Choices

I put all six of my usable cameras on my desk today to spend a few minutes using each one. I wanted to decide which one would be the best (and only?) one for me to use. I made notes about how each one felt in my hand, which one was the easiest to use, which one wouldn’t give me back pain after a day with out it, image quality (film or digital), and which camera gives me the best photos without having to spend any time at the computer adjusting sliders.
Although my four film cameras are all wonderful in their own way, I decided that I would be better off using a digital camera for reasons of economy and convenience. That left me with the Nikon D810 and the Fujifilm X-T3. The X-T3 has retro appeal and the simulations are similar to film. But it seems like I spend a lot of time making adjustments to get an excellent exposure. Always second guessing the camera. I don’t have to do that with the D810. The exposure is always dead on, except in those situations that will fool any camera meter. Sand or snow, for example. And the D810 isn’t any more complex to use than my F6 or F80. It’s a professional piece of kit that gets out of your way. And when I look at the images on computer later I don’t have to think much about changing contrast etc etc. Nikon’s picture controls do an excellent job of that. The only problem is . . . it’s quite a bit heavier than the X-T3. As I learned last year when I brought it to Canada with a large and heavy zoom lens (I think the zoom lens might have been the biggest part of the problem). What to choose for my main camera? The compact X-T3 with the disadvantage of its fussiness? Or the D810 with the inconvenience of its weight? I’d like to use only one for the sake of simplicity.
I was leaning towards the D810 by the time I finished looking over my notes, so I attached a light 50mm F1.8D lens and went downtown to make some photos.

Car Roof, Gangneung.

This was the only keeper from my downtown outing, but that was my fault, not the camera’s. I love the 5:4 frame and getting the proper exposure was a piece of cake by just adding 2/3 of a stop with the command dial. The camera took care of everything else.

Amice

What’s a photo outing without a picture of the cat at the end of it? I didn’t do anything to this one.

With a prime lens on the camera, I hardly felt the weight on my shoulder even after a couple of hours. I think I would have felt the weight if it was around my neck, though. Not so with the X-T3. Still, maybe I’ll start bringing the D810 and a prime or two with me from now on. We’ll see. I’m so wishy-washy about cameras that next week I might be using my iPhone for everything.

No, that’s not going to happen . . . .

Downtown Gangneung

The fronts of buildings often get makeovers to please tourists or attract customers, but the spaces and alleys between buildings are neglected forever. Unless a restaurant or coffee shop somewhere down the alley gets noticed on social media and becomes famous . . .

Bicycle Parked Under Electrical Meters, Gangneung.

All four sides of the Homeplus/CGV building downtown are nice and neat with hedges, tile paving, benches (if you don’t mind smokers), and lampposts.

Homeplus Lamppost, Gangneung.

I think this is where I’m supposed to say something insightful about the modern urban landscape. But nope, I’m just an ignoramus with a camera.

Keep on snappin’ away!

A Few From Obong

I caught a taxi to the Confucian School on Obong Mountain to make a few photos but came back with very little. And even less survived my editing process. And that’s a good thing because organising a lot of photos on the computer is a royal pain in the arse.

School Wall and Tree, Obong Seowon

I only thought one photo of the school was worth publishing here. I’ve made similar photos of this tree and wall before, but I think this one is a slight improvement. Better micro-composition, etc. This is from the camera with no adjustments made on the computer. Just how I like it. It was an overcast morning, so I think I may have adjusted the highlight setting on the X-T3 to +1 for a little extra contrast.

No Burials, Obong Mountain

The sign on the left says it is illegal to do burials and set up graves within 500 metres because the water off the hill feeds into the water supply for the town. The sign on the right says you can’t dump garbage there. These signs are next to the Confucian school and I made the photo as I was leaving.

House Gate and Shadow, Obong.

Like the other photos above, this photo is straight from the camera. I think I spot-metred off the pavement underneath the gate and compensated by +1 or +1.3. I keep forgetting to change settings, so although the sun was out, the highlight setting on the camera was still probably at +1. This gate is just down the road from the Confucian school.

Although I dislike making adjustments to photos in Lightroom, I wonder if it might not be a good idea to darken the lower righthand section of the first photo for a bit of balance. Any suggestions?

