The man in the vest is a very friendly guy. The man in the vest volunteers. The man in the vest can be seen at every immigrant appreciation event. The man in the vest owns a hostess club or two. The man in the vest is a pillar of the Miyazaki business community. The man in the vest will give you the vest off his back.
The fields to be found just outside of Miyazaki city. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2.
I remember the blue skies and clean air. The abundant nature to be found in and around the urban areas. Woken up by song birds in the morning. Lulled to sleep by the humming insects at night. The occasional visit by that which crawls seemed like a small price to pay.
Nostalgia is dangerous. Not just because it makes you forget everything that made you unhappy. But because it grants you the delusion that the happy times can be recaptured. You should always move on because the future is always uncertain. That’s its main strength.
Medium format film is the best film. Clunky enough to make you slow down and think about your shot. Expensive enough to buy and develop to make you slow down and think about your shot even further. But not as slow as large format, which requires your subjects to do their best corpse imitation.
So I’m sitting here, lunch time on the last day of my five day vacation.
And what a vacation it was. So much traveling. From Ered Luin to The Shire to The Trollshaws! Whew! The things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the orcs I have slain! Worthy of epics.
Yeah, I was too broke to go anywhere so I spent most of it sitting around playing video games. My elf minstrel is almost level 20!
Breaking the hell out of my camera Thursday night didn’t help with getting me out of the apartment any. When I walked into one of those barriers they put up on sidewalk corners to keep drivers here from using them as parking lots I went over hard. I scraped my knees up a bit and I had the wind knocked out of me. The camera was at the end of the tripod in my hands and I guess the extra length gave it a bit more momentum than it would have had otherwise because the body was dented hard enough to jam the back shut as well and throw the pentaprism about 10 degrees off. Remember: This was an old camera from back in the day. They were built tough. It hit the ground hard.
The camera is dead. It is an ex-camera. I left it out on the corner for the old man with the rubbish cart. I hope he gets a few won for the metals in it.
As a creative person (and everyone else, really), there are two… and only two… reasons why you should work for free:
- It’s part of your online business plan. You’re providing free content in the hopes that your readers will visit your online store. (Webcomic method) Or that their clicks will be enough that the advertisers will give you a lot of cash. (YouTube/ Adsense method) So while you are providing free content, you are not working for free.
-You firmly believe in the goals of the organization you’re providing content for. For example, I drew the image above for a government organization that helps foreigners adjust and get through life as new arrivals in Miyakonojo. They do good work and I was glad to pay them back with some free art.
You never, never, never, EVER do it for the exposure. Doing it “for the exposure” is the preferred method of flimflam artists and IP thieves for getting your work. I’d say denying these creeps should be the first priority but that’s just the cherry on the sundae. Also, the only exposure you get is as a chump who will work for free.
But you shouldn’t be doing it simply because you worked really hard and your labour has value. You should be paid for it.
This brings me around to why I wrote this: The local convention, Alleycon, is looking for volunteers to write a short story for an anthology they’re going to publish. It seems as if all of the money is going towards funding the convention. I’d say this falls under condition number two. If that’s something you think you’d like to do, you should do it.
However, if a large money-making convention like SDCC puts out the same call, feel free to tell them to pony up the cash or go get fucked. Not only for yourself, but to serve as an example to your fellow creators.
They shared their beer and onigiri with our troop. I abstained because I find most booze unpalatable and I was still full from breakfast. I asked them to pose for me because, despite being unwilling to participate in life’s little social rituals, I’m selfish like that.
I consider this image a failure because I was shooting slide film and I could not get a good grip on the weird lighting up on Karakuni-dake: Bright clouds scattering the sunlight all over the place. And if you’ve used slide film, you know that you get one chance to get the light readings right and it must be dead on or you’ll be badly exposed.
This here is me trying to save it by turning it monochrome. I do this a lot with color photos. I must suck.
This has been a pretty self-negative post so far, hasn’t it? Anyway, I do like their formal pose. It’s like something that would have been taken in a mall studio. Maybe I missed my calling?
My theory: Old folks wake up early because, when they were young parents, “before the kids wake up” was the only time of the day they had to themselves. This photo was taken with the Olympus Pen EE2 during one of those periods at a friend’s home.
Speaking of friends, my old pal Jayavant has made a habit of posting photos he took a decade ago in Korea. While he made the transition to back home (amazing what you can do when you have a desired skill set) and I’m still here slinging English, these images were from around the time we met. Korea hasn’t changed a bit since that time. All the cities still look the same. The housing too. The only real difference that I can tell is the massive influx of coffee houses on every corner now.
I don’t have any photos from a decade ago. [Insert rant about how you must double back-up your image files here] The above is the best I can do and this is from 2011. For all intents and purposes it might as well be from a decade ago. Or two for that matter. As much as I’d love to get back in Japan, realistically I’m deep in that undesirable age bracket for work there and the odds are pretty damned long.
I really shouldn’t be here in Korea for that matter, saggy old fucker that I am. Score one for being willing to live in a small city while your betters fill up Seoul and Busan.
(A previously posted image this time with new words)
Even though I’ve previously ragged on people for taking the same photos in Seoul/ Tokyo/ NYC/ etc… I’m gonna tell you right now that you should feel free as you want to take cliché photos.
