This is the men’s quarters of the Heo Estate, known as sarangbang in Korean. Like many other Korean historical sites, no furniture has been added, leaving the buildings feeling empty and lifeless.
Some parts of the park have high reed barriers put up to protect nesting birds from noisy and invasive tourists. These little windows allow you to look inside the protected areas. I didn’t see any birds, but I did rather like this stand of trees.
I’ve been listening to a number of interviews with Ralph Gibson and several times he has talked about showing his photos to Dorothea Lange when he was her darkroom assistant. She looked at them and said, “You have no point of departure.” “This is true,” he replied. “What is a point of departure?” Basically, she explained, it’s having a purpose to your photography. This purpose will allow you to see things you might not otherwise if you are just wandering about.
My point of departure for a project I am working on is making black and white 1:1 photos of traditional Korean objects and scenes. And to do it in a minimalist or abstract way with, ideally, the frame split in two and each section filled with nothing unnecessary included. The photo above is something like I’m looking for, with a large section of grass in one section and a sliver of wall and the game in the other.
This is closer to what I have in mind when I think about the project.
This doesn’t exactly match the idea I have in my head, but it’s not a bad photo and the composition is quite simple. Even if it doesn’t make it into the final project, it’s still a picture I will print and enjoy.
This is close to the ideal again. Most of the photo is filled with the gatehouse wall and then a small amount of the frame is filled with the gate door. But, the two parts of the frame are perhaps too similar to be interesting to the project.
It’s good to have a point of departure and I think I can manage the technical side of it. The problem is the thematic point of departure. What is it I want to say with my photos? At the moment I’m making well-composed records of things I’ve seen, but I’m not sure that I’m making any sort of statement about the things I’ve seen. And this is what separates good photography from great photography. Maybe I’ll never get there. That’s okay, because I enjoy what I’m doing, but I want to take it just that little step further . . . .
On the left is a traditional building that might be a part of the Obong Confucian school (seowon is a kind of Confucian academy from long ago) even though it is outside the walls. On the right is a farmer’s house. Or was a farmer’s house. When I first started visiting the seowon there were greenhouses, a garden, and a shed with a cow inside. Last year (two years ago?) the cow disappeared and a while later the shed disappeared. And on my last trip there last month everything was gone. Including the farmer and his missus. I hope they’ve just retired and nothing bad has happened.
Most street lamps these days are the ‘hanging head’ type, but this one is just a globe on top of a pole.
In 2005 a very old Buddhist temple burned to the ground up around Yangyang and there was then a mad rush to get firefighting equipment installed at any and all historical sites.
The courtyard inside the walls of the seowon.
Gangmun is within Gangneung city limits and not far from two major tourist areas, but it’s not so easy to get there if you don’t have a car. There are few local buses, it’s a bit far to walk from frequent bus routes, and getting a taxi there is expensive. But it’s a good place to go now and then for some photography. It’s less crowded than many other tourist spots (at least in the morning) and there are a few interesting things to photograph.
This couple passed me as I was making photos of a bridge and then later nicely completed this composition.
Gyeongpo Lake and Gangmun Beach are only separated by a narrow stretch of land. You would have a nice view of both places if you were in one of these buildings. The building on the right looks like it’s under construction. There seems to be a caravan park next to the river, but I haven’t been over to see.
This is the Seamark Hotel, also known as the Hyundai Hotel. One of Hyundai’s divisions owns it. Hyundai Construction, maybe? It was built not too long ago and replaced the earlier Hyundai Hotel which was built in the sixties.
I posted a similar colour version of this photo last(?) year. It’s a hotel. The room rates are probably reasonable in the off season but skyrocket in the summer and on New Year’s, when everyone and their dog shows up to watch the sun rise out of the sea.
I can’t remember what building this is. I think it’s a coffee shop or something. I like the bundle of wires rising up into the sky like lightning. They don’t go into the sky, obviously. I was standing close to the wall and looking up. I’d like to get this one printed.
