Apartment Construction

I live in an until recently undeveloped part of Gangneung. My apartment was the first to be completed last December and now there are about five more complexes under construction or planned for this area. In a couple of years I guess there will be no more fields to walk past.
Right in front of a new construction site is a traditional Korean house that is quite run down. I don’t think it sits on a planned apartment site but surely it can’t be too long before the house is sold and torn down to make way for shops and restaurants.

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With the tower cranes sticking out between the buildings, it almost looks as though the apartment complex is creating itself.

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The house would look lovely if it were fixed up and the grounds cleared up a bit.

Stay tuned to see what the neighbourhood looks like in a few years.

A Baker’s Dozen

Nothing to do with baking, in case you arrived here by web search looking for biscuits.

I don’t much like going to festivals because of the noise, the crowds, and the drunkeness, but it’s sometimes interesting to walk through the festival grounds early in the morning when everything is quiet. These photos are from the 2017 Dano Festival.

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Blankets. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

There is a whole section of the Dano Festival dedicated to blanket and pillow sellers. I don’t know if it is true or not, but someone told me that some of these vendors can sell enough blankets during the festival week to keep them in money for a whole year.

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Blankets and Mats. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

This vendor hadn’t showed up to open his/her stall that early in the morning. I think I passed through about 8:15 in the morning. No one is shopping at that hour anyway, so time enough for a lie-in.

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Blanket delivery. Nikon D810, 50mm

This was a different day and I had my digital camera with me. This large truck was parked so it was difficult to get past. I think I was on my bicycle as well, so it was more difficult to get around.

Early morning cyclist at Dano Festival. Nikon D810, 50mm

This photo probably looks okay on on a web site but seen at a bigger size you can see the cyclist was too fast for the shutter speed and the woman in the distance is very fuzzy because of the shallow depth of field. I had the camera set to ISO 64 for some reason. There was no reason to make such an amateur mistake when the D810 looks great at ISO 1600 and higher.

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Man walking past tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

This man is also slightly blurred but I think it was because I had a slow-ish shutter speed. The tents appear to be in focus.  I’m shy about making photos of people so what I often do is choose a background that I like, prefocus, and wait for someone to walk into the composition. When the person is in a good position I press the shutter release button. This doesn’t always work, especially with younger people. Most people are fairly snap-happy so they are aware of other photographers and avoid walking in front of cameras so they don’t spoil the picture. Even though I want them to be in the frame. Other times, people will stop just outside the frame and wait for me to finish taking the photo. Foiled again . . . .

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Man walking through tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

This guy is slightly out of focus, but it’s okay. I metered off the pavement so the bright tents wouldn’t cause the camera to underexpose. This guy stopped outside the frame but I told him to just pass on by. I made several photos at this spot but this was the most interesting person to pass by. In the wrong direction. There was a cart pusher that came my way but he turned off and went down another lane.

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Tent ropes. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

Tents require a fair amount of rope.

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Liquor Crates. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800

The last tent photo, I promise. Like any festival, there is plenty of booze and some of the liquor companies are official sponsors.

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Paddle boats and circus tents. Nikon F6, 50mm, Kodak Portra 800.

Okay, it’s more tents, but they are far away. The city closes off one of the river’s small dams to keep water around the festival grounds. The blue and yellow tent across the river is for a circus. I’ve never been inside because it’s a bit expensive and I don’t really like circuses (circos?). Still, it’s a nice balance for the yellow pontoons of these paddle boats.

I highly recommend Kodak Portra 800 when it’s not too bright out. Or even when it’s bright out, if your camera has high shutter speeds. It gives good colour, good contrast, and the grain is pleasant.

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Deep fried crabs. Nikon F6, 50mm, Fomapan 400.

This is the first time I’ve seen deep-fried whole crabs at the festival. I didn’t try one, but I suspect the top shell is removed and batter poured in before frying. It doesn’t look like a thing that would be pleasant to eat, even if you like crab.

Fomapan is a cheap black and white film made in the Czech Republic. It’s only about half the price of Kodak and Ilford films. It can be very grainy and the negatives are a bit thin if you set your camera ISO to 400. I say ‘set your camera to 400’ because the cannisters don’t have the DX codes for automatic cameras. Saves on costs, I guess. I set the ISO to 320 on the last roll of film I used and the negatives look much better. I haven’t made large prints using this film so I don’t know how much grain would be in the print. I like this flm because it’s supposedly an old formula and gives photos an old-fashioned look.

