Brick Walls

Flowers and Barred Windows, Gangneung.

A nice contrast between the lovely flowers and the ugly barred windows. This house is right in the downtown area so perhaps they are necessary. I like the little purple flowers along the bottom of the frame. There is a similar blue flower that is common in Korea and gives me a real pleasure to see.

LPG Tank and Hose, Gangneung.

Here is something that isn’t a pleasure to see but which makes an interesting(?) photograph. Is this sort of setup Ministry of Safety approved, I wonder?

Downtown, Midmorning

I don’t remember why I was downtown in the middle of a Monday morning, but I suspect I was heading to the supermarket and dallied to make a few photos.
It was a bright morning with no clouds around so contrast was quite high. Since everything was so bright and shiny, I decided to set the camera to vivid mode and get some strong colours.

Shopping area, Gangneung

Power, Internet, and cable lines are all buried on Gangneung’s main streets and tourist areas, but it will probably take some years before that sort of work gets done on side streets. With the clutter of shop signs, it probably won’t look much neater even after the poles are gone.

Shoe Shop Sign, Gangneung

Although brightly coloured, this sign is quite simple and neat against the brick wall.

Glowing Alley, Gangneung

A compose and wait photo. It took a few tries to adjust the exposure so that the sunlight on the ground was very bright but not overblown and the shadows were dark but not gone to black. I made about four photos of this woman and then chose the one that showed both her hand and her feet in stride.

All these were made on my Nikon D810 and 50mm 1.8G lens.

Kodak Portra 400 + Nikon F6

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.

Electric Meters, Downtown Gangneung

This is probably just disturbing to electricians and safety inspectors.

No Parking, Downtown Gangneung

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’.

Building Jumble, Downtown Gangneung

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.

Friends Talking, Wolhwa Bridge

I made this photo while I was waiting for these two men to leave so I could set up my tripod and camera.

Island in Namdae River, Gangneung

The men eventually moved on and I started making photos of this island.

Island in Namdae River, Gangneung

I like the reflections of the apartments in the water.

Backstreet Neighbourhood, Gangneung

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 . . . .

Kodak Colorplus 200

I don’t know what camera I used to make these photographs, but it was either the Nikon F6 or the FM3a. I think it was probably the FM3a because I seem to remember focusing manually. When I got the scans back I also remember thinking that although the FM3a’s viewfinder only shows 93% of what will appear on the film, the lab seemed to send back scans that were only about 90% of what was on the film. This happens now and then and is one of the aggravations of using film. It didn’t matter that much for these photographs (except the scooter photo, maybe) – it’s just an annoyance.
It was an overcast day when I went out with the camera, so the colours are muted. But this cheap-o film produces some very nice colours. It’s a shame the large amount of grain prevents large prints.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these glimpses of what the streets of Korea look like.

Alley Bicycle
Delivery Scooter
The Road to Geumhak Noodles
Must Not Miss This Sale!
Something That Does a Thing Converted to a Parking Space Saver
Alley Sunflowers

From the Archive: The Rest of October 2015

Here are a few photos from the end of October 2015. 
 Restaurant Vents.iPhone 4 Hipstamatic Application. 2015
A restaurant worker came out while I was making this photo, lit up a fag, and gruffly asked “What are you taking a photo of?” I pointed at the vents. While he was sucking on his cigarette and looking at the vents to see what I could possibly be pointing at, I bid him good day and left. 
Central Market. Fishmonger. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

Central Market. Fishmonger. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

A few months ago I saw a tourist pointing his camera at these ladies and making photos. “Rather rude,” I thought, and then remembered I had made more or less the same photos in 2015. 

Downtown Bus Stop. Contax N1, Portra 400. 2015

You might notice that there is a black bar at the top of each film scan in this post. This is a result of my local lab not much caring about the quality of film scans. Stick the machine on auto, zip zip zip. Lined up correctly? Close enough, what? It happened a number of times and it’s the reason I started sending film away to Seoul for development and scans. The Seoul lab is faster as well.
   I like the composition of the bus station photo, but the front of the bus is overexposed and there are some very black areas. I wonder if sending the film to Seoul could get me better results. I like these three film photos enough to pay a bit of money for good scans.

