From the Archive: Woman Riding Bicycle Past Tents

Woman Riding Through Dano Festival Tents.
Dano Festival Grounds, 2016

I may have shared this photograph on my old blog some years ago, but I can’t remember so I’m sharing it again as I organise my old photos.

Dano has been celebrated in Korea for a couple of thousand years and then even earlier in China. It has a thousand year history here in Gangneung and this city’s festival was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The main event of Dano is a shamanistic ritual thanking the sky deity once the fields have been sown in spring. Gangneung might be the only place where these rituals are still carried out. What mostly happens during Dano is a week-long market where people sell bed clothes, clothes, household goods, cheap trinkets, and food. Recently there have been tents set up by people from other countries selling things from their homelands.

I dislike festival crowds and so I avoided going there after I visited once or twice. Now and then I will visit very early in the morning to see if I can make some photos of the tents and empty spaces. I saw this lady coming from some distance so I composed and waited for her to come into frame. Click.

Fishing Boat

Fishing Boat Anchored in Anmok Harbour, Gangneung.
Fishing Boat, Anmok Harbour

I’m not sure how people get on this small fishing boat. It’s not tied up at the dock. It’s anchored next to the breakwater and difficult to get to from land. Maybe someone drops the fisherperson off every morning in another boat.

Lighthouse

Breakwater Lighthouse and Clouds, Anmok Harbour
Lighthouse, Anmok Harbour.

This red lighthouse is a popular stop for tourists visiting Gangneung and Anmok Harbour. It’s no different than hundreds of other lighthouses of the same design around the coast, so I don’t see the attraction. Maybe people just like being out on the breakwater to enjoy the sea air.

From the Archive: Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Under Construction
Women’s Olympic Hockey Rink Under Construction, 2016.
20161117-001 kwandong olympic stadium construction
Putting on the finishing touches, 2016.

The 2018 Winter Olympics were held here in Gangneung and in the neighbouring County of Pyeongchang. Skiing and similar sports were held on the mountains in Pyeongchang and stadium events such as hockey, skating, and curling were held in Gangneung.

The women’s hockey rink and a practice facility were built at the university where I work. The university’s old gymnasium was torn down to make room for the rink and the Department of Physical Education had nowhere to practise basketball etc for a couple of years. All the professors I know in the department were very unhappy. The football field was also unusable for a long time because the construction company put all their equipment on it.

The Olympics are over and the rink has been converted into a gymnasium for use by the university and the public. The conversion took a long time because the government didn’t give the university the funds to do so for many months. More complaints from the professors and students. And no one is happy about the gymnasium except the university’s PR department because maintaining such a facility is very expensive.

I don’t have a photo, but the university recently installed huge windows in the upper part of one side of the gymnasium. They did it in the hopes of letting in more light to save on the building’s enormous electricity bill. The original architect must be crying at what was done to his/her creation. It’s an extremely utilitarian and ugly job with no thought to the beauty of the building as a whole. And a student told me the new windows illuminate part of the roof but nothing more.

What Next?

Amice sitting with his back to me in the kitchen.
Amice with his back to me in the kitchen.

Judging by his pose, he was in the middle of thinking about what to do next. Get a drink from the kitchen tap? Run into the laundry room? Grumble and leave the kitchen?

Cart, Jumunjin

I don’t think I shared this photo from 2017 on my blog back in 2017. Certainly not in its present state. I recently rediscovered it while organising my photo collection and trimmed a bit of ugly from the top to give the picture a minimalist look.

Cart next to white house

I made this photo in a hill neighbourhood of Jumunjin. The houses there are so close together that generally there is only enough room for a single person to squeeze between the houses and their enclosing concrete walls. Most of the homes have no road access at all and residents need to walk through a maze of alleys to get to a single lane road. It’s quite a poor neighbourhood, but the council is sprucing the area up by painting some of the alley walls and hanging paintings to help the neighbourhood look less miserable.
The above scene no longer exists. The cart is gone and there is some fire-fighting equipment up against the wall. I’m glad I was able to get the scene before it changed.

Ojukheon

I don’t often visit Ojukheon because there are usually hundreds of tourists there getting in the way of slow, considered photography. But the pandemic has cut down on the number of tourists and I went on a weekday when there are usually fewer visitors. Going in the morning helps as well.

I didn’t expect to get much worth keeping because I haven’t had much success at the location in the past. Tourist places tend to be, what’s the word, bland. I mostly went to practise composition, exposure, and different film simulations on my camera. I naturally deleted a large number of photos when I got home because I was mostly just screwing around, but I did keep seven that I think are worth sharing here. I hope you think so as well.

