What’s the point?

I am currently not making any photos because I have a virtual pile on my hard drive that haven’t been edited, printed, shared, rated, or archived. Also, I think the shock of importing twenty-five thousand photos from a backup drive the other day put me off adding anything else to the D: drive of my computer, the poor suffering thing. The burden of having so many pictures started me thinking (not for the first time) about what I’m supposed to do with all my film and bits and bytes. No one buys photographs, there are only so many I can fit on my walls, photo albums take up valuable shelf space, and although friends thank me for sending them pictures through the post, they probably don’t want my photos piling up in the bottoms of their drawers or going into the rubbish bin. So, as part of my photo organising (a life-time project), I decided to write down what kind of photos I make and what I might do with them.

I mostly want to make fine art photographs. These have some artistic merit through either technique or meaning or hopefully both. These photos get printed on 8×10 paper and stored in archival sleeves and binders. At the end of each year, I choose the best ones, print them on nice paper, and put them in a special portfolio binder for presentation. A digital copy gets put on my website in a gallery separate from the blog. You can see these galleries in the menu on the left. I haven’t done so yet, but I’m thinking about offering some for sale.



The photos that I might most treasure in ten or twenty years are the ones I make of friends and family. Memory photos. They don’t have to be good photos, they just have to be reasonably clear representations of people and animals I know. These I print on 4×6 paper and place in albums to be looked at now and then.

Not sharp, not completely in focus, but a great photo of Amice, my friend and brother.


I have family in Canada and pen friends from all over the world. Most or all of them have never been to Korea so I sometimes make photos to show them what things in Korea look like. Markets, buildings, downtown areas, whatever might be unfamiliar to someone who has never been to the country. These, I think, should be decent photos with good exposure and composition to best explain what’s being seen. Photos in this category could be artistic if I’m on top of my game or they might even get put in an album if I think the subject is a good memory. Normally, however, these photos don’t get printed. I post them on this blog or send them by email to people I know. I hope I never lose them, but it wouldn’t be a great loss if they disappeared from the world.

A reasonably well-done photo showing Anmok harbour, but not one for the portfolio page.


Writing this little essay has cleared my mind a bit, so I’m glad I did it. Now I don’t see 25,000 useless pictures clogging up a hard drive, I see a collection of photos that can be used in a variety of ways and that have purpose.

That said, I’m going to delete a lot of those twenty-five thousand pictures that are just mistakes and boring. But that’s another story.

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!


It is only the end of November but people are already planning their end of the year parties. I don’t usually participate in these because the restaurants are too full of noisy drunks. I spend New Year’s Eve at home watching a film or playing a computer a game.

I don’t make New Year resolutions, either, but I came up with a photo editing plan recently enough that it might be considered a New Year resolution. And it does involve the new year at one point. At the end of every month I will choose up to twenty-one of my best photos to print at 8×12 size. These I will place in an album. At the end of the year, or rather at the beginning of the new year, I will go through the 252 prints in my album and choose just twenty-one to print at 11×14 and put into a portfolio. 252 sounds like a lot of photographs but I there won’t be that many. I’ve gone through the photos I’ve made so far in 2015 and I only have a total of 122 up to the end of October. Choosing just twenty-one photos out of a possible two hundred and fifty-two seems like a daunting task but I can already see quite a few photos that I might not want to be remembered for.  I might have to struggle to find twenty-one photos that I really feel proud of.

I made this plan for several reasons. One, to reduce the number of prints piling up in the house. Two, to train myself to be more critical of my own photos. And three, to reduce the number of dull photos that I share with friends and the public. I’d rather people think of me as the photographer who made that one lovely picture of a harbour than the guy who kept posting boring photos of walls.

Now to make that lovely photo of the harbour . . . . .


Writing in Longhand

Word processors are useful tools for formatting and printing stories. Having a story in an electronic format also makes sharing easy. But despite the convenience of these programs I still like to write using a pen on paper.

I write more slowly when I use ink and paper and this gives me more time to think about each word and sentence as it’s put on the page. Not having a delete button also slows me down. I am more likely to not write a poorly considered word if I have to scratch it out and dirty up the paragraph. I am also less likely to go back and fix mistakes in a word processor if I am flying through the lines on my keyboard.

Cutting, pasting, and rearranging blocks of text is manually easier on a computer but in a way it is more difficult because of the limited amount of space on a computer screen. Going from one part of the story to another requires a lot of scrolling up and down and copying from one part of the story to a more distant part of the story is awkward. When I write in longhand I can spread out the pages in front of me and very easily find a place in the story. This also helps me visualise the progress of my story.

But, you will say, cutting and pasting in longhand requires physical cutting and pasting, a time-consuming and messy process. I’ve found a way around this by writing only one paragraph on a sheet of paper. Or two sheets of paper if it’s a long paragraph. This isn’t as wasteful as it might seem because, when double spaced, a regular paragraph takes up about a page anyway. If I need to move a paragraph from one part of the story to another I physically move that sheet of paper to its new location and give it a new page number. If I moved page 3 to follow page 12 I would renumber it page 12.5 to avoid having to renumber other pages. I can also rewrite an edited paragraph and replace it.

When writing longhand it’s not possible to delete words so I have to make edits in the spaces between lines. The advantage to this is having a record of what I scratched out, in case I change my mind later and decide what I wrote first was better. I know it’s possible to keep track of edits in word processors but it’s not simple to do or look at later.

Writing with a pen also gives me a closer connection with the written word. When I write by hand and have physical paper to touch I feel that I’ve created something. I don’t feel this as much when the story is a collection of 1s and 0s saved somewhere on a hard drive, even though I had to type it in with my fingers. This is a subjective feeling, of course, and possibly lingers because when I was young I didn’t have a computer or printer and everything had to be done with a pen in notebooks.

The only disadvantage to writing in longhand is that once the story is written, edited, and the final draft is being held proudly in my hands, I have to go through the dull process of entering it into the computer for printing. But this gives me another chance to fix spelling mistakes or change words so perhaps I shouldn’t think of it as a chore.