What’s Missing?

Bus Parked Under Ponam Bridge

There are things to like about this photograph. The layers of light and shadow from top to bottom, the brake lights of the bus peeking out of the darkness like a cat under a blanket, the relative simplicity of the composition, and, um, it’s level.

But it’s boring. Flat. Static. There’s something missing that would turn this decent photo into a good or very good photo. But I couldn’t see it when I was there pressing the shutter button. I saw a bus, a bridge, the light and shadows, the apartments in the background, and the brake lights in the patch of light. There was something there, I’m sure, that I could have included or excluded to transform this bit of documetary into art. But I’m not skilled enough to find it.

How do I get to that level? Keep looking at great photographs, I guess. And maybe I need to spend more time looking at a scene before photographing it. When I was younger I could sometimes get a good poem to appear by staring at a blank sheet of paper for half an hour. (Being hopped up on many mugs of sugary tea probably helped as well). I just need to stare at things more.

The next time I go out I’ll make a point of choosing just one subject and working on it for more than a minute like I usually do. And bring some tea . . . .

Downtown Gangneung

The fronts of buildings often get makeovers to please tourists or attract customers, but the spaces and alleys between buildings are neglected forever. Unless a restaurant or coffee shop somewhere down the alley gets noticed on social media and becomes famous . . .

Bicycle Parked Under Electrical Meters, Gangneung.

All four sides of the Homeplus/CGV building downtown are nice and neat with hedges, tile paving, benches (if you don’t mind smokers), and lampposts.

Homeplus Lamppost, Gangneung.

I think this is where I’m supposed to say something insightful about the modern urban landscape. But nope, I’m just an ignoramus with a camera.

Keep on snappin’ away!

A Few From Obong

I caught a taxi to the Confucian School on Obong Mountain to make a few photos but came back with very little. And even less survived my editing process. And that’s a good thing because organising a lot of photos on the computer is a royal pain in the arse.

School Wall and Tree, Obong Seowon

I only thought one photo of the school was worth publishing here. I’ve made similar photos of this tree and wall before, but I think this one is a slight improvement. Better micro-composition, etc. This is from the camera with no adjustments made on the computer. Just how I like it. It was an overcast morning, so I think I may have adjusted the highlight setting on the X-T3 to +1 for a little extra contrast.

No Burials, Obong Mountain

The sign on the left says it is illegal to do burials and set up graves within 500 metres because the water off the hill feeds into the water supply for the town. The sign on the right says you can’t dump garbage there. These signs are next to the Confucian school and I made the photo as I was leaving.

House Gate and Shadow, Obong.

Like the other photos above, this photo is straight from the camera. I think I spot-metred off the pavement underneath the gate and compensated by +1 or +1.3. I keep forgetting to change settings, so although the sun was out, the highlight setting on the camera was still probably at +1. This gate is just down the road from the Confucian school.

Although I dislike making adjustments to photos in Lightroom, I wonder if it might not be a good idea to darken the lower righthand section of the first photo for a bit of balance. Any suggestions?

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.

Fate

I may have mentioned this photograph in a post or in a reply to a comment. This photo was made during my Things-About-the-House phase. It’s a little bit silly, but I like to look at it. I like the contrast between the warm shell of the egg and the cool shadow of the spatula.

From the Archive: Experiments

I started taking photography classes soon after arriving in Gangneung, and my enthusiasm for photography led me to try out things at home. Usually they were failures, but the point of experimenting is to get the bad stuff behind you and learn what works.

My photo teacher thought that this photo was amateurish and didn’t like it much. Maybe, but I still like it eleven years on. I set up the camera in front of this triangle of light on the balcony wall and asked the missus to hold her hand in front of the camera. Then I held my hand so that its shadow fell across her hand. Hours of fun.

I’m not sure what this second photo is about. I titled it “Tomato Awaits its Fate” back in 2007, which is an admittedly dumb title. I might have been experimenting with lines and points at the time and came up with this. It’s not a great photo, but I think I kept it t remind me that I should keep trying new things. Especially important these days when I seem to keep going to the same locations over and over.

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 . . . .