And there you are – more photos of Gangmun. And I’ll probably post more in the future when I save up enough money to get a taxi. Every time I go to Gangmun I make the usual photos of things like the rails and the thin hotel. Sometimes it’s the same photos I’ve made a dozen times and sometimes I get to see the usual subjects in a new way. So it’s rarely a wasted trip.
The field in the foreground belongs to another house, but it isn’t as photogenic as this place. Or as well placed for a photograph. You can’t see it in this photo, but behind the break in the hedges is a doghouse where a small dog lives. When I first started using this road the dog would come out of its house and look at me while wagging its tail. If no one was around. If the home owner was about, it would bark at me a few times. Very human in that regard. When the boss is around you have to look like you’re working, right? Lately the dog has started barking at me even when alone. I wonder if it has anything to do with the disppearance of Baduki, a neighbourhood dog that used to roam freely, visiting his chained friends and greeting me enthusiastically every time I passed his home. Last year his owner started chaining him up and keeping him inside. That seems to be about the time the dog at the house above became less friendly. Maybe the dog is just getting old and crusty.
Doggy Update!: I went for a walk today up over the hill and on the way back I met a chainless Baduki wagging his tail at a very nervous woman and her little black dog with their backs up against a tree. Poor Baduki. He just wants to be friends but he’s misunderstood. I stopped to say hello to him but he was only interested in a potential new doggy friend. So I walked down the hill. By the time I got to his house he was running down the road after me. So we had a nice little time with much head scratching, rubbing, and wagging of tail. Nice to see him again.
I visited King Myeongju’s Tomb this morning with my Minolta X700 and a roll of HP5+. I brought a digital camera along in case the Minolta’s batteries died (Forgot to buy spares. Stunarse.) and to use as a light meter if I ran into some very tricky lighting. The digital camera stayed in the bag while I was using film because the Minolta’s meter is pretty good, there wasn’t too much contrast in the scenes I photographed, and I know a bit about when to use exposure compensation. (So I’ve probably buggered everything up).
I used up a whole roll and didn’t want to start a new roll just for the walk back to the bus stop, so I put Mr. Minolta in my backpack and took out Mr. Fuji. It’s convenient to use the digital camera, but making photos with a manual camera is a real pleasure by comparison.
But I digress. I made a bunch of photos on the way back down the hill and I’m happy enough with three of them to share here.
The city’s bus system application said that no buses would arrive for another hour, so I decided I would have to call an expensive taxi to get home in time for lunch. But while I was having a swallow of tea a bus did show up. I’m not surprised. The schedule is often wrong. I sometimes think Gangneung’s bus schedule application uses the data from some other city.
It was a great morning up in the hills with old King Myeongju and I’m looking forward to going back there soon. Maybe after I buy a short telephoto for the Minolta. There were a few photos I couldn’t get this morning because I only had the 50mm. The Minolta photos will show up here in a couple of weeks, after I get the film developed and scanned. If I didn’t screw them all up . . . .
I like making photos with my iPhone. It’s fun to just press the shutter button and not think much about exposure or post processing. The phone does a very good job of making scenes look good without me messing things up. I’ve thought about just using the iPhone for photography but the image quality isn’t quite good enough for most things yet. Adding a filter covers up a lot of problems.
Here are six photos I made the other day when I wanted to take a break from my camera woes. Despite getting rid of most of my equipment, I am back to wondering if I have the best cameras for my needs, blah blah blah. The problem lies with me, not the cameras, of course . . . .
For any iManiacs out there, the black and white filter is called Silvertone and the colour filter is called Dramatic. They come standard in Apple Photos.
I think I do best when using a square format. Is it time for a Hasselblad . . . . .? Oh, dear . . . . .
I’ve photographed this jumble of buildings from the entrance of this short alley a number of times. Some of the structures look commercial and the ones in the far back look residential. I can only imagine that there were no zoning laws at some point in the past. Or that they were ignored. The contrast between the old buildings and the shiny black car is interesting.