Ladder on Wall, 5:4 Format, and Gods

Ladder Hung on Wall, Geumsan Village

There are a lot of run-down houses in the Korean countryside. They look a bit bad seen as a whole, but sometimes these old houses are good for photographing. The photo above is of a wall that serves as both part of the property ‘fence’ and a building. A shed, if I recall correctly. The original concrete wall has been repaired with tacked on siding. I was attracted to this scene by the homemade ladder and the crack on the left. Interestingly, although the wall needs a coat of paint, the ladder seems to be used for painting something, judging by the stains all over it.

I think the nail/bolt/rivet on the far left is important for the composition because it fills an empty space, but it was cut out of the basic scan I had done to see what was on the roll of film. The virtual drum scanner used by my lab in Seoul gets everything on the frame. Speaking of film, this photo was made with Fujifilm Superia Premium 400 in a Nikon F6. For those of you interested, that film is very nice for a 400 speed film, but I think Portra is nicer and for a better price.

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I like the colours of my Fujifilm X-T3, but I really miss the 5:4 format option from the Nikon D810. But! Today I discovered a way to indirectly get 5:4 on the X-T3. You can choose to show framing guidelines in the viewfinder. The options are 3×3, 6×4, and HD framing. 6×4 is just one more that 5:4! So, if I ignore the outer half squares of the framing guidelines I get 5×4. Ta-da! A quick snip in Lightroom and I’ve got a nice 5:4 frame, just as Nature intended. I’ve only tried it at home this evening, but I’m looking forward to having a go at it when I’m outside. I could even, I think, put a bit of magic tape over the rear LCD to help me out a bit when framing. Well, let’s see how well I can manage by estimation before sticking things on the camera.

(Above I wrote “as Nature intended”. Which god would photographers worship, I wonder. Are there any gods of sunlight? The Celtic god Lugh seems a good candidate. He’s a god of light, craftsmanship, and the arts. Ask him to bless your light meter the next time you’re out with a camera.)

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 . . . .

Stepping Stone Bridge

Namdae River, Gangneung. 2019.

There were some heavy rains last month and the stepping stone bridge across the Namdae River was underwater. This is normal flooding level for the river and there was no state of emergency. The sign on the gate says, “Danger. No entry when the river is flooded.” Duh.

For those who wonder about these things, the film was Kodak Ultramax 400 and the camera was a Nikon F6 (I’m 95% sure).

Foma 400

Last month I got some Foma 400 back from the lab. There weren’t many usable photos on the rolls. Partly because of my poor skills and partly because the film quality can be dodgy at times. The edges are lighter than the rest of the frame or there are slight spots here and there. It’s not the lab and it’s not the camera because other films turn out fine. Here are a few of the photos worth posting here.

This scene is on the way to my university, on the short-cut over the hill. I’d like to make this photo again with my X-T3, perhaps in square format.

No, I didn’t buy a new panorama camera and turn it on its side. This is obviously heavily cropped because there was nothing of interest to the left and right of this plant.

Some businesses will buy a shipping container and have windows installed so they can use them as offices. This one was painted yellow (not so obvious here 🙂 ), though most places just leave them depressingly grey.

I liked the strong shadows here so I made a photo. LPG is how many homes get their cooking fuel. The tanks are usually kept out behind the house. Many have rust spots. They are delivered by madmen in pickup trucks.

I wish I had used Tri-X instead of Foma, but I was trying to find ways to cut down on film costs. A mistake . . . .

Kodak E100 Photos

After doing some exposure tests at home, I took my Nikon F6 to a couple of historical sites here in Gangneung. I was happy with my exposure tests but only a few photos from the roll are worth sharing. Here they are.

These buildings are at the Seongyojang Residence. The name means Boat Bridge Place and there was a ferry there when Gyeongpo Lake was larger. Back in the Joseon Dynasty, this was the largest residence allowed by law. Only the royals could have houses larger than 99 kan. One kan is the space between two pillars in a Korean building. If I remember correctly, this residence had 99. The family was once very large and prosperous, but now they take advantage of government tax breaks by living in one little walled-off corner and opening up the rest to tourists. At a high price. I used to go there quite often, but stopped when the price of admission nearly doubled a few years ago.

This tree and boulder are at Obong Confucian School, which I’ve shown photos of before. The tree is a bit too close to the edge of the frame, but there is a tourist sign to the right that I didn’t want to include. I like how the film renders the mute colours. I’m sure this photo can be improved, but it will take some more trips and head scratching before I get it right. And another overcast day. It’s bloody sunny all the time this winter.

This is a better view of the tree and boulder, and perhaps the composition I’m looking for.

This is the view from the front gate of the school. I only meant it as a kind of photo-note of the area, but I quite like it. One for the portfolio.

More film photos to come in the days ahead!

Kodak Ultramax 400

January was a slow month for photography, but I thought I would share a few photos from a roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 film I used in the Nikon F6. There might be a few people curious to see what this film looks like. I added a bit of contrast where needed, but otherwise the photos are what the lab sent to me.

This film portrays head and heel-less women very well. I should have waited until a child passed by, but it’s not a neighbourhood where there are many children.

I like the pavement painting in front of the pots. This film has great colour.

Another example of the film’s bright colours. Reds seem to come out with a slightly orange-y.

A jumble of buildings. This film is very sharp, though there is quite a bit of grain, especially in areas like skies. It might not look too bad up to 10×8, though. And how big do you want to enlarge holiday film anyway?

The missus in a pink phone box.

Dinner at the Samgeori restaurant not far from the city centre. Yum yum.

This is how I know I made the photos using the F6 . . . .

The last part of the roll was dedicated to kitty and his nose prints on the window.

Well, nothing spectacular, but you can see that this is a fine film for casual photography when out and about. I used it in mostly overcast weather and it might look even nicer in sunlight. The film is cheap, which is a nice bonus. Highly recommended for Film Fun days.