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.

Classic Negative Simulation Examples

A couple of days ago I posted a photo of my cat made with Fujifilm’s Classic Negative simulation. I’ve been using it off and on since then to see what it’s good for. If anything. Here are a few results.

Photographed from the hallway of another building in the complex.

Sometimes I bring my camera into the hall while my cat does his daily tour. I think this is the best version of the scene I’ve done so far. Looks balanced, etc. I also like the tones and colours here. I really like the blue of the sky. The shadows are deep but there is still some detail. This is straight out of the camera except for for some straightening.

Anything is art if it’s neatly arranged and you think too hard about it.

One of Fujifilm’s managers said in an interview that Classic Negative is not suited for food photography, but I think this looks fine. Maybe he meant the food doesn’t come out looking Insta-worthy with blinding colour saturation. The simulation tends to make photos look warm, depending on the situation. I tried auto white balance on this photograph. The colours became accurate, but not as good. I like the warm colour cast here.

On the other hand, fixing the white balance made this photo look much better. Maybe because we expect white fur to look white in a photograph. Amice’s fur isn’t quite as dark as this. The colours of this film are not accurate, but they are usually pleasing. The consensus seems to be that Classic Negative is modelled after Fujifilm Superia negative film. I don’t have much experience with that film, so I can’t really say. But I guess it does look like negative film.

One last example photo. I made this late in the afternoon to see how the simulation handled high contrast scenes. Very well, I think. The shadows are deep, but, well, they’re shadows and I don’t really expect to see much in them. I could lift the shadows in Lightroom, but that usually looks fake. I rather like how the photo turned out. I shifted the white balance a bit, but otherwise no adjustments.

I’m going to leave my camera set to this simulation for a while. I thought it was a bit gimmicky when I first tried it, but it’s growing on me. I just have to mind the white balance and the highlights. I’d like to get out to the beach soon to see what holiday snaps might look like using this setting.

Heroic Pose

Amice in the living room

With his face in shadow, Amice has a bit of a batman (catman? batcat?) vibe going on here. “Whenever there’s trouble . . . . .” he’s usually the cause. Bugger kept waking me up this morning.

I photographed Amice using Fujifilm’s Classic Negative simulation. I’m not sure what to do with this setting, to tell the truth. Fujifilm says it’s not designed for all situations. E.g., food doesn’t look good when photographed using this simulation. It’s supposed to be nostalgic, so maybe it’s good for holiday snaps? I’ll keep experimenting.

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.

Apartment Hallway

Amice whined until I brought him into the hallway so he could do his usual tour.

Amice in Apartment Hallway.

While I was out with the camera, I decided to try the ‘pram at the end of the hallway’ photo again. I’ll get the ultimate version someday . . . .

Stroller in Apartment Hallway

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.

What Next?

Amice sitting with his back to me in the kitchen.
Amice with his back to me in the kitchen.

Judging by his pose, he was in the middle of thinking about what to do next. Get a drink from the kitchen tap? Run into the laundry room? Grumble and leave the kitchen?

Ojukheon

I don’t often visit Ojukheon because there are usually hundreds of tourists there getting in the way of slow, considered photography. But the pandemic has cut down on the number of tourists and I went on a weekday when there are usually fewer visitors. Going in the morning helps as well.

I didn’t expect to get much worth keeping because I haven’t had much success at the location in the past. Tourist places tend to be, what’s the word, bland. I mostly went to practise composition, exposure, and different film simulations on my camera. I naturally deleted a large number of photos when I got home because I was mostly just screwing around, but I did keep seven that I think are worth sharing here. I hope you think so as well.

Stone Benches, Ojukheon

Ojukheon has large empty areas done in brick because of the large number of tourists that are visiting the historic site at any one time. Families come in their cars, but there are also bus loads and bus loads of students and senior citizens. Until about eleven o’clock or so the grounds looked much as they appear in the photo above.

Wall and Hedge, Ojukheon

Ojukheon has a lot of hedges and flowers, so it’s quite a pleasant place to walk around, even if you have no interest in things historical.

Kitchen, Ojukheon

The kitchen for the original group of buildings. If you want to know about who lived here, you can get some information and general photographs at this website: http://www.gangneungtours.com/ojukheon-house.html

Tomb Stone, Ojukheon

There is an outdoor display of grave markers and stelae along with some flowers. Grave inscriptions were usually done in Chinese characters. Korean writing is often used these days.

Flower Pots, Ojukheon

There is a large statue of Shin Saimdang on the grounds, but I wasn’t much interested in making a photo of that. And anyway, there was a constant stream of people taking photos of each other in front of the statue. I found the curves of these stone tiles around the statue and the touch of colour provided by the flowers to be much more attractive.

Tiled Area, Ojukheon

Although I like this semicircle of stone bricks, I don’t know what the area is for. There’s no statue or anything there. A space for group photos?

Tree Trunks and Wall, Ojukheon.

I made this one on my way out of the historical site. On the other side of the wall are a number of unattractive restaurants and gift shops. Judging by the confused looks on the people walking past me, they must have thought I was making photos of those. One middle-aged man didn’t seem to know what sort of photo I was making, but he lifted his phone and made a snapshot of the scene before walking away. This happens now and then, especially if I’m using a tripod and appear to know what I’m doing.

I think I’ll make the effort to get on a bus and go to Ojukheon again soon. I usually avoid it because of the crowds, but I’m happy with the photos I’ve shared here and maybe I can find some scenes that I missed.