Here’s some color to break up my sea of grey. Some selfies being taken with Glico-Man in Osaka. Olympus Pen E-P3.
Meanwhile, here in Gunsan, I keep getting these bright ideas to visit old haunts like Seoul or Cheonan just to see what has changed. Then I keep looking at my bank account and doing some math about how long I can make that last and in the end the idea gets pushed to the back burner.
The same thing happens when the tasty, tasty odor of grilled meat wafts through my windows from the BBQ restaurant district my apartment has been cruelly placed in the middle of.
Young fellow ignoring the sights at Shibuya in favor of his stupid smartphone. Canon 550D/t2i/Kiss X4.
There is one fellow I follow on Flickr who is pretty good at capturing interesting images of people with their nose stuck in their phones but I’ve never been able to make it work to my satisfaction. Of course, he seems more willing to just stick his camera wherever he wants than I am (Curse my polite Canadian upbringing!) so that probably explains why he gets the shot more often than I do. Though it could be because I keep trying to tell a story instead of just grabbing a moment and letting it make its own story. Or maybe I just need to start swinging my camera from its strap or something.
I really should head out tonight and try to get some practice in, but damn, that wind is cold…
I think this was at an event featuring some Tarento in Kagoshima. Shot with a Pentax MX.
You who care to click all the way through to the original image may notice that it’s slightly smaller than my usual 1400 pixel wide images. This is because I grabbed this photo from a folder called “Done Shots”. That’s where I dump images that have been uploaded to various blogs and sites like Flickr. It’s also where a lot of my images that were lost in The Great Crash of 2013 can be found. Just in reduced size.
While this one is big enough that I could probably get a decent print out of it, most of the others aren’t. And while those are big enough for blogging purposes, the small size means it’s impossible for me to work on them anymore. They are at the end of their use as images. I cannot crop them down or do some ‘shopping with them without rendering them an illegible mess. That is tragic to me. Like a friend that’s no longer alive.
Fellow tourists at Doutonbori in Osaka. Shot with an Olympus Pen E-P3.
Yesterday I sent my first film of this jaunt to Korea off to be developed. The local shop in the LotteMart only does digital prints like I was expecting and they had to mail it off to Seoul. My guess is that they send it to Photopia since they seem to be the only place that does it now… Though there may be something I’m missing on that page that says “No film!” I did find a shop up the street with a big yellow Kodak sign on the wall. However there are no posted hours. Just a phone number which suggests to me a business that’s open when the owner feels like coming in.
I’ll have to try and catch them some day to see if they can save me from being a fool with an antique.
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.
Summer festival crowds in Miyakonojo. Shot with a Canon 550D or whatever it was marketed as in your area.
I’m probably weeks away from being able to post up interesting photos of Gunsan so it’s more of my Japanese images for you for the next while. It might even be closer a month or two since I’m on a pretty tight budget and I haven’t been able to find a place that does developing aside from a kiosk in the local Lottemart. Teach me to fly with the film camera instead of the digital because I felt my big chrome brick would be too expensive to have shipped later on.
I don’t look forward to having the “It’s a C-41 film, so it’s okay to feed into your machine even if you haven’t seen the brand before. Just develop it.”, conversation in Korean.
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.
This is another one of those photos that I can’t decide if I like it or not. Shot with an Olympus Pen EE2 in Kumamoto, Japan.
We’re at the foot of Kumamoto Castle. I was there for a work seminar and he was just someone I saw squatting in the middle of the road when I went out to return to my hotel. He wasn’t facing the castle. That would be to the right and up the hill. He was taking a photo of an elderly couple sitting under a tree in front of a local café. Friends or family, perhaps. Why he needed to risk life and limb to get the shot from so far away is beyond me, but who can argue with artistic motivation?
This is any corner on the northern side of the Han River in Soul. It’s specifically the exit of Itaewon Station, but it could be any corner in the northern half of Seoul.
Some of the older districts on the south side of the river look like this as well. Apgujeung comes to mind. Yeongdeungpo too. For places that are supposedly full of rich people, they’re pretty worn out-looking. If you didn’t go into any of the shops in Apgujeong and looked at the prices you’d think it was as ploddingly middle class as my old haunts in Gangbuk. It looked better off than the slums across the river in Oksu-Dong, but a bombing range looked better off than the slums in Oksu-Dong.
Songpa-Gu was essentially built for the ‘88 Olympics and as a result doesn’t look like it’s part of Seoul at all. That sort of clean, well-planned urban growth kept going south until it ended in the Korean equivalent of Stepford known as Bundang twenty years later.
I understand Itaewon has been largely gentrified since I’ve left, much to the horror of the sort of expat who likes to live in a dangerous part of town… that is incredibly safe and near an American military base that provides most of the black market foodstuffs they buy there. “Wrong-Side-Of-The-Tracks tourism” is the best way to describe the crowds in Itaewon and nearby Haebongcheong. It’s easy to be dismissive of the place until you realize that you depend upon it too for your shopping.
This is the last usable image I had from the small pile of prints. It took a while to tease out this level of quality from it so I think it’s time to move on from this mine. I got ten pictures out of that expedition so I have no regrets. I’m not sure what camera that was. I think it was a little automatic Konica film camera that I bought a couple of years before DSLRs took over.
- I took this picture of someone I used to know. Six years later I feel the people behind her were more interesting. Funny how likes and dislikes change.
