From the Archive: The Rest of 2015

I only have a few photos from the last two months of 2015. Two from a hillside neighbourhood in the town of Juminjin and three from downtown Gangneung.

The neighbourhood in Jumunjin is built on a very steep slope indeed, and the area is full of walls like this. It’s almost like a fortress. This photo was made on Provia 100F slide film, which performed quite well on this bright and sunny day.

This was scanned too brightly. This wall and cart are gone now. One of my favourite photographs and I have a print that looks good.

A bridge that used to carry train tracks over the Namdae River. The tracks are gone now, but the bridge has been turned into part of a park and you can walk across it. 

This mannequin was gone the last time I passed this seamstress shop. 

Fish drying on the Underwater Bridge that crosses Namdae River. It’s a pedestrian bridge (except for the scooter drivers who fly back and forth across it. Where are the police?) and it’s called the Underwater Bridge because it’s lower than the dyke walls and gets submerged in times of flooding. 

 That’s it for 2015. See you in 2014!

From the Archive: The Rest of October 2015

Here are a few photos from the end of October 2015. 
 Restaurant Vents.iPhone 4 Hipstamatic Application. 2015
A restaurant worker came out while I was making this photo, lit up a fag, and gruffly asked “What are you taking a photo of?” I pointed at the vents. While he was sucking on his cigarette and looking at the vents to see what I could possibly be pointing at, I bid him good day and left. 
Central Market. Fishmonger. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

Central Market. Fishmonger. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

A few months ago I saw a tourist pointing his camera at these ladies and making photos. “Rather rude,” I thought, and then remembered I had made more or less the same photos in 2015. 

Downtown Bus Stop. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

You might notice that there is a black bar at the top of each film scan in this post. This is a result of my local lab not much caring about the quality of film scans. Stick the machine on auto, zip zip zip. Lined up correctly? Close enough, what? It happened a number of times and it’s the reason I started sending film away to Seoul for development and scans. The Seoul lab is faster as well.
   I like the composition of the bus station photo, but the front of the bus is overexposed and there are some very black areas. I wonder if sending the film to Seoul could get me better results. I like these three film photos enough to pay a bit of money for good scans.

From the Archive: 20151007-001 Contax N1 Portra 400

20151007-001-013 Anmok. Snack Truck Dog

I don’t feel like going out so this weekend I am continuing my archive organisation. It’s mostly awful stuff and a lot of photos are getting deleted, but I’m finding a few that I like. This cute dog tied to a snack truck at Anmok Harbour makes me smile.

20151007-001-020 Gangneung. Apartments and Wires

Tourists don’t visit this neighbourhood so it hasn’t been prettied up with nice sidewalks and buried power lines.

20151007-001-028 Gangneung, Namdae River. Self-Portrait and Cyclist

Who’s the handsome fellow in the shadow?

The scans are what the local lab-guy gave me after printing at 4×6. The scans tend to come out a bit bright (do lab scanners expose to the right?), but Auto Contrast in Capture NX-D did a decent job of making the photos look good. It does contrast for Red, Green, and Blue channels separately, so white balance gets fixed at the same time. One-click photo editing makes me happy.

The Scenic Route to Work

Sometimes I take the forty minute route to work because I get to walk past lots of trees and fields.

Jebi-ri (Swallow Village)
Gagneung. Computer Chair

This chair is at the edge of a field, so maybe a farmer uses it to take a rest now and then. I can’t explain the concrete tiles piled up next to it.

River(bed) and Apartments

Gangneung, Namdae River. Riverbed and Buildings. 2019

I made the long walk to university today and brought my X-T3 in case I saw something interesting. When I transferred today’s photos to my computer, I noticed that there was a photo from last week on the SD card. I made this on the way downtown and I like it enough to share.
   There is very little precipitation in Korea during the winter, and most small rivers look like this one. There’s only a little stream running down the riverbed, which you can see as a thin dark line in this photo.

