Heogyun’s Birthplace

I’ve posted photos of this place before so I won’t talk about it much. I think that this is the first time I’ve posted black and white digital photos of the location, so at least that’s different. What’s also different is that I went there with someone. I usually like to photograph by myself but it was interesting to show someone else what I think is photogenic. He, of course, had his own ideas of what looks good in the viewfinder.

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The sign says, “Please view from the outside and do not enter.” I put the slippers in front of the door as a kind of joke. Okay, next photo . . . .

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A number of years ago a temple in Yangyang burnt to the ground and since then fire extinguishers have been a common site at historical sites.

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I ‘complained’ to my fellow photographer that it’s difficult to make photos of traditional buildings because there are so few level lines. If a pillar is straight, the door will be slightly tilted. If a door is straight, a beam inside the house will be off. My companion said something like, “It shows the carefree spirit of the Koreans.” I replied, “The builders probably just didn’t get paid enough.”

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I can’t decide which of this pair I like more so I am posting both here. Sometimes posting a photo on this website can help me decide whether to print it later or not. Photos that don’t make me feel slightly embarrassed after a day or two get printed.

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My companion asked me what I feel when I see this kind of chimney. I told him I feel frustration, because I’ve been trying to make a decent photograph of it for years but haven’t suceeded yet. I think this is the best one yet. Probably because I stopped trying to make a photo of just the chimney and switched to a wide-angle lens to include some of the environment.

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I used my iPhone to make a photo of my companion making a photo of the chimney.

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I was happy with the iPhone photo so I squat down with the D810 and used flash to illuminate him while he made his photos. The tourist in the background is a nice touch. This might be the best photo I’ve made of this chimney.

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Corner and shadow

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Outer door, inner door.

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Two tilty doors. I think this one will get printed for sure.

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Inspecting the bottle of vitamin drink I brought along.

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After we tired of making photos we went to a nearby restaurant to have soft tofu. The neighbourhood is famous for the dish and there are many restaurants around. This one used to be good, according to my companion, but we were both very disappointed in what came out on the tray. I’ll be going to a different place next time.

I used the black and white Picture Control on my camera for the visit because of the harsh sun. A bad day for colour but a good one for making graphic images because of the strong contrast. For those who are interested, I did nothing to these photos after transferring them from my camera. I think I had the contrast turned up a little bit in the camera settings. Maybe +1 or +2.  Anyway, good results and I didn’t have to waste time adjusting things in the computer because I was careful about exposure when making the photos. Manual Mode + Spot Meter = Excellent Exposure.

 

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!

Selfies

We all do them, even if we despise them. In fact, people have been making selfies since 1839, when they were known by the more distinguished name of self-portrait. The photos I’m sharing today are just silly, so I’ll call them selfies.

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Selfie from Bridge. Nikon D810 digital camera
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Selfie in Porch. Zeiss Ikon ZM and some expired film.

Gangmun

Gangmun is an area in the northeast of Gangneung and the name means ‘river opening’. It’s where a stream enters the ocean after feeding Gyeongpo Lake and it’s a tourist area. There are the obligatory raw fish restaurants and overpriced hotels, coffee shops, a lighthouse, and, a recent addition, a pedestrian bridge called Sotdae Bridge. A sotdae is a long, thin pole with carved ducks on top used in Korea’s shamanistic beliefs. There are no photos of a sotdae in this post.

The photos in this post were taken over a couple of days. On one of the days I walked along the river to Gangmun and made some photos along the way. I’ve included some of those.

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Train bridge and ice in Namdae River

I may have mentioned in an earlier post that although the railway has disappeared from the city centre, a rail bridge across the river still stands. As you can see, the river was still partly frozen when I passed this bridge in February (I’m really behind in my editing).

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Train bridge and ice in Namdae River

Here is a heavier and darker photo of the bridge. I would like to make as many photos of the rail bridge as possible this year because I like it and because I can’t be sure it will be around for much longer.

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Sotdae Bridge, Gangmun

This bridge isn’t strictly necessary because there is already a bridge for vehicles that has a sidewalk on it. But things like this bring tourists and it’s an attractive thing to have in the city. I like to see how many ways I can fit its curves into the rectangular frame of a photograph.

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Rope on storage area

You can go down some stairs that bring you below a boardwalk where some fishers keep their gear. I like going down there to get a different perspective on the bridges and to photograph things like this. I get lots of queer looks when I’m under the boardwalk crouching and leaning to get a good view.

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More rope!

One fisher is keeping some plywood up over his/her storage area with a bit of rope. I like the texture of the wood and the minimalist look of the lines. Compare with the many knots in the previous photograph.

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View of Hyundae Hotel and vehicle bridge from under the boardwalk

I don’t know why these bamboo poles are suspended here. For hanging up life-jackets and fishing gear? The tall building on the right is the hotel and I think the central building is a conference centre.

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Wharf and Water

Possibly tyres are supposed to be suspended here to cushion boats that are tied up.

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Sotdae Bridge and Hyundae Hotel

It took a lot of micro-composing to get the hotel in a position where it doesn’t seem messily caught up in the wires. Ideally, the hotel would have no wires over it at all but to do that I’d need to being a stepladder and probably break my neck.

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People crossing Sotdae Bridge

I waited and waited for someone wearing bright colours to walk where the man in the black jacket is but no luck. Anyone walking towards me would shoot off to my right to avoid getting in my way and people walking away from me generally stuck to the rails. People always think they are doing me a favour by dodging out of the way (and it’s a polite intention) but I usually want them to walk into view. Maybe later I can bribe a student with a free dinner to come along and walk into all my photos.

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Sotdae Bridge

I have the same photo with two people walking on the left but I like this one better because there are no distractions from the bridge’s design. I very carefully micro-composed this photo, which was something because I didn’t have a tripod with me.

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Gangmun Lighthouse and Sotdae Bridge

This lighthouse belongs to the military (maybe it’s not even a lighthouse) and once had a sign saying that photography is prohibited. In a tourist area. The sign is gone now and I never see soldiers there. It’s still fenced off, though.

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Cyclist on bridge

He’s not supposed to ride bicycle there. On the right you can see the anchor point for the arch. I left the photo at a slight Dutch angle (is that racist?) to make it look a bit more action-y.

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Rail

As I often do, I make one photo of a scene with people in it and then another when there are no people about. This is another photo that took a lot of effort and shifting about because I didn’t have a tripod.

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Happy Homestay

I guess the sign painter was happy to distraction and skipped off before they could finish filling in all the letters.

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Concrete wall

This is the outer wall of a restaurant about ten minutes away from Gangmun. I was going to take a bus home but, after telling off the bus driver who was smoking in the bus shelter on his break, I didn’t want to get in the bus, so I walked off and called a taxi after making a few photographs of this wall.

Window Stickers

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“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

This is an extreme example of how shop owners see their windows and every inch of shop face as a place to tell you what’s inside. It’s also an example of how shop owners pile things up in front of their shops without worrying about aesthetics. It’s good to be practical, but it sometimes results in ugliness.

That probably doesn’t matter too much at this shop because it’s a wholesale business that sells food to restaurants. Some of the things for sale are pork cutlet, sweet and sour pork, edible silkworm larvae, mock crab sticks, ingredients for fried chicken, disposable cutlery, and honey tea. The phone number is at the bottom of the photo, so ring them up if you need some boiled fish cake.

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.

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

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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.

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

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Same trees, different view.

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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.