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.

Film Roll: 20170210-001, 20170210-002

Sometimes I take a while to get through a roll of film so there are lots of snapshots and nothing that I can put together as a story. So, instead of contorting my brain to come up with a title that describes all the photos, or cutting out decent photos to fit a Procrustean title, I’ve decided in these cases to just write the name of the film roll or rolls.

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Hoesan District, Gangneung

As you can see, the district of Gangneung where I live is quite rural. This may change in the next ten or twenty years as more apartment buildings are built and these farms disappear. In the background you can see the smoke from a fire set by a farmer to burn up old straw. This is illegal but the employees of City Hall are too busy making up laws to actually enforce the ones they already have. You can also see transmission towers that bring power into the city.

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Pine hill on snowy day

This is the view from my living room. A lot of snow fell soon after we moved into this apartment and it was very nice to look out the window with a cup of tea. What’s even nicer is that the apartment management hires people to clear away the snow outside.

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Homeplus Food Court

It’s fairly easy to make surreptitious photos with a mobile phone (though mobile phones in Korea and Japan have to make a fake shutter noise by law as an anti-pervert measure) but it’s obvious she noticed me bring my rangefinder camera up to my eye and make this photo. I prefocused so that I didn’t have to spend time twisting the focus ring back and forth after composing. This lady looks threatening (notice the closed hand that looks like a fist!) but through the hygiene mask you can see she is smiling a bit. I’ve eaten at this food court several times and she friendly enough. In this photo, she’s preparing boiled fish paste on a stick. The name sounds awful in English but it’s delish.

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Lotte Soju Factory

The top of thos soju factory is visible over the background hills when I look out one of my bedroom windows. This was once the main factory for this company but they built a new one in another province closer to Seoul to save on transportation costs. A taxi driver told my wife that this factory laid off many of its workers and now produces soju for export. Maybe that’s one reason why a bottle of the Korean ‘evil water’ is pocket change here and costs a small fortune when you buy it overseas.

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Council Housing

A couple of years ago the government constructed these apartments for low-income families. The rich arseholes who invest in real estate and drive up housing prices can’t buy these places to rent them or flip them because they are only avilable to people below a certain income level. They are smallish, but they are cheap and you can get at least a glimpse of the river or some hills. The government probably saved money on costs by buying land next to transmission towers.

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Scooters

This is somewhere downtown Gangneung and they look to be parked too close together. Maybe it was cold and they were huddling for warmth.

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Transport

This is a failed photo because the man’s dark hair is on a dark spot in the background and is difficult to see. But a man transporting printed materials on his electric scooter with his legs dragging behind is interesting enough to share.

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Liquid Cat

The cat was sitting on the table and I knew that he would eventually jump down to the floor. So I selected a slowish shutter speed and waited. He eventually became bored of sitting on the table and poured himself to the floor Slinky-style. I pressed the shutter release button when he was at his longest.

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Sharpening

I don’t know if I made this photo just after the Liquid Cat photo or on another day, but the cat will often make a mad dash for the cat tower and have a good scratch. You might be looking at the carpet and thinking, “expensive handmade carpet + cat = disaster” but he’s never bothered it. That said, we had it professionally cleaned a couple of months ago and could have made another carpet out of the cat hair that came out of it.

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Central Market’s Backside

This is the rear view of some of the buildings that make up Gangneung’s Central Market. When the railway went through the centre of town, this was all hidden by the raised tracks. The city levelled the rail line and is planning a public park. I don’t know if they plan to do anything about the ugly view that was nevere meant to be seen.

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Dog on Chain on Line

I guess there is a special name for this line where a dog on a leash can move back and forth across a wide area. This is the parking lot of a service station or something in the city. I can’t remember.

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Self Portrait

This was the last frame on one of the rolls so I was probably just trying to finish it up before changing the film. Last frames are often photos of the family pet (which was the second last frame on this roll) but I decided to make a family portrait. Hours of fun when you have a camera.

