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.



I am so far behind in my photo editing that I can’t remember the details of my outings. Did I go out to make photos? Was I just out for a walk and had the camera with me? I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it? On the day these photos were made I was in the downtown area on foot and with a camera.

Woman selling sugar-stuffed pancakes and boiled fish cakes

This woman is almost always downtown selling her snacks and there is almost always a crowd of people around her stand. I often try to get a photo of this stand when I’m downtown but there are usually so many people around that it’s nearly impossible. I was lucky to catch this slow moment.

Namdae River in winter

Many smaller Korean rivers become streams or dry up completely in winter because there is so little precipitation. They fill up when the rains come in spring and later in the summer rainy season. The apartments are not in the downtown area; I’m standing on a bridge near downtown.


The huge building is Homeplus (Tesco) that also has a multiplex cinema inside. The little green building houses a seamstress’ shop at the moment and the little row of buildings are home to a tailor and some restaurants that are actually just places where a bunch of old men hang out and drink all hours of the day. I still haven’t looked to see what the partially hidden traditional building is.

I’ve shown three photos here today that I’m satisfied with. That doesn’t seem like many for a few hours of wandering around, but if I come home with one good image from a day’s walk then I am happy.

Downtown Snapshots

I needed to go downtown to buy some camera batteries at my favourite electronics shop and I thought I may as well practise some documentary photography in the downtown area. I haven’t done much documentary photography and I’m not very good at it yet. I’m naturally shy about taking people’s pictures and my photos are often rushed because I am worried about someone coming out and telling me off. Still, even if the photos I made today aren’t very good, at least you will be able to see something about life in Korea.


This house is unusually by itself on a side road. The wall that surrounds this ‘compound’ is about my height, maybe a little taller. It’s an ugly building but interesting in its own way.


A little farther down the road was this little patch of green onion in a field behind a tour bus operator. This would be nicer without the shadow of the light pole.


A clothes collection box. When the box is full or items are large, people just pile the clothes and blankets on top. The stencilled words say you can put in curtains, old clothes, blankets, shoes, carpets, and bags. As you can see from the houses in the background, it’s one of Gangneung’s poorer neighbourhoods.


This is still on the same road. This truck belongs to a courier company.


A winter treat in Korea is sweet potatoes or chestnuts roasted in wood-burning barrels like this one. Sometimes people buy roasted chestnuts and carry them around in their coat pockets to keep their hands warm.


This is an example of a photo that didn’t come out well because I was rushing due to shyness. I made a photo of this woman and took the camera down too quickly when she looked up, causing blur. It’s hard to see the blur at the size I’ve posted here but it’s embarassingly obvious on the original photograph. When she looked at me I smiled, waved, and hurried on. I look like a tourist because I’m not Korean so she just laughed.


You can find fish hung up to dry just about anywhere in the market area. This aluminium wall separates some shops from a construction area.


Many of the little food shops in this alley look like they should be shut down by a health inspector but the food cooked in them is very delicious. In a few years they will probably be torn down and replaced by yet another coffee shop or ten.


I wanted a photo of the mung bean pancakes and this guy’s hands but he saw me standing in front of his shop and bent down to see who I was.


This is what I wanted but it’s poorly composed because I was shooting and running.


A man and his wife pushing a cart on which they’ve piled cardboard to sell to recyclers. This sort of photo should be made from the side or the front but, again, I don’t have the nerve yet. And I don’t really like taking photos of poor people.


A lost couple visiting Gangneung. Out of focus and you can’t see the map they are looking at, but I like the composition. As you can see from the reflection, I was in a convenience store, which is why the photo is out of focus. Reflections can fool a camera’s autofocus system. I should have switched to manual focus but I was worried they would notice me taking their photo so I just quickly went back to my tin of milky coffee.


A view of my apartment complex. I don’t live in building 104.


I bought this mugwort rice cake in the market. It’s covered in bean powder. I don’t like this kind of rice cake but my wife enjoys it very much.


This is the rice cake I bought for myself. This is a more modern style of rice cake with bright colours and fruit flavours. I wanted to make a photo of the shop where I bought the rice cake but it’s the new year holiday and I was being knocked about by children and old ladies in the very narrow market alleys. I paid for the food and got out as quickly as I could.

