Downtown Gangneung

I spent much of my ten day holiday editing, printing, and again editing photos. I had a lot from nine rolls of film I got back from the lab as well as a backlog of digital photos. I think I’ve made myself sick of photography and I don’t want to see a shutter button for a while.

Some of the photos I made were of Gangneung’s downtown area. I make a lot of photos there because it’s easy to get to and I can do other things while I’m there. I need to get on my bicycle and visit other places.

Mall and Man

This new colourful mall is a nice visual relief from the usual grey concrete structures that go up in the downtown area. The building isn’t completely rectangular and the shops have shown some restraint with window signs.

Bus Arrival

As I was nearing one of the main downtown bus stops, I turned and saw this bus coming towards me. I waited until the bus was sped past me to make this photograph. The man on the right in the shadow was staring at me the whole time.

Steamed Dumpling Shop

The first two photos of this post were done using a digital camera but, as you can probably tell from the grain, this photo was made on black and white film. Foma 400 black and white film. It’s cheap as dirt and gives photos an old look because, I’ve read, they are using old technology to keep the prices down. This shop sells steamed dumplings in the downtown market area. They have meat stuffed dumplings as well as gimchi stuffed dumplings. They also sell large stuffed buns and another kind of steamed bread made of, I think, maize.

Pickup Truck

I really like these old-style Korean pickup trucks. I’m not sure what this model’s name is. The owner is working on the renovated market area downtown. I wonder how much one of these would cost to buy? And could it be repaired? And would I want to buy a vehicle that was probably abused? I often see these trucks being overloaded. Well, I can dream.

Shoe Table

An old shoe shop in the unrenovated market area. Anyone who knows photography can probably tell I did a poor job of dodging the umbrella at the top of the photo.

Bus 227

The other very busy bus stop in downtown. One of my best bus stop photos, I think. It will definitely go into my portfolio.

Clothes and Chestnuts

This is one of the shops in the new market area. The owner (sitting unseen at the back of the shop) sells what looks to me to be very old-fashioned women’s clothing. Granny Wear. Sitting in front of the rack is a tub of chestnuts and a wooden box for measuring. Maybe she sells them?

I hope you enjoyed these little scenes of Gangneung’s downtown area. Although I am a little bit sick of making photos there, I am sure I will go back later to find scenes that have interesting content and pleasing compositions.


Digital Fun

The scans and prints from the first few rolls of my 28mm/Fujicolor C200 project have arrived but I am still editing. Using a wide angle lens is challenging because there is so much to organise in the frame but I got a few good results. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, today I turned on the Hipstamatic App on my iPhone and made a couple of photos. Very enjoyable, especially since I haven’t used it much since my iTraditional project a few years ago. I might use Hipstamatic as a side project when I don’t have my F6 with me. The iPhone’s camera is wide angle and the colours are interesting. Another way to shake me out of my slump.

2018 Olympics women’s ice hockey rink in Gangneung.
Wolhwa Folk Market, downtown Gangneung.

Mobile phone cameras might not be ‘serious’ cameras and Hipstamic only good for hipster scum, but they are a lot of fun.

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.


Downtown Snapshots

I needed to go downtown to buy some camera batteries at my favourite electronics shop and I thought I may as well practise some documentary photography in the downtown area. I haven’t done much documentary photography and I’m not very good at it yet. I’m naturally shy about taking people’s pictures and my photos are often rushed because I am worried about someone coming out and telling me off. Still, even if the photos I made today aren’t very good, at least you will be able to see something about life in Korea.


This house is unusually by itself on a side road. The wall that surrounds this ‘compound’ is about my height, maybe a little taller. It’s an ugly building but interesting in its own way.


A little farther down the road was this little patch of green onion in a field behind a tour bus operator. This would be nicer without the shadow of the light pole.


A clothes collection box. When the box is full or items are large, people just pile the clothes and blankets on top. The stencilled words say you can put in curtains, old clothes, blankets, shoes, carpets, and bags. As you can see from the houses in the background, it’s one of Gangneung’s poorer neighbourhoods.


This is still on the same road. This truck belongs to a courier company.


A winter treat in Korea is sweet potatoes or chestnuts roasted in wood-burning barrels like this one. Sometimes people buy roasted chestnuts and carry them around in their coat pockets to keep their hands warm.


This is an example of a photo that didn’t come out well because I was rushing due to shyness. I made a photo of this woman and took the camera down too quickly when she looked up, causing blur. It’s hard to see the blur at the size I’ve posted here but it’s embarassingly obvious on the original photograph. When she looked at me I smiled, waved, and hurried on. I look like a tourist because I’m not Korean so she just laughed.


You can find fish hung up to dry just about anywhere in the market area. This aluminium wall separates some shops from a construction area.


Many of the little food shops in this alley look like they should be shut down by a health inspector but the food cooked in them is very delicious. In a few years they will probably be torn down and replaced by yet another coffee shop or ten.


I wanted a photo of the mung bean pancakes and this guy’s hands but he saw me standing in front of his shop and bent down to see who I was.


This is what I wanted but it’s poorly composed because I was shooting and running.


A man and his wife pushing a cart on which they’ve piled cardboard to sell to recyclers. This sort of photo should be made from the side or the front but, again, I don’t have the nerve yet. And I don’t really like taking photos of poor people.


A lost couple visiting Gangneung. Out of focus and you can’t see the map they are looking at, but I like the composition. As you can see from the reflection, I was in a convenience store, which is why the photo is out of focus. Reflections can fool a camera’s autofocus system. I should have switched to manual focus but I was worried they would notice me taking their photo so I just quickly went back to my tin of milky coffee.


A view of my apartment complex. I don’t live in building 104.


I bought this mugwort rice cake in the market. It’s covered in bean powder. I don’t like this kind of rice cake but my wife enjoys it very much.