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.

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‘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’.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Cat

Zeiss Ikon ZM, FomaPan 400
Zeiss Ikon ZM, FomaPan 400
Zeiss Ikon ZM, FomaPan 400
Zeiss Ikon ZM, FomaPan 400

I like the look of FomaPan Action 400 film and it’s quite cheap but I’ve started buying Ilford’s XP2 Super 400 because I can get it developed in my local lab instead of sending it away to Seoul.

There is nothing special about these photos but everyone likes to see a cat on the Internet. You’re welcome.

Satisfaction

Some time ago I was in despair about using film because I wasn’t getting the results I wanted from labs. So last week when the lab man asked, “When do you want these prints?” I told him to take his time and just send a text when they were ready. In the past he generally rushed them to meet a deadline and that’s why I wasn’t getting decent prints. Probably. I was very satisfied with the 8×10 and 8×12 prints I got today and here are some scans from those.

Man walking through downtown alley
Zeiss Ikon ZM, Ilford Delta 400

I set up the camera and arranged my composition on this rainy day. A few minutes later this man came around the the corner and I pressed the shutter release button. To make it seem like I wasn’t taking his photo I laughed and pretended that I just had bad timing. He laughed and went on his way.

Zeiss Ikon ZM, Ilford Delta 400
Zeiss Ikon ZM, Ilford Delta 400

This bricked-up and boarded-up door looked interesting. I don’t know what the lump of concrete in the lower right corner might be for.

Zeiss Ikon ZM, Ilford Delta 400
Zeiss Ikon ZM, Ilford Delta 400

While eating dinner at a chicken noodle soup restaurant in the market I made this photo of an ox head soup restaurant. You can see traditional Korean pots set into the counter in the foreground.

Contax 645, Portra 400
Contax 645, Portra 400

Just rocks.

Contax 645, Portra 400
Contax 645, Portra 400

Just dust. In the wind. Is all we are. These graves are on a hill near Jukheon Reservoir. Portra 400 film is lovely because it almost looks like the scene has been drawn rather than photographed.

Contax N1, Portra 800
Contax N1, Portra 800

I don’t normally use ISO 800 film because it’s so grainy but I had a roll in the fridge that was getting close to its expiration date so I put it in my SLR and used it up.

Contax N1, Portra 800
Contax N1, Portra 800

The grain isn’t quite so noticeable in the 4×6 print.

Contax N1, Portra 800
Contax N1, Portra 800

I was very happy with this photo and it looks good as an 8×12 print. I don’t think I’d want to print any larger, though. In the print the chillies aren’t such a bright red but both versions look good. This photo was made near Central Market. Many old people who have houses and land buy a large bag of chillies in the autumn and then dry them in the sun. The chillies turn a beautiful deep red and become translucent. Some are ground up for chilli powder and some are used in recipes.

I have some more film to bring to the lab on Monday and I hope they will do a good job again. I don’t mind waiting five days if the work isn’t rushed.

Four Photos

Plastic Greenhouse, Gangneung, 2015
Plastic Greenhouse, Gangneung, 2015

Every year a lot of these collapse under snow or high winds. Is replacing them cheaper than building them out of sturdier frames and glass or plexiglass?

Collapsing Rooves, Gangneung, 2015
Collapsing Rooves, Gangneung, 2015

I made this photograph through the dirty stairwell window of a five story building. These old and abandoned houses are surrounded by larger structures and are not visible from the road.

Red Motorcycle on Sidewalk, Gangneung, 2015
Red Motorcycle on Sidewalk, Gangneung, 2015

Although it’s illegal to do so, many motorcyclists spend half their time up on the sidewalks where they are safe from cars but become the nuisance and terror of pedestrians.

gaeksa (객사), Gangneung, 2015
gaeksa (객사), Gangneung, 2015

The ground near the gate of Gangneung’s official guest residence has been terraced.

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.