A story about life in Korea just for Tumblr…

I was stopped today by a Korean fellow who wanted to know about my Yashica Mat.

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He was quite polite, but he had the nastiest B.O.. If you’ve been to Korea, you’re familiar with it: The trifecta of cigarettes, soju, and kimchi stewing on a hot, late summer day. He asked to see how it worked and though my eyes were watering, I allowed him to look through the viewfinder. 

In doing so, he bumped up against me, transferring his nastiness to my arm. Some minutes after he said goodbye, I picked up his nose ghost lingering. I assumed the ever present wind in Gunsan would blow it away as I biked towards home.

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I assumed wrong. I may have to bathe myself in hydrogen peroxide.

konicaiii on Flickr.
Always tell yourself the following at all times; “It’s not the camera, it’s me. I’m the one sets the setting or chooses the film. I’m the one who composes. I’m the one who zooms. I’m the one who picks the subjects. The camera is just the tool I do it with. Some are better built than others but when all is said and done: It’s not the camera, it’s me.” And this way you won’t be a gear asshole. Except if it’s broken. Then it’s the camera, not you. Unless you broke it. Why don’t you treat your gear better? That shit is expensive.

konicaiii on Flickr.

Always tell yourself the following at all times;

“It’s not the camera, it’s me. I’m the one sets the setting or chooses the film. I’m the one who composes. I’m the one who zooms. I’m the one who picks the subjects. The camera is just the tool I do it with. Some are better built than others but when all is said and done: It’s not the camera, it’s me.” And this way you won’t be a gear asshole.

Except if it’s broken. Then it’s the camera, not you.

Unless you broke it. Why don’t you treat your gear better? That shit is expensive.

One of the many nice things about Japan compared to Canada is that every electronics store will have a working display model for you to play with before you buy. They’re tethered to both an alarm and steel cable, so it’s not as if anyone will be walking out the door with them. But the things obviously get used by hundreds of people a day and can get pretty gross.
I don’t remember when I started looking through the memory cards on the display cameras. Ninety nine percent of the time you get pictures of the cameras next to it, or the aisle the display is in. Sometimes you’d get a selfie or a shot of a friend. Those are always like finding change in the sofa for me.
This lass was found in a camera shop in Osaka. I was there to buy my Pen E-P3 and this was the display model I was playing with. I’m pretty sure this is a selfie given the angle that emphasizes the eyes and makes the chin smaller. She’s obviously an old hand at this sort of thing,
I wish I had something a bit better on me at the time than the iPhone to take this picture with. If she was there maybe she could have given me some pointers.

One of the many nice things about Japan compared to Canada is that every electronics store will have a working display model for you to play with before you buy. They’re tethered to both an alarm and steel cable, so it’s not as if anyone will be walking out the door with them. But the things obviously get used by hundreds of people a day and can get pretty gross.

I don’t remember when I started looking through the memory cards on the display cameras. Ninety nine percent of the time you get pictures of the cameras next to it, or the aisle the display is in. Sometimes you’d get a selfie or a shot of a friend. Those are always like finding change in the sofa for me.

This lass was found in a camera shop in Osaka. I was there to buy my Pen E-P3 and this was the display model I was playing with. I’m pretty sure this is a selfie given the angle that emphasizes the eyes and makes the chin smaller. She’s obviously an old hand at this sort of thing,

I wish I had something a bit better on me at the time than the iPhone to take this picture with. If she was there maybe she could have given me some pointers.

A real half-frame camera photographed by a fake half-frame camera.
Both of which I no longer own.
The Pen EE-2 got some mold on it and for the health and safety of my other cameras I had to take it behind the barn and shoot it. I would always tape the film’s box end to the camera because, at 72+ shots per roll of film, I’d always forget what I had in there looooong before I finished and developed the roll. Most of my favorite shots were taken with that camera though. Which is why I bought it’s digital descendent instead of another high end DSLR.
The character is Misshi Chan, the tourism mascot of Miyazaki City.
The iPhone was sold to a friend. Did you know Softbank carrier-locks the smartphones they sell you and are under no obligation to set you free? Add that to poor area coverage in Japan and you get a company that can go do one of the dozens of rude suggestions running through my mind right now as I think about them. The app was called Half Camera by Korean company B1VFX. Don’t bother looking them up. Their logo is all they have on their website “About" page. Twas a nice little diptych-making app though. 
The photo was taken in Miayakonojo one late November near the Jusco. I know this because the leaves don’t fall there until late November. 

