A bit of film

The photos in this post don’t have much in common except that they were all made in May and they are film photographs. I guess it would be nice to present a nice photo essay about something like the redevelopment of the tourist areas (or whatever) but sometimes you just take a few decent photos while out for a walk or standing in the bathroom.

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The aforementioned bathroom

I was brushing my teeth or drying my face when I noticed this patch of morning sunlight on the tiles of the bathroom floor. I ran to the cupboard to get my Nikon F6 and make this photo before the sun moved and ruined the photographic moment. This was made on Kodak Portra 400 film and very likely I spot-metred off the brightest part of the tile and added +1 or +1.3 stops of exposure.

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2018 Olympics Women’s Hockey Stadium

The Winter Olympics are being held in Pyeongchang County and Gangneung City next year. It’s officially the Pyeongchang Olympics but ice rink sports such as hockey and curling will be in Gangneung and things like skiing will be held in Pyeongchang, where the ski slopes are. This stadium was built at the university where I teach and when the Olympics are done the facilities will be used by the students and by the public. I was leaving school one day when I noticed the beautiful reflections in the windows. The campus is filled with pine trees and new flower beds have been installed around the stadium. I searched the bottom windows for my own reflection but I guess I was too far away.
Just before I made this photo I ran into a small group of students and I got them to huddle together for a photo. Last week I got prints made and gave them to the students. They were really pleased, and I think that people are quite grateul when you go through the trouble of making a print and giving it to them. Clicking ‘send’ on a phone application takes no effort and people do it all day long. I hope they have the prints to look at long after their phones are obsolete and they’ve lost half a lifetime’s worth of memories.

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Something old, something new

I was out for a walk when I came across this well-maintained Korean traditional house with modern apartments in the background. I like this sort of contrast between the old Korea and the new and I made a few photographs. The curve of the traditional roof and the zig-zag placement of the apartments gives this photo a slight dynamic feeling. The tree in the lower left is a nice touch, but I’m not sure about the utility pole on the right side of the frame. I guess it’s not too bad because there are power lines on the left side of the frame and they balance out. Made on Kodak Portra 400 with the Nikon F6. Probably a 50mm lens since that’s the one I usually have on the camera when walking around.

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Stepping-stone bridge on the Namdae River.

The apartment complex on the right is the same complex that’s in the previous photo. I think it might be the same day, but I’m not sure because I don’t keep careful notes. Any notes. I waited around for a while for people to come by and cross the bridge. I was lucky enough to get people going both ways and meet at a compositionally pleasing spot in the frame. This photo was made with the F6 on, yes, you guessed it, Kodak Portra 400.

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Stepping-stone bridge

This detail of the bridge was made at the far end where there’s little or no water and the grass has grown up. F6. Portra 400.

I’ve lived in Gangneung for a long time and sometimes I feel tired of going to the same markets, the same historical houses, and the same harbours for photography. I have no car so I’m limited in the number of interesting places I can visit. But, amazingly, sometimes just hanging a camera off your shoulder and wandering the seen-a-thousand-times city streets can result in some new perspectives and good photographs.

 

Residences

On the morning of the fourth of March I went for a short walk around my neighbourhood and made a photo of my apartment complex across some fields.

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In the afternoon I headed to the birthplace of Heogyun and his sister whose name I can never remember because it’s too long.

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I saw this plant the other day and there still wasn’t much green on it.

The only other decent photo of the day was of one of the smaller entrance gates. I was standing inside another gate when I made it. This is one of my favourite views at the residence.

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The more I look at this photo, the more I like it. Maybe one of my favourite pictures.

Apartment Complex

Cities are generally ugly places, but the great thing about photography is that you can select a perspective and make things look good. People say photographs lie, but they don’t. They organise, present, and convince, like essays. The area behind my apartment complex is not very lovely, but if you stand in the right place it’s a pleasant place to be.

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Made with an iPhone on my way back from the university.

The Valley Behind My Apartment

Last month, I took a stroll up the small valley behind my apartment building. There are no farmers around because it’s winter and it’s a dead end so no city maniacs are using it as a shortcut to get to the highway. I made a few photographs on my walk and, as I write this, I wonder if the little valley has a name. Maybe I can ask a farmer when the weather warms up and they come out to prepare their fields.

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As I started walking into the valley, I turned around and made a photo of my apartment complex.

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I guess that this sign once said, “Do not enter”. Now, even without words, it still works as a means of communication. Or maybe it once said, “Welcome to my Field.” I don’t know.

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I don’t know what kind of trees these are and I don’t know what this section of pipe is doing there.

