Mobile Monday

If my iPhone had wide angle, normal, and short telephoto lenses, I might very well throw away all my camera equipment and make all my photos using Hipstamatic. Phone filters are often a gimmick used to make boring photographs look interesting, but when you have a good photograph to begin with, a filter can bring out something a little extra special.


This boat and sculling oar (?) is set on concrete blocks in the very shallow Gyeongpo Lake. You can probably see that the bottom of the boat is filled with water. It’s attached to a wharf, and tourists can carefully make their way out to one of the seats for selfies. I prefer the boat in a non-occupied state.


Shooting buds into space.


I made the same photo on 35mm film, but I haven’t gotten it developed yet. I think the square format was probably better for this scene, but I might be pleasantly surprised.

A bicycle ride into the hills

Last month I felt tired of visiting the same places over and over so I had a look at Naver Maps (Like Google Maps, but only covers Korea) and found a reservoir up in the hills that I had never seen before. So I jumped on my bicycle and ran rode to the hills.

I took only my iPhone and used the Hipstamatic application to make a few photographs. I like to put away my regular cameras sometimes to try something different. The change from my usual kit helps me see things in a different way, and the new perspective transfers to my regular photography habits.

The first thing of interest I found was a shed used by the volunteer forest fire watch. These mostly senior citizens ‘hang out’ in the countryside and watch for the first signs of forest fires. Or ‘mountain fires’, as they are known in Korea. Probably because most of the trees are on mountains and flat land is almost always farmland or concrete. The shed was half(?) a shipping container with windows  and a stove installed. I was attracted to the nickel silver kettle in the window so I made a few photos of it.


On one side of the reservoir (which was unremarkable, except for a number of floating sloar panels) were a few houses and a small, neglected park with a couple of pavilions. One of the pavilions was in a traditional style using mostly whole logs and clay tiles, and the other was western style with 2×4 pieces of wood and asphalt shingles. I made a few photos from inside the traditional pavilion where I took a rest.



The place was deserted except for a woman who came out of a house once to do some work and steal looks at me. The place probably gets very few Korean tourists, never mind Anglo-Saxon visitors.

On the way back home I stopped to photograph a compost pile that was not very photogenic on its own, but looked interesting presented against the similarly-shaped mountain the in the background.


The winter tree branches nicely match the dead roots or vines in the compost pile and fill up a boring blue sky.

The iPhone only has a wide angle lens, so I might go back there this spring with my full kit and a tripod to see what other photographs I can make. Even if I just waste some film, the area is very nice for cycling in and a trip there is a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon.

Mobile Monday – Bus Stop

downtown bus stop

While my bicycle had a flat tyre, I was forced to take buses and taxis everywhere. Taxis are too expensive to use every day, so I had to spend a lot of time waiting around at bus stops. There was half an hour to kill until the next bus for my apartment arrived, so I decided to make a few photos instead of staring at my feet. This was the only survivor of the day.



This was taken some time ago on a bicycle ride to a reservoir I hadn’t heard of before. I’m posting it today because one of my tyres is now flat and it’s a long bloody walk to the bicycle repair shop. “Fix it yourself!” you say. It’s an electric bicycle and I don’t want to mess around with the motor, etc.

iPhone 6s+, Hipstamatic



He looks like he might be trying to escape these ultra-modern apartments being put up in the background. But there is no escaping. While the population of Gangneung slowly goes down, more and more apartment buildings go up. Vacation homes for rich Seoulites who come for the skiing and the beach? Maybe construction is driven by speculation.

One of the lovely things about the city is that from almost everywhere you can see the mountains in the background. It’s a welcome relief from all the concrete, cars, and rubbish.

This man became curious about what I was making photos of, and when he got past me he turned around and hovered behind, staring in the direction my camera was pointing. His expression told me that he couldn’t see anything of interest and he eventually went away. The point of interest was, of course, himself.

(The version on this website is quite soft, while the version on my computer is sharp and clear. Maybe I forgot to click ‘sharpen for screen’ when exporting or something.)


I’ve posted photographs of this traditional residence before, though not since deleting the site in January, I think. I was there with the Nikon D810 and the usual 28, 50, and 85mm lenses. I also brought along my 180m lens to see if I could get some interesting photos with compressed perspective. It was a pleasant couple of hours at the residence except for the tour groups of older people who think a foreigner with camera and tripod is part of the sightseeing.


Nikon D810, 85mm lens


Hwallae Pavilion was built over an artificial lotus pond as a place for the owners to drink tea and do whatever ‘our betters’ did when not making life miserable for the locals. Joking(?) aside, it’s a beautiful building, and it must be very nice to sit there on a lovely spring or autumn day with a book, a cup of tea, and thou. To hell with the peasants. I used a short telephoto lens to cut out hedges in the foreground and ugly grey sky up above.  It also makes the foreground and background buildings look closer together. The owners of this estate now live in a walled-off area where tourists are not allowed to go.


D810, 180mm lens

Hwallae Pavilion, a bridge to the island in the lotus pond, a hedge, and a pine tree on the other side of the estate, all very nicely compressed by the long lens. I didn’t know what to do with the telephoto lens when I first bought it, but I think I’ve an idea now. I might bring it downtown to see if I can make the streets look more crowded than they actually are. Perhaps the bus stops, where people congregate on the narrow sidewalks.


D810, 28mm lens

I can’t read the Chinese writing on this gate. The small brown sign on the right has the owner’s name written on it. I used a wide-angle lens to get in a lot of the impressive gate roof as well as the building inside the gate. Using a wide angle also got the hanging light out of the way of the gate sign. This took me a long time to set up and compose because there are so many elements to the scene that had to be in just the right place and because the camera was pointing almost straight up and it was difficult to see through the viewfinder. But worth it! This was my favourite photo of the day.


Nikon D810, 28mm lens

Stepping stones, for when the rain turns the courtyard into mud. I set up the scene on a tripod and waited for tourists to walk into it.


Nikon D810, 28mm lens

The same, but with an older gentleman walking around with his hands in his pockets.

I used to get into Seongyojang for free, thanks to a professor/photographer I know who was doing a book on the place. Then there arose a ticket-seller who knew not the name and camera of Marcus. And the professor had moved on as well. So now I have to pay 5,000 Won whenever I want to get inside. A bit steep, but it’s okay if the light is good and there aren’t bus-loads of people walking around inside.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.