Gulsan Temple Site


This stone marks the site of Gulsan Temple. Gulsan Temple was founded in 851 and was probably closed down by the Joseon Dynasty in the early 15th century. Little remains of the temple now except for two tall, stone flagpoles, the shadows and bases of which you can see in this photo.
iPhone 6s+, Hipstamatic application.


Downtown Gangneung

I spent much of my ten day holiday editing, printing, and again editing photos. I had a lot from nine rolls of film I got back from the lab as well as a backlog of digital photos. I think I’ve made myself sick of photography and I don’t want to see a shutter button for a while.

Some of the photos I made were of Gangneung’s downtown area. I make a lot of photos there because it’s easy to get to and I can do other things while I’m there. I need to get on my bicycle and visit other places.

Mall and Man

This new colourful mall is a nice visual relief from the usual grey concrete structures that go up in the downtown area. The building isn’t completely rectangular and the shops have shown some restraint with window signs.

Bus Arrival

As I was nearing one of the main downtown bus stops, I turned and saw this bus coming towards me. I waited until the bus was sped past me to make this photograph. The man on the right in the shadow was staring at me the whole time.

Steamed Dumpling Shop

The first two photos of this post were done using a digital camera but, as you can probably tell from the grain, this photo was made on black and white film. Foma 400 black and white film. It’s cheap as dirt and gives photos an old look because, I’ve read, they are using old technology to keep the prices down. This shop sells steamed dumplings in the downtown market area. They have meat stuffed dumplings as well as gimchi stuffed dumplings. They also sell large stuffed buns and another kind of steamed bread made of, I think, maize.

Pickup Truck

I really like these old-style Korean pickup trucks. I’m not sure what this model’s name is. The owner is working on the renovated market area downtown. I wonder how much one of these would cost to buy? And could it be repaired? And would I want to buy a vehicle that was probably abused? I often see these trucks being overloaded. Well, I can dream.

Shoe Table

An old shoe shop in the unrenovated market area. Anyone who knows photography can probably tell I did a poor job of dodging the umbrella at the top of the photo.

Bus 227

The other very busy bus stop in downtown. One of my best bus stop photos, I think. It will definitely go into my portfolio.

Clothes and Chestnuts

This is one of the shops in the new market area. The owner (sitting unseen at the back of the shop) sells what looks to me to be very old-fashioned women’s clothing. Granny Wear. Sitting in front of the rack is a tub of chestnuts and a wooden box for measuring. Maybe she sells them?

I hope you enjoyed these little scenes of Gangneung’s downtown area. Although I am a little bit sick of making photos there, I am sure I will go back later to find scenes that have interesting content and pleasing compositions.


Heogyun’s Birthplace

I’ve posted photos of this place before so I won’t talk about it much. I think that this is the first time I’ve posted black and white digital photos of the location, so at least that’s different. What’s also different is that I went there with someone. I usually like to photograph by myself but it was interesting to show someone else what I think is photogenic. He, of course, had his own ideas of what looks good in the viewfinder.

heogyun trip-1

The sign says, “Please view from the outside and do not enter.” I put the slippers in front of the door as a kind of joke. Okay, next photo . . . .

heogyun trip-2

A number of years ago a temple in Yangyang burnt to the ground and since then fire extinguishers have been a common site at historical sites.

heogyun trip-3

I ‘complained’ to my fellow photographer that it’s difficult to make photos of traditional buildings because there are so few level lines. If a pillar is straight, the door will be slightly tilted. If a door is straight, a beam inside the house will be off. My companion said something like, “It shows the carefree spirit of the Koreans.” I replied, “The builders probably just didn’t get paid enough.”

heogyun trip-4

I can’t decide which of this pair I like more so I am posting both here. Sometimes posting a photo on this website can help me decide whether to print it later or not. Photos that don’t make me feel slightly embarrassed after a day or two get printed.

heogyun trip-5

My companion asked me what I feel when I see this kind of chimney. I told him I feel frustration, because I’ve been trying to make a decent photograph of it for years but haven’t suceeded yet. I think this is the best one yet. Probably because I stopped trying to make a photo of just the chimney and switched to a wide-angle lens to include some of the environment.

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I used my iPhone to make a photo of my companion making a photo of the chimney.

heogyun trip-7

I was happy with the iPhone photo so I squat down with the D810 and used flash to illuminate him while he made his photos. The tourist in the background is a nice touch. This might be the best photo I’ve made of this chimney.

heogyun trip-8

Corner and shadow

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Outer door, inner door.

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Two tilty doors. I think this one will get printed for sure.

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Inspecting the bottle of vitamin drink I brought along.

heogyun trip-12

After we tired of making photos we went to a nearby restaurant to have soft tofu. The neighbourhood is famous for the dish and there are many restaurants around. This one used to be good, according to my companion, but we were both very disappointed in what came out on the tray. I’ll be going to a different place next time.

