Category Archives: street photography

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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Filed under leica for a year, street photography, Uncategorized

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

#36

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

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Filed under South Korea, street photography

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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Filed under street photography, Uncategorized

#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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Filed under instruction project, street photography

Moran Market, Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do

Last weekend I spent a day wandering around the infamous Moran Market in Seongnam. Exploring the outdoor/indoor labyrinths that are traditional Korean markets is a major pastime of mine; especially with a camera in tow. Documenting the last gasps of these traditional marketplaces when more and more Koreans are preferring the sterile, air-conditioned comforts of large department stores and international supermarkets, has become a quaint obsession.

Moran Market in particular struck me as a place out of time. Held on every day ending in 4 or 9, the market draws vendors from the countryside and swells with an older, crookeder, and more pagan  sense of Korea (no offense meant by this). Besides culinary offerings  I’ve never seen in any other marketplace, Moran seemed to focus more on herbal potions, unconventional foodstuffs, with a generally odder assortment of characters than seen elsewhere. An adult student mentioned that Moran attracts the last rural peasants of Korea who come to sell their wares. If most of those who could (through education, jobs, family) fled the coutryside decades ago, the peasants left behind seem to be of a different stripe. The place had the feel of a backwoods flea market, or a convention of carnies. A very strange atmosphere indeed.

MORAN MARKET

Oddly enough at the gate of the market were several evangelicals preaching the word (a few Buddhists also). They seemed unable to cross into the market threshold (atleast in our imagination). At the other gate we saw some old men shouting religous debate with a cross-waver, snarling in raised tones “where is Jesus, show him to me!!”

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MORAN MARKET

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MORAN MARKET

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MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

#33

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

MORAN MARKET

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MORAN MARKET

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Filed under South Korea, street photography

#33

#33

“Unless the supernatural comes and plays a part and reveals itself, the picture is only as good and nice as information can be” – Raghu Rai

Moran Market
Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do. South Korea

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Filed under instruction project, street photography, Uncategorized

#31

Instruction #31

“Look for clashing colours – the more lurid the better.” – Bang Byoung-Sang

street photography now

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saturday seoul

Spring has sprung in the land of the morning calm, spreading cherry blossoms, bicycles and revelers all over the city. After such an icy and frigid winter everyone is rejoicing at the warmer weather, shunning masks and yellow dust/radiation paranoia to just get outside. The Han paths have been filled with young couples and picnicking families. . It’s nice to be peddling again.

Anyway, last week the songpa stompers were reunited for some explorations. It was good to meet up with friends after hibernating for the winter. We caroused Seoul, took in the river scene, and caught late night action in Hongdae. We all packed some 3200 super grainy Ilford for the night-time (looking forward to seeing the others) and I picked up a new holga during the day. What follows are some frames from 14 odd hours. Hopefully more of such outings to come.

Nikon fe2, Nikkor 24mm, Ilford hp5 125

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

the couples were out in force. the river was thick with them

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

vivitar wide and slim (superheadz remake), agfa 200

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

Once evening rolled around it was time to break out the high speed grain. I usually don’t take cameras out at night (for good reason) but spring was in the air, and the convergence of friends seemed a celebration worth documenting. We strolled Hongdae and caught awesome Busan rockers LHASA do their thing at SSAM SPACE.

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

as the night went on the breakable cameras got tucked away and the toys came out

holga 125, iso 400

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

SPRING DAY WITH FRIENDS BLOG POST

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Filed under a day out, nikon fe2, seoul, South Korea, street photography

#29

Instruction #29
#29

“Find an ambiguity that lies just below the surface.” – Jesse Marlow
streetphotographynowproject

nikon fe2
nikkor 24mm
ilford hp5 125

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Filed under 35mm, street photography

Gangnam at night

Gangnam never had much appeal for me. Sure, the flashy lights are neat, the billowing rows of street food a plus, and the endless clusters of noraebangs and hofs enticing. But the whole place always leaves me a bit bored, at least from a night life standard. That said, I relocated to a new place a little outside the city and every weekend have to catch a bus from Gangnam station home. Last week I strolled around a bit and tried to grab a few frames of the mid-evening cacophony.

I’ve found myself rarely shooting with my dslr lately. I’m not sure why, but I make all kinds of excuses, but I think it settles on the Nikon FX lenses, and how soft and slow they seem to be (at least the ones I can afford.) Lately, I’ve been using my old AI lenses on my dslr and having a much better time. They don’t meter, so a bit of guess work there, but that quirkiness, combined with using stupidly high iso’s has made me break out my old body. Here are a few frames from that pre-bus stroll through river south. Expect more.

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

gangnam at night

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Filed under black and white, seoul, South Korea, street photography

monochrome is good for you

Is shooting black and white kinda the equivalent if “eating your vegetables” for photographers? And is doing it on film different from converting a raw file that doesn’t work in color over to the dark side? These are things I’ve been wondering as I shot through a few black and white rolls over the last few weeks.

I was always reluctant to shoot BW as I thought color kind of my shtick, and justified my aversion with the expense, inconvenience and ability to convert any color film to BW in Photoshop. The last BW film I shot was when traveling Europe five years ago. After relocating to a new apartment a little further from my favorite photo labs I started to consider doing some of my own development, and as BW is a much simpler affair than color I thought I should shoot it a bit more. That and some recent work by a good friend inspired me to load in more of the stuff.

I’ve enjoyed my few weeks sans color. And have found myself focusing more on composition and varied tones of light. Shooting in BW from that start (not converting later) is making me look in a new way, to see photos where I might not have before. It’s a stripped down process, and I find myself focusing more on the essentials of the frame. Here are some outtakes.

Kodak TMAX 100, KODAK TMAX 400, ILFORD HP5 400

KICK BACKs

Dongdaemun fabric market, Tmax 100

SYMMETRY

Gwangjang food alley, Tmax 100

RAG AND BONE SHOP

seoul flea market, Tmax 100

Dongmyo backstreets

dongmyo backstreet, tmax 100

monochrome blog

hospital and orchid, Ilford 400

monochrome blog

cafe killing time, Ilford 400

monochrome blog

bundang, Tmax 400

monochrome blog

bundang, Tmax 400

monochrome blog

subway, Tmax 400

monochrome blog

carting around, Ilford 400 and Tmax 400

monochrome blog

waiting, Tmax 400

monochrome blog

Tmax 100

monochrome blog

junk for life, dongmyo, Tmax 100

monochrome blog

Ilford 400

monochrome blog

monochrome blog

Tmax 400

monochrome blog

Apartment, Tmax 400

monochrome blog

monochrome blog

lauren, Ilford 400

monochrome blog

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Filed under 35mm, nikon fe2, street photography

#26

Instruction #26…”If you’re not sure it’s a picture, shoot it anyway” – Carolyn Drake

KICK BACK- Instruction #26

nikon fe2
nikkor 24mm
kodak tmax 100

streetphotographynowproject.wordpress.com

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Filed under black and white, instruction project, nikon fe2, street photography