Monday, November 23, 2015




   I don't mean I am changing my clothes or changing my outlook on life, nothing profound like that. I have a very nasty habit of collecting my change. Or perhaps it is a good habit I don't know. If you have ever seen my computer desk it is always full of multiple layers of coins. Every month or so I get tired of it, throw it in this old cloth bag I got a long time ago, then continue to layer more change onto my desk. Eventually I end up with a lot of money saved up. In this case, 62,000won worth of change. Not a bad chunk of change if I might say so myself... ah... knee slapper.

   At about 2 in the morning I was lying in bed when suddenly I got the idea for this photo. So I stacked up all my change and arranged it in neat rows. Artistic inspiration sometimes comes at the most inconvenient of times and leads us down paths that are... odd I must admit.

Click on any image to enlarge it.
   First, I don't have a macro lens. For those learning photography perhaps I will cover what a macro lens is sometime in the future. But basically it allows you to focus really close to a subject. Usually insects or flowers. This is good for small things. Normal lenses, however, have to focus on things a bit further away from them. I first tried my 85mm to try and get at least a nice tight crop on the coins. It turns out that I had to be so far back to focus that it just ended up looking dull. It simply wasn't the photo I had in my head.

   But then I remembered there are these really awful, cheap lens converters on eBay all the time that basically allow you to mount your lens backwards and get a little bit closer to a macro look. I don't, and never want to, own one of those converters but I had an idea. I took off my 85mm and held it up to the body backwards and took the shot. What I got was kind of interesting. Not what I wanted of course, but I thought I would just play around anyways.

   Ultimately I had to rely on my phone for the image at the top of this post. Yes, thousands of dollars spent on camera gear and my phone was able to do what my gear couldn't. As I have said in the past, having expensive gear does not make you a photographer. A photographer can use any camera and be able to create something. The only issue is the image quality, it is a tiny sensor after all and can only shoot JPEG files. It was, however, just for fun and I kinda like it. What do you think?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Follow the Rabbit

Follow the rabbit.

   It seems like since coming to Korea I have come to understand Alice so much more than before. She followed the rabbit down the rabbit hole and ended up head over heels. As have I. Everyday I am reminded that I am a foreigner in a land I will never fully understand but always find fascinating.

   I have followed my white rabbit down a very peculiar hole just the same. Everywhere I turn there is something new and fascinating, even if only on the smallest scale, for me to wonder at and be confused about. I do not speak the language, and I will never fully understand the culture. But just like Alice, this will be an adventure to remember forever.

   I haven't been shooting much this past week as you may have seen. Rain is one thing, a week of torrential downpours are another. Couple that with cold temperatures and you have one photographer who does not wish to leave a warm dry building. Really, though, my camera body has developed a few cracks and has made a weather proofed camera not so weather proof. Whereas before I would have been fine taking my camera out in a light rain, I am a bit more afraid to take over $2,000 worth of gear out not trusting the weather proofing capabilities any longer.

   I would love to buy a new camera but there is nothing on the market that interests me more than the current Nikon D610 I have. Sure I could upgrade to one of the more top end Nikon's but none of them really appeal to me. The D610 is relatively cheap, small, and does everything I need it to. If I were to buy a new camera I would just be buying the same model. That seems like a waste, I think I'd rather wait until a Nikon D620 or whatever the upgrade to this will be.

Ok... camera geek tangent over.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Yecheon Music Video

Bob Westfall

   Here you see the one and only Bob Westfall. I have shown photos of him in the past on my blog. I met him here in Yecheon and he plays a sort of music style reminiscent of the past. I value that kind of nostalgic artist.

   On this particular day Bob dragged me around the city shooting clips for a music video. Unfortunately I am terrible at cinematography but I tried none the less. I caught this photo towards the end of the night. No clue how the video will turn out but if you are interested, click on his name above to go to his website.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pretentious Brain Plasticity

   Perhaps this image has no real substance to it, and in a general sense, no it doesn't. But I am kind of drawn to images like this. Images that you can't easily distinguish a shape from. I guess people would call it "fine art" but to add that label sounds a little pretentious at times. Plus, I don't really feel I am the best at this type of photography. I like it, without a doubt, and I am deeply moved by some fine art images. I am just not that great at it. That doesn't matter though as I feel that always practicing every aspect of an art makes you better in some way. Even if it doesn't necessarily make you better at, say, fine art, simply practicing should improve you in other ways. I think in doing this we are helping to keep our brain's plasticity.

Or perhaps I am full of shit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lost CTRS Video

   Here is a video I barely found on my hard drive. I meant to upload this video as a final one when I left Japan but I think I was waiting to add something to the end. I do not know what though. As such, it is not quite finished but seeing as how that was a year ago now... I think it is safe to just release it as is. I miss Japan a lot. I really can't wait to visit again.

