Rock Island Valley

I was inspired by a few photographers I follow (here, here, and here) to try my hand at black and white landscape photography. The closest place for me to practise landscape photography is the valley just behind my apartment complex, called Rock Island Valley. I just wanted to walk up and down the valley and make a few test pictures at first, so I left the tripod at home, stuck a 50mm lens on the D810, and set the ISO to 1600 because it was quite an overcast day. In just an hour I had forty-odd photos on the SD card and I hadn’t even gone up into the hills. I am pleased that there are so many things to photograph just a few minutes’ walk from the apartment. I didn’t meet any people at all while on my walk, which suits me just fine.

Rock Island Valley. Bridge and Path. 2019

This path will take you up into a hill where there are some lovely woods, tombs, and even deer. This was a low contrast scene so I did some dodging and burning to make the bridge and path stand out more. I made this on a heavily overcast day, and I think it’ll be better if I return on a brighter overcast day. I’ll bring more lenses and a tripod to see if I can’t find a nicer angle.

Rock Island Valley. Trees. 2019

I used a green filter effect on the camera to lighten up the foliage in contrast to the brown tree trunk and branches. Again, I think that returning to this spot with a tripod and some more concentration will get me some good photos of this tree. I should have lightened up that little background patch in the upper left hand corner. Next time!

Rock Island Valley. Crockery. 2019

I found these bowls and pots at the edge of an orchard. I have no idea why they might be there.

Although these photos were all made at ISO 1600, they are quite clean. You can see noise/’grain’ if you look carefully in the out-of-focus areas of the photos, but it’s not more than you’d find in ISO 50 or ISO 100 black and white film. And it’s possible that the high ISO gives the photos some nice character. I’ll have to compare with ISO 64 when I go up the valley again. Which I hope is soon!

Long Post, Complaint, A Resolution, and Many Photos

I enjoy making photos of city streets, alleys, and the odd things and little spots of beauty you sometimes find, but I will have to give it up. People sometimes give me suspicious looks and I’ve even been followed by middle-aged and older men so they can see what I’m up to, but the worst experience came a few days ago in front of a convenience store. I was sitting at a picnic table in front of the store to drink a tin of coffee when the fifty-something year old man sitting at the next table stuck a fag in his mouth and pulled out his lighter. I pointed out the clearly visible No Smoking sign and asked him not to smoke, especially since there was a non-smoker next to him. He started cursing and shouting at me and he stood up and started to come towards me threateningly. I pulled out my phone and entered the police number, keeping my thumb above the call button in case he actually tried something. Luckily, a younger man (who was also pulling some cigarettes out of his pocket) tried to calm him down and led him away to an alley where he could smoke. That was the worst case ever, but people often react angrily when you ask them not to smoke next to you in a non-smoking area. And it’s not just the psychotic smokers and suspicious looks that have put me off doing city photography. It’s the sociopath drivers who come up on the sidewalks where you are standing or walking and get angry when you protest. That sort of thing happens all the time, and if it still bothers me after twenty-odd years of being in the country then I think I need to avoid spending time on the city streets. If you can’t beat them, avoid them.
   I won’t have to give up all photography, of course. My apartment building is on the edge of the city and from my window I can see a valley, hills, and fields. From my building to a small valley surrounded by peaceful hills takes just a minute or two of walking. And there are quiet villages and country roads within easy biking distance. In addition to the opportunities for landscape photography, there are many historical sites around the city where I can go to make photos. Depending on the day, these places are more or less people-free and quiet.
   I’m going to ‘dump’ my remaining photos in this post and then start fresh with photos from the valleys, the hills, the fields, and the historical places around the city. It is, after all, quite a nice city if you can get over the behaviour of some of the people living in it.

This was the only keeper from a bicycle ride around a reservoir. The tree is interesting but I couldn’t do anything with it.

An aisle in Gangneung’s Central Market. The sign says motorcycles are not allowed to drive down the aisle.

The Heo Estate. I like how the doors get smaller from right to left.

More doors from the same building. 

A rural scene made through a tourist information sign.

