Tag Archives: Korea

August 24 2014

With the slowest of jazz music playing – image number 3. 

Umbrellas. Why do they look so good in photographs? I imagine it is the shape and form. Or maybe they bring us back to our childhood and Mary Poppins. The magic of umbrellas. Open them up and off you fly up and away.

The third in this series was taken just outside the market place. I must have appeared a little strange to those who saw me. This strange foreigner with a shower cap over his camera taking photographs of people in the rain. Very often when you take someone’s photograph on the street, their first reaction is to look around them. They experience curiosity and surprise  as to why you would want to take their photograph. Some photographers will say that they avoid making eye contact with people after they shoot, that they just move on, but at times I like to make contact if I can. People usually respond well. In Korea, without a common language, showing the image you have taken of a person or group is fun. I hold the camera for them and let them see their shot. Invariably, with a little nervous laughter and smiles they will say something and I will respond with my very limited Korean. More laughter will ensue and then a little silent moment of us both looking at the image together. Then we exchange nods or bows and leave.


The slowest of jazz music playing [3]

The iPhone photograph is a fun one today. I was out for a walk, listening to a podcast when I saw this cool looking dude on a yellow moped driving up and down the street. He was having a little joyride for himself. Enjoying the sunshine and the cool breeze. Koreans love to wear hiking gear, bright, colourful hiking gear. This guy’s orange jacket was such a fine match for his yellow moped. He passed me. I was not ready for the shot. But at the bottom of the street he turned again and I stopped. Stopped opposite this bright yellow warehouse. And I waited. Camera ready. He drove past. I clicked and was lucky.

Not sure why he was zipping up and down the road on a yellow moped. Not sure why Koreans, who are normally so obedient, do not wear helmets when riding motorbikes or mopeds. Maybe this guy was rehearsing his getaway.

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Getaway driver

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

August 23 2014

One more in the little series of shots taken (I don’t subscribe to having to say you make photographs – make, take schmake) in the rain with the shower cap over the lens when I was in Korea. This one was taken as a group of school kids approached me as I stood in a doorway sheltering from the rain. I cannot recall with accuracy if I was bending down to get the shot from below, but I think from the perspective of the guy in the white jumper I must have been.

Life is hard for school kids in Korea. A typical day starts before dawn and ends about midnight. Yes! Midnight! It is surreal to go out for a late night drink and see groups of children in their school uniforms shuffling home after cramming school. Koreans are an industrious and obedient lot. Huge importance is placed on schooling and their belief is to pack in as much as possible in the day. To me, it is cruel. Children have to play. Learning takes place as much in play, perhaps even more.

These in the shot were probably heading home from their regular school day to get something to eat before they would head out again for private classes until late in the night. Crazy! When do they get the time to just be kids?


With the slowest jazz music playing [2]

The iPhone shot was taken in Seoul’s Incheon Airport, an airport that was rated as airport of the year nine years running. How about that? Airports are wonderful places for photography. Some of the new airports are architectural masterpieces. Places of wonder. For me, my favourite of all buildings. Where else can you experience such excitement? Where else do you get such a cross section of the world’s people? Nowhere! Airports are magical places.

Similar to yesterday’s shot, the backdrop caught my attention. The bright lights of the display I knew would make for a good photograph if I could snap someone passing by. Incheon is not unlike major airports. It is full of people – another great reason why airports are so good for photography. I didn’t have to wait long. This airport worker, who appeared a little tired and sullen, approached. I snapped. Then I apped. And here you go.

Have a good Saturday. Do something silly.


The man in me

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

August 22 2014

Rain! A good thing or a bad thing when you want to get out on the streets and shoot? Different opinions on this, I am sure. Some love the reflections and colours wet roads and footpaths create (pavement, sidewalk, footpath). For others, I guess standing about in the rain getting soaking wet is not that appealing. But hey, sometimes it has to be done. You get itchy to get out and the weather is not going to hold you back. Last winter, when I ventured out on the streets of Cork it seemed to be raining all the time and coming from a place where rain seems to be a constant threat sunshine and bright light is a treat.

Heading to Asia, I was dreaming of sunshine and hitting the streets. But it didn’t always work out like that. When I got back from Japan to my wife’s hometown, I was met with incoming storms with the most torrential rain and the next four days the rain did not let up. After two days of being stuck in home I was itching to get out, itching to get out and get some new photographs. So, I buckled up and braved it. I got one of those shower caps they leave in hotel bathrooms and used it to cover the camera. I knew this would give a lovely distortion to the photographs, which it did, but it also made it hard to adjust the settings on the camera.