Traveler Comradery

   There is a difference between a traveler and a tourist. Sure, the traveler and the tourist may go to the same places, may even see the same things, but the traveler has a different mind set and different goals. It is not to say that one is any better than the other, they are just different.

   Travelers understand each other. We know how hard it is to be lonely, and we know how important it is to be alone. Those with a wanderlust do not think like other people and don't want the same things. When travelers get together, there is an understanding and comradery that goes deep. Everyone just gets it even though it is unspoken.

   Travelers may not always be with each other all the time, but when we come together the fun we have is second to none. I am happy to have met the little group of people that lust for adventure here in Yecheon.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Puking in the Andong River

   These statues in Andong always crack me up. They are supposed to look like two little kids amazed at the little stream that runs through the crossing. It is definitely something nice to see. On the other end there are tables you can sit at that have water falls coming out of them. Kind of hard to explain but really nice to see. Andong is a really interesting place and one of the first things I see when I go shopping are these two statues. They crack me up because they look more like they are puking in the river...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Yecheon in the Rain

I love the rain. I have probably said that a million times by now.

   One of my favorite things about a rainy day are the reflections. Particularly in well paved areas such as this one. This is Yecheon's main crossing and it looks great in the rain. I love the way headlights and street signs cause huge streaky reflections to pool up on the pavement like that.

   Rain is definitely difficult to shoot in. If it is raining too hard, it is just an absolute mess. Even if it is only slightly raining camera bags need to be protected, changing lenses is a chore, and there is a constant worry in the back of your mind about water seeping into your camera. However, if you can brave the elements, there are sure to be great shots to be had. I guarantee it.

Friday, November 6, 2015

My Bike Was "Stolen"

No Jesus Hell

   Here is another daily photo for my personal project.

   Did I mention Seoul is NOT Korea? I feel like this photo should add a bit of weight to this statement. Keep in mind that, generally speaking, Korea is not a predominately Christian country. However, I have seen this kind of scene many other times in Seoul yet not in the smaller towns.

   In fact in my little town of Yecheon there is actually 2 Christian churches here, but I have yet to see this sort of thing.

   So what is this? Well they are the tools of soothsayers, bible thumpers, angry men (or women) with an idea about life after death yet has never actually died themselves. This one was fortunately unmanned but it struck me as a very odd sight to see here in Asia. It doesn't stop there though, I have seen actual bible thumpers here too. Again, all in Seoul. They like to hang out near subway exits. So if that's your thing... you're welcome.

What I found most interesting about this scene was the little bit of Konglish sprinkled in for good measure. Ah good ol' Korea, you constantly make me smile.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Yecheon in the Setting Sun

   Here is my daily photo. Yecheon is really anything but beautiful, I don't think anyone would deny that. It is just not that type of town. It is small and special in other ways.

   One thing that strikes me though is the way the streets of this city face the setting sun. I don't know if this was planned but every time I walk home from school I am in awe at the light quality. For someone who is constantly looking for light, these types of streets are like candy.

   I wanted to post this photo for another reason too. I actually don't like it. I figured someone may be able to learn from the big mistake I made.

   If you notice, a lot of the photo is taken up by the foreground. That was done intentionally but I didn't realize that I have gotten THAT much of the foreground in the shot. What I should have done is angled the camera slightly higher so that the photo is more balanced. If I had just looked down at my camera I would have noticed my mistake right away and reshot. But as it is... I am lazy. So here ya go.

   Here is my color edit as well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Come and Gone

   Did you know I bought a bike? Well I did a few weeks ago. It wasn't the most expensive bike, but it wasn't cheap either. A nice roadbike with a pretty unusual color scheme. It was black and mint green. I rode it everywhere in this town and I stuck out like a sore thumb. A foreigner riding a really bright bike. Not something you see every day in a little town such as Yecheon. In fact when people would see it outside a store or restaurant, they'd know I was inside because the bike is just such an odd color.

   If you are wondering why I am speaking in the past tense, well, that is because it is now gone. At least for the time being. It was stolen today right from the bike parking thingy at my school. As I walked outside to my bike like I have been doing every day, I noticed there were no bikes at all. I also saw one of my 3rd grade students and I asked her if she had seen it. Pretty much all of my students know my bike. In limited English she told me she thinks she saw a 6th grader take it.

   This makes sense. For one thing, I think an adult would consider how identifiable that bike is and probably know that so many people in town would recognize the bike as not being theirs. Personally if I were to steal a bike, it would be some common looking black or red bike. But a child probably wouldn't think that way. They'd just see a cool looking bike and want it. Also, crime isn't a common thing in Yecheon, so for someone to actually want to do something malicious would be pretty rare indeed.

