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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Judging by the dates on these photographs, it appears I went to Seongyojang one day with a digital camera and then went back the next day with a film camera. Of course, film takes time to develop and scan, so it’s very likely I was at the residence with the film camera some days before.
I suspect this photo of the gate and stepping stones is not very original. It’s not even that good, really. I think I made a better version of this photo later and maybe I’ll come across it as I go through my archives.
The top of the first photo is the bottom of the second photo. I like the red jacket contrasting with the neutral colours of the wood, sand, and clay tiles.
You can tell when a roll of film has been in a camera for a while because of the different subjects in the photographs. A film lab owner once complained to me that some people made so few photos that there were fours seasons on one roll. And that was before digital cameras and smart phones. There is only one season on the roll of Portra 400 I used last month, but there was definitely a variety of scenes. WARNING! A few of them are disturbing.
This is probably just disturbing to electricians and safety inspectors.
This is disturbing to pedestrians and cyclists. I included the ‘R’ in the top left sign reading ‘WONDER’ when I made the photo, but it was cut by the lab. Grrr . . . . The yellow writing on the pavement says ‘tow zone’.
Disturbing to architects? But fun for photographers.
Here are the disturbing photos I mentioned in the introduction. This is a water deer, probably killed by one of the speeding cars that drive madly over the blind hill on this road. There are many deer in the outskirts of Gangneung, but this ‘sabre-toothed’ deer is fairly uncommon. Poor bugger. Probably killed by some arsehole checking his phone messages while driving.
I made this photo while I was waiting for these two men to leave so I could set up my tripod and camera.
The men eventually moved on and I started making photos of this island.
I like the reflections of the apartments in the water.
The final photo of this post was made at one end of the Wolhwa bridge. I waited around and made a number of frames but only this one was presentable. People were either walking too quickly, wearing ugly clothes, or weren’t walking close enough to the house wall. I should probably make these photos while I can, because City Hall might have plans to raze this area and make more space for coffee shops . . . .
The uniqueness of this image is possibly in how few people see this scene. Long distance drivers, old people recently moved into the city from farm hours, enthusiastic joggers, and the occasional lunatic out looking for gentle light.