Irrigation Channel

Between the densely populated neighbourhood of Ponam and the busy tourist village of Anmok is a large area of farmland called Hapyeong Fields. A lot of the land is for growing rice, but some of the fields grow potatoes, chillies, radish, and cabbage. Most of the irrigation ditches are less than a metre wide and made of plain concrete, but the one pictured below is several metres wide and made out of stepped red brick. It was built several years ago and I wonder if it was built so nicely because it’s close to the road that tourists use. You can see tourist hotels in the far background of this photo. All the brick was overgrown this summer, but you can see the sloping sides. To make this photo, I stood in a pavilion overlooking the channel (seems too nice to be called ‘ditch’).
   I set the camera picture contol to Vivid because of the wonderful greens. I usually use a more neutral setting but I wanted to show the vibrancy of this fertile spot. I don’t think the photo would work without the two rocks at the bottom of the frame. They keep the eye from falling out of the bottom of the photo and they provide a nice counterpoint to the tall pines near the top.

After Thought
This photo makes me feel calm now, but I was upset when I made it. I noticed this scene whilst cycling down a tractor road so I pulled over and parked my bicycle near the pavilion. Sitting on the edge of the pavilion were a father and son. The son was playing a phone game and the father was looking around. When he noticed me, the father stared a bit and then tapped his son on the leg. When the son looked up the father pointed at me and said, “Look, a foreigner.” I felt like something escaped from a circus. The son, to his credit, just ignored me and went back to his phone. The father continued to stare at me until I stared back at him and then he seemed to understand that staring is not too polite. The incident ruined my afternoon, but at least I didn’t let it ruin the chance to photograph this scene. 

Same Wine, New Bottles

I’m not sure how appropriate that title is, but what you’re getting today are new and better versions of photos I’ve already posted here. (New stuff next week)

The first version of this photo was done on film and the right edge of the petrol station was cut off. I passed by there some time later and tried again with a digital camera. I would like to go a bit wider for this photograph, but there are too many distracting things to either side of the frame. Diesel pumps, fuel trucks, cars, and so on. I prefer this simple composition.

It’s the fighting cats again! Out of a number of photos, I finally decided that this was the best one. The composition is good and they are punching each other in the face at the same time. Will they never learn that fighting just hurts everybody? 🙂

After Thought

 Too often I go out with a camera and no destination in mind. That’s not a bad thing, but it means that I leave the apartment without focus. This leads to wasted film or time wasted in front of the computer deleting photos. I had the idea that I should wander and record Gangneung for posterity, so that in twenty or thirty years people can remember what it was like in the past. But, after thinking about it, I don’t think that’s something I want to do with photography except incidentally. And maybe it’s already being done by the thousands of people who take photos on their mobile phones every day. Though, that said, future generations might think the past was nothing more than ‘sparrow-faces’, coffees, and lunches. Anyway, I’m not very good at documentary photography so I will stick to the kind of narrow-view photography that I do best. A gate instead of a whole house, the front of a bus approaching a bush instead of a bus driving through downtown, a charity box against a background of concrete instead of a charity box dwarfed by an expressway. Also, I’ve decided that when I leave the house with a camera, I should have a goal in mind. “Today I’m going to visit the Confucian school on the hill and photograph the tree outside the gate.” Once I finish photographing the tree I can and should wander around looking for different things in the area. But I think that having a specific goal will help my photography. Naturally, I will carry a camera everywhere I go (That’s why I recently bought the light Fujifilm X-T3) because I never know when something interesting will happen or when I’ll notice something new on an old walk.

Birthplace of Heo Gyun and Heo Nanseolheon

I’ve been to this estate many times in the past, but I enjoy going there every couple of months to see what I might have missed or to experience the buildings in different light. I usually see something in a new way every time I visit, which is one of the pleasures of photography.

I usually photograph this gate from farther back to get the long earthen walls and an impressive tree off to the right. But this time I walked closer and stayed to the right. That’s when this scene fell into place. I’ve walked up to this gate a hundred times before but never seen this particular view. Visit and re-visit is the lesson here.

This is one window/door of the sarangchae, the men’s residence. (Women in the past had to be in the anchae out back, where the kitchen is). This photo was an exercise in lining things up and keeping an eye on the viewfinder’s electronic level.

Looking at these two photos of the Heo estate makes me pretty happy. Time for another trip, I think. The best photo of my life could be waiting for me.

Cranes and Tractor

It turns out there is no more need for me to use photographs of my childhood as filler. I have enough decent pictures from September to last a month of posting.

The cranes are on the other side of the Namedae River where an apartment complex is going up. This patch of land in the foreground is usually used by fishers who use the place to sort out their nets. I don’t know who might own the tractor. There is no farm land nearby.
I thought that this photo makes a little story that is not exactly true. A tractor sits rusting because land is being used for putting up high-rises. The mucky bit of real estate in the foreground is not being plowed by the tractor because it’s been bought by a developer for building. As I say, it’s not true, but it’s a story that could be constructed using the elements in the photo. This mucky piece of dirt is actually city land and an unutilised part of the riverside park. There might be tennis courts or something here in a year or so.