What’s Next?


I have been in the Navy for 13 ½ years, and last week I found out that my last day on active duty is the first of September 2012.

The Navy has decided that certain rates, STG…me, are over manned and they need to get rid of some of those that are overmanning those rates.  They said they were going to kick out the people who had been to Captain’s Mast, or have failed their PRT(Physical Readiness Test).  I haven’t done any of those and I still am getting the axe.  They were given a quota of 2,888 to kick out and in the end cut 2,947.

It’s been a good run though, I’ve lived in Hawaii(a tropical island paradise), even got married there.  I’ve lived in England, although it was Cornwall way down south it was still another country and we did do a lot of traveling and site seeing, and they speak English.  I’ve also lived in Japan, although that was Okinawa…again, way down south, and they don’t speak English.  Still, we’ve lived in some pretty fantastic places and have seen and done some pretty amazing things.

I was planning on going into photography, starting my own business and trying to earn a living at something that I actually enjoyed rather than doing something that wasn’t my favorite.  I’m a bit short on that and have a ton to learn still…I thought I had time.

So now what am I going to do?

I do have a secret clearance, that’s gotta help, right?  I will have 14½ years of experience in the world of sonar.  I do have leadership experience.  All that has to count for something, right?  Jo reminded me that we will be debt free when tax time finally gets here, we can go anywhere and do anything and be anything…what do I want to be?  MAN, this is a more difficult decision than deciding Canon or Nikon.


Is it Okay to Call Myself a Photographer?


I’m in college now, wait…again, and my major is photography.  I like taking pictures, and looking at pictures.  I don’t really like to read, and they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, does that mean I can speed read?  Anyway, my wife told me to put up a picture for the 2011 Okinawa Hai Calendar, I won’t tell you which one she wanted me to send in but I will put up the ones I sent in to have the judges take a look at.

Katsuren Castle

10,000 Eisa Dancers

Okuma sunset

Red Hair

Those are the photographs I’ve taken that remind me the most of Okinawa.  I wish the red head kid had been my son but he was out of position for that shot.  Jake’s hair wouldn’t have stood out quite that much, anyway, it’s one of Jakes friends, not to mention a pretty sweet photograph.

So…at what point do I get to start saying that I’m a photographer?  Am I supposed to make up a catchy name for a photography business?  Brent Yamada Photography sounds so…plain.  I want something cool.  My cousin has a cool one, Adam’s Images by Kristi, that’s not so plain.  It has some pizzazz.  How about business cards?  Do people still have business cards?  What about a website?  Watermarks for my pictures?  How much money do I say I want when I take some pictures of the fire that came by my house and a guy says he’ll pay me for a copy of the pictures?

Oh my…so much stuff to figure out.  Luckily I’m only in the first year so I’ve got some time to get it all figured out.  Maybe there will be a class or something that will help me with these things, I’m almost positive there is.

My name is Brent Yamada, and I’m a photographer.

It’s About Time Yamada


Here’s the thing.  I came back from Okinawa and had to drive on the right side of the road again.  As I type I realize the humor, right or wrong, left or right, oh man, that’s funny.  I’m really talking about the actual right side of the road.  We also had to adjust our speed, for the last 3 years we would go to Okuma (the military camp place near Nago) and would be flying, FLYING, past traffic at 55 mph.

After we got stateside and started driving our conversations in the car went a lot like this:

Jo:  Don’t forget to go to the far lane.

Brent:  Far lane, got it…wait…far lane here or far lane over there?

Jo:  Over there on the far side.

Brent:  Ok, far side, I got it this time.

(Light turns Green)

Brent:  (whispering to self)far side, far side, far side, far side, far side



Jo:  Honey, you know I love you and I think you’re a great, safe driver right?

Brent:  Why yes, yes I do…and thank you.

Jo:  You’re only going 50.

Anyway, lot and lots of conversations like that, and not to embarrass myself too bad but I still walk to the wrong side of the car both to drive and ride.  But all of this is to just simply say, I know I said in my last post that I’d try to keep up but to be honest that has proven more difficult than I had imagined it.  Studying for my Navy classes takes up a bit more time than anticipated, because I’m actually trying to learn the stuff before I get out to the ship.(sigh)  And for my actual school, school, I’ve been taking these retarded classes like Drawing…I think on my last post I put up some of my work.  I mean come on, I’m trying to be a photographer why not let me take some photography classes, my drawings ended up being not terrible, at least I think they didn’t.

