Downtown Gangneung

The second roll of film I put in my new Samsung Minolta X-700 was Ilford HP5+.

Garbage Forbidden sign painted on wall, downtown Gangneung.
This painted sign telling people not to put their trash next to the wall of this house is much nicer than the usual spray-painted scrawls.
Motorcycle in Alley, Gangneung.
This is a common sort of motorcycle in Korea. It has a 125cc engine, and in Korea you can drive any scooter or motorcycle up to that size if you have a regular car licence.
Motorcycle in alley next to empty lot, Gangneung.
The same motorcycle from another angle. I discovered this empty lot just a couple of weeks ago when I went through the back gate of a small downtown park.
Self-Portrait in Motorcycle Mirror.
The obligatory mirror self-portrait.
Empty Lot, Downtown Gangneung.
Downtown Gangneung’s backside
Air conditioner fan on building wall, downtown Gangneung.
The fan unit of a commercial building’s air conditioner. One of them, anyway. Each shop and office has its own air conditioner.
Outdoor clothes display and passing woman, downtown Gangneung.
A compose and wait photograph. I wanted someone with dark clothes to pass by the light wall so they would stand out in the photograph. I was there for a few minutes and the owner came out and pretended to go through her clothes, all the while keeping one eye on me. The woman in the photo was also looking at me with the camera to my face. Which worked out nicely for me.
20201106-001-033 amice licking my finger
I include this cat photo because, well, cats! And also to show the quality of the lens. If you click the photo and view it on Flickr, you’ll be able to see all the detail in the cat fur and my hand. I made this photo of my constantly moving friend one-handed with a manual focus camera. I’m very proud of myself! The shutter must have been flying at warp speed 9….. The HP5+ film did a very good job with the highlights and shadows as well. I’m getting a few rolls for Christmas!

From the Archive: Pots and Cloths

20150708-003-005_soy-paste-pots_drying-rags.jpg
Pots for fermenting foods, 2015.

My wife thought this photo was boring, but I like it for some reason. I suppose because it’s reasonably well composed and the light is pleasantly soft.
The pots are used to ferment bean paste and chilli paste. The modern lids allow more air flow than the traditional covers.
I’m pretty sure I made this photo with the Contax N1 and the Zeiss zoom lens that came with it, but I can’t remember the film.

Seongyojang

I cut my camera collection down to one digital camera and a zoom lens, but a few weeks ago I had the urge to use some film. I had a number of rolls sitting in the fridge just soaking up cosmic and background radiation but nothing to put them in. I didn’t want to buy anything expensive because I had just sold all my expensive film gear and I wanted something small. Which lead me to the Minolta X-700 and a 50mm F1.4 lens.
Or, I should say, a Samsung Minolta X-700 with a Samsung F1.4 lens. From the late seventies onwards, luxury items were not allowed to be imported into Korea. This included cameras, unless one of the big Korean companies like Samsung or Hyundai stuck their name on it. Then it was fine. My camera has the old Samsung symbol of three stars on the front (Samsung means ‘three stars’) and on the back where most Minolta cameras say “Japan” this camera has “Samsung Aerospace Industries Corporation” written in Chinese characters. I’m not sure if that means the camera was assembled in Korea or not. The lens has Korea written on the front, so possibly it was assembled here.

I put in a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 and went to Seongyojang. Where I discovered that citizens of Gangneung can get free admission instead of paying the usual price of 5,000 Won. That was a nice surprise. I thought about bringing my digital camera to ensure proper exposure, but decided I wanted to see how good the Minolta’s light meter is. Very good, as it turns out. Later testing showed it to give the same results or near enough as damn it as my digital.

Manhole and Rice Straw, Seongyojang.
Roof thatching season at Seongyojang. The estate had piles of rice straw everywhere. I was worried that the rather loud mirror slap would give me blurred photos, but they were as sharp as you could expect from this film.
View of houses across pavement, Seongyojang.
I’ve made photos of this scene before, but never included the stones in the foreground. It’s amazing how you can visit a place dozens of times and see something new each time.
Man climbing ladder to thatch house, Seongyojang.
Roof thatching
Man thatching roof watches passing woman, Seongyojang.
Please pay attention to your work . . . .

I was pleased with the results I got from the camera, and I’m sure I will get better results with the Portra 400 and Ektar colour films I still have in the fridge. Soon I’ll post some black and white photos I made with the camera on the same day I made these.

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.

Ektachrome at Gangmun

I keep film on hand for when the urge to use it comes over me. Last month I put a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 in my Nikon F6 and went to Gangmun.

Bicycle and Harbour

As I may have mentioned before, Gyeongpo Lake is drained by a very short river (a couple of hundred metres?) that empties into the sea. A couple of breakwaters turn the mouth of the river (‘Gangmun’ means ‘river gate’) into a small harbour. There is a dock for fishing boats and you can usually find anglers at one end of the dock trying to catch the little fish that live in harbour. This bicycle probably belongs to someone trying his luck with a pole.

Sotdae Bridge Arch

I’ve photographed this bridge a hundred times at least, but I think this was the first time I discovered this angle. It amazes me what a difference a tiny detail can make to a photograph. I probably wouldn’t be sharing this photo without the sliver of rail in the bottom left corner of the photo. It’s the support for the whole left side of the photo and I don’t think the picture would work without it. Opinions may differ. You may think nothing could save this photograph. 🙂

Pavilion for Maritime Shaman Rites

Korea’s coast is full of fishing villages and all those fishers need the help of the spirits to come home safely every day with a good catch. I don’t know how often rituals were held in the past, but once a year (every two years?) a big ritual is held here with lots of gongs and shouty singing by a shaman, who is almost always a woman in Korea. I went one year and it was a noisy affair. Maybe the cacophony scares the evil spirits away.

Convenience Store Chair

This chair is in front of the convenience store where I came to get a tin of drink when the air started to warm up. I’ve photographed this chair on a number of trips to Gangmun. The owner of the shop probably thinks I’m mental.

Pension and Coffee Shop

Many fishing villages are becoming coffee towns, and Gangmun is no exception. The lower two floors of this interesting building are a coffee shop and the upper two floors are a pension. I like the little bit of yellow in the corner balancing the larger area of the blue sky. You might be able to see little black specks throughout the frame. At first I thought the lab had screwed up or I had a dirty lens, but a close-up view on computer revealed that all those spots are dragonflies.

The pension was frame 34 on the roll of Ektachrome and the next two photos weren’t that good. The day was heating up so I put the camera in my bag and went home. But I went back the next week with some negative film. Photos coming soon . . . .

Gas Tanks Outside House Window

Residential Propane Tanks, Gangneung

Rubber hoses feed the propane/butane from the two tanks through a selector valve through a steel pipe into what is most likely the kitchen of a house near downtown Gangneung.

This is the sort of setup that I feel nervous walking past, but, on the other hand, provides such an interesting photo opportunity.

From the Archive: Standing Tall

The organising of my photo archive continues, and I’ve recently finished the 2009 folders. These two photos are similar in composition so I’m posting them at the same time.

Anmok, 2009.

This fellow paused in his walk along the river to stand on a hill and watch the river mouth.

Near Hapyeong Fields, Gangneung, 2009.

I’m not sure three pine trees constitute a copse or a bluff, but some years ago the city planted a number of these near the seaside where most of the tourists come.

I’m ready to start going through my 2010 folders, but the first folder contains hundreds of pictures I made at an English camp for children. It’s going to take hours . . . .