I used the black and white Picture Control on my camera for the visit because of the harsh sun. A bad day for colour but a good one for making graphic images because of the strong contrast. For those who are interested, I did nothing to these photos after transferring them from my camera. I think I had the contrast turned up a little bit in the camera settings. Maybe +1 or +2.  Anyway, good results and I didn’t have to waste time adjusting things in the computer because I was careful about exposure when making the photos. Manual Mode + Spot Meter = Excellent Exposure.


A Baker’s Dozen

Nothing to do with baking, in case you arrived here by web search looking for biscuits.

I don’t much like going to festivals because of the noise, the crowds, and the drunkeness, but it’s sometimes interesting to walk through the festival grounds early in the morning when everything is quiet. These photos are from the 2017 Dano Festival.

Blankets. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

There is a whole section of the Dano Festival dedicated to blanket and pillow sellers. I don’t know if it is true or not, but someone told me that some of these vendors can sell enough blankets during the festival week to keep them in money for a whole year.

Blankets and Mats. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

This vendor hadn’t showed up to open his/her stall that early in the morning. I think I passed through about 8:15 in the morning. No one is shopping at that hour anyway, so time enough for a lie-in.

transport truck delivering blankets under a sun screen at dano f
Blanket delivery. Nikon D810, 50mm

This was a different day and I had my digital camera with me. This large truck was parked so it was difficult to get past. I think I was on my bicycle as well, so it was more difficult to get around.

Early morning cyclist at Dano Festival. Nikon D810, 50mm

This photo probably looks okay on on a web site but seen at a bigger size you can see the cyclist was too fast for the shutter speed and the woman in the distance is very fuzzy because of the shallow depth of field. I had the camera set to ISO 64 for some reason. There was no reason to make such an amateur mistake when the D810 looks great at ISO 1600 and higher.

Man walking past tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

This man is also slightly blurred but I think it was because I had a slow-ish shutter speed. The tents appear to be in focus.  I’m shy about making photos of people so what I often do is choose a background that I like, prefocus, and wait for someone to walk into the composition. When the person is in a good position I press the shutter release button. This doesn’t always work, especially with younger people. Most people are fairly snap-happy so they are aware of other photographers and avoid walking in front of cameras so they don’t spoil the picture. Even though I want them to be in the frame. Other times, people will stop just outside the frame and wait for me to finish taking the photo. Foiled again . . . .

Man walking through tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

This guy is slightly out of focus, but it’s okay. I metered off the pavement so the bright tents wouldn’t cause the camera to underexpose. This guy stopped outside the frame but I told him to just pass on by. I made several photos at this spot but this was the most interesting person to pass by. In the wrong direction. There was a cart pusher that came my way but he turned off and went down another lane.

Tent ropes. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

Tents require a fair amount of rope.

Liquor Crates. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

The last tent photo, I promise. Like any festival, there is plenty of booze and some of the liquor companies are official sponsors.

Paddle boats and circus tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

Okay, it’s more tents, but they are far away. The city closes off one of the river’s small dams to keep water around the festival grounds. The blue and yellow tent across the river is for a circus. I’ve never been inside because it’s a bit expensive and I don’t really like circuses (circos?). Still, it’s a nice balance for the yellow pontoons of these paddle boats.

I highly recommend Kodak Portra 800 when it’s not too bright out. Or even when it’s bright out, if your camera has high shutter speeds. It gives good colour, good contrast, and the grain is pleasant.

Deep fried crabs. Nikon F6, 50mm, Fomapan 400.

This is the first time I’ve seen deep-fried whole crabs at the festival. I didn’t try one, but I suspect the top shell is removed and batter poured in before frying. It doesn’t look like a thing that would be pleasant to eat, even if you like crab.

Fomapan is a cheap black and white film made in the Czech Republic. It’s only about half the price of Kodak and Ilford films. It can be very grainy and the negatives are a bit thin if you set your camera ISO to 400. I say ‘set your camera to 400’ because the cannisters don’t have the DX codes for automatic cameras. Saves on costs, I guess. I set the ISO to 320 on the last roll of film I used and the negatives look much better. I haven’t made large prints using this film so I don’t know how much grain would be in the print. I like this flm because it’s supposedly an old formula and gives photos an old-fashioned look.

Bowing to a pig’s head. Nikon F6, 50mm, Fomapan 400.

Korean traditional rituals sometimes involve a pig’s head. Supplicants put envelopes of money or bills into the mouth and then bow while asking for a blessing. Some people who buy new cars will perform this ceremony in front of their cars on the side of the road.

Traditional house with aluminium roof and fence. Nikon D810, 50mm.

