What’s the point?

I am currently not making any photos because I have a virtual pile on my hard drive that haven’t been edited, printed, shared, rated, or archived. Also, I think the shock of importing twenty-five thousand photos from a backup drive the other day put me off adding anything else to the D: drive of my computer, the poor suffering thing. The burden of having so many pictures started me thinking (not for the first time) about what I’m supposed to do with all my film and bits and bytes. No one buys photographs, there are only so many I can fit on my walls, photo albums take up valuable shelf space, and although friends thank me for sending them pictures through the post, they probably don’t want my photos piling up in the bottoms of their drawers or going into the rubbish bin. So, as part of my photo organising (a life-time project), I decided to write down what kind of photos I make and what I might do with them.

I mostly want to make fine art photographs. These have some artistic merit through either technique or meaning or hopefully both. These photos get printed on 8×10 paper and stored in archival sleeves and binders. At the end of each year, I choose the best ones, print them on nice paper, and put them in a special portfolio binder for presentation. A digital copy gets put on my website in a gallery separate from the blog. You can see these galleries in the menu on the left. I haven’t done so yet, but I’m thinking about offering some for sale.



The photos that I might most treasure in ten or twenty years are the ones I make of friends and family. Memory photos. They don’t have to be good photos, they just have to be reasonably clear representations of people and animals I know. These I print on 4×6 paper and place in albums to be looked at now and then.

Not sharp, not completely in focus, but a great photo of Amice, my friend and brother.


I have family in Canada and pen friends from all over the world. Most or all of them have never been to Korea so I sometimes make photos to show them what things in Korea look like. Markets, buildings, downtown areas, whatever might be unfamiliar to someone who has never been to the country. These, I think, should be decent photos with good exposure and composition to best explain what’s being seen. Photos in this category could be artistic if I’m on top of my game or they might even get put in an album if I think the subject is a good memory. Normally, however, these photos don’t get printed. I post them on this blog or send them by email to people I know. I hope I never lose them, but it wouldn’t be a great loss if they disappeared from the world.

A reasonably well-done photo showing Anmok harbour, but not one for the portfolio page.


Writing this little essay has cleared my mind a bit, so I’m glad I did it. Now I don’t see 25,000 useless pictures clogging up a hard drive, I see a collection of photos that can be used in a variety of ways and that have purpose.

That said, I’m going to delete a lot of those twenty-five thousand pictures that are just mistakes and boring. But that’s another story.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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.



Accidental Polaroid

The weather was warm for November and the light was good so this morning I went out with my camera and a single lens to see what interesting things might be found in the neighbourhood. I didn’t ‘chimp’ and I was curious to see how well I had composed and exposed my photos so I went to the photo lab and asked the technician to print one of each photo. A kind of ‘iron man’ photo challenge. When he was setting up the photos to print I noticed that I had three folders on my SD card. Although I always erase photos after they are safely transferred to my camera, I obviously hadn’t formatted the card for a long time. The technician gave me back my card, I put it in the camera, and then formatted. Oh, wait. Didn’t transfer to my computer at home . . . . . And so the morning’s photos are unique and worth millions. Well, none of the photos are really keepers and because I was near my house I can go back out and do them again. Anyway, my exposures were good so in the future I don’t need to fuss over it like I usually do while out making photos. A lesson learned despite a mistake.

Priceless Art . . . . .


I haven’t posted anything here since May and I ignored the renewal notices I received from WordPress when they started showing up a couple of months ago. I didn’t think anyone was looking at the site so I didn’t want to waste my time writing on it.

But last week I got an email from someone in the U.S. asking about my Ricoh film camera and if I would be interested in selling it. I sold it to him for the price of shipping because the flash doesn’t work, the film counter doesn’t display properly, and it can’t be fixed. I was going to throw it out so I’m glad it’s gone to someone who might get some use out of it. I was slightly shocked to learn that someone had looked at my website. I went to WordPress’ statistics page and was surprised to see that even though I hadn’t posted anything in months, I was still getting a number of page views every day. So I clicked Renew and I’m going to start posting again. Not often, perhaps, but I hope people will enjoy looking at my photos and find some of what I write useful.

2015 Portfolio

Today I added my best images of 2015 to a gallery page on my website. All of the photographs are displayed on the page but if you click on a photo you can enter a slideshow. There are 32 images there at the moment but I might delete some as time goes by. What looks good now might not appeal to me later.

I hope you enjoy the photographs.




It is only the end of November but people are already planning their end of the year parties. I don’t usually participate in these because the restaurants are too full of noisy drunks. I spend New Year’s Eve at home watching a film or playing a computer a game.

I don’t make New Year resolutions, either, but I came up with a photo editing plan recently enough that it might be considered a New Year resolution. And it does involve the new year at one point. At the end of every month I will choose up to twenty-one of my best photos to print at 8×12 size. These I will place in an album. At the end of the year, or rather at the beginning of the new year, I will go through the 252 prints in my album and choose just twenty-one to print at 11×14 and put into a portfolio. 252 sounds like a lot of photographs but I there won’t be that many. I’ve gone through the photos I’ve made so far in 2015 and I only have a total of 122 up to the end of October. Choosing just twenty-one photos out of a possible two hundred and fifty-two seems like a daunting task but I can already see quite a few photos that I might not want to be remembered for.  I might have to struggle to find twenty-one photos that I really feel proud of.

I made this plan for several reasons. One, to reduce the number of prints piling up in the house. Two, to train myself to be more critical of my own photos. And three, to reduce the number of dull photos that I share with friends and the public. I’d rather people think of me as the photographer who made that one lovely picture of a harbour than the guy who kept posting boring photos of walls.

Now to make that lovely photo of the harbour . . . . .