Oh and Color Theory…color theory?  Really?  Color theory?  How’s this for color theory…my camera takes a color picture and I put it on my computer and change it to Black and White, or Sepia, or  some other thing.  I did end up actually learning quite a bit.  Like what colors might look good together and why, what is a hue, and saturation.  Tone, isn’t that the same thing as hue?  What’s a hue?  Ya, I can answer those questions now.

And this last class.  Survey of Contemporary and Modern Art, you might ask yourself, what’s that?  Those of you from PUC, I might liken it to History of Western Art.  Oh I’ve got this one in the bag, right?  Riiiiight.  No, there was an actual study of art.  Brushstrokes?  Are you kidding me?  P H O T O G R A P H Y ! ! ! ! ! !  Color palettes, you’re joking right?  P H O T O G R A P H Y ! ! ! ! ! !  7, yes you heard me, SEVEN pages of text later, with pictures so it ended up just about 8½ pages, I end up with not only an A for the paper but also 95% for the class and the instructors comments on the paper were all good. And I learned some valuable information on some very GREAT photographers, and photographs that changed the world.

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, 1936.  Which was taken during the Great Depression and helped feed migrant camps around the US.  This particular camp got a shipment of 20,000 pounds of food.

Nick Ut a photographer for the Associated Press out of Los Angeles captured a Napalm bombing on the Vietnamese village of Trảng Bàng and saved a 9 year old girls life.

Timothy O’Sullivan, Alexander Gardner, and Mathew B. Brady, photographed the civil war when photography was still in it’s infancy and exposures were still to long to catch the action.  Your camera HAD to have a tripod and you had to have a horse or two to get your equipment from place to place.

It’s been a frustrating journey so far and I know as an artist I am supposed to take these classes, AND, despite how ridiculous I think these classes are they actually are managing to open my eyes and broaden my outlook.  Maybe there’s hope for me to be a successful photographer yet…We will have to wait and see.

Next up, Introduction to Photojournalism, I wonder if I’ll have to write for that one or if I’ll actually get to snap some photos.

Onward and Upward


That third class I wrote about, you know, that one where I get to show you what I’ve been doing for homework. Well, I finished it this week and I’m not going to tell you I did horribly bad.  I am also not going to tell you I did horribly good either.  Horribly good?  Really?  What does that even mean?  Let’s just say I didn’t do as well as in this class as I did in my first two classes.

It all happened on the last assignment, I was hovering around 93% – 94% ish for the last several weeks and I thought it was ok, an A or A- won’t be the end of the world, my last assignment was worth 300 points and I figured I’d get most of them and keep the A’s going.  My final was a photographic narrative  on the Marriage of culture between the United States and Okinawa.  Pretty neat idea since I live here and it is distinctly Japanese but yet American also.  Anyway, these are some of my images:

The Flags


The Shoes

I really like this one.

What a great sign, right?

Jake and one of his good friends, who is Japanese, at their “graduation” from C-san to B-san.

Best Friends

Anyway, there are 16 others that made the final cut, I can show you more if you want.  Maybe I can download to flickr or something like that, hmmmmmmm.  I got a 222/300 on my final.  He just didn’t see the cultures mixing in my pictures.  Of course I completely disagree if he read my write up you can totally see it in my pictures.  His comment on this last picture was that this could be from any school in America.  Really?  I mean seriously!!!!  Any school in America where the kids wear Japanese name tags on their uniforms?  Where are these schools?  My wife is DYING to get Jake in to a Yochien in San Diego but with the pay cut we’re taking it’ll be impossible.

There are two others:

Quinn at the seawall


Kira at the seawall

He said these could be at any beach in California, or maybe it was any beach…regardless he thought they could have been taken anywhere.  Ok, the first one is Nemo, with Dory’s tail with Bruce and the Hammerhead in the back, and way back there is Sponge Bob, overcast day, beach, ok…I’m not going to totally disagree with it, but in my artist statement I do say something about American influence on food, drink and cartoons.  With Quinn being in the pictures I think it kind of makes it a Japanese picture and it should be in the narrative.  The next one with Anpanman or the bread faced guy, is a Japanese cartoon character and I think superhero.  With his bread face saves people from starving by letting them eat his face…What can I say…It’s Japanese.

Anyway, I don’t think he liked me very  much, I can only hope to avoid him in the future.  Kinda like the first time at PUC where you’d hear don’t take ____’s class he’s a jerk, take it from ____ he is much better/easier.

So thanks for letting me rant, I’m sure after I get over this I’ll be a better photographer at least I’ll be one who can shoot pictures of a California coast while in Okinawa.