These photos won’t win any prizes but I hope they are interesting as a glimpse into what a South Korean city looks like. I enjoyed walking about and making the photos and perhaps next time I won’t be so nervous and I can get some better compositions.


Downtown Walkabout

Sometimes I go to a pre-decided place with a tripod and make a number of photographs. Other times I just step outside the door and go left or right as the mood takes me. Near the beginning of October I did that several times and here areĀ a few of the better photos from those walks.


In the downtown market there is a shop that sells Buddhist supplies. Incense, candles, grey clothes, and small statues like this one. This Buddha stands outside the shop under the electricity meter. I’m sure this is profound in some way.


Tourists come to the Gangneung market for things like the fried chicken and other foods but most of the market is not very picturesque.


This is the large 5-way intersection in downtown Gangneung. I don’t know what’s on top of that very large pole. Lights? Speakers? Death rays?


This is a concrete wall in my neighbourhood. A patch of concrete fell out and a seed fell in and grew into a tree. Daoism in action. This is the sort of photo that I like most. Graphically simple but tells a story.


Wandering downtown Gangneung

I don’t make many photographs in the summer because most days are just a glare from sunrise to sunset. From a photographer’s point of view the contrast is harsh and the light is ugly. The pounding light wants to reduce all colour to white. But a while ago there was a day when the sky was overcast and there was a bit of rain. Cool enough for me to venture out with my digital camera and practise exposure and composition. I used a spot meter and manual exposure for all or very nearly all of the photographs. What I learned is that the Fuji X-Pro 1 underexposes a bit so I need to compensate when making my photographs. I didn’t make many photographs. About twenty-two, I think. And after printing them I narrowed my final selection down even further. It’s very likely that after making this blog post public I will think that a few more perhaps aren’t quite as interesting as I thought they were.

Drain in concrete wall

Some of you are thinking, “Right, this is the first one you need to cull.” Maybe, but when this photo is finally displayed (if it makes the selection process) it will be with similar photos that show the changing textures in exterior walls.

Vine leaves and tin wall

I did a bit of cheating with this photo. The wall was too high for me to shoot straight on so I adjusted the angle is Lightroom. Maybe I should strap a ladder to my back the next time I go out so I can stay Photoshop-Free.

Tiles and roof repair

I guess these tiles will be moved to the roof in the background sometime in the future.

Namdae River and apartment reflection

View from a pedestrian bridge across the Namdae River.

No Parking sign and bicycle locked to lamp post

The No Parking sign is for cars, but I thought it was a little bit funny to see a bicycle locked to a light pole in front of it.

Plant in alley crate

I have a similar photo on film. In my last blog post, if I remember correctly. I like the composition of this one better.

Window and wooden door in alley

A door and window separated by a drain.

Tin and stuccoed wall

Another photo where I try to show the changing textures and materials in walls.I think the little patch of tin on the top left makes the photograph.

Packs of oil bottles

Bottles stacked outside a shop that presses sesame seeds for oil.

No Parking sign and scooter with broken mirror

Another No Parking sign. I think these signs should be made in more pleasing colours since they are mostly decoration anyway.

Styrofoam boxes against concrete wall

Again, a similar photo appeared in my last blog post. It’s the same location but different garbage. When I went out to make photos this day I deliberately chose some of the same scenes so I could compare my results on film and digital. I like the film better but cost is a problem. Maybe I’ll eat less so I can afford film.

Post box and green wood wall

Most alley walls in Korea are bare and depressing concrete. I think it discourages thieves by crushing their spirits before they can steal anything. The owner of this house put some effort into making the neighbourhood look a little nicer.

Cyclist going around bend in alley

Good things come to those who wait. I knelt down and composed this scene hoping that someone would come around the corner. A cyclist passed me a few minutes later and I made this photo. At first I regretted that a little bit of his hand and the front tyre got around the wall before I pressed the shutter release button but now I think that it reveals the continuation of the alley to the left.

I am still torn between film and digital. Digital is convenient and doesn’t look that bad if you are careful. But it isn’t film. Maybe I should learn to draw and avoid the whole conflict.