Ladybird

Ladybird

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.

Seongyojang

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.

Blurred Calligraphy Sign.

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.

Lawn and Buildings.

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.

Stepping Stones.

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.

In traditional Korean houses, especially those in the south, there is no real distinction between doors and windows, since the whole wall is basically removable and a can enter anywhere.
These stairs lead up to an empty plot of land. Possibly they are for the gardener.
Stairs and wall made of stone blocks.

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.

A moderate telephoto lens compressed this chimney nicely against the clay tile roof.
These 18th and later century buildings have been fitted with electricity for interior and exterior lights.
This photo was made in winter, so I’m not sure if the trees in the background are dead or have just lost their leaves for the season.

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.

A Walk in the Hills

I’ve probably mentioned the hills and paths that surround Stone Island Valley behind my apartment complex. It’s not much of a valley and dale might be a better word to describe it. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a nice place to take a walk because most people take their walks on the concrete road that goes up the dale and fewer people go up into the hills to stroll amongst the trees.

The hilltop path as it dips between two hills.

Not only are there fewer walkers on the path, but at most points you can’t see any houses or roads. I almost said you can’t see any signs of civilisation, but this would be false because the hills are full of grave markers and tombs.

I don’t know if these flower pots were blown over by the wind or if they were casually tossed there by someone.
The walking path passes by many graves and grave markers like these.

On my walk this day, I saw only one person and he was quite a distance away. He must have turned off somewhere, because he never caught up to me even though I frequently stopped to make photos.

In addition to a human, I saw and heard birds the whole time I was walking and as I was coming down off the hill near the end of my walk I was surprised by a deer who leapt out of some tall grass and ran for the hills. It was at the bottom of that path where I cam across a photogenic tree that I want to visit again in different kinds of weather. This might make an attractive colour photograph in late spring.

An interesting tree on a less-travelled path coming down off the hills.

I noticed today that WordPress automatically includes the captions I write in Lightroom to the bottom of each photo. This might be a new feature as it’s never happened before. Or perhaps I deleted metadata in the past when saving for the web. Anyway, it’s a convenience. I wish it would read the keywords, though. That’s what takes up the time.

A day at the beach

You may notice a distinct lack of beach in these photographs. I am usually more interested in the things you find around the beach rather than the beach itself. I don’t think I went out to Anmok Beach with any photographic goal in mind, which is why there’s no connection between these two photos. Other than the fact they are both black and white.

Coffee Bean Statue, Anmok.

This is the top section of a statue built from metal strips. The bottom is a white coffee cup and stacked on top of that are three giant coffee beans. The statue is about twice my height. There is a steady stream of tourists who come to stand in front of it for pictures.

Pine Tree, Anmok.

This is a photo Edward Weston might have done if he were much less talented. I like it. I can’t find any glaring errors in composition and the twisted branches are attractive. Bystanders kept looking from me to the tree while I was making this, trying to figure out what I might be photographing.

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.