Deadlines trump photography this week, so I chose to use this week’s graduation at the Academy of Okinawan Karate to take some pictures for Photo Friday. I decided to use two of them this time around.
Here, Jimmy is near the end of a kata our style calls Bassai Dai. I tweaked the exposure a bit to get his gi nice and crisp, the goal being a photo his parents could print and frame if they chose. Then I noticed the four gentlemen watching from the background. From left to right, they are Sensei Trent Miller (2nd degree black belt), Sensei Joey Johnston (4th degree black belt), Josh Carter (1st degree brown belt, AOK employee), and Tim Mangan (Senpai, or senior student, Peoria dojo). All four of them are keeping a close eye on Jimmy’s performance.
It’s a good example of the scrutiny students receive. I don’t mean that in a negative way, just that when we’re running kata, chances are somebody is watching and is ready to provide some helpful advice. Or in other cases, a junior student is watching a senior perform a kata so they might learn something. Even back when we did karate on the beach in Hawai’i, Shihan Walker gave us several pieces of advice, two of which still come to me frequently in class. If you need help with something, or just need a little encouragement, there’s going to be someone there for you.
Jimmy, now wearing his new belt, poses with Shihan Walker and Sensei Miller. This is how the hard work and paying attention to that advice pay off. As a first-degree brown belt, Jimmy is done with reviews and promotions for a while. It’s a huge milestone in our style, and it’s a great feeling to finally make it to that point. (I learned that last summer.) There’s still new material to learn, and there’s a lot of studying to be done, but it’s at this promotion on realizes just how far they’ve come.
These photos are also an illustration of the difference between the direct flash and a bounce flash. In the first one, Jimmy was actually at least fifteen feet away from him, and the gentlemen behind him another fifteen or so feet away. The flash does a somewhat passable job of illuminating Jimmy, but it falls of drastically on the other side of him.
In the bottom picture, I still stood about 10 feet away, but this time I bounced the flash off the drop ceiling. There are still some oddities, like shadow vignette on the wall behind them, but for the most part the light, especially on the three subjects, is a lot cleaner and smoother.
Just like karate keep learning and keep improving.