Ladybird

Ladybird

Some years ago the city turned one downtown side street into Culture Street, and required businesses there to give up their garish neon building signs and put up simple round ones. The city put in new brick sidewalks and lamp posts. They also renovated an old police station and turned it into a small cultural centre. On the outside of the building they put this bright red ladybird. It’s quite a cheery thing to see when you walk down the street.

Seongyojang

Some years ago I made photos of Seongyojang using the Hipstamatic application on an iPhone 4. The iPhone/Hipstamatic combination was very limiting – there was only one focal length, the rendering of the scene by the application was a bit random, and the iPhone 4 didn’t produce raw files I could adjust later. What I got when I pressed the shutter button was what I got, but it was challenging and fun. I sometimes thought about doing the same kind of photography again with a ‘proper’ camera, keeping the square format but using different focal lengths and possibly doing the whole project in black and white. On the way to Seongyojang the other day I thought it was a good time to start.

Blurred Calligraphy Sign.

If you go right after entering the grounds, you come to a pavilion called Hwallaejong. It’s a nice place to sit and look at the lotus pond and you can pay to have tea there on certain occasions. It’s been photographed from the front by thousands of people in more or less the same way, including myself. This time I decided to do something a bit different by purposely blurring the calligraphy sign and papered windows around the back of the pavilion.

Lawn and Buildings.

There is a large lawn on the estate that doesn’t seem to be used for anything. I’ve never seen picnickers on it or even children running around on it. Maybe it’s for special events? Although I’ve been to Seongyojang dozens of times, I don’t think I noticed this perspective before. One of the joys of photography is continually seeing things in new ways.

Stepping Stones.

I used my Fujifilm X-T3 because it has in-camera square format and because it’s light. No need for awkward tripods. This is especially important at historical sites and festivals where many people can be moving around. This requires a fairly high ISO setting at times , but, interestingly, the X-T3’s Acros simulation looks better at higher ISOs than it does at lower ISOs. I generally set the camera to auto ISO and aperture priority mode to make life simple.

In traditional Korean houses, especially those in the south, there is no real distinction between doors and windows, since the whole wall is basically removable and a can enter anywhere.
These stairs lead up to an empty plot of land. Possibly they are for the gardener.
Stairs and wall made of stone blocks.

Because I photographed Seongyojang in square format for the iPhone exhibition, I was worried about this new project being more or less the same except in black and white. But I have (I hope) learned more about photography in the past five years and I think that using different focal lengths will give me some new perspectives.

A moderate telephoto lens compressed this chimney nicely against the clay tile roof.
These 18th and later century buildings have been fitted with electricity for interior and exterior lights.
This photo was made in winter, so I’m not sure if the trees in the background are dead or have just lost their leaves for the season.

I’m going to make the rounds of the historical sites in Gangneung and keep an eye out for traditional festivals, but I also want to get out of Gangneung and look for some traditional buildings, etc in other towns and locations. Maybe it’s time to just off my driving license and rent a car.

A Walk in the Hills

I’ve probably mentioned the hills and paths that surround Stone Island Valley behind my apartment complex. It’s not much of a valley and dale might be a better word to describe it. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a nice place to take a walk because most people take their walks on the concrete road that goes up the dale and fewer people go up into the hills to stroll amongst the trees.

The hilltop path as it dips between two hills.

Not only are there fewer walkers on the path, but at most points you can’t see any houses or roads. I almost said you can’t see any signs of civilisation, but this would be false because the hills are full of grave markers and tombs.

I don’t know if these flower pots were blown over by the wind or if they were casually tossed there by someone.
The walking path passes by many graves and grave markers like these.

On my walk this day, I saw only one person and he was quite a distance away. He must have turned off somewhere, because he never caught up to me even though I frequently stopped to make photos.

In addition to a human, I saw and heard birds the whole time I was walking and as I was coming down off the hill near the end of my walk I was surprised by a deer who leapt out of some tall grass and ran for the hills. It was at the bottom of that path where I cam across a photogenic tree that I want to visit again in different kinds of weather. This might make an attractive colour photograph in late spring.

An interesting tree on a less-travelled path coming down off the hills.

I noticed today that WordPress automatically includes the captions I write in Lightroom to the bottom of each photo. This might be a new feature as it’s never happened before. Or perhaps I deleted metadata in the past when saving for the web. Anyway, it’s a convenience. I wish it would read the keywords, though. That’s what takes up the time.