This tired woman was sitting next to a store that sells traditional Korean clothes called hanbok. She didn’t have a regular market stall – she just sat in an empty place on the sidewalk and sold greens from baskets.
I feel a bit guilty about this photo. I took advantage of this woman’s poverty for a picture and I waited around for her to put her hand to her face and rub her eye. It’s not the sort of photo I usually make, but I was struck by the contrast between the colourful, fancy dresses and this old woman sitting on the concrete in a cheap jacket.
I may have shared this photograph on my old blog some years ago, but I can’t remember so I’m sharing it again as I organise my old photos.
Dano has been celebrated in Korea for a couple of thousand years and then even earlier in China. It has a thousand year history here in Gangneung and this city’s festival was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The main event of Dano is a shamanistic ritual thanking the sky deity once the fields have been sown in spring. Gangneung might be the only place where these rituals are still carried out. What mostly happens during Dano is a week-long market where people sell bed clothes, clothes, household goods, cheap trinkets, and food. Recently there have been tents set up by people from other countries selling things from their homelands.
I dislike festival crowds and so I avoided going there after I visited once or twice. Now and then I will visit very early in the morning to see if I can make some photos of the tents and empty spaces. I saw this lady coming from some distance so I composed and waited for her to come into frame. Click.
I don’t think that this dog belonged to the schoolgirl getting on the bus. He seemed to be a stray that was hanging around the bus stop that morning. Although it looks like he’s saying goodbye to his friend, he was probably wondering if he could sneak on to the bus.
This was a lucky accident. I was wandering the downtown area looking for something to photograph and noticed this alley. My plan was to frame the street lamp and the apartment building with the grey walls of the foreground building, but this bank employee passed me and, seeing I had a camera, hurried to get in the building and out of my way. Click, click, she didn’t move fast enough. I stuck around after she went into the entrance on the left, but without the woman the scene is very dull. This is a photo that can’t be printed large because it becomes very obvious the camera was focused on the lamp and not the woman. I’m not fast enough for action photography . . . .
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.
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.
This is probably just disturbing to electricians and safety inspectors.
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’.
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.
I made this photo while I was waiting for these two men to leave so I could set up my tripod and camera.
The men eventually moved on and I started making photos of this island.
I like the reflections of the apartments in the water.
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 . . . .
In early July I went downtown to make some photos early in the morning while the light was still good and most people were in their homes getting ready for work. Despite the uncrowded streets and the not-too-contrasty light, I wasn’t getting any photos that I liked. I decided to stop into a convenience store for a tin of sugary, milky coffee to cool off and think about where I wanted to go next. From where I sat in the store I could see just the handlebars of my electric bicycle in the gap between the blinds and the counter. If it’s not art, it’s at least graphic, I thought to myself.
Electric Bicycle Handlebars
I chose to make the photo in black and white to make a simple composition even simpler. And, to tell the truth, the colours were nothing to gasp at anyway.
Encouraged by these results, I tried making several more ‘through-the-blinds’ photos. Most were failures, but with patience and timing I snapped this young woman walking past the store while looking at her phone.
Woman Walking with Phone
I did some dodging on the small shingle roof behind the woman’s head to make her hair stand out from the background. The woman is slightly blurry because of her movement but I think that might be forgivable in a street photograph? Let’s say it is. I think the timing makes up for it. A split second either way and her phone or her back would have been covered by the poster or the blind.
Bus stop in front of the Kyobo Life Insurance Building, Gangneung
Photo of Gangneung city bus made from window of McDonalds early in the morning.Hamburger buns had just been delivered and the crates were sitting in front of the restaurant.
I made these photos soon after returning from Canada, where I made myself sick of digital photography. I had nearly one thousand photos to edit when I got back to Korea, not counting the ones I deleted in camera while photographing. Not much fun. Also, I brought my D810 and a 24-85mm lens to Canada, which was quite heavy and bulky. Soon after arriving in Canada I regretted my equipment choice. So, on this cloudy day in Gangneung, I left my apartment with an F80 and 28mm lens. You can see the second photo is not quite level, a combination of using a 28mm lens and me not having my head screwed on quite straight. When I got this film processed, I also ordered basic scans which were not that great. It also adds a few thousand Won on to the price of developing. Yesterday I had prints made of my favourite photos from the roll on Epson Eco White Matte paper that look fabulous. So I got my Canon Lide 120 scanner out of the cupboard and clicked ‘Photo Scan’. The scanner does all the work and the scans are more than good enough for posting online or making 4×6 prints to share with pen pals, etc. Happy days.