The Heo Estate again. 

Amice looking out the window, as usual.

The peak of a little rock island at Sacheon Beach.

Very large boulders on Sacheon Beach. 

A memorial to someone or other in the village at Sacheon Harbour.

More Sacheon Beach

The entrance to a jazz bar in a Gangneung alley.

This scooter is always parked at the entrance to the park surrounding the one thousand year old gingko tree.

Another downtown alley.

Market Area.

Car and concrete wall. I rather like this and planned to make more like this before I decided to pack it in.

Post box.

An alley in the village of Anmok. 

An historical site in downtown Gangneung guarded by model guards.

A side entrance to an historical site. 

A side street in downtown Gangneung.

Looks familiar . . . . 

A water trough at the Heo Estate, day after rain.

Statue of Ms. Heo, whose name I can never remember.


Two fish statues at Sacheon Harbour.

Rock island and water pipes leading from fish restaurants to the sea.

Tsunami warning equipment. Probably. Sacheon Beach.

The same rock island from just above but from a different view.

Old signs advertising a noodle restaurant in downtown Gangneung.
A new post with new photos and a new focus is coming soon. Until then, stay off the sidewalks!


Around the ides of March I made a trip to Anmok Harbour. It’s an easy place to visit as the bicycle path follows the river from my apartment to the harbour and almost all city buses end up at the bus depot there. There is a danger of going there too often and becoming bored of it, but I usually manage to see something in a way I haven’t before. I used my lightweight and convenient X-T3 camera for the day’s photos. The film simulation was set to Classic Chrome, as usual.

Gangneung, Anmok Beach. Covered Swing Bench. 2019

The only difference between my photo of this swing and ten thousand tourist photos of this swing is that I don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend sitting in it doing the V sign and a cutesy pose. This is an unoriginal view of the swing, but I rather like it anyway.

Gangneung, Anmok Beach. Do Not Approach. 2019

I don’t know if this lifeguard tower is roped off because it’s broken and/or tilted, or if because the city doesn’t want Instagrammers climbing all over it, falling off, and then suing the council. The small sign on the right says, “Do Not Approach”.

Gangneung, Bamboo Island. Military Watchtower Turned Zipline Anchor. 2019

This is an illegal photograph. Signs on the tower and just below the tower say that you may not enter or make photographs of the tower. You may not even have the tower in the background of your photos. Which seems like an unreasonable demand considering it’s right in the centre of a tourist area and a zipline company has a starting point installed on the top. The rules are obviously not enforced, because a police car passed me as I was making this photo.

Gangneung, Anmok Harbour. Fishing Boats and Marina. 2019

I made this photo from the top of one of two harbour breakwaters. There are some nice lines in this photo, and the two boats and the marina make a triangle. This was originally called Anmok Harbour but had the name officially changed to Gangneung Harbour. Everyone calls it Anmok Harbour.

Gangneung, Anmok Harbour. White Lighthouse. 2019

At the end of the breakwater is a white lighthouse. I tried a dozen different angles and focal lengths, but this was the only decent photograph I came away with. I like the colour and the contrast, but the lighthouse sits too thickly in the corner of the photo. I’m going to keep it, but I don’t think it will get printed.

The sun was bright and the golden hour was long gone, but I think the direct light worked well for these photographs. Unlike landscapes where subtlety is important, these photos benefitted from strong contrast to emphasis lines and shapes. And anyway, I can never get up in time for a sunrise . . . .

More From the Archive

Still nothing new to share. I am up to (down to?) 2015 in my photo organisation project and finding a few decent photos that I can post here until I have some good new photos to show.

Gangneung, City Centre. Motorcycle on Sidewalk. 2015

I remember I made this photo with the Zeiss Ikon, but I don’t remember the film. I could look it up, but . . . can’t be arsed. It looks like Portra to me. Many Korean motorcycles have 125cc engines because you don’t need a license to drive them.