(I know you need validation from an internet stranger. We all do. That’s why we’re online. Well, for that and so we can rage at other strangers. It sure ain’t for the intelligent conversation.)
My reasoning goes like this: You are never going to be the next Bill Ray, Robert Capa, Margaret Bourke-White, or even the next Anne Geddes because we live in a post Getty/ Shutterstock/ Internet world and there is absolutely no motivation for a big publisher like LIFE Magazine to promote your photography as part of their brand. Not only because they can get any image they want on the cheap and no longer have to have a staff photographer. But also because there are really no big publishers left.
Sure there are some magazines and newspapers kicking around, but the Internet has moved us into the world of niche. As a result, you are most likely going to be all your audience knows about whatever art it is you’re producing. Thus you can get away with taking the same photo of the Buddha in Gangnam, squid fishermen in Jeju, stylish Tokyo youths, or homeless New Yorkers as everyone else because they haven’t seen the hundred thousand other shots that are identical to yours.
This is the Internet Age. Their ignorance is your greatest strength.
I couldn’t decide between the images so it was suggested to me that I pair them off. I think the suggestion was a good one.
I’m not really a social person. I’m pretty bad at it at the best of times and I’m at that age where I have no patience for the games everyone takes for granted so I’ve not really had the opportunity/ motivation to get better at it. I do start to feel pretty tired and… I guess the best way I can describe it as “Raw skinned”… after an extended time in groups. So I tend to withdraw from social situations as soon as I feel that mental itch come upon me.
I’m also a geek. Funny how those two things went hand in hand.
Sometimes when I look at these old photos I took of social gatherings from years ago, I feel a twinge of regret in withdrawing from them as quickly as I often do. The young ladies in the top half of the image saw me with a camera and stopped me to take some photos of them together. Both with their cellphones and with my DSLR. Sadly they came out even more blurry than this (Teach me to not bring a tripod with me at night.) though I assume their cellphone shots came out because they did gather around them to have a looksee as I was walking away. That’s when I took the picture.
The bottom half was me simply turning ninety degrees and shooting again.
But there would have been no problem stopping to chat with them further and take more photos. It’s a missed opportunity that probably prevented me from improving my skills just a little bit. I’m slowly starting to get better at ignoring that mental rawness as I age, but I’m still eying the exit.
One of the lesser images from my last roll of Gunsan shots.
I may have mentioned that Gunsan is small. It really came home to me last night when I was walking around the same bar district this image was taken. I pointed my camera at the same lady I photographed before and stopped when I realized it was her. I swing by there once a month and I could recognize the same people. Too small.
I did get to spend some time chatting with some other expats out on the town. Nice enough folks.
A fairly typical street corner in Gunsan. And Ansan. And Incheon. And Cheonan. And Seoul, but not Gangnam because they all live in the subway stations there like a collection of well-dressed C.H.U.D.S.. Korea is small enough, and its cities new enough, that you can get away with saying, “Seen one? Seen ‘em all.”
What I do find interesting is how you can really see each phase of urban development. Even more so than other cities due to the young age of the nation (South Korea didn’t exist until the 1950s after all.) and the oldest buildings still being useable. I mean, sure, if you want to be a pedant about it you can point out the few occupation-era and pre-invasion structures still around the nation. But Korea really has three eras of building evident. Brick, tile, and marble.
Brick seems to be most common in buildings from the post war era before the economic boom of the 90s. Marble is mostly used in the current post Asian Tiger era. Marble is on everything including the walkways and building entrances. Which is something I hate because it turns to footing into a slippery nightmare when it rains. Tile buildings seem to bridge the gap between the two eras. And while it gives buildings from that time the look of an inside out bathroom, it must have seemed pretty fancy at the time.
But as I said above: Seen one? Seen them all. That recent development does create a lot of similar looking cities and this image could have just as easily been taken in Daejeon or Suwon.
While pal Bob finds all sorts of fascination with looking at all these up close, many others feel the cities don’t come alive until you look at them at night from a high vantage point. I wrote years ago about feeling like the lights of the city are more like rivers of light to me than the stars and galaxies they usually get compared to. Swirls, pools, and streams joining large rivers of light passing through the dark landscape…
I usually wish I could blend into the background when I take this sort of photograph because, as you know, once the subject knows that it’s being observed it changes it’s behaviour. Unfortunately I’m a big, fat, ugly guy and the only way I could blend into the crowd would be to go back to Canada.
Burn on you, Canadians!
The problem with thinking like this… The wanting to vanish part, not the self-loathing… is that you are separating yourself from the crowd because you feel they are simply a thing placed there for your use and not people. I think that’s why a lot of street photography makes people uncomfortable. The photographer is basically treating the subject same way a sociopath would. Yes, there are a lot of street photographers with this attitude. Several of them are hanging in galleries right now.
I guess there’s a balance to be found between being courteous towards your subject and getting the so-called “moment”. I sure haven’t found it yet.
Nice of her to not glare at me like most people here do.
This was on the Yoyogi Park side of Harajuku Station in Tokyo.
The last time I had experienced a crowd that thick was in Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping area when they had closed off half the sidewalks, forcing the massive crowd into a bottleneck between the department stores and the subway station. No such excuse here. Everyone was simply making the scene that day and we got caught up in it.
A fellow in a full cowboy outfit glared me. I can only assume that it was because my Australian cowboy hat looked a lot cooler than his American one.