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.)

Black and White and Colour

Assembly Area, Seongsan, 2019
7-11 Picnic Table, Seongsan, 2019

The rain stopped early in the morning of September 12th, so I climbed across my bike and went for a ride as far as Seongsan. It was the usual route through Geumsan and then to the 7-11 at the end of town for a tin of mocha coffee and a little rest. I set the camera for black and white, but it turned out that colour was better for some of the photos I made that morning.

Black and white was the better choice for the first photo because the scene was more or less monochrome anyway. I thought there was a building going up behind these fences and gate, but the sign says it’s an assembly area. Whatever that means. Over the top of the fence I could see some large metal structures that looked like they might be parts of a bridge or another large infrastructure project.

I made the second photo because I liked the deep green of the plant and the slightly orange-ish brown of the picnic table. I usually make a couple of photos of the picnic tables and flower pots when I stop for my tin of coffee. The owner probably thinks I’m mad. But maybe doesn’t care as long as he makes 900 Won every time I drop by.

From the Archive – Chair in Anmok Village

Anmok, 2011

I seem to recall carefully setting up a tripod to photograph this chair against the yellowish wall of a run-down fishing tackle shop in Anmok. It was early morning and there were very few people around. As I was making the photo, the owner, an old woman in a loose dress, came out and glared at me. I finished making the photo and scurried off.

Anmok was once a collection of tired houses, raw fish restaurants, and coffee vending machines. Anmok became well-known for the dozens of coffee vending machines lining the main road of the village and it was something to come and see. Developers sniffed out an opportunity, and in a few years the old houses and shops and vending machines were gone, replaced by franchised coffee shops and a Starbucks. There is no charm left in the area now, but money is being made hand over fist by people who may have never even been to the village . . . .