Morning in Downtown Gangneung

A slight aside before getting on with this week’s blog post. My editing process takes about a week and involves rating photos from one to five using stars in Adobe Bridge. Photos with one or two stars eventually get erased because they have some technical problem or they are of no interest to anyone, including myself. Three star photos are photos that might not be great, but have some interest and documentary value. Four stars is just a step towards deciding if I really like a photo or not. A five star photo is one that makes me happy and satisfied every time I see it. I decided to post only five-star photos when I started this blog, but this week’s post is something like a documentary so I’m allowing photos that are good but not great. Maybe none of them are great, but you know what I mean.
And now to the post . . . .

I managed to get up fairly early one cloudy morning and decided to go downtown to make some photographs. I was interested in getting some interesting photos, but I was also interested in testing out my Nikon D810’s Picture Controls. I’ve more or less settled on Standard with -0.5 saturation to get rid of the ‘digital glow’ that I dislike. The Vivid Picture Control with -0.5 saturation also seems to work nicely on cloudy days. Anyway, I got downtown in time for the morning sidewalk market (tolerated by City Hall, not official, I think) and then some street scenes before heading to the vet to buy some food for the kitty cat. Enough babble! On to the pictures!

 When I first came to Gangneung, the sidewalks on the main road were crowded with old women selling vegetables, fruit, and fish from sheets of plastic. It was difficult to get around and looked terrible so the city moved all these ladies into the Central Market where they are now underfoot in the middle of the already narrow aisles. If you go downtown early in the morning, you can see people selling things on the sidewalk of the market road. They pack up and leave before traffic gets going for the day. The woman pictured here is permanently bent over. There are lots of older people like this in Korea.

 The city recently tore down some very old market buildings and put up some nicer ones made of glass and steel. I situated myself between two of the buildings and waited for interesting people to pass by. First there was this woman in a traditional dress. Don’t look to closely – the focus is on the bags in front of her and she’s slightly out of focus. Damn. The photo has a technical problem but was sufficiently interesting to keep.

 Here we have a man on scooter going through the narrow market aisles. This is really a problem. Do you want exhaust fumes falling on your produce?

 Awww……. The city put in a park where the train tracks used to be. There are a few statues here and there. Quite nice.

 Another exercise in patience. I waited a while for this lady to make a gesture with her hand. The figure on the right is a bronze statue of a young woman.

 After leaving the market, I went to a section of downtown that is supposed to be vehicle free. Nobody cares early in the morning and sometimes not during the day. I photographed a number of passing people, bicycles, and scooters(!), but this was the closest I could get to a satisfying composition. I think this kind of photo requires a lot of practise and a willingness to endure dirty looks.

 Why do I like photographing buses so much? Another situation where I composed and waited and waited and waited. And screwed up the timing, and screwed up and screwed up. I finally got this one.

 Buses! A little bit more of the window on the front bus would have been nice.

 A few people (mostly older women) use this kind of tricycle to do their shopping. I wouldn’t mind having one if there was a model with lots of low gears. CGV is the name of the multiplex cinema in town.

 In addition to buses, I also like post boxes. The faded sign on the right says “Open for Business”. I like the contrast between the new post box and the faded paint of the sign and gate.

 I stood on tippy-toe to get the entire mouth of this clothes charity box into the frame.

The vet keeps a couple of cats at his clinic who roam free and terrorise little dogs that come in. They get along very well except when the vet gives them catnip. Then they have a go at each other for a while. No claws involved, so it’s nothing to worry about.

For the curious, all of these photos are JPEGs sraight from the camera with no post-processing at all. I used to fiddle, fiddle, fiddle with settings in camera and then with the RAW files later, but finally I decided that the Nikon engineers probably knew what they were doing when they programmed the Picture Controls. All I did was lower saturation a little bit so things aren’t so shiny. All photos were made with a 50mm lens.