A real half-frame camera photographed by a fake half-frame camera.

Both of which I no longer own.

The Pen EE-2 got some mold on it and for the health and safety of my other cameras I had to take it behind the barn and shoot it. I would always tape the film’s box end to the camera because, at 72+ shots per roll of film, I’d always forget what I had in there looooong before I finished and developed the roll. Most of my favorite shots were taken with that camera though. Which is why I bought it’s digital descendent instead of another high end DSLR.

The character is Misshi Chan, the tourism mascot of Miyazaki City.

The iPhone was sold to a friend. Did you know Softbank carrier-locks the smartphones they sell you and are under no obligation to set you free? Add that to poor area coverage in Japan and you get a company that can go do one of the dozens of rude suggestions running through my mind right now as I think about them. The app was called Half Camera by Korean company B1VFX. Don’t bother looking them up. Their logo is all they have on their website “About" page. Twas a nice little diptych-making app though. 

The photo was taken in Miayakonojo one late November near the Jusco. I know this because the leaves don’t fall there until late November. 

IMG_1229 on Flickr.
This is a man sitting on top of a giant drum and playing it with very long sticks during the Okage Matsuri a couple of years back. I assume it happened at the start of this month like scheduled. It got cancelled one year due to a hoof and mouth outbreak. That was a pretty dull summer. I always had a lot of trouble getting to the local festivals due to my Tuesday - Saturday/ 10am -7pm work schedule interfering with the strict Saturday evening scheduling they always had. Luckily the shrine was about ten minutes from my apartment so I could at least catch them rolling in the floats and some of the performances before the fireworks ended the show. But being an hour away from Miyazaki City, and ninety minutes away from Kagoshima, by train meant that I always missed out on what those cities had to offer. Maybe one day when the stars align and the wallet is fat…

IMG_1229 on Flickr.

This is a man sitting on top of a giant drum and playing it with very long sticks during the Okage Matsuri a couple of years back. I assume it happened at the start of this month like scheduled. It got cancelled one year due to a hoof and mouth outbreak. That was a pretty dull summer.

I always had a lot of trouble getting to the local festivals due to my Tuesday - Saturday/ 10am -7pm work schedule interfering with the strict Saturday evening scheduling they always had. Luckily the shrine was about ten minutes from my apartment so I could at least catch them rolling in the floats and some of the performances before the fireworks ended the show. But being an hour away from Miyazaki City, and ninety minutes away from Kagoshima, by train meant that I always missed out on what those cities had to offer.

Maybe one day when the stars align and the wallet is fat…

IMG_1591 on Flickr.
There’s a concept called “reverse culture shock” when people return to the land of their birth after being in parts foreign for a while.  You do pick up local habits even if you don’t mean to. Bowing while shaking hands. Pauses as you look for the best words to use. Pushing into the bus as other people are leaving and then the driver yelling at you to wait and everyone looks at you like you’re an asshole. I did that after returning from Korea. No one waits there. I’ve been back and forward enough now that I can flip my mental switches relatively quickly. And while I still bitch about the constant chill in the Canadian air, I don’t try to pay for bus after I ride it like they do in Japan. I also look both ways before crossing the street correctly. Left, then right, in Canada. Right, then left, in Japan. To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed by how quickly I slipped into my Canadian comfort zone. Like my Japanese comfort zone was nothing. And to be honest, it really was nothing. I’ve pointed out before: Take your boring life in North America* and translate it to Japanese. There isn’t much adjusting to be done. That’s part of the reason I have an urge to return to Korea. I’m never comfortable there due to the first world comforts going hand in hand with the third world personality. Or maybe I felt that way about my time in Japan due to my having been an expat for seven years by the time I got there. YMMV. I tell you this, though… I’d get a full body Brazilian wax in exchange for Japanese style bath tubs in every house here.
I think this was shot with the Camerabag App. But since I got rid of my iPhone, I have no way to confirm that.
*Living in Tokyo/ Toronto/ Taipei/ Seoul/ Dubai/ NYC/ Rio/ etc… don’t count. Big cities are different planets entirely and don’t really represent the nation they’re in.

