Cattle in Pen

Gangneung, Gujeong. Cattle in Pen. 2019

I came across this scene whilst cycling through the countryside in the southern part of Gangneung. Unlike most Korean cattle, who spend their lives in little sheds attached to farm houses, these cattle have a bit of space to walk around and enjoy the weather.
   A bit of research tells me that this native breed of cattle was used mostly for ploughing until the 1960s when the country became indistrialised. It doesn’t give much milk so it is primarily raised now for beef. It’s main diet is rice straw though I suppose farmers must feed it something else as well to obtain the highly marbled meat that you find in grocery stores. It’s very expensive as well. I usually buy Australian beef because it’s readily available here and much cheaper than the local meat.

Sotdae Bridge, Gangmun

Gangneung, Gangmun. Sotdae Bridge. 2019

I stood under a boardwalk with a 200mm lens on my camera for quite a while waiting for the scene to come together the way I wanted. This was the last photo I made because I was tired of waiting around, the people were placed where I wanted them, and someone wearing a bit of colour came by.

Drying Up

Garbage Bags at Anmok Beach

LNG Pipeline Dock at Namhangjin

The title doesn’t refer to the sea drying up. It refers to the number of decent photos I have left to share this month. The above are decent compositions, but the light is harsh. They are not destined for my portfolio. Maybe I’ll try converting them to black and white and see what they look like then.

Speaking of converting, I’ve recently changed the software I use to edit and develop my pictures. I now use the following programs for photography:

Faststone Image Viewer – This software is basic, but it’s free, has some adjustment functions such as straightening and contrast, displays raw files (Windows is very slow to add support), is free, and uses Windows’ folders instead of creating a database. And it’s free!

Fujifilm X RAW Studio – This unusual raw convertor requires you to connect your camera to the computer because it uses the camera’s hardware to make adjustments. Whatever you can adjust in the camera when making photos can be adjusted in this software. Well, not things like ISO, obviously. It’s free and, although a bit slow, easy to use. The only bad point about the software is that it only works with RAF files from Fujifilm cameras. No adjustments for jpg or tif files.

Nikon Capture NX-D – Many moons ago you had to pay quite a bit of money for this software, but some years ago Nikon introduced a new version and put it on their website for free. The raw convertor is only good for Nikon’s NEF files but there are many functions that can be used on other (non-raw) file types. Levels, curves, sharpening, and so on. This means I can convert my Fujifilm photos to jpg and then do small ajustments in this software. I can also use Capture NX-D to make adjustments to film scans. Capture NX-D has recently reintroduced u-point technology which is very useful for selecting and making adjustments to specific parts of a photo without having to apply masks, etc.

A few days ago I cancelled my subscription to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Now I’m using all free software that will do everything I want. Frankly, if a photo needs more adjustments than what I can do with these three programs then it was probably a terrible photo in the first place.

Corner of a Farm House

I took a walk through a village near my apartment complex to see if I could find some interesting rural scenes to photograph. It was the first time I visited the village, and it turned out to be rather unpicturesque. There were very few buildings you might call traditional, and lots of equipment was just lying around higgedly-piggedly. I made thirty or so photos, but nothing stood out.
   That was a month ago. I went through that folder in Lightroom a couple of days ago and was about to delete everything but this photo caught my eye. It needed a little trimming and straightening, but the result is not bad. I went through the folder one more time to see if there were any other uncut gems, but no luck. Everything except this got erased. Does anyone else think the grass needs to be darkened?
   The original file is in RAF format from the X-T3. Fujifilm’s Acros simulation is good, so I did basic developing in the Fujifilm X Raw Studio software. What’s interesting about that program is that you have to have your camera connected the computer to use it. That’s sounds inconvenient (it is, slightly), but the raw files are converted to jpg using the camera’s excellent software. Why not just use jpg in the first place, you ask. Well, I always try to ensure I have the correct exposure when I make the photo, but sometimes I want to change the white balance, increase saturation, or adjust hightlights and shadows when I’m preparing photos for posting or printing. That’s better done using a raw file and I get to use the same menus that are in the camera. Trimming and straightening were done in Lightroom.

River Mouth, Anmok

About a month ago I took a bicycle ride to the seaside. It was a Saturday and the weather was pleasant, so Anmok was filled with a cancer of cars and people. Along the Coffee Street section of the village, anyway. There are no coffee shops and thus very few people at the river mouth, so I got off my bicycle there to make a few photos.

Yesterday I sent some Kodak Portra 400 to Seoul for developing and today I got the scans back. They are okay, and Portra is nice film, but I should probably stick with digital photography, especially the Fujifilm X-T3, which makes very nice colours. I get more consistent results.

This photo was made under the ramp which goes up to the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river mouth. On the left side of the background you can probably see the gas pipe that brings LNG from ships to the city.

It was easy enough to set up the camera on a tripod, frame the scene, and a correct exposure, but more difficult to get a photo where the passing people were in good positions to complete the composition. They were either clumped up, too far away from the near rail, or standing so close to each other so that they looked like an ettin out for a walk. This is the most satisfactory version I could get that day.

I didn’t see any fencing like this around, so I wonder if someone brought it there and tossed it. But that would be a strange place to do it, where there are always people around. Maybe it’s from the military lookout on top of the hill. I made several exposures of this scene and liked this slightly darker version the best. The lighter versions seem washed out, even though they were properly exposed.

A couple of days ago I finished reading Michael Freeman’s book on exposure called Perfect Exposure. It’s a very in-depth and technical look at getting the correct exposure. In the later part of the book he explains that technically correct exposure doesn’t necessarily mean the best exposure for an individual photograph and the taste of the photographer. I am able to get correct exposures at any time. All I have to do is check the histogram in my camera. But what I need to practise is choosing the exposure that best suits my photos and the impression I want to make. More experience and practice necessary . . . .