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Bowing to a pig’s head. Nikon F6, 50mm, Fomapan 400.

Korean traditional rituals sometimes involve a pig’s head. Supplicants put envelopes of money or bills into the mouth and then bow while asking for a blessing. Some people who buy new cars will perform this ceremony in front of their cars on the side of the road.

Traditional house with aluminium roof and fence. Nikon D810, 50mm.

Nothing to do with Dano Festival, but this house is on my walk to work. I spot metered off the odd white wall in the foreground and added about a +1 stop to get a good exposure.

Chair and wall stain. Nikon D810, 50mm.

The last ‘biscuit’ in this baker’s dozen. Not art I imagine, but I noticed that the wall stain on my office wall matched up nicely with the chair. Digital photograph. You wouldn’t want to waste a piece of film on this.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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Outer wall in colour

Mmmm, film . . . .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Door in birthplace of Heogyun

Low light and no tripod, but I managed to hold the camera steady enough to avoid blur.

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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.

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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.

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Look this way,
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look that way,
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go for a nap.

Thanks for looking and reading!

A bit of film

The photos in this post don’t have much in common except that they were all made in May and they are film photographs. I guess it would be nice to present a nice photo essay about something like the redevelopment of the tourist areas (or whatever) but sometimes you just take a few decent photos while out for a walk or standing in the bathroom.

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The aforementioned bathroom

I was brushing my teeth or drying my face when I noticed this patch of morning sunlight on the tiles of the bathroom floor. I ran to the cupboard to get my Nikon F6 and make this photo before the sun moved and ruined the photographic moment. This was made on Kodak Portra 400 film and very likely I spot-metred off the brightest part of the tile and added +1 or +1.3 stops of exposure.

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2018 Olympics Women’s Hockey Stadium

The Winter Olympics are being held in Pyeongchang County and Gangneung City next year. It’s officially the Pyeongchang Olympics but ice rink sports such as hockey and curling will be in Gangneung and things like skiing will be held in Pyeongchang, where the ski slopes are. This stadium was built at the university where I teach and when the Olympics are done the facilities will be used by the students and by the public. I was leaving school one day when I noticed the beautiful reflections in the windows. The campus is filled with pine trees and new flower beds have been installed around the stadium. I searched the bottom windows for my own reflection but I guess I was too far away.
Just before I made this photo I ran into a small group of students and I got them to huddle together for a photo. Last week I got prints made and gave them to the students. They were really pleased, and I think that people are quite grateul when you go through the trouble of making a print and giving it to them. Clicking ‘send’ on a phone application takes no effort and people do it all day long. I hope they have the prints to look at long after their phones are obsolete and they’ve lost half a lifetime’s worth of memories.

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Something old, something new

I was out for a walk when I came across this well-maintained Korean traditional house with modern apartments in the background. I like this sort of contrast between the old Korea and the new and I made a few photographs. The curve of the traditional roof and the zig-zag placement of the apartments gives this photo a slight dynamic feeling. The tree in the lower left is a nice touch, but I’m not sure about the utility pole on the right side of the frame. I guess it’s not too bad because there are power lines on the left side of the frame and they balance out. Made on Kodak Portra 400 with the Nikon F6. Probably a 50mm lens since that’s the one I usually have on the camera when walking around.

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Stepping-stone bridge on the Namdae River.

The apartment complex on the right is the same complex that’s in the previous photo. I think it might be the same day, but I’m not sure because I don’t keep careful notes. Any notes. I waited around for a while for people to come by and cross the bridge. I was lucky enough to get people going both ways and meet at a compositionally pleasing spot in the frame. This photo was made with the F6 on, yes, you guessed it, Kodak Portra 400.

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Stepping-stone bridge

This detail of the bridge was made at the far end where there’s little or no water and the grass has grown up. F6. Portra 400.

I’ve lived in Gangneung for a long time and sometimes I feel tired of going to the same markets, the same historical houses, and the same harbours for photography. I have no car so I’m limited in the number of interesting places I can visit. But, amazingly, sometimes just hanging a camera off your shoulder and wandering the seen-a-thousand-times city streets can result in some new perspectives and good photographs.

 

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