I made it back to Moran Market in Seongnam a few weeks ago (other parts, 1,2,). I had a student recently tell me that the market is slated to be relocated because the price of real-estate has sky-rocketed in the area. The local gov wants to clean up its image and bring it into the times by relocating it into a modern facility. Goodbye pojamacha wonderland. I really love the atmosphere of this place. Visit if you have the chance, while you still can. Enjoy some makkolli, folk music, and timeworn culinary delights. Here are a few frames from the M6. Tri-X.

moran blog

moran blog

moran blog

moran blog

moran blog

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Film Drop: Jan 1-16, Leica M6///Kodak Tri-X @1600

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Disregard this image. Compiling photos and reading a small volume of Ikkyu’s poetry. I’ve somehow carried this slip of a book around for a long time. It never gets old. I don’t think the attempt at typography really works, but I am too lazy to replace it at the moment.

Lately has been busy. Still getting out over the last few weekends to wander. Here’s the most recent transmission.

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The winter streets seem right in high contrast ice and pavement, black smoke and burnt out sky.

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Lately, I’ve been watching the wires. They seem make their own compositions across the city. Out where I live they bury those suckers just like good yuppies should.

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Walking with James on one of the coldest days yet, feet numb and fingers dead, we notice flakes of paint and rusted stairways. What exactly are we doing outside?

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An arcade in Insadong provides temporary warmth in a virtual firestorm.

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a shame the LHS here seems so empty.
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this one, too busy
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walking into the night
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I’m tired, too tired to write.

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Filed under leica for a year, street photography, Uncategorized

1/12

One month with the m6 and tri-x. A more complete assortment can be found here and here. These are what I found to be my favorite frames from the month of  December.

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Pusan National University subway station.

I visited Busan at the beginning of December to knock around some old neighborhoods and  see old friends. It was the first weekend with the camera so I was still toying around with it a lot, messing with aperture, focus and shutter speed constantly.  It had been raining so we decided to jump a subway across town. As we turned up the stairs, I saw these kids messing around at the top, kind of hanging on the railing. There was a patch of light coming from a window right behind them, flickering across the wall and their faces. I think the spot metering really benefited the exposure here. Anyway, I framed walking up the stairs and caught the kids glare at the last second. Damn, I really miss Busan these days.

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Vinyl Underground, Busan. Some say nighttime is the right time, and for others it just doesn’t taste right. Personally, I am easily swept up into such things.

One of our friends happens to own a few bars and clubs around Busan. The weekend I was down there was the tenth anniversary of his live music venue, Vinyl Underground. It was a good time to be there as I feel like live music in Busan is a lot more accessible than here in Seoul. These guys were in the opening act, some strange fela-kuti inspired 10 piece. They were hanging back at this table sipping a few beers and getting their gear together. They seemed to be illuminated really well. I was heading out for a bite before the music, set my controls and quickly framed as I walked out the door.

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Jongno, Seoul. An  old man on a cold day who just can’t stay home. The other day I read the Pascal quote about all of man’s problems arising from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone. What do you think about that?

 Somehow Jongno never gets played out. I have walked through this area more times than I can count, almost never to be disappointed or bored. It’s the oldest hood in Seoul, and smack dab in the center of town. Off the main drag weird little alleys abound. The streets are full of these really charismatic pensioners who just own the strip all day long. This is by the old man baduk park, which even on a frigid winter day is full of seniors getting busy with East Asia’s favorite board game. I really loved the shadows and isolation of the solitary character here. While Jongno is a haven, I often wonder how the old schools guy feel amidst such a rapidly changing city.

BLOG: M6 2 WEEKS

Jongno, Seoul.

There was the guy in the LHS hiding behind a sheet of plastic. I don’t blame him as it was a painfully cold day. He was a bit of a down and out, a subject that is always of questionable taste, so I really wanted to fit more into the frame and make a kind of streetscape photograph. The lights and shadow really worked out here. The film was at 1600 allowing me to shoot around f16 or so, which gave real definition and contrast to the shadows. This is a look I would like to return to.

BLOG: M6 2 WEEKS

Haeundae, Busan.

This photo is three quarters of what I want it to be. I like all the elements and characters, the way they jigsaw into the frame, yet I am still bummed over the cut foot and some of the overlap in the background. I am ambivalent about the amount of masks that end up in my frames.

