I went to Seoul several weeks ago and while looking for a place to eat dinner came across some skyscrapers I wanted to photograph. I only have a 50mm lens for my Zeiss Ikon so I made these photos with the wider lens of my iPhone.
I’m not sure what this security camera is for. It was at an intersection so perhaps it’s to record cars that go through red lights.
The Hanhwa Building on the right is undergoing a face-lift. There are a number of Hanhwa buildings in Seoul but I think this is the one that has an art gallery on one of the upper floors. The BMW on the right has gone over the stop line and is creeping into the bicycle lane. I wonder if the security camera caught that.
Here you can see layers of density. The three or four story buildings in the front with restaurants and small offices. Behind that some taller buildings owned by one company or organisation. And, behind, even taller modern buildings made of glass.
Seoul is a nice place to visit for culture and shopping, but after a couple of days I feel crushed by the weight of the architecture.
Here are my ten favourite photos from the month of December. Lightroom tells me I made 187 photographs in the last month, from two rolls of medium format film, three rolls of 35mm film, my iPhone, and the Fuji X-Pro 1. That number doesn’t include the large number of digital photographs I deleted while editing. I don’t delete photos from roll scans even if they aren’t good because I want to use Lightroom as a computer contact sheet.
This bridge is near the downtown market area of the city and it’s not unusual to see fish hung from the wire rails to dry. I suppose it’s a good place to do it because there is often a good wind coming down the river and there is nothing blocking the sunlight.
This interesting rock formation is in the town of Jumunjin and is called ‘Son Rock’. A legend says that if you stand under this rock and make a wish it will come true. Many people used to (and probably still do) come here to wish for a child. Specifically a son. Thus the name ‘Son Rock’.
While I was making photos a Korean man showed up with two non-Korean children. This girl is about twelve or thirteen and her younger brother was about eight or nine years old. Their father(?) spoke only Korean to them and the girl spoke decent Korean to him and fluent English to her brother, who spoke fluent English but little or no Korean. I thought about asking where they are from but they are probably asked that question every day of their lives so I let it go.
There used to be a restaurant on the first floor. It’s hard to tell what building it belongs to or if it was just built between buildings. Just how many buildings are in this photo, anyway?
These ‘parking spaces’ are what the city made when cleared the main downtown streets of the grannies who were selling vegetables on the sidewalks. The old ladies show up with their stools and vegetables in the mornings and set up shop in these little spaces. Why these spaces are empty except for a tub of ginger, I don’t know.
A few years ago the city tried to increase the number of customers coming to the Central Market by building a roof over the market roads and drawing lines on the road to indicate how far into the road a stall owner could display his or her goods. You can see part of a yellow line above the hydrant. The lines are ignored, as is fire safety. Hydrants are surrounded by tubs and many fire alarms mounted on walls and pillars have drying fish hung from them.
There is also a clothing section in the market that sells rubber boots, coats, trousers, and so on. A few shops sell traditional clothes like these hanbok for children.
Near the market is this very old Gingko tree that looks beautiful in the autumn. (This photo was probably made sometime in November or possibly late October but I didn’t get the film developed until December). This photo only shows the trunk and the lower branches but it is several stories tall.
This carboard collector, who stopped for a fag at the crosswalk, figured that since his cart has wheels then it’s okay to leave it in the road. Once he finished his smoke he crossed against the light.
Daegu is an industrial city and this bus terminal is located in one of the heaviest industrial areas.
And those are the photos I thought were the best for this month. After the New Year holiday I’ll bring the computer files to the lab for printing.
The two hundred thousand people of Gangneung have a choice of two hypermarts, many smaller grocery stores, several traditional markets, and a very large number of convenience stores. I usually go to an organic/local cooperative for fruits and vegetables but most everything else I buy at HomePlus (Tesco) or Emart (Owned by Samsung but now split off and run by a Samsung family member). Because I walk or cycle to these supermarkets, I often approach the buildings by back roads. Behind HomePlus is the Central Market and the many shops and street vendors that seem to have tumbled into the streets and alleys surrounding it. Also behind HomePlus is a traditional building with a stone tile roof. I wanted to contrast the traditional architecture of Korea with the huge buildings of modern Korea.
Much farther away from my house is Emart, another large building that is practical but lacks the charm and grace of traditional Korean buildings. But how much charm does one need when buying Froot Loops? I usually cycle along the riverside to get to Emart because the dykes separate the river from the noisy city. There are ducks, trees, and gardens planted by the city. I leave the river behind Emart, go up over the dyke, and end up by Emart’s loading bay. One day I noticed several bicycles parked against the wall and decided to make the photo. I don’t know if the bicycles belong to employees or customers who don’t like the bicycle racks.
I tried converting this to black and white but I think the colour version is more interesting.
The photos in my upcoming exhibition were made using Hipstamatic for the iPhone. I first started using the application in 2011 and made my last photos about a month ago. It was an interesting way to do a project but I think I am done with Hipstamatic. Now I keep my Zeiss Ikon in my bag or in my hand and the iPhone stays in my pocket. So, in this post I am sharing the last of the Hipstamatic photos I have in my ‘For Blog’ collection in Lightroom.
A friend of mine was once told by security guards not to take photos of this building. Why did they make the building so interesting if they didn’t want people to take photos? I was behind the trees in the foreground so I probably wasn’t noticed.
These two chefs were taking a smoke break in front of a raw fish restaurant. In Korea the fish are kept in tanks outside the restaurant so you can see what you’re going to eat.
This elderly woman lays out her fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk to sell. Here she is just taking a rest, I think. In the road . . . .
Another woman selling vegetables on the sidewalk. This is a very inconvenient place to set up because of the crosswalk but nobody says anything to her. She is there nearly every day.
Well, that’s the end of the Hipstamatic photos and nearly the end of digital photos I have to share. Now I need to get busy with film . . . .
There is a lot of construction in Gangneung lately. I don’t know if it’s because a lot of old buildings are ready to fall down and need to be replaced or if people are getting Olympic fever and trying to make the city look good for 2018. (The Olympics will be in Pyeongchang County next to Gangneung City but Pyeongchang only has villages and small towns so Gangneung is the place where many visitors will be staying.) The building in the first photo has disappeared and is being replaced with shiny steel and glass. It looks cleaner but the old building had character and maybe just needed to be remodelled. But maybe it wasn’t safe.
The building had a couple of shops on the first floor. This one made name stamps, keys, copies, and so on. On the third floor of the building was a geomancer. The name stamp makers moved down the road a little. I don’t know where the geomancer went.
This is another building and it hasn’t disappeared yet. I’m not sure about the chesterfield. I don’t know if it was put in front of this back door in the hope that the town council would take it away or if it’s a place to sit and have a smoke. In both photos you can see a cobweb approach to wiring.