Gangneung. Daewoo Prince. 2015

Across from the house where I used to live was a small hill full of small trees and weeds. People would park tight up against it out of consideration for drivers trying to get down the narrow road. There were cars parked on the other side of the road as well. Drivers look after their own, but ‘screw pedestrians’ is their battle cry. I often had to walk in the road trying to get to my house. I don’t remember the camera, but I think this was Portra 800 film.

Gangneung. Riverside Tennis Courts. 2015

I think I’ve already posted one like this with a scooter or something in it. Or did I dream that?

Gangneung. Riverside Tennis Courts and Cyclist. 2015

Here is the same location, but this time I used the Hipstamatic application on my iPhone 4. It was a bit difficult to get photos like this with the iPhone because there was often a delay between touching the shutter button on the screen and the photo being made. And sometimes if I didn’t touch the button correctly I wouldn’t get a photo at all.

Gangneung. Stairs. 2015

This photo was made with a Contax 645 and some Ilford film.

Gangneung. 2015

As was this one.

Gangneung, Gyeongpo Wetlands Park. 2015
Contax 645 again. I miss that camera, but lugging it around was a real pain once I sold my truck.
I hope you enjoyed these. More to come! (he threatened)

Gangmun Prints

Two streams that come from the mountains west of Gangneung empty into a bog which drains into a short stream that turns into a larger bog that then becomes Gyeongpo Lake which drains into a five hundred metre river/stream that ends up in the sea. The place where that stream enters the sea is called Gangmun. Gangmun means ‘River Gate’. Some years ago the city built an arched pedestrian bridge over the river mouth called Sotdae Bridge. Sotdae is a carved wooden bird on top of a pole used in Korean shamanism. Usually at the entrance to a village to ward off bad luck or wish for prosperity. But I meander . . . .

I only noticed while looking at this print today that there is a lovely little arch of light under the far end of the bridge.

I thought at first that this photo was too ‘left heavy’ because of the mass of the shadowed arch, but maybe the simplicity of the shadows section is balanced by the complexity of the right side of the photo. I’m still not sure about this one. Maybe it needs a little bit cropped off the left to make a vertical panorama? Let me know what you think.

And here is the Hyundai Hotel framed by the arch and the cables of the bridge. And the pine trees. I’ve tried this view several times in the past, but this is the first time that it came out well. So, happy days.
For those of you interested in such things, these were made with a Nikon F6 on Portra 400 film. I don’t remember which lenses I used. I used to send the film away to get 50MB scans, adjust those, and then send the files to the lab to get prints made, but I saved myself a bit of money and time by just sending the film to the lab to get prints of these three photos and then scanning the prints. Anyone unsatisfied with the scans my little Canon scanner made is welcome to visit my place to see the original prints. I’ll even give you a cup of tea and introduce you to my cat!

Smoking Stool

Gangneung, Anmok. Smoking Stool. 2019

Although somone has written “No Smoking” on a piece of yellow paper (or something), anyone who lives in Korea will recognise that a stool like this next to an alley means a place for people to smoke. Come to think of it, maybe a neighbour stuck that sign into the breeze blocks.

My Back Pages – Contax N1

All three of these photos came from a roll of Provia 100F film in a Contax N1 camera. I really liked that camera and its Carl Zeiss lens, but the spot meter died, the zoom lens that came with it was slow (but made lovely colours), and it was introduced in 2001, just in time to be killed by digital like its beautiful bigger brother the Contax 645. There were very few lenses for it as well. I gave the camera to a friend who doesn’t mind not having a spot meter.

Gangneung, Anmok. Beach Repair. 2015

 Anmok Beach was nearly wiped out by some bad storms so the city made a new beach that wouldn’t get washed away. In the background is the marina building.

Gangneung. Manhole and Hard Hat. 2015

 Where’s the head that’s supposed to be in this hat?

Gangneung. Fire Escape. 2015

One of my favourite photos. I have an 8×12 blu-tacked to my office wall. This building is gone now. The new brownish-black aluminium building that went up in its place looks clean, but it’s not photogenic at all.

I love Zeiss lenses. I wonder if it’s worth getting some for my X-T3. The Fuji lenses are fine so I think I’ll save my money. Zeiss glass t’aint cheap.