The Experiment Was A Success


I saw this really cool thing in Popular Photography Magazine (thanks Pop and Grandma Judi) this guy did with different colored lights, flashlight, colored LEDs, penlights, that kind of thing.  Something that is easy to turn on and off and that emits light.  A long exposure, several seconds.  And some sort of prop, a table, chair, loose wires.  Anyway, since I saw that I’ve been thinking about trying it out.  I just want to see

A.  If I can do it.

2.  How long it takes to do it.

D.  What can I do with it creatively

Ok, so that’s the background, something I want to try….  Now for the set up…  For the last couple of weeks I’ve been learning about Shutter Speed and Aperture as priorities in my shooting.  What effects each has on a picture, how to convey movement to the viewer, how to isolate a subject from the background objects, that kind of stuff.  At first I was like…I already know this kind of stuff, let’s move on already.  I mean this is the second week of the same thing, it’s getting a little boring taking pictures like:

Narrow Depth of Field

And this

Slow Shutter Speed

What I really want to take is that shot of the freeway going into the city at night with all the lights blurred so you just see a streak of red or white coming from the city.  Or lightning that would be super sweet.  Oh ya, we get lightning here but it seems every time I see it, I’m on my way to from or at work without my camera and with very little time.  Anyway, on with the story.  I had to post several pictures, using the Aperture as a priority, and several more using Shutter Speed as a priority, while being creative blah blah blah.  I did that stuff last week, GIVE ME SOMETHING NEW!!!!!!!!!

I came up with the shots, I had Jake’s help, our neighbor D came out and his sister A.  I got a couple of snaps of them but I didn’t want to use them because I get to be a little leary of taking pictures of other peoples kids and posting them online and not knowing to much about both the legality and security of that…so I stuck with my own son.  Huge helper that he is, “Hey Jake, I need you to ride your bike so I can take a picture of you.” and the son replies “Ok Dad.”  “Hey Dad take a picture or me”, says the son several minutes later, after I’ve already gotten what I need…he likes to have his picture taken and then look at the LCD to see how he did.  Maybe it is how I did taking the picture.Hmmmmm

Ok, now don’t let me get to sidetracked.  I ended up with plenty of pictures showing different depth of fields from really deep, meaning the front stuff is in focus and so is the stuff in the back.  To really shallow, meaning only what I want you to focus on is in focus, unless there is something else that happens to be on the same focal plane…yaddah yaddah yaddah…technical stuff which I would be happy to explain but I won’t  put everyone through it.  You can comment or e-mail me if you need me to explain it, heck you can even call, just remember for the next month or two I’m still in Japan.  That is in the +9 India time zone, which means I’ve already started my day and have been in it for 9 hours when Greenwich, the one in England hits midnight.  Ok so maybe don’t call….

I ended up a little short on the amount of shutter speed shots I needed to turn in.  Those can get a little boring, because he wants us to use a tripod and have the movement blurred while the camera stays still…to me this is boring…I mean who cares about the background?  It’s the BACKGROUND.  The thing that’s moving, that’s the interesting thing.  Every time Jake rides by on his bike I want to pan (technical stuff).  Every time I see someone pictures from class with all the movement I want to pan.  It’s difficult to master this technique, and right now I’m hit and miss, but when I hit…WHOOOOOOA DADDY!!!!…It’s AWESOME.  Wait…sorry…ya…I was short on shots showing shutter speed and I decided right then and there I needed to take a chance and try this new thing….

So, that’s the story.  I’ve got a neat thing I want to try and shutter speed.  Here is what I came up with.


if you look closely you can see the time on the stove clock….  And this…


And this…

Print and my mug

And finally I had Joelle help me with a little more light, she was able to “paint” my face into the picture.

It's the last one.

It was pretty cool, and fun to watch the way I got to move around and actually have create my own thing with this effect.  My shutter speeds ranged from 10 to 30 seconds, although 30 seconds was a little long.  I moved around and the shutter was open for so long I mostly didn’t get caught until I wanted to.  I did have to practice writing my name a couple of times.  I wrote it backwards so I wouldn’t have an arm in the way of the light, and besides that way the light would be shining straight into the camera.  I did use a tripod, and my camera remote(Thanks Dad).  If I can find some, I know they exist, I’d like to try some different colored LEDs, maybe even try to figure out some slow sync flash and some sort of prop or scenery.  Anyway, when I get that stuff figured out I’ll be putting it here so you who are interested can check it out.

