From the Archive: Horse on Gyeongpo Beach

Horse on Beach, Gyeongpo, Gangneung, 2011

I am still slowly going through my binders of film and having photos of significance scanned at a lab. Significant photos are those that bring back memories, are interesting or funny in some way, or artistic. This photo is somewhat artistic but technically flawed because while the footprint in the foreground is on focus, the horse’s legs are a bit out of focus. It doesn’t look too bad if you step back and screw up your eyes a bit. I scanned this because it strikes me as being slightly funny, though I can’t explain why. Anyway, I like looking at it and that’s enough. It ‘sparks joy’, as Marie Kondo says.

Jukheon Reservoir Tomb Site

Tomb Site at Jukheon Reservoir, 2019
The Space Between Tombs, Jukheon Reservoir, 2019

Inscriptions at tomb sites are often written in Chinese characters, so it’s difficult for me to find out who is buried under the mounds of earth. Whoever they were, they must have belonged to a well-off family with the money to buy a large piece of land and have stelae, statues, and tombs made.
These photographs were made in May, when there wasn’t much rain to make the land green. The grass probably grew a lot during the rainy season (I haven’t been there since I made these photos) and the site will get groomed in September in preparation for the harvest festival when Koreans perform rites to honour their ancestors. But not all Koreans. Protestants are forbidden from performing ancestral rites because it’s considered worshipping gods/spirits other than God/Jesus/Holy Ghost.
There are quite a few tomb sites around the reservoir, but none as large, as impressive, and as secluded as this one. Most are within sight of houses and, although I’m not walking on graves or anything, I’m not sure how people would feel about me looking around and making photos.

Apartment Buildings, 6:04 a.m.

Gangneung, Apartments in the Early Morning, 2019.

The uniqueness of this image is possibly in how few people see this scene. Long distance drivers, old people recently moved into the city from farm hours, enthusiastic joggers, and the occasional lunatic out looking for gentle light.

What’s the plan?

On Blogspot I posted photographs with a little write-up on a semi-regular basis. Blogspot is, not surprisingly, only for blogs, so I made a Flickr account to set up photo albums. Although I frequently checked my blog, I usually forgot that I have a Flickr account and eventually stopped updating the albums there. So, I thought, wouldn’t it be good to have my blog and my online albums in the same place? At an address that I can easily share. And so I registered to keep all my photo sharing in one place. On the blog I will post photos that I think might interest others without worrying too much about artistic merit. (“Cat Yawning on Chesterfield, 2019.”). In the galleries I will upload photos that I think might look good on a wall, in a book, or in an online slideshow.
But I might not just use this website to share my photos. From time to time I might write little essays about whatever has been on my mind recently. Things like teaching, living in Korea as a minority, something I saw online, or whatever. I’ll try not to rant and roar. If I’m feeling very brave I’ll post a poem or a story now and then.
So, that’s the tentative plan for this website. I want to fill it with content that people might want to see, but I’ll go at it slow and steady. Lots of proofreading and careful consideration before adding anything to the site. If you’re interested in following, you can click the subscribe button on the Home page. I also appreciate reader comments. Just enter them in the space below.


Seagull on Breakwater

Seagull on Breakwater, Anmok Harbour, 2019.

It was a foggy early morning at the harbour and few people were about. Half a dozen men were fishing off the breakwater or down by the water. I’ve seen a sign saying not to fish at the base of the breakwater and not to go out on the tetrapods, but everyone ignores this. There is a coast guard station right next to the water and they never say anything to anybody. Well, not true. The other morning I was looking at the harbour looking for a composition and an officer came out to ask me what I was up to. He was friendly, so no offence taken. He was surprised that I had ridden ten kilometres to come look at the harbour at such an early hour. I was surprised myself . . . .

Morning Rides

When I complained some time ago about the weather being too hot and miserable for photography, the talented, knowledgeable, and entertaining Herman Sheephouse over at FogBlog suggested that I get up early in the morning and make some photos while the earth was still relatively cool. That didn’t sound like a solution to me because I go to bed late at night and don’t get up before the sun is already blazing.
   But I decided to give it a try and, surprisingly, I enjoy it. It’s not cool enough for walking (I sweat a lot and get chafing between the legs), but riding bicycle is a pleasure. There are very few cars or people about in the early morning and I create my own cooling wind on the bicycle. So far, I’ve gone downtown a couple of times and to the beach once. There is a riverside exercise path that leads directly to both places from my apartment. My favourite morning ride is in the opposite direction, out into the countryside. There are no cycling paths, but I can keep to smaller roads and go through the village of Geumsan on my way to the small town of Seongsan. This route is full of photographic opportunities and I stop here and there to make photos while on my ride. Here are some pictures and snapshots from a couple of mornings.