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Same trees, different view.

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This was the end of the road. The blank area at the top of the sign looks like it might have had something written on it long ago.

I’m looking forward to walking up this valley in the spring and summer, when everything isn’t brown.

 

Snapshots: Swallow Village

I live at the edge of Gangneung in a high-rise apartment complex. High-rises are never very homey but I live on the third floor and the view from all my windows is of hills and trees. I can’t see any other apartment buildings at all. Even better, turning left instead of right when I exit the complex puts me on a road through the countryside with farms, hills, and pine trees.

It hasn’t been long since my wife and I moved into this apartment so this morning I decided to explore the area a bit with my camera. I took a side road that leads to Swallow Village. Or, more precisely, Swallow Village #2. The purpose of my walk was to explore, so I left my tripod and home, set the camera’s ISO to 400, and didn’t worry too much about getting everything perfect. The pictures I made today are photographic notes to share with others and to be used as a reference on later walks.

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On the way downstairs I noticed that the owners of this apartment had posted a notice of the arrival of spring that people traditionally pasted to their front gates. The people who live in this apartment are probably older people or their parents or grandparents gave the notices to them. Yesterday was the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.

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This rusted sign may have once had something written on it. You can see that the field in the distance already has some green in it while the distant mountains are still covered with snow. The elevated highway in the distance runs from Gangneung to the more southern city of Donghae. It also connects to the highway that goes to Seoul from here.

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Another photo of the same fields. This time you can see the transmission towers that run across the countryside. It’s sometimes challenging to do landscape photography in Korea because of all the signs of civilisation, although these towers have a gracefulness if you get the right angle.

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Spring is still a ways off for some plants.

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Wouldn’t you like to live in a house on a hill? You can’t see it in this photo, but there was a BMW parked in the driveway.

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These people can only afford to live on an incline.

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Gangneung has more coffee shops per capita than any other city in Korea. They’ve filled up the city centre and spilled out into the countryside.

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Many small towns erect large stones with their village name or the name of some important place on it. This one has ‘Chungjeong Shrine’ engraved on it. I didn’t see a shrine but I did see a small Confucian school up a hill. Perhaps the shrine is inside there.

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The farmer who owns this tractor must have had a good year. It looks brand new and the plastic wrap is still on the seat and some of the controls.

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When you live in the countryside, you have to time your trips to town carefully if you don’t own a vehicle. Many of the country buses only pass by four or five times a day.

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Hung up inside the bus stop was a straw broom and a notice looking for people willing to share rides to schools in Gangneung. Schools here don’t offer bus service.

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The back side of a stone sign with the date of erection and ‘All Villagers’. I guess they took up a collection.

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I started following a road up a hill to see if I could get into the next valley but it ended rather abruptly at the tree line. On the way back down the hill I made this photo of a shed.

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Many people outside the city and some poorer people in the city use coal for heating because it’s cheap. Farmers collect the ashes to fertilise their fields. Later in the year this ash and the rice plant stubs will be turned over before flooding and planting of new seedlings.

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The same sign that was in the bus stop. Maybe someone has a van and they’re looking to make a little bit of money.

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Plastic left over from the farming season blows around all winter. Sometimes it gets caught in trees and twists about like weird birds.

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Doggy house, but no doggy. No people houses nearby, either. What poor mutt gets tied up here and left alone all day?

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Lots of people moved into the apartment complex today. This company is called Happy Movers.

No art made today, which is why the title is ‘Snapshots’, but I enjoyed walking about and using the camera. I bought it not too long ago and it’s a good idea to familiarise myself with the controls. When the weather gets a bit warmer I’ll go out with a tripod and extra lenses to make some good photographs of the area. In five years the whole valley might become a strip of coffee shops and apartment buildings and I’d like to document it as it is now.

Near and Far

The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Korea and the city of Gangneung is making new street signs in Korean, Roman letters, Chinese, and Japanese.
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Korea and the city of Gangneung is making new street signs in Korean, Roman letters, Chinese, and Japanese.
No Parking
No Parking
Painted arrow and arrow from shadows
Painted arrow and arrow from shadows
View from a pedestrian overpass. This is what most new parts of Korean cities look like.
View from a pedestrian overpass. This is what most new parts of Korean cities look like.
An older part of Gangneung and the view from my deck. It's not such a pretty sight but, unlike most people, at least I have a view that isn't blocked by huge apartment buildings.
An older part of Gangneung and the view from my deck. It’s not such a pretty sight but, unlike most people, at least I have a view that isn’t blocked by huge apartment buildings.