is often unclear and gives a false sense of security. The JMA vocabulary is unique (see image far below). Immediately below are some JMA terms with terms that perhaps better explains what should be intended to be communicated. Much of the vocabulary applies to typhoons, extreme storms, and other natural phenomena. I do not take any responsibility for decisions you make (or fail to make), and the choice of vocabulary is intended to be a guide. It is your responsibility to be well informed both before and during natural disasters and from multiple sources.

JMA vocab::  My interpretation

Warning ::  Extreme danger / high possibility of disaster

Advisory ::  Moderate danger

Tobu      ::  Eastern areas

Seibu     ::  Western areas

JST        ::  Japan Standard Time

UTC       ::  Greenwich Mean Time (I don’t know why they don’t use local times)

Storm    ::   Extremely high danger & extremely strong wind

Gale       ::   Very strong wind with moderate danger

Other information: Generally, the slower the typhoon the more dangerous it is, as it’s dropping more rain and longer in one area. Also, slow moving typhoons tend to have stronger winds. Slow is about 25km/h or less. Strong winds are about 250km/h. Storm surge is where the typhoon draws air and sea water up, creating an artificial high tide. If a storm surge coincides with high tide, then coastal storm surge defences (sea walls) may have waves washing over them. Some sea walls may have been made with sand in them (back in the 1950’s they didn’t know otherwise), so water may pour through some walls, which will result in the sea walls collapsing. Of course, modern sea walls with concrete and asphalt water proofing is usually safer. Typhoons are typically just big wind storms, so the main danger for 90% of people is having heavy things blown onto their heads. In Taiwan, the biggest cause of deaths is from storm wave watchers getting washed away. It goes without saying, get some extra food, water, batteries, beer, and a warm and cuddly friend, and enjoy a bit of indoor time. 😉  Usually, the eastern side of a typhoon has the worst weather spread over a wider area, but the western side will have weaker weather and over a smaller area.

Many train services will still be running, even in the highest level of weather danger. Transport services will only stop running if there has been damage to train lines. Exception is the bullet train (shinkansen) services, which run by more pragmatic rules. Schools, sports carnivals, and companies will still expect workers to arrive at work before or after a typhoon, except when the company’s policy says otherwise. Most companies and schools say that if the JMA state that there is a Storm level (extremely strong wind) warning issued, then don’t come in or go home; but these are dependent on when the warning was issued. Your company or school with have guidelines clearly spelt out, in Japanese, and so you need the phone number of a buddy who can tell you if you have to work today or not.

Information: See the Japan Meteorological Agency website for up to date information, NHK TV, social network sites, and hashtags on Twitter.

Screenshot of JMA website of Typhoon Jelawat information

Screenshot of JMA website of Typhoon Jelawat information

Typhoon Jelawat

Officially & internationally called “Typhoon Jelawat”, but in Japan it’s known as “Typhoon number 17”.

My area is expecting about 500mm of rain tonight. The typhoon centre is expected to be within a few kilometres of my area at about the same time as high tide, 6pm local time, creating a risk of sea water washing over storm surge barriers (shown below). Already an Australian tourist in Osaka was killed when a tree was blown over as she was out walking. If you’re in Japan, please stay indoors and keep an eye on TV news reports for your area. Also keep up to date with the Japan Meteorological Agency website for more information, and watch for Twitter hashtags: #typhoon17 and #typhoonjelawat.

Disasters – Images by Andrew Blyth

POTW 24th Sept 2012

Almost exclusively, JapanesePhotos.Asia Photo of the Week (POTW) images are of Japan. However, this POTW is of Gyeongbok Palace (Gyeongbokgung) in Seoul, South Korea. Why? Why not? I suppose this is the reason: I’m not really into the current artistic trend of photographic minimalism, so I’m happy to post this one… with people ruining the minimalism. 🙂

Hotshoe flash diffuser

I used to write about “How to take photos” on an old version of an older website I still keep somewhere on the internet. It never brought me money, so I grew tired of making such web pages. However, what I’m writing about today is something that I really enjoy… though I wish I could get sponsorship or donations for this <smile> please buy my photos </smile>

Ahead of a photo shoot with Ai Tsukamoto, one of Japan’s leading jazz dancers, I picked up a hotshoe flash diffuser. I needed something portable, and to soften the light at least a little from the hotshoe flash. The hotshoe flash does create harsh shadows. The worst shadows are the ones from a point-and-shoot camera that people use at birthday parties. Remember the large spooky shadows behind the happy victims? A diffuser makes things look a lot more natural, and less spooky. The other advantage is with using a flash, is you can re-create natural light using a reasonably powerful light source, so you can use sensible camera settings. With a flash you can use shutter speeds like 1/200 which prevents camera shake blurring photos. You can use an aperture of about f4.5 to f9 so your subjects’ noses and eyes both appear in focus. You can also use iso100 for maximum image quality. Also, if you move the flash off camera, and to the side it does start to look more interesting. See my photo of a crab at night as an example. To trigger your flash off camera, you can use connecting cables or a radio signal system, like the ones made by Pocket Wizard and Cowboy Studios.

Below are some photos showing how the diffuser looks, and then photos of the results you can get. As you can see, the diffuser fits onto any hotshoe flash with its elastic velcro straps quickly and easily. Also shown below, with the flash pointing up, and bouncing light off of the diffuser you can get even softer light and shadows, as demonstrated in the cosplay photo below. The diffuser folds up small, and fits into a slim case, which makes it easy to pack. Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of them.

Below, the flash and diffuser was used off camera and held in the hand to the left (holding the camera only with the right hand. The flash was straightened, and not pointed at the girl, and the diffuser was set to bounce the light. The flash was connected to the camera with Minolta flash cables, and if you’re wondering, I used the Sony A77, with the Minolta 5400HS flash set to manual. Also, check out the Ai Tsukamoto portraits, too.

World Cosplay Summit 2012

Many of my World Cosplay Summit 2012 photos are located between my agent’s website Asia Photo Connection by Henry Westheim and my PhotoShelter portfolio in the World Cosplay Summit, World Cosplay Summit 2010, and World Cosplay Summit 2012 galleries.

World Cosplay Summit – Images by Andrew Blyth

POTW 3 Sept Oil Refinery

This Photo of the Week is of the Cosmo Oil Refinery in Yokkaichi. Since the shut down of all the nuclear reactors in Japan after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, only a handful of nuclear reactors have since restarted. Consequently, the main energy sources for Japan is the burning of rubbish (or ‘trash’) and the burning of oil. This oil refinery, though, supplies fuel mainly for transport and for some electricity generation. Needless to say, Japan has at least temporarily shelved its attempts at reducing its carbon emissions.

This photo, and others like it, can be found on my agent’s website at Asia Photo Connection by Henry Westheim. Please remember not to ‘steal’ my image by using it without written permission; instead, please get a license to use any of my images on your blogs, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and more.

An oil refinery at the Port of Yokkaichi, Japan.

An oil refinery at the Port of Yokkaichi, Japan.