Jumunjin is an interesting town to visit for photography. There’s the sea, the sandy and rocky beaches, the fish markets (if you can stand the sight of fish, which I can’t), dilapidated neighbourhoods, and a hill neighbourhood that has some interesting views. On a trip last October I stuck mostly to the road that runs along the shore.

To get to the shore from the bus stop, I crossed the hill neighbourhood and made this photo on the way. I was attracted by the odd green bricks and the flower pots perched on top of the wall. Something was attached to the wall before this mail box because there is a paintless patch above it. This mailbox is rusting, so it must have been quite a while ago. Or maybe things rust quickly in the salt air.

Drying fish above drying persimmons. Drying fish are a permanent part of the landscape but the drying fruit only happens in the autumn.

The sign on the far right says, “No Swimming Sign” at top. Below that is a warning about not swimming because it’s not a ‘water play’ area. The smaller sign next to it says it’s illegal to catch or harvest various kinds of sea life. Mostly things that scuba divers like to carry away. The breeze bloack structure is/was a military watch post, though it doesn’t seem to be in use. I looked around for No Photography signs before I made this photo but I didn’t see any. The pole to the left of the watch post gives the name of the walking path, the next tourist destination, and the coordinates of this spot. To the left of the pole is a car parked illegally on the sidewalk.

While waiting for the bus home I noticed this phone booth and the sign behind it. The sign is mostly faded now. The red letters say ‘report’. The full sign says, “If in doubt, look again. If it looks suspicious, report it.” Possibly they mean crime, but it could also mean North Korean spies or infiltrators.

After Thought

The photos in this post were made using my new Fujifilm X-T3. It’s a very complicated camera, and out of the box there is so much information in the viewfinder. A histogram, artificial horizon, film simulation, battery level, photos remaining, metering mode, and so on, and so on, and so on. It’s quite cluttered. It’s a bit of a shock for someone used to a basic film camera like the Zeiss Ikon rangefinder or even a Nikon SLR or DSLR.  All that information is very distracting so I decided to reduce the complexity of my new digital camera to the simplicity of an older camera.
   The first thing I did was to turn off all indicators in the display except shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. I turned on highlight overeposure blinkies because it’s extremely useful and takes up no room in the display. And that’s it. That’s everything I need to make a photograph. To the function buttons on the camera body I assigned frame ratio (3:2, 16:9, 1:1), artifical horizon, film simulation, AF mode, Grain Effect (On for colour, Off for the Acros simulation which seems to have grain already built in), and Face/Eye Detection. That’s it. I rarely use the function buttons because I stick to Classic Chrome and Acros for my film simulations. Sometimes I change the frame ratio to suit my mood or the subject. Other things I mostly leave alone.
   After about a month or so of using this camera, I finally have it simplified enough to really enjoy it. I don’t have to think about the camera anymore when I’m making photos. It’s a great camera with great colours and beautiful black and white, and I’m glad I shelled out a month’s salary to get it.

10 thoughts on “Jumunjin

  1. You've done the right thing there Marcus (simplifying things) and the results show it – this is an intriguing post – good pictures and you've got me committing to memory:\”If in doubt, look again. If it looks suspicious, report it.\”The colours here are great too – well done!Oh and bloody Blogger isn't letting me post as a human again!P


  2. Good post, Marcus – lots to think about. Interesting you say You’d looked around for No Photography signs. I assume you’ve been places where these are and clearly you are a little bit cautious. No bad thing, I think! I mean, it’s not DPRK but you’re a foreigner in a strange land and it pays to be cautious I should think – especially with a camera. Do you worry about taking photographs where you are? A few times I’ve been chased away here in my homeland – too close to army bases and the like, but since “The Troubles” died down there’s not too much hassle anymore. But I still wouldn’t openly take shots of police or Army personnel. Some things are best left alone!


  3. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Anon. Korea is not a colourful place (don't let the gaudy downtown neon fool you) and most towns are grey, grey, grey. Now and then you will find a place like this where someone is interested in making their walls look a little nicer or where tourists come and the council brightens things up a bit. The colours are more or less natural, but they have a bit of Fuji magic in them.


  4. Thanks for the comments. I'm not far from the North Korean border (part of this province is in North Korea) and there are quite a few No Photography Zones along the coast where soldiers are on watch. I worry about making photos in places like this because South Korea has the National Security Law that says, \”We'll do you for whatever the hell we like.\” I once made a photo of some barbed wire on top of a concrete wall and the police showed up a few minutes later to ask what I was doing. Fortunately, I had met the officer before and he knew photography is my hobby. Also, an overweight white man with a Contax 645 hanging off his neck, a huge tripod hanging off one shoulder, and a photo vest stuffed with film and filters doesn't strike fear into the heart of national security forces. Anyway, as you say, if I avoid making photos of police and military then I should be okay.


  5. Contact 645? You kept that quiet! (Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention). They are (still) very highly regarded, with that beautiful Zeiss glass on the front. They command big prices – surprising since Contax went out of business a good few years ago – which means repairs must be difficult.


  6. Probably a good move, Marcus. I have a healthy suspicion of electronics in cameras – in spite of the fact that I own a fully-functional Yashica GTN, which I think had the worlds first electronic shutter. I don’t expect things to last forever, but old mechanical cameras still have a decent chance of repair when that time comes. If the electronics fail in a camera, it’s pretty much toast. A Contax 645 system Would cost a couple of grand + more for glass – I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting that sort of money into it.


  7. I still get a bit misty-eyed when I think about that beautiful camera, but I didn't want to see it and all that glass become paperweights. That camera is more expensive on the used market now than it was when I bought it used in 2006. I wouldn't mind having a Hasselblad 500 series, but those are just as expensive. And heavy. Which I want to avoid. I have no car so everything gets carted around on back and bicycle. You can see why I appreciate the Fujifilm camera . . . .


  8. I bought a Hasselblad 501cm a couple of years ago. I was worried about the size/weight issue too. I needn’t have – its solid, yes, but 90% of the time I use it handheld and it’s a beautifully engineered camera. The body is smaller than I imagined but can get bulky with some of the newer lenses. Older lenses are more compact. Lenses and spare backs are still on the pricey side but should last me my day. And nothing compared to what they cost new. If you get the chance to handle one you should (or maybe not – it might be a costly move!)


  9. I thought about looking at a large format cameras when I go to Seoul next week. Must. avoid. camera. shops . . . .A used Hassleblad here with an 80mm lens is one and a half month's salary. Out of my range.


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