Sunday, 18 August 2019


For reasons that I explain in my first post, I'm moving to a new website. The address is There's not much there yet, but it seems to be working.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Seagull on Breakwater

Seagull on Breakwater, Anmok Harbour, 2019.
It was a foggy early morning at the harbour and few people were about. Half a dozen men were fishing off the breakwater or down by the water. I've seen a sign saying not to fish at the base of the breakwater and not to go out on the tetrapods, but everyone ignores this. There is a coast guard station right next to the water and they never say anything to anybody. Well, not true. The other morning I was looking at the harbour looking for a composition and an officer came out to ask me what I was up to. He was friendly, so no offence taken. He was surprised that I had ridden ten kilometres to come look at the harbour at such an early hour. I was surprised myself . . . .

Monday, 12 August 2019

Morning Rides

When I complained some time ago about the weather being too hot and miserable for photography, the talented, knowledgeable, and entertaining Herman Sheephouse over at FogBlog suggested that I get up early in the morning and make some photos while the earth was still relatively cool. That didn't sound like a solution to me because I go to bed late at night and don't get up before the sun is already blazing.
   But I decided to give it a try and, surprisingly, I enjoy it. It's not cool enough for walking (I sweat a lot and get chafing between the legs), but riding bicycle is a pleasure. There are very few cars or people about in the early morning and I create my own cooling wind on the bicycle. So far, I've gone downtown a couple of times and to the beach once. There is a riverside exercise path that leads directly to both places from my apartment. My favourite morning ride is in the opposite direction, out into the countryside. There are no cycling paths, but I can keep to smaller roads and go through the village of Geumsan on my way to the small town of Seongsan. This route is full of photographic opportunities and I stop here and there to make photos while on my ride. Here are some pictures and snapshots from a couple of mornings.

This is my favourite Korean truck, the Kia Ceres, named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. It's a four-wheel drive truck made for the agricultural market. It went out of production in the late nineties. I'd love to have one, but most of them look to be in hard shape. Still, there are lots of them around in the countryside so they must be pretty tough vehicles.
There are quite a few cats roaming around in the village of Geumsan. And probably not many mice. This young fellow looks exactly like an older cat I saw in the village last year around harvest time. I wonder how many generations back this family goes. A bit of research tells me that the village was founded in the early 16th century. Did a cat like this one welcome the settlers with their mice-attracting sacks of grain?
I made this photo from underneath a giant expressway overpass. In the distance is the overpass that carries the new high speed train from Seoul to Gangneung, built for the Olympics. In between are the rice fields of Geumsan Village.
I've made photos of this overpass with the road down the centre a number of times, but probably not with the road off to one side and including the barriers. The light barrier top in the lower left corner balances the white gap between the bridges in the top right, I think. I thought about waiting for a car or a scooter to come by, but the shadows on the road add enough visual interest to an otherwise featureless surface.
This is a warning sign that has almost completely faded. It warns people not to park under the overpass, etc. I like the blank surface of the sign on the blank surface of the concrete.
I'm not sure if I like this photograph or not. I like the subject matter, but I don't think I got the best framing I could have. I'm posting it here because sometimes the act of sharing a photo can knock me off the fence, as it were. Sometimes I look at my published photo and think, "Yeah, I don't mind people seeing that one." Other times I wish I hadn't posted. Actually, looking at it now, it suddenly comes to me that I should revisit this place when there is some sunlight to better separate the chair from the ground. There you go - posting this photo here forced me to think about it and I got an idea about how to improve it.
The foreground branches aren't organised enough to consider this photo for printing, but I think it shows how large the overpass is compared to the village in the background. It's quite incongruous - like something aliens would build if they took over the earth (I'm watching the TV series Colony these days). After a new set of pyramids, of course . . . .
A pair of work gloves hung from a tree by the side of the road. No idea.
You've seen this before. I now have three versions of the same scene - Kodak's new E100, Kodak Portra 400, and the Fuji T-3 Classic Chrome film simulation. The E100 version is not that great, but the Portra and the Fuji digital look good. I could probably make the digital version above look better if I spent a bit of time at it. But I dislike spending time adjusting sliders so this is fine.

I've previously posted a film version of the second photo here. I really like the greens in Fujifilm's Classic Chrome simulation. Of these two photos I like the first one best. You can pick out individual trees on the hill, there are more rocks in the stream, and the grass on the bottom makes a strong foundation for the photo. The curve of the foreground also makes the photo a bit dynamic.
Many people don't paint the concrete walls that surround their property. The owner of this house spent some money to have a nice wall built, so why not spend another little bit of money to put on a coat of paint?
I tried this photo a couple of weeks ago but screwed it up. I got better results this time, but I needed to step a little bit to the left to separate the tiled wall top from the refuse in front of the shed door. These little micro-composition mistakes bother me more than they should. I made this photo handheld, but I should have had a tripod because it was difficult to keep so many elements under control while trying to not move around.
There is a coffee shop attached to a screen golf place near my apartment. At the bottom of the photo are some clay pots used for making gimchi, soy bean paste, or soy sauce. I'm not sure it matches the interior of a coffee shop. I never see anyone inside, so I wonder if it went out of business and the owner is just using the space for storing things.
This wasn't the last photo on a roll of film (usually a cat photo or mirror self-portrait), but it was the last photo I made that day. My wife bought a new chair to relax in, but guess who claimed it. Everything eventually belongs to the cat . . . .
   More photos from morning rides coming in the future. If I can continue to get my arse out of bed, of course . . . .

