Trip to Emart

Emart is a hypermart owned by Samsung. It’s a bit far from my house but it doesn’t take much time or stress to get there because both my apartment and Emart are almost right next to Namdae River and its walking/cycling roads.

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This post should probably be called ‘Trips to Emart’ because this photo was made two days before the others on another visit to the store. There is an air force base in Gangneung and jets and planes like this regularly fly over the city, creating a huge amount of noise. (I wonder if the military will reduce the number of flights during the Olympics next year to create a better impression of the city). It’s probably illegal to take a photo of military aircraft, but if they don’t want photos of their equipment they should fly into the city from the sea. Bastards.

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You can see Emart in the background with the yellow sign on its roof, to the left of the apartment buildings. Emart is in the northern part of the city, where developed areas and undeveloped areas meet. Also, this might be a protected area of land that puts tight restrictions on building.
Green tractors are not a common sight in Korea. Most of them are red. These two-wheeled machines are versatile and have scores of attachments for different farming tasks. Pumps, winches, ploughs, planters, and so on. You can even take the motor off and use it as a generator or whatever.
The farmer in the background is spraying his cabbages with something. You can also probably see that each row of the field is covered in black plastic. I think this keeps the moisture in the soil, but after the harvest there is a massive amount of plastic that goes into landfills or blows around and ends up in trees.

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Some rice fields have already been harvested.

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Sesame in the foreground, rice in the middle, cabbage after that, and the rear end of a commercial area in the far background.

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I bought an electric bicycle a couple of weeks ago for several reasons. One, it’s got thick tyres that can stand up to the rough sidewalks and roads of Gangneung. I got a lot of flats on my touring bicycle. Two, I can sit nearly upright on it, which is a big relief on the neck when you’ve got a camera hanging on a strap. And just more comfortable, even if you don’t have a camera. I’m not trying to break speed records so I don’t need to be bent over to reduce wind drag. Three, using the electric motor in summer will help me to sweat less. Very important for an Anglo-Saxon body in a southern climate. And four, having pedal assist will extend my range for photography. Now I’ll be able to reach some of the temples and tomb sites up in the hills that were difficult to get to before. And I might not be so exhausted by the time I arrive.

Right! It’s a sunny day with a bit of haze in the sky to reduce contrast so I’m going to hop on my bicycle and go somewhere to make photographs.

 

Anbandegi

One dusty, windy day, an acquaintance and I decided to go to an area on top of a mountain called Anbandegi. It’s about 1100 metres above sea level and it’s named after a wide piece of wood where rice cake is pounded out. There are no sharp peaks at the top of the mountain so you might think the top had been pounded flat.
There are farms (mostly cabbage and things that survive wind) at the top of the mountain, as well as a wind farm for producing electricity. There is no public transportation to the location because almost no one lives there and the farmers all have vehicles. Luckily, I was able to visit the area because my acquaintance has a car.
I brought a film camera and used up the remainder of a roll of colour negative film before switching to black and white Fomapan film. Just before we left I put a roll of slide film in the camera but it was a bad choice because of the harsh sunlight. If I ever go back there again (and I want to), I’ll go on a cloudy day with less wind.
But enough about cameras and film. Here are the results.

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Walking up to a construction site

If you are interested in such things, you can see that the negative film handled the high contrast of this scene with no problem. We didn’t walk up this road to look at a construction site. There is a pavilion surrounded by a wall made from stones taken from the rocky soil of the area. I didn’t make any photos of the pavilion for some reason. Probably because the wind was so strong at the top of the hill that I couldn’t hold the camera still. A wind turbine is being built right next to the pavilion. So much for the view.

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4-wheel drive Kia Ceres from quite a long time ago. This was an agricultural version of the Kia Bongo, thus the name ‘Ceres’. I like the look of this vehicle. I wonder if its available second-hand.

At the construction site was this Kia Ceres, being used for construction rather than farming. Behind my fellow photographer is the control box for the soon to be erected wind turbine.

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Giant crane for building wind turbines.

As usual, I didn’t take the obvious photos of the construction site to show people what the scene looked like. I chose instead to be ‘artsy’ and make photos like this. I need to practise making documentary style photos so that I can show people what my trips are like.

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Grass and tree

My new 180mm lens was very useful up on the mountain. Everything is a bit far away so I needed a bit of reach and I like the flattening effect of the lens.

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Crane

The hanging-bit of the crane. I don’t know what any of the parts are called.

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Wooden bench

This is obviously where I switched to black and white film. I have this same photo in colour from the previous roll but I prefer the black and white version. This is up next to the pavilion where we were nearly blown away. Again, I made photos like this instead of doing something useful like making a photo of the pavilion I keep writing about.

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Wind turbine and cloud

What one of these giant turbines looks like at the top of the mountain.

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Turbine in the clouds
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pickup truck

I’m not sure if this is another Ceres or not. The front looks like a newer model.

