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.



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.

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


I am so far behind in my photo editing that I can’t remember the details of my outings. Did I go out to make photos? Was I just out for a walk and had the camera with me? I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it? On the day these photos were made I was in the downtown area on foot and with a camera.

Woman selling sugar-stuffed pancakes and boiled fish cakes

This woman is almost always downtown selling her snacks and there is almost always a crowd of people around her stand. I often try to get a photo of this stand when I’m downtown but there are usually so many people around that it’s nearly impossible. I was lucky to catch this slow moment.

Namdae River in winter

Many smaller Korean rivers become streams or dry up completely in winter because there is so little precipitation. They fill up when the rains come in spring and later in the summer rainy season. The apartments are not in the downtown area; I’m standing on a bridge near downtown.


The huge building is Homeplus (Tesco) that also has a multiplex cinema inside. The little green building houses a seamstress’ shop at the moment and the little row of buildings are home to a tailor and some restaurants that are actually just places where a bunch of old men hang out and drink all hours of the day. I still haven’t looked to see what the partially hidden traditional building is.

I’ve shown three photos here today that I’m satisfied with. That doesn’t seem like many for a few hours of wandering around, but if I come home with one good image from a day’s walk then I am happy.


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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Red, Blue, and Green

I’ve finished making photos on the iPhone for my exhibition in December and now that it’s all done I never want to use the iPhone for photography again.  It isn’t that the iPhone is terrible, it’s just that I feel I’ve done the project and now I want to move on and do something else.  For the past few months I’ve been eager to get back to my film cameras and now I can use them to my heart’s content.
I got some slide film back from the lab the other day and then got my favourites scanned and printed.  Then I cut up the film and mounted the good photos.
20141102-001It’s nice seeing slides on a lightbox.  But, you ask, why the devil would you go through the trouble of mounting slides when you can just store the film in a binder?  Having photos in individual mounts makes it easy to organise them for projects and collections, much as you would do with photos in Lightroom or other photo organising programs.
Here are two of the photos you can see on the lightbox above:

Apartments and river, Gangneung Contax 645, Fujifilm Velvia 50
Apartments and river, Gangneung
Contax 645, Fujifilm Velvia 50
Lighthouse and weeds, Gangneung Contax 645, 140/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar, Fujifilm Velvia 50
Lighthouse and weeds, Gangneung
Contax 645, 140/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar, Fujifilm Velvia 50

I’m hoping that most of the photos I post here in the future will be from film cameras.