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.


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.


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


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.


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


Same trees, different view.


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.


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


Sakyamuni’s Birthday

May 25th is the birthday of Sakyamuni, or Buddha. I’m not going to visit a temple because they will be filled with hordes of people but here are a few photographs I’ve made in the past.

Carving of Buddha at the base of a pagoda, 2007.
Carving of Buddha at the base of a pagoda, 2007.
Buddha and saints? Only saints? 2007
Buddha and saints? Only saints? 2007
Ancient flagpole at Tongdo Temple, 2008
Ancient flagpole at Tongdo Temple, 2008

Bus Stop, Hahoe Village

Except for the air-con and advert, local buses look much the same as they do in old films.
Except for the air-con and advert, local buses look much the same as they do in old films.

When I was making a last batch of photos for my exhibition last year, I travelled to the village of Hahoe near Andong. When I first visited the village about fifteen years ago there were cheap trinkets being sold from a lot of the houses for the tourists. And not even Korean cheap trinkets. I especially remember a large wooden pencil with a U.S. flag on it. Not exactly the traditional Korea I had travelled to see. The village’s applications to become a UNESCO Heritage Site were rejected because of this sort of thing.
But the village cleaned itself up and in 2010 it was accepted as a heritage site. I went in the autumn on a weekday so I didn’t run into the weekend horde of tourists. I made some good photographs in the afternoon and morning and I slept in a house like the one in the picture above. Sleeping on a heated floor on a yo (a thin mattress) is a pleasure in life, especially when you can watch the shadows of trees on the paper windows.
The buses to and from the village are not that frequent and when they arrive the driver turns off the engine, gets out, and has a rest. This gave me time to walk away and make a photo with my Zeiss Ikon ZM. It’s the only film photo I made, I think. The others were done with my iPhone. I want to visit the village again next autumn with either the Fuji digital camera or, perhaps more in fitting with the traditional nature of the village, a film camera like the Zeiss or my Contax 645.