Downtown Across the River

Downtown Gangneung seen across the Namdae River

This is the same river that was in a previous post about Seongsan. It’s getting closer to the sea so it’s wider, but not much deeper. There is little precipitation in winter, so the rivers are just about dried up until the rains of spring and the monsoon season in summer.
The composition of this photo is very similar to the photos in the post about Seongsan, so I should starting doing something different.

A bicycle ride to and from Seongsan

I was going to post two photos of cars parked illegally on a cycling path and a sidewalk but changed my mind. I remember Sam Abell writing or saying something like, “There are many ugly things in the world, but there will never be enough beautiful things.” The photos of the bad parking just make me angry, and who needs more of that? So I am posting two photos that make me feel pleased with myself. And maybe they will please you as well.

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Yongbong Service Station and Yongbong Transport Limited, Seongsan.

I’ve posted photos of this gas station before, but I stood more to the right this time and included the yellow line in the road. The line nicely balances the orange-yellow in the gas station roof. And how nice that the taxis are orange as well.


Between Geumsan Village and the Neighbourhood of Hoesan.

I’m not sure if parking in front of a road sign is illegal or not, but at least it’s not on a sidewalk or cycling path. There is no deep meaning to this – I just liked the tilted sign and the way the arrows seem to give some sense of motion to a parked car.

Wetland Ferries

Gyeongpo Wetland Park
Gyeongpo Lake

I don’t know if the ferry in the first photo is being used or not. It’s floating, but there is a lot of water in the bottom. I saw it on the other side of the wetland one day, but it might have been blown over there by a storm that passed through the area.

The boat in the second photo is sitting on concrete supports at the end of a wharf. Until recently you could walk out on it to take pictures, but now it’s roped off. The city is probably worried someone is going to go down through the old wood.

Reed Barrier

Gyeongpo Wetlands Park

Some parts of the park have high reed barriers put up to protect nesting birds from noisy and invasive tourists. These little windows allow you to look inside the protected areas. I didn’t see any birds, but I did rather like this stand of trees.

Seongyojang and Point of Departure

I’ve been listening to a number of interviews with Ralph Gibson and several times he has talked about showing his photos to Dorothea Lange when he was her darkroom assistant. She looked at them and said, “You have no point of departure.” “This is true,” he replied. “What is a point of departure?” Basically, she explained, it’s having a purpose to your photography. This purpose will allow you to see things you might not otherwise if you are just wandering about.

Sometimes getting the perfect ‘shot’ is as difficult as tossing these sticks into the wooden jar.

My point of departure for a project I am working on is making black and white 1:1 photos of traditional Korean objects and scenes. And to do it in a minimalist or abstract way with, ideally, the frame split in two and each section filled with nothing unnecessary included. The photo above is something like I’m looking for, with a large section of grass in one section and a sliver of wall and the game in the other.

Two kinds of stone wall

This is closer to what I have in mind when I think about the project.

Various totem poles

This doesn’t exactly match the idea I have in my head, but it’s not a bad photo and the composition is quite simple. Even if it doesn’t make it into the final project, it’s still a picture I will print and enjoy.

Gate

This is close to the ideal again. Most of the photo is filled with the gatehouse wall and then a small amount of the frame is filled with the gate door. But, the two parts of the frame are perhaps too similar to be interesting to the project.

It’s good to have a point of departure and I think I can manage the technical side of it. The problem is the thematic point of departure. What is it I want to say with my photos? At the moment I’m making well-composed records of things I’ve seen, but I’m not sure that I’m making any sort of statement about the things I’ve seen. And this is what separates good photography from great photography. Maybe I’ll never get there. That’s okay, because I enjoy what I’m doing, but I want to take it just that little step further . . . .

Long Cloud

Across the River

I was interested in the cloud and not the buildings when I made this photo. The buildings are fairly ugly, but the skyline here is more varied than most other locations along the river. In most places it’s just long lines of concrete boxes.

Cat, Church, and Cat Again

It’s a cat

For every relatively in-focus photograph of my cat, there are five or six pictures with blurred turning heads, flicking tails, massive yawns, or his rear end exiting the frame at warp 5.

In my last post I joked about joining a cult to paint alleyways. It later reminded me of another experience I had with a church member. I was exploring the city of Anyang one day in 1996/97 when a smiling woman approached me. Our conversation went something like this….

W: Hello.
M: Hi.
W: Where are you from?
M: Canada.
W: Oh, that’s very nice! What are you doing here?
M: I work at an English academy here in Anyang.
W: That’s nice. Do you have many friends here?
M: No, not really. One of my co-workers.
W: Oh, you should come to our church. You can meet lots of people.
M: Well, I’m not a Christian, so I don’t think I would fit in.
W: No, no! It doesn’t matter if you’re not Christian. You can come to our church!
M: I’m not really interested.
W: You know, two of my brothers-in-law are American. They weren’t Christian, but they started coming to our
church and now they are Christian!
M: Well, that’s very nice for them and their wives, but I’m not interested in attending church services.
W: We have lots of foreigners at our church so there are English church services and you can meet other
people.
M: Yes, that’s very nice for foreign Christians, but I’m really not interested in going to church. I’m not
a Christian.
W: (pause) There are lots of girls at our church . . . .

She almost had me, haha. The encounter was weird, annoying, funny (in hindsight), and uncomfortable all at the same time.

She definitely would have had me if she had mentioned the church was full of cats.

Back to the Bus Stop

I visited King Myeongju’s Tomb this morning with my Minolta X700 and a roll of HP5+. I brought a digital camera along in case the Minolta’s batteries died (Forgot to buy spares. Stunarse.) and to use as a light meter if I ran into some very tricky lighting. The digital camera stayed in the bag while I was using film because the Minolta’s meter is pretty good, there wasn’t too much contrast in the scenes I photographed, and I know a bit about when to use exposure compensation. (So I’ve probably buggered everything up).

I used up a whole roll and didn’t want to start a new roll just for the walk back to the bus stop, so I put Mr. Minolta in my backpack and took out Mr. Fuji. It’s convenient to use the digital camera, but making photos with a manual camera is a real pleasure by comparison.
But I digress. I made a bunch of photos on the way back down the hill and I’m happy enough with three of them to share here.

Someone has done landscaping work here since I last visited a month or so ago. I don’t know if these stones were dug out of the earth to make way for the new path or if they are going to be used to make a wall or something.
Also new since I last visited. They look old, so I don’t know if they have come out of the ground or if they are going to go into the ground.
Waiting for the bus to depart.

The city’s bus system application said that no buses would arrive for another hour, so I decided I would have to call an expensive taxi to get home in time for lunch. But while I was having a swallow of tea a bus did show up. I’m not surprised. The schedule is often wrong. I sometimes think Gangneung’s bus schedule application uses the data from some other city.

It was a great morning up in the hills with old King Myeongju and I’m looking forward to going back there soon. Maybe after I buy a short telephoto for the Minolta. There were a few photos I couldn’t get this morning because I only had the 50mm. The Minolta photos will show up here in a couple of weeks, after I get the film developed and scanned. If I didn’t screw them all up . . . .