- This is the second last of the usable print discoveries. After tomorrow I’ll be back to scouring my Japanese and Canadian pictures looking for something I missed over the last two hundred or so images I posted up so far on Flickr and Tumblr.
- No body cares about my non-Japanese stuff anyway. I think that’s sad.
- I noticed that Flickr has a million and one groups for Japan and maybe two and a half for everywhere else. That gives me fewer places to show my images like this. I guess PSY-mania didn’t expand the Korean groups any.
- On Flickr, I just put the geo-location in the rough center of an area and dump all pictures in there. That’s why my Halifax photos all appear to been taken under water.
- If I ever create a webservice, I’m going to break with tradition and include the final vowel.
- Applying for a job in South Korea takes faaarrrrrr longer now than it used to when I was there. Mind you, when I was there you just showed up and showed them your white skin. Now those are credentials I have in abundance but they’re no longer enough. Now I need to convince them I’m secretly twenty-five years old as well.
- Just before a job interview I had with a potential employer last month, I was told by the recruiter, “Don’t talk about your work experience.” Use that as you will.
- Something on my mind is the question of what to pack. Job clothes. Casual clothes. Cameras. Laptop. Pepcid AC for my tummy of evil. All of that, but not enough suitcases. I might have to buy or borrow one.
- Assuming things don’t come crashing down around me. I wrote something a while back about taking nothing for granted.
- De la Soul emailed me their music yesterday. That was nice of them since the last time I bought their stuff it was on a format called a “CD”. I like their Before The Year 2000 a bit more because their later stuff seems to have been killed in the Loudness Wars and is hard to listen to without turning it way down. I want to be funkdafied, not given a headache.
- I’ve been playing around with the times I post up my pictures for maximum eyeballs before things get scrolled beyond people’s patience to seek it out. It seems that early evening and early morning Atlantic time works best.
- I might have to start getting out of bed before 9:30.
Preparing for a drumming concert in Miyakonojo. Well, I assume “concert” is the right word. Shot with a Pentax MX. Scan of print.
I’ve been going through some of the few prints my parents had put in storage for me long ago. Mostly photos I sent home in letters or with gifts from overseas. In many cases, these prints are the only versions of those images I have since their scans were part of that great hard drive corruption of last spring.
In many cases, these prints are not worth looking at to begin with and I wish other images had survived instead of the ones that did. You know the type: “Dear mother, here is the front of my apartment. Note the use of not-English.” A lot of them are also too personal to share which cuts down on the usable ones even more. Either due to being the source of old regrets, or me knowing they wouldn’t want to be plastered across the web to begin with.
What saddens me, however, is that most of them are damaged or faded to the point that the scanner scans more scratches than photo and I can’t use them at all. You can’t fix in Photoshop what isn’t there to begin with.
This is why everything I still have is now on two hard drives.
One of my few remaining photos of Korea. Typical Seoul street scene outside of Suyu Station. Scan of a print.
Scan of a pretty beaten up print at that. I don’t know what got into my head that I simply had to make it web-presentable. I spent far more time trying to clean it up than I usually spend on an image. I see myself as a documentarian and light thief. I don’t make images, I just take them. Not that there’s anything wrong with the other approach… unless you’re really insane about it like most fashion and celebrity photography. But what that means is that I tend to very minimum Photoshopping and if it doesn’t work after that, I don’t use it.
I learned a few things during my time in that part of Seoul. First is that the grubby forgotten parts of a city are usually the most interesting to look at. Second is that expat social circles are vicious and toxic. It really brought home to me how much I prefer to work in smaller companies with fewer odds of your coworkers also being the people you see every day outside of the office.
Some people also start office romances and then don’t get a new job so they’re not in each other’s face 24/7.
Shot with a Pentax MX at Tapgol Park in Seoul. Scan of a print.
This version of the same events is better than the previous version and that’s why you’re seeing this and not the previous one because I deleted it for not being this one. If that seems confusing, great! That means you forgot the last version already.
I wrote two paragraphs about anti-American politics in Korea with the last version of this. Here’s the money quote;
One thing you pick up on with the Anti-Americanism in Korea, and the resurgence of the far right in Japan, is that the old people aren’t buying it. As time goes on, the people who remember the mid-20th century are dying off and aren’t around to point out that the last time they went down this path it didn’t work out too well. Though as a Canadian you can’t look down your nose at history repeating itself there given that our collective memory on our own robber baron-supporting governments lasts roughly four years.
A marathon passed through Miyakonojo one day and I just happened to be passing by with my camera. Shot with a Pentax MX. Scan of a print.
The question “Why shoot film?” has been showing up in my Tumblr dashboard a fair bit recently. It’s a stupid question to ask and a stupid question to answer. Especially if your answers are in the form of justifying your aesthetic choices. You’re an artist, you don’t have to justify your aesthetic choices to anyone… Who isn’t a sponsor. And if you’re doing it to loudly proclaim the superiority of your choices, let me be the first to tell you that no one gives a shit.
A camera is nothing more than a tool. It helps you achieve the results you’re aiming for. Like the way film looks? Use film. You want a digital look? Use a digital camera. Want it to look like Instagram? Use Instagram. Use everything. Shoot everything. Practice everything. The more you learn about other approaches the better you will become at the field you focus on because you will be able to apply what you’ve learned to it.
The only thing that makes a good photograph is the photographer. The tools? Not so much.