Practice

I decided to stop downtown yesterday on my way to the supermarket and practise a bit of photography. My goal was to make photos that didn’t require any adjustment after I pressed the shutter button. I was sure I could do this by selecting an appropriate film simulation for each scene, recording as JPG so that the Fujifilm X-T4’s processor would do its magic on the pictures, and by making sure that exposure and white balance were spot on. Here are the three photos I kept from my little walkaround.

Ashtray-garbage can and dustpan, Downtown Gangneung.
The Korean reads, “You fucking sons of bitches! Throw your garbage away properly! The author used a Chinese character to sign his name ‘Hoon’. I assume Hoon is a street cleaner.
Entrance to Wolhwa Market, Downtown Gangneung.
Entrance to Wolhwa Market, Downtown Gangneung.
Inside Bus 300, Gangneung.
On the way from downtown to Emart.

In case you’re curious, the film simulations I used are from top to bottom Negative Pro High, Velvia, and Acros. I confess that I reduced the exposure of the market photo by one third of a stop in Lightroom to make the colours a bit nicer. Otherwise, I’m happy with the results and even happier that I didn’t spend time in Lightroom’s develop module fiddling with tone curves and sliders.

From the Archive: Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium Under Construction
Women’s Olympic Hockey Rink Under Construction, 2016.
20161117-001 kwandong olympic stadium construction
Putting on the finishing touches, 2016.

The 2018 Winter Olympics were held here in Gangneung and in the neighbouring County of Pyeongchang. Skiing and similar sports were held on the mountains in Pyeongchang and stadium events such as hockey, skating, and curling were held in Gangneung.

The women’s hockey rink and a practice facility were built at the university where I work. The university’s old gymnasium was torn down to make room for the rink and the Department of Physical Education had nowhere to practise basketball etc for a couple of years. All the professors I know in the department were very unhappy. The football field was also unusable for a long time because the construction company put all their equipment on it.

The Olympics are over and the rink has been converted into a gymnasium for use by the university and the public. The conversion took a long time because the government didn’t give the university the funds to do so for many months. More complaints from the professors and students. And no one is happy about the gymnasium except the university’s PR department because maintaining such a facility is very expensive.

I don’t have a photo, but the university recently installed huge windows in the upper part of one side of the gymnasium. They did it in the hopes of letting in more light to save on the building’s enormous electricity bill. The original architect must be crying at what was done to his/her creation. It’s an extremely utilitarian and ugly job with no thought to the beauty of the building as a whole. And a student told me the new windows illuminate part of the roof but nothing more.

What’s Missing?

Bus Parked Under Ponam Bridge

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 . . . .

National Assembly Patrol Car

National Assembly Patrol Car No. 1, Gangneung

This electric(?) car is parked behind a movable building in the same lot as the toilets. The National Assembly is in Seoul, not Gangneung, so why it would be growing roots out behind this yard is a bit of a mystery.

As for the building itself, I just noticed a sign in the background that says “Rest Area – Diaper Changing Station”. Insert joke about the maturity levels of national assembly members here.

Alley Building

Downtown Buildings, Gangneung

This was made just after coming out of the pork cutlet restaurant I mentioned in my last post. Again, I only had the slightly wide pancake lens on the camera so I couldn’t get the composition I saw using my mind’s eye. Using the 8×10 crop overlay in Lightroom solved the problem. Along with the levelling tool – my head must be screwed on slightly unevenly.

I’m not sure what’s in these buildings. The ground floors are shops and restaurants. The upper floors might have apartments or offices that don’t need window displays.

I got the print version of this photo in the mail today. Everything looks better on matte paper.

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!

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.