Am running a little series of these over the next few days on Flickr. This one below was taken as I stood in a doorway out of the rain. When I peered out to survey the scene, I saw a kid on bicycle, on his way to or from school, pedalling past me with a transparent umbrella over his head. A little late as I would have preferred to have got him coming towards me, but still I like it.

I have processed all these images similarly. I imagine I will post three or four of them on Flickr and the full series here when I am finished on Flickr. As I was saying yesterday, I find interest in any series of images I post dwindles after day 4.


The slowest of jazz music

Something a little more upbeat for the iPhone image. This is taken in the underground in Daegu. It is a typical street scene with the billboard behind giving an interesting backdrop. The great thing about big cities is that you never have to wait too long for people to pass, and when there are crowds you can even steer them into your scene with a tactical positioning as they approach. Snapseed again here. Converted to black and white and little work done on the contrasts.

photo (10)


Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

August 21 2014

Life is difficult when there are choices. Back in the days of film what choice did you have in the processing of the images? You handed the film into a chemist (ya, a pharmacy. I was so surprised to learn that chemists in other countries did not offer this service) and they developed it and you had zero choice in how they did it. Today, with digital, it has all changed. The shot you take you can see immediately. Choose to delete it if you wish. Take another. Take a hundred others! Then when you upload it to your computer the fun begins. A single image can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways, but ultimately it can boil down to one initial choice – black and white or colour.

I remember the hours I could spend in the video rental stores overwhelmed by the choices of videos to rent. Processing images can be a bit like this. Slide this way, slide that. A little more, a little less. It can go on forever. I use Lightroom for processing my Nikon images and lately I am reducing the options. I read yesterday somewhere that processing an image takes on average 30 minutes. Wow! I don’t think I ever spent that much time on a photograph. I tend to get to a point where I say – “OK, that’s it!” – and I leave it.

I came back from the last trip to Asia with over 3,000 images. Granted many of these are either family shots or photos that are not that great at all and are never run through Lightroom. The hundred or so I am left with are from different locations, different times of the day, indoors, outdoors, blurred, not blurred and you know, I start off with the intention to step back, not post to Flickr, but take time to review the images and work on producing a coherent set, all similarly processed in either black and white or colour. The best laid plans and all that.

The way I work is like this. In the evenings when the kids are in bed and things are quiet, I sit at the computer while my wife watches TV or reads and I choose an image and I begin to work on it. This part of the photographic process is the one I enjoy most. I love watching the images come to life, take on different forms, reveal themselves. And I find it so relaxing! When I feel I have arrived at a good version of the image, I ask my wife for approval. This approval usually comes in a few seconds, but the waiting seems much longer. There is never a long-winded appraisal; maybe a nod of the head or a ya or an I don’t know. 

Happy with how an image is processed, I may then go back and select one or two other images taken at that same time and process them similarly. I love the Paste Settings from Previous Image option in Lightroom (and would love if Snapseed had the same option). With a click I can get all the images to look the same. Then I have a few images ready to go for Flickr, posting one a day. The curious thing is that when I post a little series of images, the first one always gets the most views, faves and comments. The final in the series the opposite. I imagine people get tired of the same type of images. A series rarely has more than four images.

Today, I am starting a new mini series. All processed in black and white. These were taken in Korea.




For iPhone images, it is Snapseed all the way. There are so many iPhone photography apps, but for me Snapseed is a one-stop-shop. The iPhone image for today was taken in the Daegu subway. Funny thing about this is that I have two versions of it – black and white and colour. I am posting both here. I wonder which you prefer, let me know in the comments below.

For Flickr I have gone with the colour version. I like this image for the connection I made with this character. He appeared to have no problem with my taking his photograph and when I was pointing the iPhone at him, he did not seem to endeavour to conceal anything. In fact, post shot as the train began to pull off, he threw a beautiful smile.


Daegu Subway


photo (9)

Daegu Subway (2)



Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

August 20 2014

When travelling, much to the frustration of my travelling companions, I am not a fan of guidebooks and maps can be like hieroglyphics to me (I just cannot understand them). I much prefer to ask for directions as I am on the go and when I am given directions, listening beyond the first ‘turn right/left’ is a challenge for me. I just know that I can stop and ask someone after that turn. Or even easier, if I am with someone else, is to let them listen. They can do it much more attentively than me. It can work out well. I have no problem stopping and asking people for directions, while some people prefer not to. So, I ask and they listen.

