Slump

Summer is never a good season for me because of the heat and the humidity. Sweat runs down my arms and gets on my cameras and it’s hard to think straight about a composition when my body feels like it’s being steamed like a dumpling. But this year the situation is worse because I feel like I’ve reached the limits of my technique and creativity while still wanting to be a better photographer. It’s very frustrating.

I recently started looking and thinking more seriously about my photographs because I want to know how I might break out of this slump and become a better photographer. I tried to think about what makes a good photograph. Technique, including composition and lighting, is a big one. A good photo should also say something, even if it’s as simple as ‘people park motorcycles on sidewalks in Korea’. A great photo will get people to think differently about a subject by what’s included in the frame and how it’s arranged. A third way to make a ‘keeper’ is to record something for the future. Documentary. I think I am good at composition and design but not that great at saying something by using design in a thoughtful way. Perhaps I should go through my photo albums to see if I have any photos like that and try to make more.

I also wonder if something other than a lack of talent is preventing me from making good photographs. I sometimes feel stuck because I have no car and I end up going to the same places all the time. Downtown, Anmok beach, the river mouth, and occasionally a couple of historical sites that are within the city but not on frequent bus routes. Maybe that’s an excuse. I could probably make more interesting photos at the beach and downtown if I weren’t so shy of people. But there are lots of great photos without people in them so that’s possibly just another excuse.

Should I just take a long break from making pictures? If I’m not doing photography, maybe my mind will work on some ideas in the background and I can use these when I pick up the camera again. Maybe. But more than likely I’ll just get out of practice and lose my skills. So not a rest, then. But a change is as good as a rest, no? I’ve been using my D810 with a 50mm lens for just about everything so maybe I need to put those aside and use something else. A couple of my favourite photos were made using a point and shoot camera and the very cheap C200 negative film produced by Fuji. The film has very bright colours and it’s difficult to get a bad exposure with it. The camera had a 28mm lens in it for a wide view and good depth of field. I think I’ll order some of that film and stick a 28mm lens on my Nikon F6. Or buy a cheap point and shoot? The one I had broke, unfortunately. It was a great Ricoh camera.

Here are the two photos I mentioned made on C200 film:

Gangneung-presentation-020

Gangneung-presentation-003

They almost look like paintings because of the grain and colours. I’m definitely going to order some C200 film and see if I can’t make some photos like this again.

Well, I feel better after writing this . . . .

 

Cabbages

Today I saw cabbages being picked and loaded into trucks for market.  The heads of cabbage will be sold for making gimchi and the leftover heads and leaves in the field will probably be hung and dried for making winter soups.  I remembered I had a photo of a cabbage field and I include it here along with photos of drying chillies and an autumn tree.

Cabbage Field Ricoh GR10, Fuji C200 film
Cabbage Field
Ricoh GR10, Fuji C200 film
Drying Chillies Zeiss Ikon ZM, 50/2 Planar, Agfa CT Precisa 100 film
Drying Chillies
Zeiss Ikon ZM, Planar 2/50, Agfa CT Precisa 100 film
Backlit Autumn Leaves Ricoh GR10, Fuji C200 film
Backlit Autumn Leaves
Ricoh GR10, Fuji C200 film

Animals and Galleries

My photo teacher’s workshop is near the university at the edge of the city.  The property next door has cows and while waiting for my teacher to arrive one day I went over to say hello.  Cows are curious creatures and as soon as I said hello to one of them, the rest of them showed up to see what was going on.  Or maybe they had never seen a white person before? (I’m a visible minority here).  I lifted my camera up over my head and pressed the shutter release button.  I got lucky with the composition but I wish that post wasn’t in front of the cow’s nose and that I could see more of the rear cow’s face.  Still, not bad for a snapshot.

Cattle in plastic barn. Ricoh GR10, Fujicolor C200 film
Cattle in plastic barn.
Ricoh GR10, Fujicolor C200 film

I have to admit my ignorance and say that I don’t know if these are cows or bulls.  They have horns . . . but cows have horns as well?  Someone let me know . . . .

The next photo was taken in the city near the bus station.  I was walking past this window when I saw the chicken come from out around the side of the building.  I sized him up and he sized me up.  I moved left and he went right.  I went right and he went left.  I made a few photos.  Then I realised I could get him into a good position for a photo by pre-focusing and slowly walking to my right.  He moved to the left into the spot I wanted and I made the photo.

