Gangmun

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.
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This couple passed me as I was making photos of a bridge and then later nicely completed this composition.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

Alley

Car parked in alley, downtown Gangneung.
Downtown Gangneung

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.

New Traditional Buildings

Gangneung built a new city hall on top of a hill and tore down the old one which was situated in the downtown area. Some years later they got rid of the big Central Post Office which was right next door to the old city hall and built new traditional-style buildings on the vacant lots. These buildings are used for festivals and events pretty much all through the year. There is even a very small library in one of the buildings. I think it’s great that the city turned a piece of prime business real estate into something that everyone in the city can enjoy. And, even better, they built traditional Korean buildings instead of the usual concrete, steel, and glass rectangles that pop up all around the city.

Traditional Gatehouse, Gangneung.
The latest addition to the grounds was this gatehouse.
Traditional Building, Gangneung
This building gets opened up during festivals to display exhibitions and hold traditional events. When nothing is going on, it’s nice to sit on the veranda (called a maru in Korean) and relax.

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.