Monthly Archives: May 2012

Way of the Warrior

During my 35+ years in Hawaii, I’ve been fortunate to meet and photograph many knowledgeable and dedicated people in the Hawaiian community. One of these is La‘akea Suganuma. He’s not only president of the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts and descendant of Mary Kawena Pukui, but also a senior practitioner of lua—a form of ancient Hawaiian martial arts—and a master craftsman who creates finely carved and polished spears, shark-tooth war clubs and other weaponry modeled in the ancient Hawaiian style.

In this image published in DK (Dorling Kindersley)’s, “The Way of the Warrior,” a book detailing martial arts’ systems throughout the world, La‘akea and his son demonstrate a lua fighting stance.

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Tropical Moon

Super Moon Rising

How could I not think of John Fogerty’s “there’s a bad moon on the rise” when the Super Moon put in an appearance a few weeks ago. I had planned for this shoot: which lens to use, where it was going to come up, which location would be best—remembering that it will look biggest at the horizon, then smaller-size itself as it rises in the sky. After much debate as to location, I chose Kahala Beach (Oahu), where I calculated it would appear off the tip of Hanauma Bay’s cinder cone. The other plus to this location: going early and lounging in the Kahala Resort’s beachside restaurant for Happy Hour (cranberry juice and seasoned fries for me), and feeling grateful for a clear sky with few horizon clouds. It was pretty much a perfect evening.




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Memorial Day: Remembrance

My father and other English prisoners of war in a work gang. German beet field, circa 1943

This is a tale of two men—one English, one German—who fought in WWII.

At first brush, you might think them enemies, but, in truth, that was not the case. They didn’t hate each other. In fact, they never met. But had they met, they would have liked each other.

The Englishman signed up for the Army because he thought it was his patriotic duty to do so. Each morning, he was given 3 bullets. Each night he had to turn them in. He was captured at Dunkirk and forced to march into what was once East Germany. Many of the men with him did not survive the march.

At the prison camp, he was assigned to work in the sugar-beet fields. Often food was scarce and he relied on potato peelings and other scraps to survive. He credited the Red Cross food supplies for saving his life. There’s a photo of him with a group of men on his work gang. He looks emaciated. He had diphtheria.

Considering it also his patriotic duty, he escaped three times, was recaptured each time and sent to a new prison camp. Near the end of the war, guards deserted the camp and he made his way back to England. He’d spent five years as a prisoner in Germany, but he held no animosity toward Germans.

The German just did what he was ordered to do. He was just a boy of sixteen when he was conscripted into the German Army. Shortly thereafter he was sent to the Russian front where he was captured and sent to work as slave labor in the Siberian mines. Many of his colleagues died from the atrocious conditions. His incarceration lasted seven years.

The Englishman was my father who passed away much too soon at the age of 73. The German is now my 87-year-old neighbor. He has heart problems and cancer. They’re both fine men who went to war for their countries.

This Memorial Day, I remember them and all other brave members of the armed forces, living and dead, who sacrificed. And I pray for a miracle: that one day we will all become enlightened enough that the world will have no more need of wars.

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Travels in Turkey: Food

Standing in front of a restaurant in the tourist enclave of Sultanahmet (the old town), Istanbul, gazing through the window at a mouthwatering display of food. The chef (he’s wearing a white kitchen uniform) beckons us inside. No need to wait for a menu or a server. No need to try and figure out what the menu says. We can make our selections from the array of goodies in front of us. We ask, “What is this, what is that.” He tells us. We choose several. A waiter directs us to a table, and within two minutes, our selections are in front of us. I like this concept. The food is delicious. I become particularly fond of the eggplant, cooked in olive oil and spices, and topped with a mountain of mashed potatoes.

This country knows how to cook veggies, and especially eggplant. I rarely eat it at home—probably because I’m not the greatest cook on the planet. I tried making moussaka once and somehow over-salted the eggplant. My dinner guests said it was very good, but I could see their mouths puckering around the edges.

There were many other gustatory delights, too. Spicy soups complimented by cooling and creamy yogurt. And heavenly bread. My favorite has to be guzleme—a flat bread that looks a lot like a giant tortilla but is sprinkled with bits of cheese and spinach. It’s rolled out by hand and warmed on a dome-shaped oven, which makes the cheese melt into the dough. Then it’s folded and rolled into the shape of a burrito. I couldn’t get enough.

