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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

Wind turbine and cloud

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

Turbine in the clouds
pickup truck

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

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

Across the hills
Truck from another hilltop.

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

Despite the wind and dust, spirits were high.

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.



Age is just a bottle . . . .

A friend shared this photo on Facebook the other day, a picture I hadn’t seen before. It’s me and three of my best high school friends in the long-haired fellow’s bedroom. Judging by my clothes and look, I was probably in university at this time.

Marcus in Paul's Room
White socks, rolled up cotton pants, black t-shirt. I think that was my uniform for a couple of years.

I later lived with that cat and still have a scar on my right hand from it.

That photo was taken about 1990-ish and so twenty-seven years have passed. Now I’m much older but, sadly, no wiser. How old am I? This picture I made yesterday says it all.

Gravy Browning (Caramel)
100% liquid caramel from the Cheonu Food Company. I don’t know what Koreans use this for, but to my eyes it’s gravy browning.

I’m so old, I’ve finished a bottle of gravy browning yesterday and need to buy another. “What the devil is he talking about?” you ask. In Newfoundland there is a joke about how long a bottle of gravy browning lasts.

Man 1: Mrs. Jones is some old.
Man 2: Go on! She’s not dat old, is she?
Man 1: Old?! My son, she’s on ‘er second bottle a’ gravy browning!

I like the bottle. It’s old-timey and looks slightly medicinal. I just looked up some of the words on the label and discovered that its intended use is in yak-shik, a traditional sticky rice snack made with nuts and so on.

The writing on the label looks like something from fifty years ago, but I bought it in 2005.

Caramel date of production
The label says this caramel was produced in January of 2005 and cost 1300 Won.

Although the label says that the product is good for up to two years after the production date, I suspect caramel is something like black pepper. They put a date on it to keep the government happy but it actually never goes bad. I hope. Bad gravy browning might explain some of my problems . . . .

So, there you are. I’m now officially old according to the gravy browning scale. Will I get through a second bottle?


Snapshots: Chicken Soup with Rice

I got off the bus downtown around 11:45 this morning and looked around for a place to eat. McDonald’s was crowded, as were many of the restaurants on the high street. I decided to head into the market to see if I could beat the dinnertime crowd for a seat. As I entered the market I remembered an area where a number of restaurants serve chicken soup. The most famous restaurant there was packed (as always) and a restaurant I had been to before also had no seats. Down the hallway a little ways was another restaurant called Busan Restaurant that had the same menu as the other two restaurants. All the restaurants in that hallway have more or less the same menu, actually. There was almost no one in Busan Restaurant so I entered, slightly worried because of the lack of custom despite it being dinner hour.


The front of Busan Restaurant. Note the large iron pots of meat simmering away. The three main dishes of this restaurant are cow’s head soup, chicken soup with rice, and blood sausage soup with rice. They also serve steamed blood sausage and various dishes made from cow and pig offal.


The chicken soup and a dish of cabbage gimchi. Not a piece of gut in sight! The soup was delicious and the gimchi some of the best I’ve ever eaten. While I was waiting for the soup to cool down a bit, I plucked out pieces of chicken and ate them wrapped them in leaves of gimchi. So good. The man at the next table was giving me odd looks because of this.


The other customers, all of whom wandered in after me. I must be good for business! The woman with the bandana looks unhappy about something. Maybe her husband is eating too slowly. She should have married the fellow in the corner because he was in and out in ten minutes. Koreans, especially Korean men, eat extremely quickly. The hobbit-sized lady at the table next to me was kind, and suggested I add black pepper to my soup. I handed her things she couldn’t reach. After the meal she let out a big belch. It’s not considered a sign of satisfaction to do so in Korea. She’s just old and doesn’t care. I’m shy about taking photos of people so I pretended to be very interested in the calligraphy on the wall. Then I took out my phone and made this photo, all the while staring at the sign. Because the phone has a wide angled lens, it managed to include everyone without directly pointing at anyone.


What a good boy am I!

After paying, I felt I had earned the right to make a short video of the iron pots and the people working. I’d be too shy, otherwise.

If you’re ever in Gangneung, I’ll bring you there for a bowl of excellent chicken soup.


New Project and a Street Photo

A few years ago I had an exhibition of traditional Korean scenes made by the Hipstamatic iPhone application. I was pleased with the results but I wanted to do another collection of traditional Korean scenes using a regular camera. I have many such photos from years past but for this project I want to make all new photographs. I think I can do better now or at least make photographs of the same quality.

Last week I went to the birth house of Heogyun and his sister (whose name is long and difficult for me to remember) and came away with twenty-seven photographs. Most of those didn’t make it past my selection process at home so today I present you with three photographs. Two made at the house and one on a street on the way home.

Roof Shadow on Wall




Fence Fragment

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.


A traditional building in the way downtown.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


Ironmonger. Mostly for industrial, not domestic items.


A barber shop with towels drying on the roof.


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.


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


Hello, friend.


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?


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


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!


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


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


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


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.


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.


Very large sacks of radish greens.


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


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


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.


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.



Gyeongpo Lake and Wetlands in Winter

During the winter I made three trips to Gyeongpo Lake and the wetlands park next to it. Once with my Contax 645 and a huge tripod and twice with the Fuji X-Pro 1. On one occasion I also stopped by the birthplace of Heogyun. These photos are all digital.

20160209-003 heogyun birthplace wall vines
Clay wall and vines
20160209-004 heogyun birthplace cellar
A cellar (I think)
20160209-008 gyeongpo lake wetlands lotus boardwalk
Wetlands boardwalk
20160209-010 gyeongpo lake wetlands crane
An egret or crane on the frozen wetlands
20160209-011 gyeongpo lake wetlands tree reed
Island in the wetlands
20160209-012 gyeongpo lake wetlands ferry ice
There is a rope-drawn ferry in the wetlands park that is fun to use. 
20160209-013 gyeongpo lake hyundae hotel ice duck
Gangneung is a great place to look at ducks in the winter. Many species come from up north and stay until the spring.
20160209-015 gyeongpo lake statue
Statues along the lake are of figures from Korean stories.

Mostly Trees

Near my house is a hill crenellated by cherry trees. There was once a wireless station on top of the hill but there is nothing left of that but a few broken concrete roots. Now locals have small patches of vegetables on the spot. I suppose it must be public land so I don’t worry going up there to make photographs. At the end of February when I visited I was still in my winter photo slump but I made a few pictures that aren’t too bad.

Detail of Dying Cherry Tree


Neighbour’s House