The Old Man and the Statue

Wolhwa Park Coffee Girl

I was downtown early one morning and I set up the camera on a tripod to make a photo of this statue. Koreans are generally very polite about photography and will wait for you to make a photo before passing in front of the camera. Or they will go around so they don’t disturb you. I had my focus and exposure checked and was about to press the shutter release button when this man walked into the frame and sat down on the bench. Maybe he’s tired and really needs a sit-down, I thought to myself, and decided to wait until he moved on. He looked at me, pointed at the statue, and shook a finger to indicate that I shouldn’t make a photo of the statue. I immediately thought of the Comfort Woman Statue in Seoul and was worried that this guy thought this was a similar statue and I was insulting Korean history or something. In other words, I thought he was a loony and I should get away as quickly as possible. But then he pointed to the statue and himself and indicated that I should make a photo of them together. I nodded and he put his arm around the statue. I made the photo and said, “Okay, it’s done.” He got up and started to walk away. I asked him if he would like to see the photo. He came over and had a look at the screen but seemed very uninterested in the results. He didn’t ask for a copy or anything. Nor did he smile, which worried me a bit. He walked off and I packed up my kit and left the area.
I guess I got an interesting experience, but I felt nervous and I’d rather not run into people like that if I can help it.

Bridges

On a ride down the Namdae River bicycle path, I made several photos of the undersides of bridges.

One of my favourite photographers, Sam Abell, learned the technique of ‘compose and wait’ from his father. I’m learning it from reading Mr. Abell’s books and listening to his lectures online. I spent a few minutes looking at the underside of this bridge and framing the supports and the concrete bicycle path. Then I waited. Several people walked by but their clothes were dark and blended in with the water in the background. A cyclist whizzed by but was moving too quickly for me to catch. Then this gentleman came by wearing light clothes, a light hat, and riding a light-coloured bicycle. Also, he wasn’t moving very quickly so I was able to press the shutter button before he exited the frame.

I didn’t have to wait in this case because the apartments weren’t going anywhere. I made one version of this photo without the ladder and catwalk on the left. It looked nice, but the underside of the bridge is so dark that it’s not obvious what is framing the apartments. And it’s slightly bland. So stepped to the left and included the metalwork. Now, I hope, the viewer can see that this must have been a bridge I was standing under. I like this photo, but I worry that there is too much visual weight on the left. It might be worth going back to this spot when the light is less harsh so I can leave out the catwalk and allow some details of the bridge to show. Stay tuned . . . .

As a side note, these photographs are straight out of the camera. If I don’t get it right in camera then the photo is a failure, as far as I’m concerned. I do admit to trimming a few pixels off the top photograph because the D810’s viewfinder is not perfectly accurate when using 5:4 crop mode. A tiny bit of sky appeared above the bridge that was distracting. Forgive me, O Saints of the Silver Salt.

P.S. Here is the other version of the apartment photo. If anyone is reading this, perhaps you could tell me your preference in the comments.