   Oddly enough I am not really all that mad about it. I am a little disappointed that someone would do that to a teacher. I highly doubt that any student in that school didn't know that was my bike. Also, it is kind of my fault. I don't have a lock for it. I planned to buy one, but didn't rush on it because the safety of Yecheon and the fact that I am a teacher. I didn't think someone would actually mess with a teacher's things like that. Plus I know I did some pretty dumb stuff when I was a kid. If I find out tomorrow it was a kid at school who took it (and I have a feeling I will) I really couldn't find myself being mad about it. I would, however, have to feign that I am mad about it. A child must learn that these kinds of things are not okay. But deep down inside I'd be laughing because it would remind me of myself at that age.

   So anyways my bike has come and gone quick as that. I don't even really care too much about it. In fact I have a really strong feeling I will find it soon.

What does that have to do with this image? Nothing. But I figured I'd share my story anyways. Also, it is 11:58pm on 11/4/2015 right now so this still counts as one black and white photo for 11/4... heh.

   On Halloween I went to Itaewon in Seoul. I actually wasn't going to go but the night before I realized I may never get another chance to see Halloween in Korea. I mean, this little town was not going to do anything at all. It is not a Korean holiday. In fact some of my students didn't even know what Halloween was...

   So I did what I love to do best, people watch. Halloween is probably the best time to do just that for obvious reasons. I was pleasantly amazed at how many people were celebrating this Western tradition. Not just foreigners either, but tons of Koreans too.

   This is but one of many photos I got that night. Actually these guys were kind of jerks... but at least they let me take a photo!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Staying Creative

   I think it is any artist who finds themselves simply hating their work at some point or another. I am no different. As much as I love photography, a lot of times I think what I produce belongs more in the trash bin than out in the world for all to see. As a practitioner of any art form you tend to get to a point where you look at your work with this odd mindset of inadequacy. More often than not you are just simply being too hard on yourself. I don't know how many times I have said, "Gosh there is no way the client will like these photos," just to find out that they absolutely fell in love with the work I did.

   Sometimes it gets to the point where you just simply don't want to try any longer. An artist is much more in touch with their feelings, for better or worse, than most people. When they feel a certain way about what they are passionate about, sometimes it can be all consuming negatively or positively. This often leads to a painter abandoning their brushes for months or even years at a time and the same holds true for any art form. But to those who are not artistically inclined, the only way I can describe this to you is like locking yourself in a dark closet for months at a time. It is almost painful.

   For many artists the winter time is sometimes the worst for them. Winter can inherently bring about gloom for anyone. But again, artists are more in tune with their feelings and so it hits them hardest. 

   What I am trying to say here is that I often hit these barriers that no one but myself puts up. If you don't believe me, just take a look through this blog! One thing I have found to be helpful though is creating a personal project for yourself and holding yourself accountable for completing whatever you set about for yourself.

   So here is my personal project to keep the artistic blues at bay. I am going to try to post one new black and white photo per day on my blog. I don't guarantee they will be award winning works of art, but I really want to just get myself out there shooting again. I am putting this out there for all of my viewers for a few reasons. Of course the first is for your entertainment. I know some people really do enjoy my photos and to them I am immensely grateful. Another reason is for learning purposes. Perhaps someone will find these photos helpful if they are just starting fresh in photography. Finally I want to feel like someone other than myself is holding me accountable for releasing these photos. I can't guarantee anything, but I really do hope to release one black and white photo a day (shot at least within that week) for... well I don't know. Let's start with a month for now and see how it goes.

   So here is the first photo. I nabbed this photo in Seoul this weekend as I was walking through a market. I thought this particular scene was interesting because Seoul is just so... weird. How do I explain it?

   Here in tiny little Yecheon, this scene is all too common, an old lady sitting around selling vegetables and fruits on the street. Nothing really surprising here.

   Seoul, however, is such a big city and huge supermarkets are so common. Yet just as those are common, these little open shops are almost as common all throughout Seoul. I constantly ask myself how these small local shops keep in business. However they do it, I am glad they can.

   Seoul is not South Korea. Seoul is Seoul. It is kind of hard to explain and it is a topic that I hope to go into more detail about in a future post, but just understand that if you dream of coming to Korea but only come to Seoul, you have not seen Korea. Seoul neither defines Korea, nor is it completely removed from Korea. I think that is why this scene you are seeing right here struck me so much. This country is amazing in so many ways and these contrasts are part of what makes Korea so interesting and... dare I say... FUN?!

   What do you think? Does this photo make you think or feel anything?