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Insadong, Seoul.

Times like this I really wish I had a wider lens on this camera. The foreground couple is slightly oof, yet I still liked the layering here. I always find the light in Insadong to be a little dull, and the street is usually painfully cramped. I remember trying to frame the background guy several times and just snapped this one at the last moment. I usually just drift through the city, never really stopping, yet I have found myself more sedentary lately. Looking to capitalize on the geometry or characters in a certain place. Taking a few frames instead of just being swept along as usual.

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Jukjeon, Gyeonggi-do. Look up, look up. The skyline is filled with cranes as things are always being torn down and put up again. Things loom and teeter, a dull buzz of construction reverberates through my kitchen every morning lately.

I had an afternoon off and took a long walk around where I live and work. A place I usually deride and being lifeless. I walked for two hours and took three photographs. All of them looking up at apartment blocks or light posts. Something makes me want to take more unpeopled photos, if nothing else but as compositional tests. I am not sure if I am any good at that, but the more I look at certain photographers, the more impressed I am how some can turn the mundane into art as they do.

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Seoul. Always loved the patterns of office light like honeycomb cells. Wonder who works late on a Saturday night up there. Who got to leave early?

After an exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Modern Art across from city hall. The days are painfully short here in the winter. This was taken handheld at about 1/16 of a second. Iso 400. The lighting was really nice and I was drawn to the contrast between the old gate and the city hall offices in the back. I am happy the way it turned out.

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Seoul. Like Sissyphus we thought, sweeping so late at night when more snowfall was expected. Futile task, well illuminated.

Even though my lens is relatively slow, I’ve been really into nighttime scenes, in part due to shortness of days. Still, there is always something whimsical about the dark. I really waited for these fellows. They had to come out from the dark and work their way into the street light. I think I took three other shots, none of them still enough, or close enough. They seemed jolly as they swept. As we walked around the corner the snow really started to come down.

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Seoul Station.

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Moran Market, Seongnam.

I remember the first time I ever chanced across this place. I swore I walked into another world. It was the same day Harold Camping was predicting the end of the world and somehow I had a computer virus that sent out list emails with a title from Yeats’ poem The Second Coming. You know…the whole mess about goats, and “a strange beast marching towards Bethlehem to be born.” The place felt slightly like the gates to somewhere, cages of goats and livestock. Proselytizers waited at the edges saving souls. It is a traditional market, so it only happens a few days a month, and on such days country folk flood in to peddle. Well, the divide between city and country is pretty wide these days. I felt like I had been taken back in time. I try not to miss the place when it happens.

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Moran Market, Seongnam.

I was really trying to get this shot for a while. I am not totally sure that it worked out. I underexposed a little too much. Always love a fedora on an old guy though.

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Moran Market, Seongnam.

“never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and clowns when they all did tricks for you”

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Film drop: Dec 15th-31st…Kodak Tri-X @400

One month down with the M6. Frames from the first two weeks can be found here. Shooting has been slower as the temperatures have dropped to below freezing and the days have gotten shorter. I am still trying to get out a few times a week although I seem to be dipping indoors much more often. Street photography in wintertime Seoul is tough. I stayed warm at a few exhibitions being held around town. One, a project put together by Magnum photographer on AIDS patients held at the Seoul Arts Center, and another of Lim-Eung Sik, the godfather of Korean photography, who had an interesting collection of images on the transformation of Myeong-dong. I am trying to take advantage of the cold by looking through books, reading, printing, and achieving prints in a journal.

Going slowly through my prints I see that my photography gives a slightly jilted perspective on the streets of Seoul. A friend, a traditional Korean artist, wondered why I focus so much of areas like Jongno, on finding the older and rougher elements of the city. I didn’t really know how to answer, just that I find that more interesting, more original, than the glitz of Gangnam and Myeongdong, which could be recreated in any city from here to Timbuktu. Anyway, these photographs only represent a sliver of the city of Seoul.

Last week I further pigeonholed my subject by revisiting one of the oldest and roughest markets in Korea (link #1, link #2). Many of the photos here are from that trip.

As a monthly follow up and continuation of my year long attempt and focusing on one camera, one lens, etc..i will be making a monthly post with 8-10 of my favorite frames from each period/month. So if anyone reads this and has a shot they think should make the cut, please fell free to mention.

