I don’t think I shared this photo from 2017 on my blog back in 2017. Certainly not in its present state. I recently rediscovered it while organising my photo collection and trimmed a bit of ugly from the top to give the picture a minimalist look.
I made this photo in a hill neighbourhood of Jumunjin. The houses there are so close together that generally there is only enough room for a single person to squeeze between the houses and their enclosing concrete walls. Most of the homes have no road access at all and residents need to walk through a maze of alleys to get to a single lane road. It’s quite a poor neighbourhood, but the council is sprucing the area up by painting some of the alley walls and hanging paintings to help the neighbourhood look less miserable. The above scene no longer exists. The cart is gone and there is some fire-fighting equipment up against the wall. I’m glad I was able to get the scene before it changed.
Gulsan Temple was founded around the middle of the ninth century. Alas, it did not survive the Anti-Buddhist Joseon Dynasty which came to power in 1392 and set out to reduce that religion’s influence in the country. The land that once belonged to the temple is covered with farms now, with just a few artefacts remaining. I went out that way about a week ago to make a few photographs.
There are things to like about this photograph. The layers of light and shadow from top to bottom, the brake lights of the bus peeking out of the darkness like a cat under a blanket, the relative simplicity of the composition, and, um, it’s level.
But it’s boring. Flat. Static. There’s something missing that would turn this decent photo into a good or very good photo. But I couldn’t see it when I was there pressing the shutter button. I saw a bus, a bridge, the light and shadows, the apartments in the background, and the brake lights in the patch of light. There was something there, I’m sure, that I could have included or excluded to transform this bit of documetary into art. But I’m not skilled enough to find it.
How do I get to that level? Keep looking at great photographs, I guess. And maybe I need to spend more time looking at a scene before photographing it. When I was younger I could sometimes get a good poem to appear by staring at a blank sheet of paper for half an hour. (Being hopped up on many mugs of sugary tea probably helped as well). I just need to stare at things more.
The next time I go out I’ll make a point of choosing just one subject and working on it for more than a minute like I usually do. And bring some tea . . . .
The only two surviving photographs from a bicycle ride through Geumsan Village. It would probably be better to walk through the hamlet so I can find interesting subjects more easily.
This photo looks very low resolution on WordPress but fine in Lightroom. Maybe I made a mistake when converting it.
The same bales of rice straw from a different angle and a bus flying down the highway.
Some time ago I wrote about choosing the Nikon D810 as my main camera but mentioned that I was very wishy-washy about the cameras I use. Well, that proved to be true because I’m back to using the X-T3. The photos above are from the X-T3. That said, my next post will have a photo from the D810. Probably I should just stop talking about cameras . . . .