Nothing to do with Dano Festival, but this house is on my walk to work. I spot metered off the odd white wall in the foreground and added about a +1 stop to get a good exposure.

Chair and wall stain. Nikon D810, 50mm.

The last ‘biscuit’ in this baker’s dozen. Not art I imagine, but I noticed that the wall stain on my office wall matched up nicely with the chair. Digital photograph. You wouldn’t want to waste a piece of film on this.



Editing, Seongyojang, and Scraps

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I would rather edit photos by looking at prints rather than a computer screen. I got prints made straight from my digital camera card and prints, not scans, from my film. It didn’t work out like I wanted, though. For one thing, the order of the prints got messed up on the way to me and, as a result, I couldn’t be sure which print belonged to which frame when they were very similar. Also, the lab cropped quite a bit when printing, as I realised when I got the film scanned later. The Nikon F6 viewfinder is 100% and I compose very carefully so having cropped prints is not acceptable. Also, prints cost a fortune. So I decided to just get film scanned at a lowish quality (good enough for 4×6 prints and web viewing) for editing and get very good scans (50MB) of the best photos later. My digital prints didn’t get cropped but if I’m looking at film scans on the computer it’s just as well to look at digital photos on the computer as well. So, I’m spending more time on the computer but I’m saving quite a bit of money and seeing all of my film frames.

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I have recently made two trips to Seongyojang. Once with the F6 and once with the D810. For colour, the Provia 100F film I used has a distinctive look but the digital looks good as well. And printing on good paper makes them look even better. But for black and white I don’t think digital comes anywhere near film yet. The Fomapan 400 film I used looks really grainy (maybe it’s the low quality scans?) but it’s an oldish formula and I really like the look.  More experimentation is needed.

Seongyojang Museum Building

I kept my distance and used a 180mm lens to cut out all of the distracting things around this museum building. I’ve never been in the museum, even though it’s included in the price of admission to the grounds. I go to Seongyojang to photographs the buildings and the landscaping. I’m not that interested in the history. I suppose I shoud go in once, just to see what I’m missing.

Outer wall of Seongyojang

I think I like this photo. There’s nothing especially wrong with the composition but . . . but . . . something’s lacking. I’ll probably figure it out after I’ve paid a lot of money to get a good scan and print . . . . There are so many trees and things like paths and lamps near the wall that I again used a long lens (180mm? 85mm?) to cut out distractions.

Outer wall in colour

Mmmm, film . . . .

Wall disappearing into trees

I like the idea of this photo but the highlights in the top of the photo are too bright. I might try this again with digital the next time I go back.

Flower pots and traditional Korean house

I like this one and I like the colours produced by the Provia film, even though they are not accurate colours. There’s probably soy bean paste or chili paste in the two pots to the left.

Flower pots and traditional Korean house

I like this vertical view of the pots and house as well, but it lacks the breathing space of the horizontal view. This one feels crowded and less relaxing.

Flower pots and traditional house – digital version

Let the film vs. digital flame war begin! Here is more or less the same photo from the D810. Interesting that some colours in both photos, the tall plant’s leaves, for example, are the same but others are quite different. The clay walls are really different. The digital colours are accurate.

Two kinds of walls

The wall with the clay tiles on top surround a building, whereas the other wall is to keep a hill from sliding down into a path.

Two kinds of walls – digital

Flame War II! The D810 version of the photo above. You may notice that there is more foliage in the film version of the scene. That’s because 35mm film has a ratio of 3:2 but I’ve set my digital camera for a ratio of 5:4, the same as large format cameras. I like printing on 10×8 paper and the photo and the paper match perfectly so there is no cropping. Also, I like the ‘stubbier’ frame for most things.

Tree knot

This is a knot in an Asian pine tree. It’s interesting to look at the texture, but I’m not sure this one will make it to the large print stage.

Old brothers

I’m not so good at landscape photography and this was the best I could do all morning. The left tree trunk shouldn’t be touching the left side of the frame, maybe. I used a wide angle lens, so it was hell to compose.

Tree and flowers

I saw this on the way out. It looked better before I posted it here . . . .

I think I’ll go back to Seongyojang again before too long because I want another crack at the wall and maybe those two old trees. Someday I’ll make a photo of them good enough to cover a wall with.

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There are a few other photos from the rolls of film that I want to share but don’t have anything to do with Seongyojang.

Puppy and traditional house

I pass this house and puppy(?) on the way to school every day. He’s very friendly and always appreciative of a head scratch.

Door in birthplace of Heogyun

Low light and no tripod, but I managed to hold the camera steady enough to avoid blur.

pots and wall at the birthplace of Heogyun

The composition is okay and the shallow depth of field (no tripod) and the film grain structure really give this an old-fashioned look. I made this photo to test how much detail I could keep in the bright spot in the background and the dark pots in the foreground. The film passed with flying colours.