Stone Benches, Ojukheon

Ojukheon has large empty areas done in brick because of the large number of tourists that are visiting the historic site at any one time. Families come in their cars, but there are also bus loads and bus loads of students and senior citizens. Until about eleven o’clock or so the grounds looked much as they appear in the photo above.

Wall and Hedge, Ojukheon

Ojukheon has a lot of hedges and flowers, so it’s quite a pleasant place to walk around, even if you have no interest in things historical.

Kitchen, Ojukheon

The kitchen for the original group of buildings. If you want to know about who lived here, you can get some information and general photographs at this website: http://www.gangneungtours.com/ojukheon-house.html

Tomb Stone, Ojukheon

There is an outdoor display of grave markers and stelae along with some flowers. Grave inscriptions were usually done in Chinese characters. Korean writing is often used these days.

Flower Pots, Ojukheon

There is a large statue of Shin Saimdang on the grounds, but I wasn’t much interested in making a photo of that. And anyway, there was a constant stream of people taking photos of each other in front of the statue. I found the curves of these stone tiles around the statue and the touch of colour provided by the flowers to be much more attractive.

Tiled Area, Ojukheon

Although I like this semicircle of stone bricks, I don’t know what the area is for. There’s no statue or anything there. A space for group photos?

Tree Trunks and Wall, Ojukheon.

I made this one on my way out of the historical site. On the other side of the wall are a number of unattractive restaurants and gift shops. Judging by the confused looks on the people walking past me, they must have thought I was making photos of those. One middle-aged man didn’t seem to know what sort of photo I was making, but he lifted his phone and made a snapshot of the scene before walking away. This happens now and then, especially if I’m using a tripod and appear to know what I’m doing.

I think I’ll make the effort to get on a bus and go to Ojukheon again soon. I usually avoid it because of the crowds, but I’m happy with the photos I’ve shared here and maybe I can find some scenes that I missed.

Too Many Photos

I was probably a “one roll, four seasons” snapshooter before I became seriously interested in photography about twenty years ago. When I got my first SLR I wasted a lot of film on the banal, and when I bought a Nikon D70 the zero cost of taking pictures set me on the path to my current collection of twenty-five thousand photos. Most of them are not even fit for documentary or fond memories.

What was this supposed to be about?

The first reason my hard drive is so full of pictures is a lack of skill. Especially in the early days, I made frame after frame of the same subject because I didn’t know how to compose or expose. I knew my photos weren’t good, but I didn’t know how to get a good one except by doing click after click and hoping that something would eventually work. Not being able to distinguish the decisive moment, I captured all moments. Monkeys and typewriters . . . .

Maybe a monkey made this while I was looking at something else.

The second reason I made so many useless photographs is that I was trying out a lot of things. Deliberate camera shake, different colour profiles, and so on. Experimentation is good, but I neglected to delete my failures. I couldn’t kill my darlings.

The last reason for the rat’s nest hiding under the Pictures folder is simply that I enjoyed making photos. I loved seeing images appear on the back of the camera or on prints back from the lab. Again, that’s a good thing, but I had no concept of editing. I didn’t know good from bad, so I kept everything. Just in case.

Hard to make a case for this.

Luckily, being a more skilled photographer now means that I am not pointing the camera at everything and hoping that I get lucky. I’m more selective about what I put in the frame. And I’m starting to realise that one photo of a friend from a lunch date is enough. No need to document everything she ate and drank. I’m also learning how to edit better once I have the day’s photos on my computer. Mistakes get marked for deletion right away. After a week or so I generally have a good sense of what photos might be worth showing others or keeping for my own enjoyment. Or deleting.

Not deleted. Yet.

That takes care of preventing a glut of pictures now and in the future, but there are still years and years of photographs from the past serving no purpose except to extend the time it takes to back up my hard drive. So I am using a combination of my sharpened editing skills and the objectivity of hindsight to cull photos from the present back twenty years and beyond. At the time of writing (2020) I’m only back as far as 2017, so I imagine it will take many more months to complete the project.

Although it’s a lot of work, editing my past photographs teaches me what mistakes to avoid in the future. It also gives me an idea of what sort of photography I do well and might concentrate on in the future. It also brings up memories of places and people past, for better and for worse. Sometimes I see people I had good times with and sometimes I see the faces of people I disappointed or parted on bad terms with. But I suppose there are lessons in those memories as well.

Things in life go one way or the other . . . .