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Self portrait reflected at the Sonje Art Center. Mild show on the changing urban spaces of Seoul

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I find that I rarely take photographs in my neighbourhood because I find it a little life-less and suburban. I am attempting to get past that. This is Jukjeon Station.

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Out here it’s mostly non-descript apartment blocks, overpriced cafes, and new mothers behind expensive French made strollers. It’s all nouvea upper middle class with a Samsung plant down the street. There are stories here, but well concealed ones. Relocating from the city the suburban aspects of this place killed me at first. It was everything that I lamented about crass American subdivisions. The total lack of street life makes shooting in public a real task. Maybe that’s an explanation why I so often look to photograph its antithesis in the back alleys and of Jongno.
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Winter’s short days have had me shooting more in the evening. The cloth shutter on the M-6 has been impressively still at lower shutter speeds, making it possible to get a clear exposure where an slr might not. I’ve enjoyed the new foray into nighttime photography, even though it’s damn cold.

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Filed under leica for a year

two weeks with the leica m6; kodak tri-x @ 1600…December 2-15

I finally did it. Spent entirely too much money on a 25 year old German rangefinder camera. I read this article a few years ago and have toyed with the idea since. One camera, one lens, one film, one year. Archiving, printing, etc. I am excited about the year to come, who knows where I will be by the end of it.

I also want to make a point of shooting more, not strictly street. The frames below should progress from street to unpeopled cityscape to friends, nightlife, etc.

I got a chance to look through the new Magnum book of contact sheets, and had the idea to post the all the raw bits here. I know there are a lot of frames, but sometimes it’s nice to see the hits and misses.

BLOG: M6 2 WEEKS
Leica m6 classic, voigtlander color skopar 35mm 2.5 (yeah, I know, not leica glass but what can one do?), kodak tri-x @1600

A ll of this film has been pushed, partly due to the short days of winter.

BLOG: M6 2 WEEKS
insadong, seoul, south korea

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that’s it for now, check back later

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Film Drop: B&W, Kodak Tmax 400, Ilford Delta 3200, Ilford hp5

I broke my collarbone skateboarding last weekend and since then I’ve been digging through the archives a bit. I can’t do anything active or get a camera up to my eye yet, so there’s not too much else to do. Here are a few B&W rolls I dug out from the past few months.

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BLOG: BW FILM DROP

BLOG: BW FILM DROP

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Film Drop: Holga 120, Kodak Tmax and Portra

A few months back in the lackadaisical summer I started to fool around more with my holga (cheap medium format camera well known for ruining expensive film). I posted some of the color images here. I liked the way the images cohered, all sharing the same lo-fi qualities. I have been carrying the camera around a bit and trying to use it in different ways. I also started putting black and white through it. I’ve built up a pile of shots. Here are a most of them.

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BLOG: OCTOBER HOLGA DROP

BLOG: OCTOBER HOLGA DROP

BLOG: OCTOBER HOLGA DROP

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Some places, things, and people of Jeolla province

Last weekend I made my first trip down to the Southwestern corner of the country. What I found really impressed me.  I had been reading a bit on the history of the area famous for its folk music, poets,  and democratic spirit. A province left behind in many regards during Korea’s blitzkrieg development under Park Chung Hee. What I found matched an image, or ambiance I had hoped for. An area still maintaining (to some degree) the traditions of the past. In Jeonju, we hung around old hanok houses and watched pansori performances. Old men lounged on the north bridge listening to cassettes of samul nori music. People tooled around on bicycles and the whole atmosphere felt different than  Seoul. I really enjoyed experiencing tradition beyond Insa-dong, and recommend an exploration of the area. Particularly Jeonju. Anyway, I will spare clumsy verbiage for some images of our few days in the quieter side.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Jeonju has the largest collection of traditional houses in the country. Some 800 hanok dot this neighborhood, which still maintains a lived in feel despite the encroaching insa-dong like commercialism that seems to be creeping in. We spent a few days wandering around here, sleeping in a traditional hanok house (owned by the grandson of the last Joseon king), and reading on the platform by the north bridge. It might have been the first time I felt genuinely relaxed since being in Korea.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

One of the great things was the amount of old store fronts. Classic places that get eaten up pretty quick in most of Korea.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

As a traditional hub, Jeonju still manages to feel more art-centric than a lot of Seoul (a fledgling world art center). Great murals and street art abounded. Cool little venues, and artist collectives dotted the city. I only saw a few suits the whole time, and may locals seemed to dress down in a stylish and elegant way using traditional Korean accoutrements.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

The food is legendary. I won’t do it any disservice with words.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Lately, I have become really enamored with a lot of the traditional music styles of Korea, in particular the percussion based “farmers music,” and the cacophonous mess that accompanies shaman cermonies of Guts. (watch this trailer through). In Jeonju, we got to sit in on a pan-sori performance, which is like a black-church spiritual combined with an epic poem, really awesome!

