Readers’ wildlife photos

March 12, 2021 • 8:00 am

Send in your photos! Must I beg? Well, then, very well: PLEASE send in your photos!

Today’s batch in the waning backlog comes from reader James Blilie—part of a series taken by his dad in Japan and the Philippines decades ago. James’s notes are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

These are mostly more street photos my Dad (James L. Blilie, 1923-2010) took in Japan and Manila in the Philippines in 1952 and 1953.  This is a second set of his photos, the first of which you posted on 12-Feb-2021.

My Dad served in the US Army Air Force in WWII, flying a full tour of combat missions (35 when he was in) in the 8th Air Force over Germany and occupied France.  When the Korean war broke out, he was called up in 1950 or 1951.  Since he’d done his full combat duty, he was assigned to Military Air Transport, where he continued to fly as a navigator on cargo airplanes.  He was mainly based in Tachikawa Air Base in Japan; but also flew frequently into Clark Field near Manila in the Philippines, Taipei, and Taegu and other fields in Korea:  The work involved supplying US forces in Korea.

When he was not on duty, he wandered the areas around the air bases.  These photos are ones that he took around Tachikawa, Japan and around Manila in the Philippines.

I have scanned his negatives cropped the images, adjusted exposure and contrast, occasionally spotted out a distracting element, and spotted out the dust (some of my dust-spotting is sub-optimal).  My Dad’s equipment:  A Rolleiflex (twin-lens reflex camera, Schneider lenses), a Leica IIIf, and a compatible Canon II or Canon III rangefinder.  I think these were among the first 35mm cameras to use interchangeable lenses and were the high-tech cameras of the time.

First are more street photos from the vicinity of Tachikawa Air Base in Japan (near Tokyo):

A school girl.

Silk worm (Bombyx mori) cocoons being sort prior to making silk fiber.

Three generations.

Farmer woman in the fields.

Plant detail.  Looks like the edge of a wheat (Triticum aestivum) field.

Girls.

A farmer.

Boys.

And a street shot in Manila, the Philippines:  Some houses and a corner store with some big ruins behind (this was shortly after the battles in and around Manila in WWII).

A portrait of one of my great uncles, a farmer, taken in his oat field, 1949.  I think this is one of my Dad’s best portraits.  This one was taken with his first camera, an Argus C3 which had a fixed lens.

Finally, the guy who took these photos.  My Dad in 1943, age 20, just out of Army training in Arizona (sunburned face!), in preparation for eventually shipping out to the air war in Europe.  This photo was taken in 1943 in Salt Lake City, Utah, before he got his first camera.  It was a postcard and was given to his mother.  I think they had a version of photo booths in those days where they would make postcards of your photo to send to family.  I have examples my grandmother kept from as early as 1903.

23 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Thanks for sharing your father’s photography with us, James. I want to look at these over and over; they’re all so beautiful, and make me want to know more about his subjects.

  2. I thank you for your fathers great photos but also much more. I have been to many of those locations your father visited during his years in the Far East. The Philippines, Manila and Clark AB, Korea, to include Taegu and many other locations throughout Korea. Also many in Japan, Yokota, Misawa and once to a silk museum in Yokohoma.

      1. Thank you so much for these. I’m sure you greatly treasure this photographic record. My father was also born in 1923. He died when I had just turned four in 1959. He was in the southwest Pacific in WW II, flying on B-24’s. I have a few B&W photos of him during that period, for which I am grateful.

  3. Beautiful photos!

    That is not wheat – it looks more like Barley (Hordeum vulgare)! Wheat does not have the long spurs – sorry I do not know the technical term…

    1. The photo from Japan is either barley or wheat. I started out with barley, with which I am pretty familiar; but after looking at the photos on wiki, I settled on wheat; but I certainly could be wrong! My first impression was definitely barley, for the reason you state.

      The photo of my great uncle is in an oat field.

      1. oh – I meant the other picture not uncle! 🤓

        Mind you there are lots if varieties & Norman Borlaug did some work on changing varieties I suppose!

  4. James, what a treasure, not just for your family, but for all of us. They’re wonderful street photography as well as being historically significant. Like you, he was an excellent photographer!

  5. These are wonderful photos. Thanks for the camera specs (fun to remember those old cameras and what it took to capture a great photo. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Technical note: The Argus C-3 did have interchangeable lenses (screw mount); but my Dad only had the basic 50mm f/3.5 lens. After looking into this camera, I discovered that it was famously used in WWII by Tony Vaccaro, about whom a good documentary was made: Under Fire.

  7. What a treasure trove your Dad left behind! Much thanks for giving us a peek into his life experiences.

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