For you meat lovers, there’s that, too. No pork, but plenty of beef, lamb, fish and chicken. At the fast-food emporiums in Sultanahmet, we sampled a lamb kebap (or kebab). Lamb is sliced from a vertical spit and layered into a bun, with a few French fries and some lettuce shavings thrown in for good measure. Cost: about 4 or 5 Turkish lira. It was good but a bit dry. Could have used some olive oil.

lamb doner kebap in Sultanahmet

I was a bit put off fish after a stroll through the morning fish market, where the turbot, or flatfish—covered with red welts on its underside—looked scarily unappetizing, although I hear it’s quite good. But it did come from the Bosphorus. And looking at all the ferries, fishing boats and other boat traffic on that busy waterway, I can only imagine all the oil, diesel fuel and other detritus that comprises the fish’s living environment.

flatfish from the Bosphorus

We only had one really bad meal: chicken in soy sauce. Now, I like salt as much as anybody—probably more. In my youth I had no trouble consuming an entire large bag of potato chips in one sitting. And I live in Hawaii, where salty soy sauce is as much a staple as ketchup. But this meal was like chewing on a salt lick (not that I’ve ever done that) or spooning heaps of salt directly into my mouth (haven’t done that either, but I can imagine). I’m sure the chef was catering to what he thought was American taste, but I couldn’t finish it and had to drink what seemed like the contents of Lake Superior to compensate.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the ice cream. Turkish ice cream is heavenly. I still dream about the stretchy, elastic stuff. Ice cream vendors in tourist areas will not just hand you a filled cone but get a big kick out of putting on a show for you, pretending to drop it or steal it back from you. It’s quite entertaining the first couple of times. Ice cream tip: pile up your cone with several different flavors mashed together. You won’t regret it.

One final note: Food prices are very reasonable, but the same can’t be said for drinks. To buy anything alcoholic (beer, wine) at a restaurant you’ll need to pawn the crown jewels. Perhaps they’re trying to discourage us and steer us to tea. But by all means do try Raki, the licorice-flavored, high-octane national drink, and the favorite beverage of the country’s beloved first president, Ataturk. More about him in a future post.

I know some of you have visited Turkey or are living there now and you know the food better than I, so please feel free to tell me if I’ve misstated something, and to add your favorites. I can’t remember everything I ate, but other than the salt lick, it was darned good.

Categories: Photography, Stock Photography, Travel, Travel: Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

my photos

my photos

A link to one of my photo websites

Categories: Hawaii, Photography, Published Work, Stock Photography, Travel: Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mermaid’s Garden

As a child, I used to fantasize that I was a mermaid (this was before the days of Ariel and her movie), happily flipping my tail and swimming with friendly creatures in a magical underwater garden. It was a little bit like popping the Santa bubble when I found out that the ocean wasn’t such a friendly environment and that the creatures of the sea actually EAT each other. But the imagination is a separate, wonderful place after all, and in that place, I can still have it the way I used to see it.

The same goes for visiting an aquarium. Harmony reigns in the underwater caverns of an aquarium—at least as far as the visitor can see. And I can still imagine myself cavorting contentedly with sleek sharks, relaxed rays, jostling jellyfish and all the other inhabitants in my mermaid’s garden.

Last weekend I attended an after-hours party at the Waikiki Aquarium—a little gem on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Once through the door, I headed straightaway for the galleries, leaving the people to chitchat, and, in the outdoor exhibit, the monk seal fast asleep (whiskers twitching and snoring loudly, I might add). Inside, the cute orange-and-white clownfish (remember “Finding Nemo?”) were darting in and out of the venomous tentacles of their host and home, the anemone; the spotted jellyfish were, as always, pulsing gracefully up and down in their tank; and the octopus had come out from behind the rocks and was in a playful mood (either that, or it was giving me some secret octopus signal that said “get lost lady”).

In any event, I enjoyed some alone time with my childhood friends before going back out to rejoin the adult world.

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Travels in Turkey: Ephesus

Ephesus (pronounced ef uh sis), on the western coast of Turkey, is an archaeological time warp and the best preserved ancient city in the world. Once Greek, then Roman, changing hands according to the dominant empire of the time. A place where John the Baptist swayed audiences in its grand coliseum. Where slaves or peasants or hired help carried Cleopatra in her sedan chair along the length of its main thoroughfare. And where today, visitors from all over the world come to tread the same ancient streets, gazing at Hercules’ Gate and the magnificent Celsus Library façade and the Temple of Hadrian and even the public latrines, where slaves warmed up the cold marble before their masters sat.

One of the great Greek cities of Asia minor, Ephesus was originally founded by Ionian Greeks around 1000 BC at the mouth of the now silted Kayster river. The city flourished during the 7th and 6th centuries BC and again from the 4th century BC when it came under the authority of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successor Lysinachus. Under Roman rule Ephesus became the principle port and commercial center on the Aegean Sea, and the city was also a key to the development of Christianity.

Our guide told us that Roman men who wanted to get away in the evening would say to their wives, “I’m going to the library, dear.” Once at the library, however, they entered the tunnel that led to the brothel next door. Those sneaky Roman men.

Check out my Ephesus photo gallery at!i=803384905&k=gAKoM.

Do you have an Ephesus story?

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Travels in Turkey: People

This time last year I was in Turkey. It’s a place that will not leave my thoughts. Before I went, what I expected was mosques and sightseeing. What I got was a cultural infusion of sights and people that left me feeling both awed and happy.

Today, let’s start with the people. Turks, especially those in the countryside and outlying towns, really like Westerners, perhaps because we’re different, or come from such faraway places.

