Bus Stop, King Myeongju’s Tomb

Entrance to King Myeongju’s Tomb Park

In my last post I uploaded a few photos of my walk back to the bus stop. I had also visited the park a couple weeks before that, but had to retreat because it started snowing. I didn’t mind the snow, but it was a Sunday and I was worried there would be no buses and that no taxi would want to come up a mountain road in the snow. While I was waiting for the taxi I made this photo of the bus stop and the information sign. Most historical sites have this sort of sign under a tiled roof. It looks quite nice.
If you smoosh your face up to the monitor you might be able to pick out my tripod on the bench in the bus shelter . . . .

Back to the Bus Stop

I visited King Myeongju’s Tomb this morning with my Minolta X700 and a roll of HP5+. I brought a digital camera along in case the Minolta’s batteries died (Forgot to buy spares. Stunarse.) and to use as a light meter if I ran into some very tricky lighting. The digital camera stayed in the bag while I was using film because the Minolta’s meter is pretty good, there wasn’t too much contrast in the scenes I photographed, and I know a bit about when to use exposure compensation. (So I’ve probably buggered everything up).

I used up a whole roll and didn’t want to start a new roll just for the walk back to the bus stop, so I put Mr. Minolta in my backpack and took out Mr. Fuji. It’s convenient to use the digital camera, but making photos with a manual camera is a real pleasure by comparison.
But I digress. I made a bunch of photos on the way back down the hill and I’m happy enough with three of them to share here.

Someone has done landscaping work here since I last visited a month or so ago. I don’t know if these stones were dug out of the earth to make way for the new path or if they are going to be used to make a wall or something.
Also new since I last visited. They look old, so I don’t know if they have come out of the ground or if they are going to go into the ground.
Waiting for the bus to depart.

The city’s bus system application said that no buses would arrive for another hour, so I decided I would have to call an expensive taxi to get home in time for lunch. But while I was having a swallow of tea a bus did show up. I’m not surprised. The schedule is often wrong. I sometimes think Gangneung’s bus schedule application uses the data from some other city.

It was a great morning up in the hills with old King Myeongju and I’m looking forward to going back there soon. Maybe after I buy a short telephoto for the Minolta. There were a few photos I couldn’t get this morning because I only had the 50mm. The Minolta photos will show up here in a couple of weeks, after I get the film developed and scanned. If I didn’t screw them all up . . . .

Jukheon Reservoir Tomb Site

Tomb Site at Jukheon Reservoir, 2019
The Space Between Tombs, Jukheon Reservoir, 2019

Inscriptions at tomb sites are often written in Chinese characters, so it’s difficult for me to find out who is buried under the mounds of earth. Whoever they were, they must have belonged to a well-off family with the money to buy a large piece of land and have stelae, statues, and tombs made.
These photographs were made in May, when there wasn’t much rain to make the land green. The grass probably grew a lot during the rainy season (I haven’t been there since I made these photos) and the site will get groomed in September in preparation for the harvest festival when Koreans perform rites to honour their ancestors. But not all Koreans. Protestants are forbidden from performing ancestral rites because it’s considered worshipping gods/spirits other than God/Jesus/Holy Ghost.
There are quite a few tomb sites around the reservoir, but none as large, as impressive, and as secluded as this one. Most are within sight of houses and, although I’m not walking on graves or anything, I’m not sure how people would feel about me looking around and making photos.

To Pod or Not to Pod

On Sunday I took my tripod and a bag of lenses up Rock Island Valley again to make some black and white photos in peace. I didn’t feel like going up the same road again, so I crossed the footbridge seen in my previous post and went up into the hills.
   I tried making photos of the bridge and path before moving on, but it was a tripod-unfriendly environment. The ground was very uneven and to either side of the path was thick foliage and many thorny bushes. They frustrated my attempts to get the composition I wanted so I gave up and climbed the hill.

Tomb Steles

About fifty metres or so from the bridge is a grave site. There is a single tomb and then a line of these stelae along the side of the grounds.  There was no problem setting up the tripod, but I didn’t get a satisfactory composition. In this photo I could use the hill as a dark background, but from any other angle the sky showed up as a bright distraction between the trees. Maybe I’ll go back later with more patience and try to work the busy background into the composition.

Tombs

A hundred or more metres on from the first tomb is a group of three graves. There was a bit of muttering and cursing about the tripod because I had to stand on sloped earth to make this photo and the legs were not cooperating. I’ve made good photos of these tombs in the past, but I couldn’t seem to do anything with the place on Sunday’s trip.

Saranggol Walking Trail

As an aside, I hope you are looking at these photos on a decent monitor. They have lots of contrast on my home computer, but appear very washed out on the old monitor I have on my office desk.
   The sign says, “Saranggol Walking Trail”. (‘Saranggol’ means ‘Love Valley”). This is odd, because Rock Island Valley is on the maps but Love Valley is not. The Love Valley Walking Trail is not even in a valley. It goes along the tops of hills. The only mention of the walking path I could find on the Internet was on an old website that said the walking trail is named after the many ‘couple graves’ to be found on the hills. I’ve been all around the valley and the hills and I don’t recall any ‘couple’ graves at all. Many of them are on their own or in groups of three and four. Maybe there is information in the Chinese character grave inscriptions that I’m missing. In any case, Love Valley is not an official name for the area.

Path and Fields

On my way back home I made this photo, which I had failed to do earlier because of the tripod and maybe my lack of patience. I didn’t want to use the tripod, but I did want a wide depth of field, so I set the aperture to f16 and turned the ISO up to 1600. This high setting also gave me a high enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake. It only took me a minute or two to make this photo and be on my way.

Never Looked Better

Some people look better behind cameras rather than in front of them. Making a picture of myself in the apartment elevator is a habit from film photography. It uses up the last or second last frame on the roll and records which camera the film was in. Not necessary with a digital camera, but a habit is a habit.

I learned several things on my little walk along the hills. One, I need to practise being more patient. Photography is supposed to be my way of neatly organising a chaotic world and relaxing, not cursing aluminium legs and bushes. Two, landscape photography is difficult and I need much practice and study. I thought that black and white landscapes would be easier than colour landscapes because there are fewer things like white balance to worry about, but this is not the case. Brown leaves and grey tree trunks can be easily distinguished in colour, but in black and white they look more or less the same. Filters help, but only for some things. I need to practise seeing in black and white again. Three, image quality on the D810 is very impressive even at high ISO settings. I did some quick tests on my walk at ISO 64, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, and 12800. High ISO noise can be quite awful in colour photographs, but in black and white it’s not objectionable and looks like film grain. Sort of. I haven’t tried more rigorous tests or printed any results, but at the moment I think that going up to 1600 or 3200 is no problem at all. 6400 is not bad in a pinch and 12800 would be fine for snapshots.  On my next walkabout I might save myself a bit of weight and hassle by leaving the tripod at home. Or leaving it in my bag until absolutely necessary. But perhaps I should do some print tests of the high ISOs first . . . .

Despite a bit of annoyance with the tripod now and then, I had a pleasant couple of hours in the woods. I met a few hikers who said hello and a little old lady with a walking stick who seemed to get up the slopes more easily than I did. I should follow her around to get in shape.