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My acquaintance clicking away on an observation deck.
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Rocks, field, sky
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Cloud, click, cloud, click
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For luck?
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Truck and hills

Made with the 180mm lens for some flattening effect. The truck at the bottom of the photo has a big water tank in it. Most of these farmer trucks have pumps installed under the pan for doing various things. All pickups in Korea seem to be either white or blue. Does limiting the choice of colours keep the costs down at the factory?

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Across the hills
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Truck from another hilltop.
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Sheds

It’s a shame those wires are in the way.

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Despite the wind and dust, spirits were high.
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Self-portrait
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Irrigation

As you can probably guess, I had to crop to get this photo the way I wanted it. This is the best photo of the day, and I’m looking forward to printing it.

 

 

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.

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.

Walkabout – Sacheon, Part 1

Last Sunday I left the house with my X-Pro 1, a standard lens, and no idea of where to go to make photographs. I was heading in the general direction of the high street but I was bored of going there so often. It occurred to me that I might get on a bus, any bus, and go somewhere. When I got close to the bus stop I thought that I might go to the village of Sacheon. It’s not far, the buses go there frequently, and it was a picturesque and interesting place to practise photography. I went to the bus stop, told someone smoking next to it to go somewhere else, and boarded bus 300 when it showed up a few minutes later.

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A traditional building in the way downtown.

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The outer wall of a restored government complex. Also on the way downtown.

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This is where I got off the bus in Sacheon. The sidewalk is fenced off because there is a seniors’ college and then an elementary school before you get into the village.

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This is a common sort of building in small Korean villages. This was probably once some kind of shop but it’s not in use now.

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Greens are hung up anywhere and everywhere to dry for the winter. Radish greens seem to be the most common in this area.

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This fried chicken chain isn’t so easy to find where I live but it’s one of the oldest in Korea, I think. There were lots around when I first came to the country and it was my favourite brand for a long time. Their sweet and spicy sauce chicken is great.

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Ironmonger. Mostly for industrial, not domestic items.

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A barber shop with towels drying on the roof.

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Every little town and village has an Agricultural Bank and store. The store in the village of Sacheon is no bigger than a corner store but behind it a new large one is being constructed. I’m sure this will greatly benefit the locals who won’t have to travel to Gangneung to buy basic things.

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The river and mountains are lovely but wires always seem to be part of the landscape here.

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Hello, friend.

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In this small village sits this nice building that houses “The Suspicious Magical School”. The building is called the Gangneung Sandy Brook Happiness Centre. I guess it’s a community centre. Some years ago the government put a lot of money into developing rural areas to slow down migration to the cities. Maybe this is a result of the government programme?

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This bus stop is at the other end of the village from where I got off. A highway runs right next to the village.

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The village is very small and I wasn’t about to jump on a bus and head home after a ten minute walk, so I decided to walk the 3.2 kilometres to Sacheon Harbour. There is a tunnel that goes under the highway and I was pleased to see that the town had painted a poem about daffodils on the wall along with pictures. Much better than grey concrete!

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Here’s a sad looking pole along the side of the road.

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Another sad pole, but at least it’s got company.

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I think this wheelbarrow was going to run away from the farm but lost courage at the end of the road.

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On the road to the harbour were several bus stops. Unfortunately, there were no signs saying what buses came by or how frequently. Maybe the locals all know and no outsiders ride the buses here.

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Walking along this shoulderless road is dangerous and it wasn’t until the way back that I discovered there is a concrete path that runs parallel. It wasn’t visible from the road because of the incline and the hedge. Despite the dangers of the road, this is a lovely area to walk through.

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Very large sacks of radish greens.

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The second bus stop I came to. The field behind is full of cabbage.

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The building in the background looks like a mushroom house, but smaller then the ones I’ve seen before.

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More sacks of radish greens. The ground was littered with radishes so I guess the farmers just harvest the greens. Or, they take the well-formed radishes to sell and leave the ugly ones on the ground.

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More sacks of radish greens next to a house.

Part Two shows photos of the harbour and my walk back to the main village. I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos so far.

 

 

A few more from Australia

While I’m waiting for more film to get developed, I thought I would share a few more photographs I made during my trip to Australia in 2007.

My wife and I took a train from Brisbane to Sydney and although the trip was very long I enjoyed every minute of it. I wish trains went everywhere in the world, even over oceans. Although flying is convenient, it is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. But I digress. In Sydney we visited the Opera House and I made a number of photos with my Nikon D70.

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I made a couple of photos of the whole complex but everyone has done these so I tried to make some photos of sections that I thought were visually interesting.

A week later we were doing a farmstay near Rockhampton. I didn’t take a photo, but I remember signs around that said, “Welcome to Rockhampton. Eat more beef, ya bastards!” As you can guess, it was a cattle farm we stayed on. Besides lying around and enjoying the weather, we also did a tour of the farm on a pickup truck. I used a Fuji Finepix F11 to make this photo of a horse and an Austrian girl. Nothing is in focus and the horizon is tilted but this is one of my favourite photos from the trip.

20070807-0252I also spent time wandering around the farm looking for things to photograph. I came across a rusting car and made this photo.

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I would like to visit Australia again someday and I would especially like to stay on this farm again.