IMG_1591 on Flickr.

There’s a concept called “reverse culture shock” when people return to the land of their birth after being in parts foreign for a while.

You do pick up local habits even if you don’t mean to. Bowing while shaking hands. Pauses as you look for the best words to use. Pushing into the bus as other people are leaving and then the driver yelling at you to wait and everyone looks at you like you’re an asshole.

I did that after returning from Korea. No one waits there.

I’ve been back and forward enough now that I can flip my mental switches relatively quickly. And while I still bitch about the constant chill in the Canadian air, I don’t try to pay for bus after I ride it like they do in Japan. I also look both ways before crossing the street correctly. Left, then right, in Canada. Right, then left, in Japan.

To be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed by how quickly I slipped into my Canadian comfort zone. Like my Japanese comfort zone was nothing. And to be honest, it really was nothing. I’ve pointed out before: Take your boring life in North America* and translate it to Japanese. There isn’t much adjusting to be done. That’s part of the reason I have an urge to return to Korea. I’m never comfortable there due to the first world comforts going hand in hand with the third world personality.

Or maybe I felt that way about my time in Japan due to my having been an expat for seven years by the time I got there. YMMV.

I tell you this, though… I’d get a full body Brazilian wax in exchange for Japanese style bath tubs in every house here.

I think this was shot with the Camerabag App. But since I got rid of my iPhone, I have no way to confirm that.

*Living in Tokyo/ Toronto/ Taipei/ Seoul/ Dubai/ NYC/ Rio/ etc… don’t count. Big cities are different planets entirely and don’t really represent the nation they’re in.

IMG_2310 on Flickr.
I’m going to tell you something I wish I got when I started on The Path of the Expat; Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re unhappy. I don’t just mean your job. I mean the nation you’re in as well. I don’t care if it’s Korea, Japan, India, UAE, or even frickin’ America. Yeah, you’re gonna tell yourself that you’ll miss the kids. Or you love your girlfriend just that much. Or you don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with Immigration. Or that it’s not as bad as you think. Or where else are you gonna get booze this cheaply? Don’t. Just leave. If you can do it in a way that allows you to keep everyone’s pride intact by all means do it. But if you find yourself in a situation where the best option open to you is to pack your bags and walk out the door, do it.  It’s like any other sort of relationship. If you both can’t find that balance between give and take, neither of you will be happy. Yeah, some people like being in a codependent relationship. But this advice isn’t for them. Life is a very short thing. Don’t make it any more miserable than it can be. Both for you and everyone around you. You’re going to drag them down with you and doesn’t that seem more assholish than making someone cover your shift? This was a Hipstamatic shot, I recall. Taken somewhere on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo.

IMG_2310 on Flickr.

I’m going to tell you something I wish I got when I started on The Path of the Expat;

Don’t be afraid to leave if you’re unhappy.

I don’t just mean your job. I mean the nation you’re in as well. I don’t care if it’s Korea, Japan, India, UAE, or even frickin’ America.

Yeah, you’re gonna tell yourself that you’ll miss the kids. Or you love your girlfriend just that much. Or you don’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with Immigration. Or that it’s not as bad as you think. Or where else are you gonna get booze this cheaply?

Don’t. Just leave.

If you can do it in a way that allows you to keep everyone’s pride intact by all means do it. But if you find yourself in a situation where the best option open to you is to pack your bags and walk out the door, do it.

It’s like any other sort of relationship. If you both can’t find that balance between give and take, neither of you will be happy. Yeah, some people like being in a codependent relationship. But this advice isn’t for them.

Life is a very short thing. Don’t make it any more miserable than it can be. Both for you and everyone around you. You’re going to drag them down with you and doesn’t that seem more assholish than making someone cover your shift?

This was a Hipstamatic shot, I recall. Taken somewhere on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo.