To Pod or Not to Pod

On Sunday I took my tripod and a bag of lenses up Rock Island Valley again to make some black and white photos in peace. I didn’t feel like going up the same road again, so I crossed the footbridge seen in my previous post and went up into the hills.
   I tried making photos of the bridge and path before moving on, but it was a tripod-unfriendly environment. The ground was very uneven and to either side of the path was thick foliage and many thorny bushes. They frustrated my attempts to get the composition I wanted so I gave up and climbed the hill.

Tomb Steles

About fifty metres or so from the bridge is a grave site. There is a single tomb and then a line of these stelae along the side of the grounds.  There was no problem setting up the tripod, but I didn’t get a satisfactory composition. In this photo I could use the hill as a dark background, but from any other angle the sky showed up as a bright distraction between the trees. Maybe I’ll go back later with more patience and try to work the busy background into the composition.

Tombs

A hundred or more metres on from the first tomb is a group of three graves. There was a bit of muttering and cursing about the tripod because I had to stand on sloped earth to make this photo and the legs were not cooperating. I’ve made good photos of these tombs in the past, but I couldn’t seem to do anything with the place on Sunday’s trip.

Saranggol Walking Trail

As an aside, I hope you are looking at these photos on a decent monitor. They have lots of contrast on my home computer, but appear very washed out on the old monitor I have on my office desk.
   The sign says, “Saranggol Walking Trail”. (‘Saranggol’ means ‘Love Valley”). This is odd, because Rock Island Valley is on the maps but Love Valley is not. The Love Valley Walking Trail is not even in a valley. It goes along the tops of hills. The only mention of the walking path I could find on the Internet was on an old website that said the walking trail is named after the many ‘couple graves’ to be found on the hills. I’ve been all around the valley and the hills and I don’t recall any ‘couple’ graves at all. Many of them are on their own or in groups of three and four. Maybe there is information in the Chinese character grave inscriptions that I’m missing. In any case, Love Valley is not an official name for the area.

Path and Fields

On my way back home I made this photo, which I had failed to do earlier because of the tripod and maybe my lack of patience. I didn’t want to use the tripod, but I did want a wide depth of field, so I set the aperture to f16 and turned the ISO up to 1600. This high setting also gave me a high enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake. It only took me a minute or two to make this photo and be on my way.

Never Looked Better

Some people look better behind cameras rather than in front of them. Making a picture of myself in the apartment elevator is a habit from film photography. It uses up the last or second last frame on the roll and records which camera the film was in. Not necessary with a digital camera, but a habit is a habit.

I learned several things on my little walk along the hills. One, I need to practise being more patient. Photography is supposed to be my way of neatly organising a chaotic world and relaxing, not cursing aluminium legs and bushes. Two, landscape photography is difficult and I need much practice and study. I thought that black and white landscapes would be easier than colour landscapes because there are fewer things like white balance to worry about, but this is not the case. Brown leaves and grey tree trunks can be easily distinguished in colour, but in black and white they look more or less the same. Filters help, but only for some things. I need to practise seeing in black and white again. Three, image quality on the D810 is very impressive even at high ISO settings. I did some quick tests on my walk at ISO 64, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12800. High ISO noise can be quite awful in colour photographs, but in black and white it’s not objectionable and looks like film grain. Sort of. I haven’t tried more rigorous tests or printed any results, but at the moment I think that going up to 1600 or 3200 is no problem at all. 6400 is not bad in a pinch and 12800 would be fine for snapshots.  On my next walkabout I might save myself a bit of weight and hassle by leaving the tripod at home. Or leaving it in my bag until absolutely necessary. But perhaps I should do some print tests of the high ISOs first . . . .

Despite a bit of annoyance with the tripod now and then, I had a pleasant couple of hours in the woods. I met a few hikers who said hello and a little old lady with a walking stick who seemed to get up the slopes more easily than I did. I should follow her around to get in shape.