I’ve yet to come across anything like this in Gunsan. I mean, sure, I’ve been in Korea again for a total of a week. I can’t expect to find much in such a short time. Poking around what little information is available online about the place suggests that I’m living well south of the heart of the city so once I’m more mobile (Say, after buying a bike) I’ll put in more effort to get up there and see what’s up.
I hiked about six kilometers around the area today and so far I’ve discovered the following: To the south of me are farms. To the east are seas of skyscraper apartment complexes. To the west is a section of town that looks like it boomed in the 90s before falling into a slow decay. I ran across a couple of very aggressive beggars there who wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. They did accept “Fuck off”, however. They didn’t push it past that which goes to show that being generally larger than the locals has its advantages. Regardless I have no plans to go back into that neighborhood.
A (might be a) couple waiting for the bus in Miyazaki. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2.
The folder says April, 2011. Given that it holds photos from earlier in the year (You get about 72 shots on a roll with a half frame camera) I think this image was taken around the same time as Shinmoedake was erupting all over me. A fairly minor inconvenience compared to what happened a few months later with the Tohoku Earthquake. It’s hard to believe that was three years ago.
Young members of a dance club wait for treats in Miyazaki. Shot with the excellent Olympus Pen EE2.
Another Wednesday, another snow storm here in Nova Scotia. Life is a lot of dull punctuated with the occasional hint of work. Photo archives are starting to look thin. I need to get out into the world soon or I shall go mad. Mad like an old-timey madman, I say!
An old friend of mine and force behind the Miyazaki Photo Club having a snack break in front of the Japanese 7/11. Skinny bugger ate non-stop and yet never gained weight. Yup, they really do exist.
One of the reasons that I like large cities is that they have room for weird. Seoul, being the example I know the best, had a lot of weird in it. Weird roads. Weird buildings. Weird alleys. Weird people. Plenty of material to document. The countryside has a lot of nature. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where nature has decided to grow in a very photogenic way, you’ll have a grand day out, hiking around and pointing your camera at things. If you’re like me, you live in a rural area where nature doesn’t give a crap about your photographic needs and has covered itself with thorns and swamps.
However, I find it’s the medium and small cities like Miyazaki, Miyakonojo, and Halifax that hold the fewest opportunities. The obvious car culture where everyone is in a car/ home/ mall and nowhere else, is a major part of it. But smaller cities are also purposeful. Very few weird things are to be found. Roads exist for the ease of traffic and not because that’s where the cows walked five hundred years ago. Buildings are utilitarian. Alleys don’t go anywhere except to a dumpster. And because everyone is in a car/ home/ mall, the weird people a bit too weird to feel safe flashing your camera around.
Suburbs lack all of the above. Null states that they are.
Candid street type photography is almost impossible in Japan due to everyone seemingly conditioned to throw up a victory sign the second they see a camera pointed at them. I guess it beats the scowling and threats they do here.
I’ve been suffering with what I assume is the plague from The Stand and not just some simple cold, because otherwise I’m just a big wimp. I think I’m also suffering from a depletion of my photos of the last half decade. Well, a depletion of the interesting to look at ones. I do have a lot of photos of things I thought would make for good reference images should I ever make that comic about being an expat… that I can quit halfway through due to it not being Pulitzer-worthy.
I’m pretty sure this was taken with an Olympus Pen D if that’s something you care about. I’m gonna go lay down some more.
Fellow sightseer making her way along the Oni no Sentakuita that surrounds the island shrine of Aoshima and down the Nichinan coast in Miyazaki-Ken.
The Oni no Sentakuita, commonly translated into English as “Devil’s Washboard”, is a beautiful addition to the already lovely sub-tropical landscapes you see when you take the train or highway down the Miyazaki coast to Nichinan and Shibushi. Picture it: Palms, Pacific, sun, birds, waves, tourist hotels and spas. If it wasn’t a two hour trip each way for me, I would have visited more often.
As the bird flies, Miyakonojo was pretty close to Nichinan to the south east. As the car flies, you were looking at a half hour trip. But all the public transportation was geared to sending you to Miyazaki to the north east. One hour up to Miyazaki where you would catch your transfer after roughly a twenty minute wait. Aoshima wasn’t too far away. Nichinan, and the famous beaches and monkeys that surround it, were an hour and more. There were no buses to take either.
Miyazaki is often viewed as the forgotten prefecture due to the volcanic landscape leaving it relatively isolated from the major cities, and thus the major transportation and trade routes, in Kyushu. Aside from Kagoshima, most of southern and eastern Kyushu is the same sort of largely rural area that make a lot of money on summer tourism. On one hand, if you’re a nature lover, the area would be a paradise for you. On the other hand, your nature-loving ass better have a car.
This site has a pretty comprehensive look at Aoshima and the shrine.
I’ll end the “People moving to the right” series with the most metal of street photography.
I have no idea who the band was. They were pretty good at that Japanese style of metal. Guy with Cookie Monster metal voice swapping verses with the guy who sounds like Warrant. If they were famous enough to have included an orchestra, they would have. They seemed to have been sponsored by the bookstore across the sidewalk from them. I’ve only ever seen that space used a couple of times for performances. Usually on the Saturday I was typically working.
If I made a book about people moving to my right, it will be as famous as Les Américains. I feel it in my heart. Though really, these guys aren’t moving anywhere…
Last week I decided to buy some of those fancy storage sleeves for film negatives that you can then tuck away in a binder of some sort. Put them on your bookshelf instead leaving them sitting in the bag they came in in the dresser like I usually do. I haven’t gotten around to organizing them due to not having gotten around to putting the films in the sleeves to begin with. I got a few pages filled up but man, do they make the space tight. I was constantly worried that I’d fold what I was stuffing in there.