I’m trying to clear up some shelf space and the photo albums I have are a good place to start. They are a testament to the importance of having a good filter. I even kept the blurry ones. Tsk. It got to the point that it was easier to take out the images I felt passed the smell test and leaving the junk images in the albums for later disposal. I got a good pile now. You can see a few up above.
I assume the handful of you that are following me who aren’t bots are wise in the ways of the world. So I don’t need to tell you the dangers of being middle-aged while going through your old photos.
I found a few photos of young me and a lovely young lady that I had completely forgotten over the years, but the shots brought it all back. From the pictures it was obvious that we were into each other. And if I’m remembering our conversations back then, she all but openly told me to sweep her off her feet. I never did. Why? Because I [was] a neurotic, self-hating mess who proceeded to sabotage any chance there was with her. And she was smart enough to not wait around for me to get my shit together.
So let that be a lesson. You want some happiness in life? Stop being a neurotic, self-hating mess that sabotages yourself. 
I’ll start when you do.

I’m trying to clear up some shelf space and the photo albums I have are a good place to start. They are a testament to the importance of having a good filter. I even kept the blurry ones. Tsk. It got to the point that it was easier to take out the images I felt passed the smell test and leaving the junk images in the albums for later disposal. I got a good pile now. You can see a few up above.

I assume the handful of you that are following me who aren’t bots are wise in the ways of the world. So I don’t need to tell you the dangers of being middle-aged while going through your old photos.

I found a few photos of young me and a lovely young lady that I had completely forgotten over the years, but the shots brought it all back. From the pictures it was obvious that we were into each other. And if I’m remembering our conversations back then, she all but openly told me to sweep her off her feet. I never did. Why? Because I [was] a neurotic, self-hating mess who proceeded to sabotage any chance there was with her. And she was smart enough to not wait around for me to get my shit together.

So let that be a lesson. You want some happiness in life? Stop being a neurotic, self-hating mess that sabotages yourself. 

I’ll start when you do.

Coworkers from my last job in South Korea back in ‘07. Shot with a Konica/ Minolta Dimage Z-6.
You know… Hopping into The Wayback Machine via my old hard drives full of photos…
Well, I keep getting the feeling that if I lost the whole last eight or so years worth of photos since I first picked up the hobby, nothing would be missed. (UPDATE: Funnily, I lost 99% of my Korean photos a week or two after this post in a hardware fuckup. Funny as in, “Oh, wait. No it isn’t.”) Sure, I have taken (IMHO) some pretty good shots. But a lot of them have so much baggage with them that they fail as art objects and live only as reminders of things I’d be smart leave in the dust of the past.
What I’d like to do is get some people to sit around me while we go through the hundreds of rolls of film and thousands of digital images, and pare it down to like my best two hundred or so. Photography hobbyists and civilians alike. If both can agree, it’s a keeper. It’s art then.
The rest can go on the pyre of the past with the rest of the luggage.

Coworkers from my last job in South Korea back in ‘07. Shot with a Konica/ Minolta Dimage Z-6.

You know… Hopping into The Wayback Machine via my old hard drives full of photos…

Well, I keep getting the feeling that if I lost the whole last eight or so years worth of photos since I first picked up the hobby, nothing would be missed. (UPDATE: Funnily, I lost 99% of my Korean photos a week or two after this post in a hardware fuckup. Funny as in, “Oh, wait. No it isn’t.”) Sure, I have taken (IMHO) some pretty good shots. But a lot of them have so much baggage with them that they fail as art objects and live only as reminders of things I’d be smart leave in the dust of the past.

What I’d like to do is get some people to sit around me while we go through the hundreds of rolls of film and thousands of digital images, and pare it down to like my best two hundred or so. Photography hobbyists and civilians alike. If both can agree, it’s a keeper. It’s art then.

The rest can go on the pyre of the past with the rest of the luggage.

Three men walk into an abandoned hotel on the Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia and… Something amusing happens with the security guard there?
Brother and friend. Grainy Film mode on the Olympus Pen EP-3. It suited the moment. I’d use real grainy film but my rangefinder is broken.

Three men walk into an abandoned hotel on the Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia and… Something amusing happens with the security guard there?

Brother and friend. Grainy Film mode on the Olympus Pen EP-3. It suited the moment. I’d use real grainy film but my rangefinder is broken.