Among the vagrants and ne’er-do-wells you encounter as an expat, you will find the occasional person with an interesting life.
Not me. I’m one of those vagrants.
This is Duncan. I barely knew him. He was a member of the Miyazaki photography club that I was a part of. Nice enough guy. Had a head for languages and seemed popular with the ladies. His adult ESL company closed down (I think it was GEOS) and his unwillingness to teach kids forced him out of Japan. He landed a plum job in Egypt months before the revolution (the first one) and he was evacuated along with everyone else.
I don’t know where he eventually wound up, but I did speak to him briefly when he returned to Japan to attend a mutual friend’s wedding. I assume he’s doing well because he’s that sort of person who does well in life.
I’ve been meaning to post up some of my kid photos since I think I have a number of good ones, but the trick is to make sure I crop the image in such a way as to eliminate any of the identifiers. The obvious ones are the name tags that young children wear on their kindergarten uniforms, but it also includes landmarks and business signs in the background.
Realistically, the odds of some creep using my photos to track kids ten thousand kilometers away is pretty remote, but I feel the strong urge to find a balance between respecting the anonymity of my subjects and the desire to share art. Both of the other options some photographers take seem extreme in my view. There are those who never release their photos because they see it as better safe than sorry. And there are those who put everything up because they’re the photographer, dammit, and what right does a plebeian like you have to tell them how to use their art!?
I tend to fall on the side of the art. I’ll just try to be sensible about it.
When I pick these photos, I usually have two criteria;
1. Is it interesting to look at?
2. Can I write about it?
I think this one fits both.
The Fuji Instax Mini is a hard camera to use. Guessing the power of the flash required to get the exposure you want. Figuring out the parallax so you don’t cut anything off. Wondering why things stopped working because it was shaken mildly. All in all I’d suggest avoiding getting one unless you, as I mentioned before, have more money than brains.
This fellow here is the owner of the Chikuma Camera near Ueno station. Opposite direction from the zoo if I recall correctly. The pedestrian overpass leading from the station and the stairs down seem to lead you right to the shop. When me and my friend Greg went there, he gave us coffee and showed us rare cameras worth thousands of dollars. He also told us that (I’m paraphrasing here) the fascists in my previous photo were assholes for believing in a philosophy that led the nation to ruin the last time it was used.
We didn’t buy anything because of the prices. Too rich for our blood. But everything we tried were in perfect working order. Unlike some of the hole-in-the-wall shops that seemed to be seeing how high they could pile Nikon bodies.
A large number of my photos were lost when the external hard drive they were stored in decided that life was too cruel and committed suicide. All of my originals from Korea. Any digital I took in Taiwan and from the last time I visited Canada back in 2008. And a number of pictures from Japan vanished.
What did survive was my “Done Shots” folder. This is where I move the images I made web-ready when my “Uploads” folder starts getting too crowded. This is also where my surviving photos from Korea were found. For the most part these shots have watermarks of defunct websites. I go through sites like some people go through relationships, which is why I simply add my name and the Creative Commons license nowadays. And they’re blog sizes. Anywhere from five hundred to a thousand and twenty four pixels on the longest side. (Like this one.) Assuming that the watermark with the dead URL is someplace I can easily clone stamp it out, and the remaining image is at a large enough size that I can ‘shop ‘n’ crop as needed, I can repost them in this context.
But it’s the small ones that hurt. I could probably use them in a traditional blogging manner: Sitting among the text of the essay. But for any other use, including making prints if I so desired, they’re nothing more than tiny reminders that I’m horrible at keeping my electronics in good shape.
The meter on the Nikon F2 that I took this photo with had a bum light meter. It worked perfectly in full daylight, but as it got dimmer, the meter got more and more off. Since it was only a little bit dim this photo wasn’t underexposed enough that I couldn’t bring it up a bit in Photoshop. There are a few others I took with the Nikon that are in the same boat, but it’d be a lot easier to work with them if I still had the originals.
My on-again-off-again girlfriend during my time there always wanted to show me everything she loved about her country. I think it was mostly places that were on popular TV dramas. One of those places was the Korean Folk Village park located in the city of Yongin. It’s nice enough if you visit at the right time of the year and get the right sort of crowds. I had a lovely shot of a couple walking through the sakura but it’s among the missing now.
This fellow was the boss of the musical performing troupe there. Friendly guy.
… Now I just deleted two thousand words in regards to how women in mixed race relationships are treated there because the topic is exhausting and depressing. Yes, I included Hines Ward’s mother essentially telling Korea to go fuck itself. Maybe things are changing for the better there because of him and the anti-miscegenation folks are making a noisy death rattle. Korea’s culture changed lightning fast during the six and a half years that I was there and I can’t see that not continuing despite some the horror stories I’ve heard since the economy slumped. But one of the main difficulties that eventually ended our romance for good was how she felt people (To be specific: Korean men) were looking at her when we were together.
I have no doubt my own horseshit played a factor as well. But after I left Korea we lost touch. I wish her well.
A friend of mine who has a luxurious mane of hair worthy of the poets that he keeps hiding. While I, someone who is balding in a way that would remind you of a cannibal mutant living near an atomic test zone, only wears a hat while outside to keep the sun from leaving blisters.
It’s a crazy mixed up world. And my hat is quite nice.
This is the Grainy Film mode on the Olympus Pen. I like it. But like all digital filters it needs to be used sparingly and in the right context. This context was living room lighting. Living room lighting makes everyone look like a Simpson.
Wonderful. A good philosophy to have about life, I feel.
I have a number of kid portraits that I’m quite proud of. But many of them hold too many un-editable identifiers for me to feel comfortable with posting them online so they remain something for me and their mothers alone. I can see why some folks avoid it all together.
Personally, I find the good/suck ratio for candid “street” photography like the images below this one are pretty bad. That may simply be due to my skill at that type of photography. I prefer this sort of off-the-cuff portraiture. East Asians are great to do this with since everyone is taking pictures of themselves and each other non-stop. I’d like to try it some here in Canada but everyone is so fearful I don’t think much of my chances of success…