It’s been a month since I wrote or posted anything here. All my photos seemed very dull and I had nothing to say about them or anything else . . . .
But it’s a good idea to practise my writing, and showing my words to the public will force me to be more careful than I am when writing for myself in a journal. Also, when I look through folders of photos on my computer trying to decide what to share, the boring photos suddenly look extremely boring, and it’s a bit easier to choose the good ones. Amazing what the threat of public shame can do.
Anyway, here a couple of photos I made last month at the birthplace of Heogyun. These are photos of one building’s interior, carefully composed with tripod, some patience, and a little bit of cursing when I couldn’t get the tripod legs set up just right.
I’ve been visiting the buildings at this site for quite a few years, but every time I go I still see things in a different way. Creating beautiful pictures is nice, but one of the nicest things about photography is how it teaches you to see the world and its details from so many perspectives.
I live in a part of Gangneung that is still mostly farmland, but the city is expanding deeper and deeper into rural areas. Apartment buildings are going up at an incredible rate, even though the population is shrinking. Second homes for Seoulites and investments for speculators, perhaps. I make photos of the construction now and then, just because I pass the sites every day and I always have a camera in my hand. It’s decent composition practice as well. Getting the tower cranes aligned well is a challenge.
Despite this awful fire being just across the road from my apartment complex, people here are still parking in the fire lanes.
Let me know if you have a fascination for apartment construction photos and I’ll get you some more. 🙂
The Olympics are in town. Or two towns, rather. Officially, the Olympics are in the tiny town of Pyeongchang up in the mountains. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Actually, you probably can’t live there because rich speculators bought up every bit of land they could find when the Olympics were announced and the prices have gone mad. Snow events like skiing are being held in Pyeongchang (which already had some ski resorts), but ice events such as hockey and curling are being held in Gangneung, where I live. The Olympic Village and other important infrastructure are here in the city as well.
As far as I can tell, the city has done a good job of preparing for the games and everything is very organised. The city has spent some money on Olympic themed decorations for the streets, including these Olympic circles above Culture Street in the central Gangneung area.
This probably looks very impressive at night when the circles are lit up, but I’m not interested enough to go downtown with camera and tripod in freezing weather.
Some local businesses are also doing their bit to welcome the world to Gangneung for the games. A café on Culture Street put this lettering in their door:
The name of the café is “Welcoming” but it looks odd to say ‘Welcome to Welcoming’. A ‘fereigner’ might be someone from another country who doesn’t speak English well. Gangneung, which shouldn’t be two words, is capitalised for some reason. ‘Jok-Bal’ is ham hock. ‘Horid’? Maybe it’s not that good here? ‘Pok Cops’ might be pork chops. Or a chance to jab law-enforcement officials. Oh ho ho.
Good luck to the athletes, the organisers, and local businesses getting some extra custom during the games. As for me, I’m going to avoid any Olympic areas for the next few weeks. It’s all a bit too hectic for me. I’ll just stay home and cook up some pok cops for myself.
One fine day in January I decided to make some black and white photographs with my digital camera. I was frustrated with using film because of the expense, the difficulty, and what I thought would be poor results. Rolls of film were piling up on my shelf and I didn’t want to send them off for development for fear of disappointment. So I took the 50mm off my F6, attached it to the D810, and headed downtown.
I have made photos of this truck parked by the riverside before but from the other side and including most of the vehicle. The strong line of the shadow attracted me on this day and I shifted about until I came up with this minimalist (?) composition.
I think I can call this another minimalist composition. The top of a building, the tips of some trees, and a few wisps of cloud.
And my third simple composition. The poem has nothing to do with the scooter. It’s something like, “While rambling across the winter field, I decided not to thoughtlessly say that I had not gained a thing.” Once a month or so the building management puts up a new poetry quote on the outside wall. Quite nice, I think.
The camera was in black and white mode when I made this photo but I switched it to colour after I got home. The green bus is barely visible in the monochrome version but it’s supposed to be the main point of the photo.
I eventually sent off the film for developing and got the slides back a couple of days ago. Not quite the disaster I was expecting . . . .
I got up at 9:30 in the morning on Wednesday and drank some of the complementary 3-in-1 instant coffee in the room. Then I went out to look for a new pair of shoes because mine developed leaks in the soles. By the time I found a shoe shop my socks were wet so I gave up.
Strangely, I couldn’t see any tall apartment buildings anywhere. Maybe the main tourist area is a no-development zone? In most cities and even small towns you can see high-rise apartments all over the place. It’s quite nice not to see them, actually.