This is the rice cake I bought for myself. This is a more modern style of rice cake with bright colours and fruit flavours. I wanted to make a photo of the shop where I bought the rice cake but it’s the new year holiday and I was being knocked about by children and old ladies in the very narrow market alleys. I paid for the food and got out as quickly as I could.

These photos won’t win any prizes but I hope they are interesting as a glimpse into what a South Korean city looks like. I enjoyed walking about and making the photos and perhaps next time I won’t be so nervous and I can get some better compositions.


Downtown Walkabout

Sometimes I go to a pre-decided place with a tripod and make a number of photographs. Other times I just step outside the door and go left or right as the mood takes me. Near the beginning of October I did that several times and here are a few of the better photos from those walks.


In the downtown market there is a shop that sells Buddhist supplies. Incense, candles, grey clothes, and small statues like this one. This Buddha stands outside the shop under the electricity meter. I’m sure this is profound in some way.


Tourists come to the Gangneung market for things like the fried chicken and other foods but most of the market is not very picturesque.


This is the large 5-way intersection in downtown Gangneung. I don’t know what’s on top of that very large pole. Lights? Speakers? Death rays?


This is a concrete wall in my neighbourhood. A patch of concrete fell out and a seed fell in and grew into a tree. Daoism in action. This is the sort of photo that I like most. Graphically simple but tells a story.


December’s Photos

Here are my ten favourite photos from the month of December. Lightroom tells me I made 187 photographs in the last month, from two rolls of medium format film, three rolls of 35mm film, my iPhone, and the Fuji X-Pro 1. That number doesn’t include the large number of digital photographs I deleted while editing. I don’t delete photos from roll scans even if they aren’t good because I want to use Lightroom as a computer contact sheet.

Fish drying on pedestrian bridge Namdae River
Fish drying on a pedestian bridge. Fuji X-Pro 1

This bridge is near the downtown market area of the city and it’s not unusual to see fish hung from the wire rails to dry. I suppose it’s a good place to do it because there is often a good wind coming down the river and there is nothing blocking the sunlight.

‘Son Rock’, Town of Jumunjin. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

This interesting rock formation is in the town of Jumunjin and is called ‘Son Rock’. A legend says that if you stand under this rock and make a wish it will come true. Many people used to (and probably still do) come here to wish for a child. Specifically a son. Thus the name ‘Son Rock’.

Girl walking past Son Rock. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

While I was making photos a Korean man showed up with two non-Korean children. This girl is about twelve or thirteen and her younger brother was about eight or nine years old. Their father(?) spoke only Korean to them and the girl spoke decent Korean to him and fluent English to her brother, who spoke fluent English but little or no Korean. I thought about asking where they are from but they are probably asked that question every day of their lives so I let it go.

Short Alley, Gangneung. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

There used to be a restaurant on the first floor. It’s hard to tell what building it belongs to or if it was just built between buildings. Just how many buildings are in this photo, anyway?

A tub of ginger in Central Market. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

These ‘parking spaces’ are what the city made when cleared the main downtown streets of the grannies who were selling vegetables on the sidewalks. The old ladies show up with their stools and vegetables in the mornings and set up shop in these little spaces. Why these spaces are empty except for a tub of ginger, I don’t know.

Tubs of food around a fire hydrant, Gangneung Central Market. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

A few years ago the city tried to increase the number of customers coming to the Central Market by building a roof over the market roads and drawing lines on the road to indicate how far into the road a stall owner could display his or her goods. You can see part of a  yellow line above the hydrant. The lines are ignored, as is fire safety. Hydrants are surrounded by tubs and many fire alarms mounted on walls and pillars have drying fish hung from them.

Children’s traditional dress, Gangneung Central Market. Contx 645, Kodak Portra 400.

There is also a clothing section in the market that sells rubber boots, coats, trousers, and so on. A few shops sell traditional clothes like these hanbok for children.

Gingko Tree, downtown Gangneung. Contax 645, Kodak Portra 400.

Near the market is this very old Gingko tree that looks beautiful in the autumn. (This photo was probably made sometime in November or possibly late October but I didn’t get the film developed until December). This photo only shows the trunk and the lower branches but it is several stories tall.

Paper collector parked in road
Cardboard collector, Gangneung. iPhone 6s Plus.

This carboard collector, who stopped for a fag at the crosswalk, figured that since his cart has wheels then it’s okay to leave it in the road. Once he finished his smoke he crossed against the light.

Daegu North Bus Terminal. Zeiss Ikon ZM, Kodak Portra 400.

Daegu is an industrial city and this bus terminal is located in one of the heaviest industrial areas.

And those are the photos I thought were the best for this month. After the New Year holiday I’ll bring the computer files to the lab for printing.

No Photo

Most shops open at 10.00 so I left the house about 9 to make some photos while wandering around the downtown area. It’s a much better way to spend an hour than clicking around the Internet. I made a few photographs on the way that I will probably never share but since every photograph made counts as practice it wasn’t a waste of time.
I entered the traditional market area of downtown and noticed that the city had paved the roads and put sidewalks on either side of the narrow streets. The city did a good job but the sidewalks are unusable because merchants consider them a part of their shop space and set out their wares right to the street. And where there are no goods piling up there are cars parked on the sidewalk. For most of my walk through the market I had to walk almost in the middle of the street dodging cars and motorcycles.
When I entered the older part of the market things became worse. Besides the stink of fish and cigarettes the very narrow lanes were overrun by men on motorcycles going back and forth to their shops. After nearly getting squashed between a horn-honking motorcycle and a tofu cart I turned off the camera and escaped the market for the relatively sane aisles of the supermarket.
And the government wonders why shoppers are abandoning the traditional markets . . . .