Friday, 9 August 2019

City-Sponsored Shade

Poets talk about sunbeams as though they are something that make you feel like dancing in a glade with the faeries, but at this time of year in Korea all you get  from the heavens are shards of sunlight tearing into your eyes and skin. Thoroughly unpleasant, especially with the humidity. The city has put up large parasols at zebra crossings so people can get out of the sun while waiting for the lights to change. Very nice.
The guy who parked here figured that the city set up shaded parking for motorcycles. He knows that the police do nothing about illegal parking so why obey laws that aren't enforced? Social Contract be damned.

VIP Parking. Downtown Gangneung. 2019.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Wanggok Village Part 2, Houses

There are no high places in Wanggok Village where I could get up and make a wide photo of the village as a whole. What's more, most of the houses are surrounded by walls, which means mostly I could just get peeks and rooves. Here are a few of the acceptable photos I made that day.
Unlike more southern houses which have lots of paper doors and windows, northern houses have more wooden doors, smaller windows, and thicker walls to keep out the cold. Wanggok Village is about halfway up the Korean peninsula and it's where the northern style of housing begins.
The tiles in the foreground belong to the outer wall and the rooves inside belong to the house. The thatched roof building is a shed of some sort, if I remember correctly.
The house is on the right and on the left is a thatched wall. In the centre is a chimney made of stone, clay mortar, and a clay pot for the top. I've never seen that anywhere else and it's quite interesting.
Awwww, look at the puppy dog . . . . on a short chain, sadly. Most dogs here are on very short chains or in cages.

I would really like to go back to this village and make more photos, but it's difficult to get to if you don't have a private vehicle. There's bus service, but very infrequent. Also, not too long ago I saw Wanggok Village featured in one of those television shows where they send TV celebrities/K-Pop stars/washed up actors to places around Korea to gush about places they would probably never visit on their own. That means the place was probably overrun by tourists right after the broadcast. And that usually means the local government spent money on making the place more tourist friendly. Which usually means ruining it. But maybe I'm wrong and the place retains its charm. When the weather cools down I must try to find a way to get there and make some photographs.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Wanggok Village Part 1, Walls

In my last post I wrote about the disappointment I felt with photos I remembered as excellent but, on seeing them again, turned out to be no longer impressive. Composition was the major flaw I noticed.
   In the same year I visited the village of Wanggok up near the border. I was very proud of these photos and remembered them as some of the best work I had done. When I looked at the scans the other day I suddenly saw lots of problems. The compositions were generally good, but some were not perfectly in focus or the depth of field was too shallow. I probably used a warming filter because it was a heavily overcast day and I can't seem to get the white balance correct in the scans. But this is probably just my lack of processing skill.
   Anyway, here are some of the photos I made on that day. I liked the walls in the village and made quite a few photos of them.
 I must have used my 140mm lens (Contax 645) for this photo because there is little depth of field. I used a tripod and I'm sure I used a narrow aperture, but only the plants are very sharp. The stone wall is slightly soft and the house wall is even softer. Well, it doesn't look that bad if you don't put your face too close.
This is the same wall, but photographed vertically and closer. Everything is sharp and I like the framing, but most of the plants are bunched up on the left, which annoys me a bit.
Another photo that suffers from a narrow depth of field. You'll notice that this wall is topped with clay tiles rather than thatch. I guess someone had more money to spend on their home.
I like this photograph, but I think I focused on the flowers rather than the wall. The wall is acceptably(?) sharp, but what was I thinking? The Contax 645 is a wonderful camera but it was wasted in my hands.
In my next post I will share some photos of the houses in the village.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Snow on Gate Roof

Seongyojang was once the largest non-royal residence in Korea, having 99 kan worth of building space. A kan is the length of space between two pillars and no residences not owned by the royal family could be 100 or more kan in size. The family that owns Seongyojang was once quite rich and influential, but now they have opened most of the grounds to the public (big government tax cuts for doing this) for a fee and live in a small courtyard near the back. I was there one day and made these photos of the gate to the family residence. 

The top photo was made on Ilford XP2 Super film and the bottom photo was made on Kodak E100G slide film. The camera was a Contax 645.
   I had a good print of the black and white film and I really liked it. It was on my office wall for quite a while. After that it was in an album out of sight for a long time, but it remained in my mind as one of my better photographs. The composition, the luck of finding snow on the roof, and so on. But, looking at the photos now, I'm less happy with them. I probably should have included more at the bottom of the frame. I think I cut it off because there was an ugly No Entry sign there. I guess I could go back and make the photo again, but it's expensive to enter now and who knows when the snow will look like that again? Still, it's been nine years since I made those photos and maybe I can do a better job even without the snow.