Country and City

In the morning I took a walk around a village near my apartment and in the afternoon I went downtown for another walkabout. No great works of art were created, but I thought people not living in Korea might be interested in some Korean scenes.

20171111-001_log_clay_wall_covered_window

This wall is northern style. It has thick clay walls with smallish windows to keep out the cold in winter. Southern buildings have thinner walls and sometimes paper doors and windows can take up almost all the wall. This building is a shed if I remember correctly. I haven’t seen a window boarded up with corrugated tin before.

20171111-002_

You don’t need to go to the city because the city eventually comes to you. This rural area will have five or six more apartment complexes in the next year. It wouldn’t be so bad if some of the interesting parts of the city came with them, but it’s always the same businesses that show up in a complex’s commercial building — a convenience store or two, a cram school, and a grilled pork restaurant. Maybe a Chinese restaurant if you’re ‘lucky’.

20171111-004

The downtown Agricultural Cooperative. The main floor is a supermarket where they mostly local and domestic products. The upper floors are for banking. It’s not a beautiful building but I wanted to make a record of it. It might be replaced by something else in thirty years or so.

20171111-005

There are no shiny new buildings in the back alleys of downtown Gangneung. Mostly cracked concrete, breeze blocks, and corrugated iron.

20171111-006

The second floor of Gangneung’s Central Market. The words in the windows are the menu items served in a restaurant up there. Grilled lance asiabell root, handmade dumpling soup, grilled dried pollack, steamed fish, mushroom stew, and seafood stew.

Lots of my downtown photos are details of things. Maybe I should try stepping back and make photos that show what the market looks like as a whole. On the other hand, I have to photograph what interests me. The next time I go out, I’ll try both.

 

A Trip to Sokcho

Half a trip, actually. The other photos from the outing are on as-yet unscanned slide film.

20171101-002-002

I made this photo while waiting for the bus to Sokcho. The bear next to the lady in the pink shirt is one of the 2018 Olympic mascots. When I noticed this potential scene only the woman next to the bear was in the composition. I waited and an older woman sat back on to me just where I wanted her to. Then I waited another few minutes for a bus to pass by on the other side of the road.

20171101-002-004

This is a bus stop in Sokcho. The Olympic mascots look happy about the garbage bags.

20171101-002-009

The rest of this post documents my walk from Sokcho’s high street to the harbour about 3.7 kilometres away. Rice straw is wrapped up in plastic here to await shipment to . . . cattle farms? Sandal factories? Peasant maidens for conversion to gold on spinning wheels?

20171101-002-013

A sign by the riverside warning people that planting gardens next to the water can result in a ten million Won fine (about half the price of a decent car) or up to two years in jail. Ouch.

20171101-002-021

This tractor is in hard shape. The headlight is missing and it’s rusted up. It looks like someone backed into that fence.

20171101-002-030

Rice fields at harvest time.

20171101-002-031

This rice has been harvested by a machine, leaving the straw in nice straight rows in the field. I once spent a day cutting rice by hand and it was very hard work. Anyone who says traditional farming methods are better than machine methods can go straight to hell. Where they will spend an eternity harvesting rice by hand . . . .

20171101-002-032

This photo and the next are my favourites on the roll. I like the contrast between the dark green living grass and the paler green of the harvested rice stalks.

20171101-002-033

Same photo but diagonal.

20171101-002-034

My wife doesn’t like this photo but I do. At the moment. It probably won’t get printed because it seems a bit too imbalanced between the left and the right. Anyway, ‘submitted for your approval’.

The other photos from Sokcho on the slide film will show up here in a week or so. If any of them pass my editing process. There’s one of a cat that will show up here for sure so you can look forward to that.

 

Village of Swallows

There are no swallows in this post. The name of the village I visited last month is Jebi-ri, which is “Swallow Village”. But that sounds a bit odd and vulgar so I named this post “Village of Swallows”. I did see some swallows while I was walking around but they are too fast and small for me to photograph. I’ll leave that to the boys with the very long lenses and patience.

Shingwang Temple Offering at Spring

I had black and white film in my camera when I came across this offering at a spring in ShinGwang Temple. I wanted a colour photo of the fruit so I made one with my iPhone. It looks okay at a small size but won’t be any good for enlarging.

Temple Bell and Speakers

I thought the juxtoposition of the traditional temple bell and the modern speakers was interesting. The temple is very small so I don’t know why they would need these large speakers.