Passing through Miyazaki at 30kph with an Olympus Pen EE2. We’d have been going faster but even a small city like Miyazaki is a slow drive.
I leaned out the window as passed through the streets between our departure in Miyakonojo and our destination in Miyazaki. Photographing anything that happened to appear as we passed. I stopped when I got through all seventy-some shots on the Pen. No people on the sidewalks until we got into Miyazaki proper. Most of the shots are of buildings and mountains.
I prefer the sort of no-thinking photography that comes with cameras like the Olympus Pen EE2. The only thing you need to do is frame and shoot. Sure, you can do the same with any digital camera as well. But I find that with a DSLR (or even a fully manual film camera) I need to think about the image I’m trying to capture because all of those options and buttons demand it. Do I have the exposure right? Is the auto-focus going to grab what I want it to before the chance is gone? Should I focus on speed or aperture in this context? What if I change the white balance? And so on.
The EE2 is far too simple for you to do any of this so you need to point, click, and hope your eye is good. Very exciting.
(You get a second image today because I’m a bit bored this evening.)
Making the scene at the Lawson convenience store in downtown Miyazaki. I tell yah, nothing reminds me more of East Asia than a tile façade on a building. Like every wall is a bathroom. Every poorly-lit wall *is* a bathroom on a Saturday night. If you’re in Seoul, it’s one every Monday through Sunday. Wonderful acoustics through. That’s why you often find buskers in front of these types of buildings and you can hear the peeing drunks for blocks.
The architectural history of neighbourhoods has always been something that fascinated me. It shouldn’t because there’s nothing fascinating about it. But you see the tile buildings and you know that they belong to an era of a certain level of affluence. The marble façade belongs to another. Thick brick marks a different level of societal wealth from the others. Then you see what survived and what didn’t and it’s like you’re doing archaeology without needing a spade and brush.
Cities wear their histories on their façades, just like people.
I keep going back and forth on this image. The exposure was off and lots of ‘shopping was done, but their attitude is great.
Reversal film in a medium format camera in a roofed over shopping arcade. I think I tried to eyeball the exposure. If I had been using monochrome or even run of the mill color film the exposure would have been fine. As it is, I had to desaturate the image and mess with levels until I got it viewable. I don’t feel bad about this “post” work since even Ansel Adams did 90% of his work in the darkroom. Dirty cheater. Well, not really. A photo isn’t done until you’ve presented it to someone else’s eyes and everything from putting the film/ SD card into the camera until that point is part of the job. I’ve always maintained that if he had been around today he’d be Photoshop’s celebrity pitchman.
Still, I wish I had exposed it correctly the first time. That way I wouldn’t have had to crop out my old pal Peter from the shot. He was looking like a serial killer in the gloom.
I was certain that I had posted up this photo already but it seems that I didn’t. Well, I probably did on a different website. I tend to shed them like holey underwear when they outlive my interest in/ will to continue with them.
It’s End-of-Year-Sales Eve, a.k.a. Day Before the Not Birthday of Someone Who Likely Didn’t Exist Anyway Day, as I write this. The first time in over a decade I’ve spent it in Canada. I’ll be honest, if the holiday wasn’t constantly in my face, I wouldn’t have noticed it passing. I’m the same way about my birthday. Largely uninterested in it beyond the day off of work. Christmas, that is. My birthday isn’t a day off but it will be once I become mad dictator.
Being here comes at the worst time for since being the proud owner of a Hiatal Hernia means the typical food served now sends me scrambling for the Pepcid AC within the hour. Not that the Spam and kimchi of Korea or the KFC of Japan would suit me any better. Too many food temptations for me, though. Like trying to quit drinking soda in the American south or quitting pot as a musician.
This image was taken in Miyazaki with a Mamiya c220f. I cropped it for interestingness. Unless you find walls interesting, in which case I apologise.
Some dancers practicing their art in downtown Miyazaki one weekend. The folder says April 2011, so that must be the date.
This is another of those images that I’ve cropped a dozen ways from Sunday trying to get the best out of it. The last crop I did just had the focus on the three ladies on the right, but that didn’t really capture the scene. The full image is just too wide and all of the interesting stuff (the people) got lost in the cityscape.
I do have a tendency to rely on Rule of Thirds a bit too much in my compositions. It’s a good standby and it rarely steers you wrong. But this sort of candid photography thrives on a more unbalanced, skewed look. Also, a static image strictly following something like the Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio doesn’t do justice of the motion of the dancers.
Since I worked on Saturdays, I missed a lot of stuff going on in Miyakonojo and Miyazaki. This meant I had to hope something was happening on a Sunday if I wanted to get some photos of people out and about.
Both being small cities with “healthy” car cultures meant that I didn’t get to see too many people on the streets and the events were pretty much the only way to try and practice candid and performance photography. It was rare in Miyakonojo, but Miyazaki had some sort of semi-regular events each month. They were mostly put on by the local malls and stores to draw in customers. Sometimes local bands would put on a free show. Usually it’d be the local dance studios showing off their moves.
In Halifax the main distraction from the smallness of life here is playing music. You can’t swing a donair around without someone yelling, “Dude! My guitar!” In Miyazaki it was dance. Even a tiny burg like Miyakonojo had several studios. Three of my favorite students (Funny how your favorites turn out to be the naughty ones) were part of a dance show once. I tried to teach them my sweet booze moves but they didn’t take to them for some reason.
The shot above was taken with the mighty Olympus Pen EE2 half-frame camera. If scanning film wasn’t such a time-consuming bore I’d suggest everyone get one and use it.