Real Homework, and I Love It


I started my third college class a couple of weeks ago, it is Principles of Digital Photography and is taught by a professional photographer who I am still trying to figure out.  Figuring him out isn’t my focus over the next several weeks, my focus is the stuff you will see pretty soon.  There are roughly a dozen people in my class, all photography majors, some have quite a bit of experience and others have very little, some listen to instructions and others just do their own thing.

This last week I’ve had to do some “practice” with aperture and shutter speed.  I was surprised with the results because I did it with my kit lens, the 18-55mm.  Now I’ve known how to make certain effects happen on my pictures…I can stop a speeding car, I can keep the car in focus and blur the background, or keep the background focused and blur the car.  I know how to get bokeh in my pictures.  That is that wonderful blur in the background while keeping the subject in focus.  I can get waterfall to show it’s drops of water in midair or I can make it have that whispy flowing look.  All this stuff I know how to do, I’ve known it for some time, I’ve just have never been forced to HAVE to do it.

With aperture and shutter speed  changes here is what I came up with.  First let’s take a look at the shutter speed:

Shutter Speed

I have Joelle to thank for this.  She helped me by driving in circles through the parking lot at the youth center over and over and over and over and over….  It was raining, and I managed to mostly stay out of the rain by being under this eve that stuck out about 2 feet by a door to the gym part of the youth center…not much but it worked.  Honestly though Jo’s job was much more difficult than mine.  I had to just sit there and change the camera settings, she had to drive the same speed through while making sure no kids came running out in front of her.  The top picture is the blur, you can barely see the van but it is there, and the bottom one isn’t completely frozen in time it was rainy and getting worse and I could have made a couple of adjustments to get it stopped but…rainwater…electronics…Hmmmmmmm.

The next part we did was aperture.  This is where that stuff called bokeh comes from.  Bokeh is that wonderful artistic blur you see where the person in front is in focus and the people behind are a little(or a lot) out of focus.  This is also where I can let less light into my camera so I can slow my shutter speed down enough to catch that whispy ghostlyness from the waterfall, or that crazy blur while I try to pan and keep Jake in focus while he is riding his bike.

Here are the results from those shots.

Wonderful blur

Both of these things I’ve known how to do since I took that photography class that got me hooked.  I had to have 2 other contact sheets with 15 photos each showing the little steps I took to get from the top picture to the bottom picture.

Actually the biggest problem I’ve been having is putting together a slide show in Lightroom 2 that is in a jpeg form small enough to put online that doesn’t take 3 days to download…and multiple page PDFs…and….

It’s all ok though, I’ve gotten it done before so I know I can do it again, it may just take a a while but that is ok.  I’m having fun getting all this done, the shooting, the post processing(which at this point doesn’t exist), putting it together so I can get as many points as possible, posing it and responding to other people’s work.

I’m getting done this time ’round….

My Wife….


My wife…is about the most amazing person I know.  She is truly a SUPERHERO to my boys, the girls and me.  Here is what makes her super….

This weekend she had her dreams crushed, I mean destroyed.  She has a picture of our lives and what she wants out of life and how we should be living.  She wants to raise her own chickens, if we could find the land to do it, she’d raise her own cows both for eating and milking.  There would definitely be some sort of garden and probably it would be significant.  We would go to farmers markets and personally know a fishmonger, a butcher and a baker.  We would not have HFCS in our diet, nor would we have Xantham Gum, Monosodium Glutimate(MSG), or maltodextrin.  We would like to eat “Hippie” and with all the other stuff be “Hippie”, to include live in a veritable “Hippie” place.  That was Whidbey Island for Jo.  She has more websites from her research of the place in her bookmarks than I’ve ever had in my life.  She has been researching for months and within the space of one day had it all taken away….

She called her parents, cried, was sad and hasn’t done the dishes.  This is since Friday night…LATE.  Today is Tuesday.  So this is, like, 3 days later.  Now for the new place, she has a website list that rivals (possibly beats) the Whidbey Island list.  She’s already found a place for us to get grass finished beef, she’s found a place for us to live…while we are looking for a house to buy.  She has found schools for the kids to go (Japanese) which are probably to expensive to enroll them into.  She has met with several people, sent e-mails and chatted…did I forget to mention I got sick today, I was going to be a good husband and do the dishes for her.  I got sick, and SHE did the dishes for ME.

She is my friend and the mother to my kids.  She is the keeper and caretaker of my family, she pushes me to new levels, new limits.  I’m back in college, Jake will have an easier time learning Japanese in the future, Quinn is the strongest most coordinated kid in his gymnastics class, and Kira is BE-E -A-U-TIFUL.