Dyke and garbage bags.

I think the bags were put there by city council workers who pick up garbage by the river and leave it in bags for pick-up later. I don’t know what that drak stain might have come from.

Look this way,
look that way,
go for a nap.

Thanks for looking and reading!

Film Roll: 20170210-001, 20170210-002

Sometimes I take a while to get through a roll of film so there are lots of snapshots and nothing that I can put together as a story. So, instead of contorting my brain to come up with a title that describes all the photos, or cutting out decent photos to fit a Procrustean title, I’ve decided in these cases to just write the name of the film roll or rolls.

Hoesan District, Gangneung

As you can see, the district of Gangneung where I live is quite rural. This may change in the next ten or twenty years as more apartment buildings are built and these farms disappear. In the background you can see the smoke from a fire set by a farmer to burn up old straw. This is illegal but the employees of City Hall are too busy making up laws to actually enforce the ones they already have. You can also see transmission towers that bring power into the city.

Pine hill on snowy day

This is the view from my living room. A lot of snow fell soon after we moved into this apartment and it was very nice to look out the window with a cup of tea. What’s even nicer is that the apartment management hires people to clear away the snow outside.

Homeplus Food Court

It’s fairly easy to make surreptitious photos with a mobile phone (though mobile phones in Korea and Japan have to make a fake shutter noise by law as an anti-pervert measure) but it’s obvious she noticed me bring my rangefinder camera up to my eye and make this photo. I prefocused so that I didn’t have to spend time twisting the focus ring back and forth after composing. This lady looks threatening (notice the closed hand that looks like a fist!) but through the hygiene mask you can see she is smiling a bit. I’ve eaten at this food court several times and she friendly enough. In this photo, she’s preparing boiled fish paste on a stick. The name sounds awful in English but it’s delish.

Lotte Soju Factory

The top of thos soju factory is visible over the background hills when I look out one of my bedroom windows. This was once the main factory for this company but they built a new one in another province closer to Seoul to save on transportation costs. A taxi driver told my wife that this factory laid off many of its workers and now produces soju for export. Maybe that’s one reason why a bottle of the Korean ‘evil water’ is pocket change here and costs a small fortune when you buy it overseas.

Council Housing

A couple of years ago the government constructed these apartments for low-income families. The rich arseholes who invest in real estate and drive up housing prices can’t buy these places to rent them or flip them because they are only avilable to people below a certain income level. They are smallish, but they are cheap and you can get at least a glimpse of the river or some hills. The government probably saved money on costs by buying land next to transmission towers.


This is somewhere downtown Gangneung and they look to be parked too close together. Maybe it was cold and they were huddling for warmth.


This is a failed photo because the man’s dark hair is on a dark spot in the background and is difficult to see. But a man transporting printed materials on his electric scooter with his legs dragging behind is interesting enough to share.

Liquid Cat

The cat was sitting on the table and I knew that he would eventually jump down to the floor. So I selected a slowish shutter speed and waited. He eventually became bored of sitting on the table and poured himself to the floor Slinky-style. I pressed the shutter release button when he was at his longest.


I don’t know if I made this photo just after the Liquid Cat photo or on another day, but the cat will often make a mad dash for the cat tower and have a good scratch. You might be looking at the carpet and thinking, “expensive handmade carpet + cat = disaster” but he’s never bothered it. That said, we had it professionally cleaned a couple of months ago and could have made another carpet out of the cat hair that came out of it.

Central Market’s Backside

This is the rear view of some of the buildings that make up Gangneung’s Central Market. When the railway went through the centre of town, this was all hidden by the raised tracks. The city levelled the rail line and is planning a public park. I don’t know if they plan to do anything about the ugly view that was nevere meant to be seen.

Dog on Chain on Line

I guess there is a special name for this line where a dog on a leash can move back and forth across a wide area. This is the parking lot of a service station or something in the city. I can’t remember.

Self Portrait

This was the last frame on one of the rolls so I was probably just trying to finish it up before changing the film. Last frames are often photos of the family pet (which was the second last frame on this roll) but I decided to make a family portrait. Hours of fun when you have a camera.

Parked Trucks

It’s been several days since I received my new D810 but I haven’t had much of a chance to do anything with it except pound on the shutter button while walking to school. You can imagine the results I get from that.

The D810 is a complicated machine and it’s going to take some weeks to learn all the functions and probably months to become fluent with them, as it were. Eventually I’ll get to the point where everything is set up as I want it and I won’t have to fool around with anything when I go to make photos.

Here is a photo from my walks to school that I’m not embarrassed to show others. Truck drivers park their vehicles down by the riverside and some of them are quite old. I rather like these two trucks.