Chicken in street Zeiss Ikon ZM, 50/2 Planar, Agfa CT Precisa 100
Chicken in street
Zeiss Ikon ZM, Planar 2/50, Agfa CT Precisa 100

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I changed this website address from marcuskoreanus.wordpress.com to marcuspeddle.com.  It makes it easier for people to find and remember my website.  Once my exhibition in December is finished I’ll be wanting to direct people here in case they want to buy prints and using my real name dot com is much better.
I have several photo albums on this website that haven’t been updated in quite a while.  Not to mention the flurry of inactivity over on Flickr.  I guess I really need to go through my folders in Lightroom and choose some photos to add to the albums.  The problem is, how many photos should I have in each album?  Twenty-one seems like a good number.  Should I just have fine-art albums?  Is street photography okay?  How about fun photos like the cows above?  Maybe everything is okay if I label the albums appropriately.  Decisions, decisions . . . . .

Why I bought the Ricoh GR10

I mentioned in a previous post that I bought a Ricoh GR10.  I’m still enjoying it and the camera is always with me in a pocket or a bag.  I have a medium format camera and a Zeiss rangefinder for my serious photos but for documenting daily life, places I visit, or people I meet then the compact GR10 is the camera to use.

Convenience store and bicycle, Seongsan, South Korea Ricoh GR10, Fujicolor C200
Convenience store and bicycle, Seongsan, South Korea
Ricoh GR10, Fujicolor C200

This isn’t a photo destined for a gallery wall but it is a good reminder of the convenience store I visit when I cycle to the village of Seongsan for exercise.  It was taken on cheap-o film but it’s good enough.  Actually, I think I might start spending a tiny bit more money and use ISO 400 film in the camera.  That’ll get me a little faster shutter speed and/or greater depth of field.

Ricoh GR10 and a roll of film

Several weeks ago I bought a Ricoh GR10 compact film camera.  I couldn’t afford a fancier Contax T2 or T3 and I didn’t really want one.  What I wanted was a reasonably fast lens in a camera with complete automation.  The GR10 has a 28mm F2.8 lens and almost no other controls except a switch for turning the flash on and off.  I bought the camera not for art photos but for keeping in a pocket when out for walks or getting together with friends.  In this camera I put Fuji C200 film, one of the cheapest negative films I could find.  I used one roll of this film for testing the flash, the film, and the lens.  The second roll of film I used for taking photos on walks or when I was with my friends.  Developing the film cost 2,000 Won and a contact sheet cost 3,000 Won.  The film cost me 3,100 Won a roll so the total price wasn’t bad.  I won’t show photos of my friends or family but I can share photos I took while out on walks.

000001This very old building in a side street is of Japanese design, I think.  There are a few of these remaining from the colonial period.  This building is being used as a mill, as far as I can tell.

000010 Although a 28mm lens usually gives a very good depth of field, I was close to the plant and there wasn’t much light so the tiles are out of focus.  I can go back later with a ‘proper’ camera.

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I like this photo and I think it turned out fine on the Ricoh but I might go back with my medium format camera and do it again.

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I made a similar photo of this wall and crane but accidentally included my finger.  A hazard of using a camera with a very short lens.

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As you can see from the white and dark objects in the foreground, 28mm was a bit too wide for this photo.  I couldn’t get closer because of a wall.

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I should have waited another half a second so the tractor wouldn’t be so close to the edge of the frame.  My timing is usually pretty bad.  At least I didn’t cut the end off the tractor.  The nice thing about being a visible minority in Korea is that people think you’re a tourist and don’t hassle you much about taking photos.

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In the middle of nowhere you can often find well-maintained tombs like this.  This one looks quite new.  I made a respectful bow before making this photo.  I’m not superstitious but it doesn’t hurt to be polite, even if it’s just for my sake.

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Ignoring the rubbish from farming in the stream, this was a lovely place to take a rest.  The tomb in the previous photo was on the other side of the stream.

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Down by the river the city seems far away.  It’s a lovely place to take a walk.

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A peaceful summer evening fishing and watching someone else fish.  And me watching someone else watching someone fish.  And my wife behind me watching me . . . .

I was pleased with the Ricoh GR10 and the Fuji C200 after getting these photos back.  The scans I’ve posted here are low quality and came from making the contact sheet so don’t judge the camera or the film based on what you see here.  It’s a camera I want to use when I see something that catches my eye on a day out or just to take photos of my friends at a restaurant or on the street.  Sometimes it’s nice to just press a button and not think about f-stops and shutter speeds and this camera does a very good job of delivering good results.