At one restroom/convenience-store stop along our bus route, a wedding party and family (sitting at picnic tables in front of the store) offered us food from their post-wedding feast. “Turks love to feed foreigners,” our guide told us. Everywhere, groups of wide-eyed schoolchildren and their teachers surrounded me, practicing their limited English by asking the same two questions—what is your name, and where are you from—clamoring to hear me speak or just wanting to stare at me. The lack of a common language didn’t seem to matter. Somehow we communicated. And they were eager to jump in front of my camera.

If you’ve been to Turkey, I invite you to share your stories of this amazing place by commenting below. Or perhaps you’d like to author a guest blog. And look for more—much more—from me on this subject.

Categories: Travel, Travel: Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hawaii Five-0 and me

I’ve been asking my friends, “Did you see me on Hawaii Five-O last night (season finale)?” Suspicious red car following actor Tom Sizemore down Cooke Street just before he turns into an alley and gets shot? Yep, that was me. You can sort of make out my blond hair. I’m sure everyone will be riveted to their electronic devices, manning the slow-forward, trying to catch a glimpse. Now that I’m famous, I’ll have to start signing autographs, of course. There’ll be accolades and a fan club. Fans will throw roses at me as I stroll down the red carpet, and I’ll be invited to all the best gala events, hobnobbing with McGarrett, Dano, Chin and Kono (if she survives).

Actually, we were driving home from the Hawaii Public Library where I’d picked up some deliciously intriguing mystery novels, and I noticed the film crew. It could have been filming for a commercial, but I knew there was a possibility it was the Five-O group. So I stuck my head out the window and waved.

They cut that part out.

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Behind the Photo: Three Dudes

It always feels good when one of my favorite images finds a second, third, etc. home. This shot became the cover of Hawaii magazine several years ago, and recently it was purchased by Alaska Airlines Magazine. So how did this image come to be in my portfolio? Some friends were in town and we all went to the Paradise Cove Luau, held amid the stunning scenery of Oahu’s southwestern shore. These three guys were getting ready for their roles in the imu ceremony (where the roast pig is removed from the imu, or ground oven), so I asked them to pose before the unearthing got underway. At first, they stood on the grass above the beach. “Can you go down on the beach?” I asked. Somewhat reluctantly they moved but they were still too far back, so I asked them to move closer to the water. “You want to get us wet, don’t you,” one joked. But photographers are thinking of one thing only—get the best shot. I knew they had to get back to work, so once they were in position I shot quickly: several frames, different compositions. And they didn’t get wet. When we were finished, one of them asked hopefully, “Are we going to be on a magazine cover?” As a matter of fact….yes, although I didn’t know it at the time. When I’m shooting for stock, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see where my pictures end up (one of them was printed on 75 ostrich eggs and given as gifts to clients of a South African public-relations agency). So a big mahalo (thank you) to my three models, wherever they are today. I hope to see them in print again someday.

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Mother’s Day — History and Fun Facts

The history of Mother’s Day goes way back. In early Egypt, the goddess Isis was regarded as Mother of the Pharaohs and honored in an annual festival. Romans also celebrated the Isis festival—with mostly female dancers, singers and musicians—but they also revered Cybele (Rhea) as the mother of all the major gods, including Zeus.

From goddess moms to real moms: In 1600AD England, Mothering Day was established by clerical decree as a compassionate holiday for working-class mothers during which, servants and trade workers were allowed to travel back to their towns of origin to visit their families, who gave them cakes and flowers.

Original English settlers to the U.S. discontinued Mothering Day, probably because they were preoccupied with survival in the new, harsh land. In 1870, however, Julia Ward Howe, author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood, after seeing the futility of sons killing the sons of other mothers during the Civil War. She even proposed converting July 4 into Mother’s Day as a dedication to peace, but eventually settled on June 2.

When Howe stopped funding the celebrations, most of them languished, but the seeds had taken root. On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place in a West Virginia church. By 1909, 46 states were holding Mother’s Day services, and the idea had spread to Canada and Mexico. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Today, more than 70 countries observe Mother’s Day in varied styles:
• In Argentina, groups of children circle their mothers and read them poetry.
• In France, after WWI, mothers received medals: bronze for 4-5 children, silver for 6-7, and gold for 8 or more. Today a common gift is a cake shaped like a bouquet of flowers.
• In India, Hindus honor their divine mother, Durga, during a 10-day fest.
• In Japan, since WWII, children enter drawings of their mothers in an art contest held every 4 years. Winning drawings tour through Japan and other countries to celebrate mothers and peace.
• In Mexico, mothers are treated to a song sung by their families, or a serenade by a hired band.
• In Ethiopia, mothers and daughters anoint themselves on the face and chest with butter.
• In Italy, there’s a big feast and a cake in the shape of a heart.
• In Sweden, the Swedish Red Cross sells small plastic flowers, with the proceeds going to poor mothers and their children.
• In Yugoslavia and Serbia, everyone gets tied up. Children, until they promise to be good (Children’s Day), mothers, until they offer treats and candy (Mother’s Day), and fathers, until he promises more lavish gifts, clothing or shoes (Father’s Day), which usually become the family’s Christmas gifts.
The National Retail Foundation estimates that Mother’s Day is a $16-billion industry. Retailers report it as the second highest gift-giving day, behind Christmas.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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