No Unauthorised Cars Allowed

This sign and lanterns are at the entrance to the temple. The sign says “No Unauthorised Vehicles Allowed.” This is probably necessary because the parking area was very small.

Worker Gloves on Stone

There was a small garden at the temple and someone had left their gloves on this flat stone, probably to dry. The temple was unoccupied on the day I was there. It was a Sunday, so maybe they had all gone to church? Oh ho ho . . . . sorry.

Tracks and Corn Field

There is very little grass between the tyre tracks so it might be a regular parking spot. Still, there is something slightly mysterious about these deep tracks that end abruptly at a field of tall crops.

Truck Tracks

This truck was in empty field that was very muddy with tracks.

Blue Former Military Truck

Here is that truck in colour. I see these here and there, usually in logging operations. They are always painted blue. The look like military trucks that were maybe sold to civilians. I wonder if they are painted blue so that they won’t be mistaken for in-service military vehicles.

Sesame Field, Colour

A shed at the far edge of a field of sesame.

Field of Sesame, black and white

Almost the same photo. I changed film and made the photo again. I like the composition of the black and white photo because the shed is bigger, but I think I would like it in colour.

Mailbox and path beside a field

I’m trying to remember the area, but I don’t think this mailbox was close to a house. Maybe the farmer was keeping a few things in it. The fence is made of net but I’m not sure what purpose it serves. Keeps small birds out? Just before I made this photo a cat slipped through the fence and into the field.

Tree and Fence

The same kind of fence enclosing a field and tree. I have a colour version of this but I don’t like it as much.

Clock in Bus Stop

It started to rain heavily so I took shelter in a bus stop and called a taxi. Buses are few and far between in Jebi-ri, especially on a Sunday. No other bus stops have clocks like this so someone in the village must have hung it up there. The time was wrong.

I’d like to visit the village again some day. It’s not far from my house and I can get there on bicycle when the weather isn’t wet. Although the area is quiet and pleasant, there are a lot of dogs tied up on short leashes and they bark and bark and bark when you pass by. Not great when you want to stop and make photos of something. Maybe next time I’ll bring some bones to toss them.

 

The Valley Behind My Apartment

Last month, I took a stroll up the small valley behind my apartment building. There are no farmers around because it’s winter and it’s a dead end so no city maniacs are using it as a shortcut to get to the highway. I made a few photographs on my walk and, as I write this, I wonder if the little valley has a name. Maybe I can ask a farmer when the weather warms up and they come out to prepare their fields.

20170112-001

As I started walking into the valley, I turned around and made a photo of my apartment complex.

20170112-002

I guess that this sign once said, “Do not enter”. Now, even without words, it still works as a means of communication. Or maybe it once said, “Welcome to my Field.” I don’t know.

20170112-003

I don’t know what kind of trees these are and I don’t know what this section of pipe is doing there.

20170112-005

Same trees, different view.

20170112-004

This was the end of the road. The blank area at the top of the sign looks like it might have had something written on it long ago.

I’m looking forward to walking up this valley in the spring and summer, when everything isn’t brown.

 

Simple and Complicated

Sometimes when I make a photograph I try to cut out as much as I can while still trying to show the viewer something interesting.  In this photograph, the closed shutter and the ‘For Rent’ sign tell you that some shop has gone out of business.  The simplicity of the For Sale sign tells you something about the character of the present owner.  Maybe he or she is a person of few words.  Maybe the person is smart enough to realise that no matter how much information is on the sign, potential renters are going to ask all the basic questions anyway.  So why bother writing it down?

Zeiss Ikon ZM, (probably) Agfa CT Precisa 100, Planar 2/50 ZM
Zeiss Ikon ZM, (probably) Agfa CT Precisa 100, Planar 2/50 ZM

The next photo was taken with a normal lens like the one above and my goal was not to cut out objects from the frame but to organise a large number of things in a pleasing and story-telling manner.  The field takes centre stage but the houses at top tell you this field is in the middle of a city and the clutter at the bottom tells you that the owner of the field isn’t as neat as maybe they should be.  Despite all the elements that make up this photograph there is nothing unnecessary in the frame.  It would, however, be nicer if the wheelbarrow in the lower right was a bit darker.

Fuji X-Pro 1, Fujinon 2/18
Fuji X-Pro 1, XF 1.4/35 R