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

Afterwards we got down with some locals at a local makkoli house. The atmosphere was great, closest feeling to a local pub i’ve felt here.

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

The locals, of course, were great. Even as I proceeded to stick a camera in many of their faces (a slightly rude bad habit that I am not likely to give up).

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

jeonju blog

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Filed under South Korea, street photography, Travel

Film drop: Ilford hp5 400, fp4 125, delta 3200+kodak tmax 400

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Film Drop: Holga 120, New Kodak Portra

Summertime, color film, and a plastic holga seem to have a symbiotic relationship. I’ve been carrying mine around a lot lately. Compared to some of the sleeker machines this plastic contraption of lo-fi goodness can’t quite cut it in the IQ  department, but something about a set of warbled and warped images seems to capture the strange vibe of a place. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a project out of these images that end up feeling like 70’s post-cards. I try to apply this camera to street photography, yet it just doesn’t work. I take it for weird urban landscapes, and everything looks crooked. I’m hoping after a year I can have enough frames that stick together solely by their inability to fit a genre. Anyway, I plan to keep carrying this thing. I have a few BW 120 rolls sitting in front of me, but I think I need to keep this thing techni-color.

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blog: film drop: holga 120

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blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

blog: film drop: holga 120

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Film Drop: Kodak Portra 120 +400nc

I shot some color film while down in Busan. I’ve been on a monochrome kick lately and haven’t been able to find a place to collect these images. I thought I would post them here. I really love the tones on the portra, especially at the seashore. As an after-note I have some Superia from the ultra wide and slim that I’ll post after.
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blog: film drop- color

blog: film drop- color

And the Superia from the UWS

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blog: film drop- color

blog: film drop- color

blog: film drop- color

blog: film drop- color

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Filed under 35mm, Film, nikon fe2

#36

...“The distance between yourself and others should not be greater than your arm’s length.” – Christophe Agou

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모란 시장 revisited

After a exploring the nooks of Moran market earlier in the month I wandered back there this Sunday with a friend. Last time I was a little overwhelmed by the dog meat and my hangover. This time my skin was a little thicker and I explored thoroughly. We peroused, ducked in and out, watched a shaman dance, wandered past boshi-tang pots and had beer in a back alley hof. I am compelled to really make this place my project as my Korean friend told me the place will unfortunately disappear in the next generation. Last time we visited we swung by a department store to pick up something and were suddenly floored by the contrast of the white shiny lights and prim cotton gloves. The shopping culture in Korea is a paradox worth exploring further. Here are some fresh images from yesterday.

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#34…”Get stuck in the thick of it” – Otto Snoek

I was pretty excited to see this week’s Street Photography Now instruction. After a few weeks of rather oblique briefs the explicitness of this one came as a relief. After browsing though some of Otto Snoek’s images I was glad I had a weekend engagement in Itaewon, a notorious neighborhood that becomes particularly surreal and gaudy at night. After having a classy dinner at a local micro-brew for a friends birthday I dragged Lauren through the local clubs catering to off duty soldiers from the local U.S Army base. Luckily I was feeling pretty brazen and just started weaving around sneaking off shots with the flash. I was received better than expected.  We jumped from hip-hop spot to country western bar finally watching a group of soldiers fall into a transsexual nightclub. Dubiously street photography I would like to think these images still fit the brief, although I’m still not sure which one to use.

SPNP #34- Itaewon Freedom

SPNP #34- Itaewon Freedom

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Week#8

Week #8- down by the river
I’m quite content to never experience a Korean winter again. I played hardcore cyclist and bought gloves and a silly Russian camo hat but by January my bike mostly sat in a corner in the apartment. Anyway, post-thaw has been great, even if the yellow dust has given me an eternal sore throat and ever runny eyes.

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