I headed to the famous royal tomb park and made some photos there, despite the constant and slightly heavy rain. The park is quite nice, and I wish I could have visited in better weather.
I really enjoyed my time in this park and I think with a spot of good weather and a full set of photo equipment I could be happy for a whole week just photographing this one park.
It was getting close to dinnertime when I exited the park but it was hard to see anything except shops selling Gyeongju Bread. But off to the left was this small restaurant that sells traditional Korean meals. The sign says it’s been in business for seventy years.
A lot of the menu items had seafood but I was able to order a set menu featuring a kind of hamburger patty. I told the employees I can’t eat fish but they gave me five seafood dishes anyway.
On the tourist map there was a village made of traditional Korean houses and I wanted to see that. It wasn’t far from the coffee shop so I set off after finishing my jasmine tea. I found the village easily enough and I was hoping to make a lot of photographs, but I was quite disappointed. All the houses had high walls around them and the houses that were open were converted to restaurants and coffee shops. I didn’t stay there long.
I felt knackered after walking so much, so I jumped in a taxi and went back to the hotel, even though it was just 2:30. I bought a convenience store lunch box to have for supper because I didn’t want to go out any more that day. I showered, took a nap, and spent the rest of the day in my hotel room reading, writing, and watching TV and movies until late at night. That was quite relaxing.
The next day I left Gyeongju and went to Daegu to visit a friend. I enjoyed my trip to Gyeongu, but two full days in bad weather was enough. I would really like to go back again some spring or autumn to photograph those tombs and maybe some temples.
I hope you enjoyed my little travel diary, and if you ever come to Korea I highly recommend Gyeongju. Bring an umbrella and some good shoes . . . .
I was skimpy on details in Part 1, but I will write more this time, even at the risk of boring people. You can always skip to the photos if you’re not interested in the writing.
I didn’t get up until 10.00 in the morning, which was just as well because the weather was cloudy and the light was low. Not great for photography. My sad breakfast was leftover fried chicken from the night before. My first stop of the day was the Tourist Information kiosk in front of the train station. I told the young woman working there that I didn’t have a car and was interested in tourist areas within walking distance. She gave me a map of Gyeongju and circled a number of things I could get to easily.
I went to the wrong tourist site after leaving Tourist Information. The woman circled the back entrance of a tomb park and I headed for that. Unfortunately, there is another, smaller park of tombs before it and I went in there. I was a bit disappointed and it wasn’t until I had come out and looked at the map again that I realised I had stumbled into an unfinished park.
I made another short tour around the park after I left the museum and took a path that maybe was off limits. There was a traffic cone standing in the way that lacked authority so I went past it. I guess it’s not an officially opened path because the area is not cleared up yet. I made a few photos.
It was getting close to midday by the time I left the park and I headed to a beef restaurant near the exit. The restaurant was in a traditional style building and quite large.
The park and the restaurant are next to the neighbourhood of my hotel so I dropped by my room to rest for a little bit. Unfortunately, the (very friendly) cleaners were in the room so I didn’t stay for more than a minute. I got a disposable raincoat from the front desk to cover my camera with and then went for a short walk through the streets.
There was nothing good to see in these streets (except the cat) so I started off for the Gyeongju National Museum. It was raining so I figured I may as well go to an inside cultural site. The museum is a few kilometres away from the hotel but a lovely walk with hills and trees. I made a few photos on the way there and on the way back.
I arrived at the museum and made a photo of the front gate with my iPhone. It wasn’t raining too heavily, so I made some photos of the grounds before entering any of the museum buildings.
After taking a little rest I went into the main building to see the displays there. Photography is allowed if you don’t use flash or a tripod so I made some photos. I photographed many things but I’ll just share some of the better ones.
If you’re ever in Gyeongju, I highly recommend the National Museum. It would be worth living in Gyeongju just to spend days and days photographing the grounds and buildings.
I was satisfied with my first full day in Gyeongju, despite the rain. The only thing I didn’t like about the day was the choice of food for supper. Most restaurants are for couples and groups, and lone eaters are very rare. I feel uncomfortable sitting in a restaurant by myself here. Also, many of the good foods like grilled ribs can only be ordered in servings of two or more. And many restaurants in the evening are filled with noisy drinkers and can be unpleasant. So, sadly, I went to another chicken place and brought back another meal of fried chicken to my hotel room. (I never thought I would ever use the words ‘sadly’ and ‘fried chicken’ in the same sentence. 🙂 )