This is my favourite Korean truck, the Kia Ceres, named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. It’s a four-wheel drive truck made for the agricultural market. It went out of production in the late nineties. I’d love to have one, but most of them look to be in hard shape. Still, there are lots of them around in the countryside so they must be pretty tough vehicles.

There are quite a few cats roaming around in the village of Geumsan. And probably not many mice. This young fellow looks exactly like an older cat I saw in the village last year around harvest time. I wonder how many generations back this family goes. A bit of research tells me that the village was founded in the early 16th century. Did a cat like this one welcome the settlers with their mice-attracting sacks of grain?

I made this photo from underneath a giant expressway overpass. In the distance is the overpass that carries the new high speed train from Seoul to Gangneung, built for the Olympics. In between are the rice fields of Geumsan Village.

I’ve made photos of this overpass with the road down the centre a number of times, but probably not with the road off to one side and including the barriers. The light barrier top in the lower left corner balances the white gap between the bridges in the top right, I think. I thought about waiting for a car or a scooter to come by, but the shadows on the road add enough visual interest to an otherwise featureless surface.

This is a warning sign that has almost completely faded. It warns people not to park under the overpass, etc. I like the blank surface of the sign on the blank surface of the concrete.

I’m not sure if I like this photograph or not. I like the subject matter, but I don’t think I got the best framing I could have. I’m posting it here because sometimes the act of sharing a photo can knock me off the fence, as it were. Sometimes I look at my published photo and think, “Yeah, I don’t mind people seeing that one.” Other times I wish I hadn’t posted. Actually, looking at it now, it suddenly comes to me that I should revisit this place when there is some sunlight to better separate the chair from the ground. There you go – posting this photo here forced me to think about it and I got an idea about how to improve it.

The foreground branches aren’t organised enough to consider this photo for printing, but I think it shows how large the overpass is compared to the village in the background. It’s quite incongruous – like something aliens would build if they took over the earth (I’m watching the TV series Colony these days). After a new set of pyramids, of course . . . .

A pair of work gloves hung from a tree by the side of the road. No idea.

You’ve seen this before. I now have three versions of the same scene – Kodak’s new E100, Kodak Portra 400, and the Fuji T-3 Classic Chrome film simulation. The E100 version is not that great, but the Portra and the Fuji digital look good. I could probably make the digital version above look better if I spent a bit of time at it. But I dislike spending time adjusting sliders so this is fine.

I’ve previously posted a film version of the second photo here. I really like the greens in Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome simulation. Of these two photos I like the first one best. You can pick out individual trees on the hill, there are more rocks in the stream, and the grass on the bottom makes a strong foundation for the photo. The curve of the foreground also makes the photo a bit dynamic.

Many people don’t paint the concrete walls that surround their property. The owner of this house spent some money to have a nice wall built, so why not spend another little bit of money to put on a coat of paint?

I tried this photo a couple of weeks ago but screwed it up. I got better results this time, but I needed to step a little bit to the left to separate the tiled wall top from the refuse in front of the shed door. These little micro-composition mistakes bother me more than they should. I made this photo handheld, but I should have had a tripod because it was difficult to keep so many elements under control while trying to not move around.

There is a coffee shop attached to a screen golf place near my apartment. At the bottom of the photo are some clay pots used for making gimchi, soy bean paste, or soy sauce. I’m not sure it matches the interior of a coffee shop. I never see anyone inside, so I wonder if it went out of business and the owner is just using the space for storing things.

This wasn’t the last photo on a roll of film (usually a cat photo or mirror self-portrait), but it was the last photo I made that day. My wife bought a new chair to relax in, but guess who claimed it. Everything eventually belongs to the cat . . . .
   More photos from morning rides coming in the future. If I can continue to get my arse out of bed, of course . . . .

City-Sponsored Shade

Poets talk about sunbeams as though they are something that make you feel like dancing in a glade with the faeries, but at this time of year in Korea all you get  from the heavens are shards of sunlight tearing into your eyes and skin. Thoroughly unpleasant, especially with the humidity. The city has put up large parasols at zebra crossings so people can get out of the sun while waiting for the lights to change. Very nice.
The guy who parked here figured that the city set up shaded parking for motorcycles. He knows that the police do nothing about illegal parking so why obey laws that aren’t enforced? Social Contract be damned.

VIP Parking. Downtown Gangneung. 2019.