Same goes for guidebooks. I rarely read them before visiting a new place. But, I love to read them after visiting. Ya, this can result in being in places and missing out on some of the sights. It once took me three days to find the main street in Budapest! Luckily, I was travelling alone.

In many ways, I approach street photography in the same way. When I head out on a photo prowl, I do not have a picture in my mind of what I want to find and photograph. I prefer to be open to what may occur. And therein lies the frustration. Scenes and scenarios can evolve so quickly on the street and so many go missed. In densely populated cities, you can become overwhelmed so easily by all that is going on. In an instant so many things can capture your attention and your task is to isolate those split second scenes.

One of the challenges I face is the camera. Not the iPhone; that is set up for me, but the DSLR. As I like to shoot defocused images a lot, very often I have the auto-focus switched off and when something appears before me that I want to get in all its sharp glory, I miss the moment because the settings are not right. It drives me crazy. I tend to shoot on Aperture Priority mode a lot. I set the ISO to suit the light conditions and besides those two things the only other adjustment I make is whether to switch on or off the focus. What happens then is that I may work on out-of-focus shots for a while, then switch back to auto-focus and work on getting photographs that are in focus. Despite posting many out-of-focus photographs, I also do post quite a few in-focus ones.

The collision of coincidences that must occur for a good street shot is so rare, but the one thing that you have to control is your readiness to click. The one thing you need to develop is your sensitivity to scenes and that is a constant challenge. In many ways cameras can be an obstacle to getting a good shot. Life is difficult when there are choices and cameras, particularly DSLRs have a multitude of options. That is another reason why I like the iPhone. It limits those choices. As you can imagine, if I struggle with reading maps, then the numerous combinations and calculations of settings in a camera can leave me befuddled. With cameras, I am a bit like a grandmother with a TV remote control. Once you can change the channel and adjust the volume, what else do you need?

Today’s photograph is not the best. I would have preferred to have the guy a little more in focus, but then if I had readjusted the focus he would have walked out of the frame. So, I didn’t. I just clicked. That collision of coincidences was a little misaligned in this one. Still, I like it.


This collision of coincidences


This iPhone shot is from the street market area in Haeundae in Busan. One of the techniques I use to blur images on the iPhone is to leave the top of my index finger on the lens as I have my thumb of the shutter release. Then I take my finger off and snap. The results can be nice sometimes.

photo (7)


Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

August 13 2014

One more image from this series of blurred out passersby. It’s funny when I took these shots back in April, I remember feeling quite frustrated. It is a feeling I encounter a lot when out shooting. You cannot magic photographs. So many elements have to collide to create a good photograph when you are on the streets shooting. I have never been hunting, nor would I ever want to be, but I guess the sensations do have parallels. Your senses are alert and heightened. You are constantly scanning scenes, searching out a shot. You are ready. Shots appear, but may become obscured as soon as you see them. Your camera, with all its different settings, may be not be set up properly. It can drive you crazy.

The day, which was a combination of shopping and photographing, had been, thus far, frustrating. I had imagined the type of shots I wanted to get, but none of them were appearing for me. Then I found this boarded up shop which gave the backdrop and all I needed was passersby. Looking at the images on the small screen of the camera I felt they were just ok. I left them and only came back to them this week and on the big screen of the computer they look so different.


Buttonhole slips

The iPhone image for today is all about putting the phun in iPhunography. I do not know why Apple does not run with that play on words. Photography is a hobby that is so much fun. We have iPhoneography and all it needs is a little mispronunciation (always fun to mispronounce things – so many new words come from that) and we get iPhunography. This shot is of a climbing wall. The atheltic woman on the wall is my sister in-law. I took a shot of this two years ago with my athletic father in-law and daughter climbing the wall. It is always so much easier to stand back and photograph than to jump up and climb.

photo (8)


Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

August 12 2014

Continuing with the short series of blurred out passersby on a pedestrian street in Daegu, South Korea. This one is important, in that over the past few months I have realised that people walking into the frame can actually enhance a photograph. Before I would lower the camera when scenes became a little busy or too full. But now I feel it can add rhythm and fluidity to a scene. I like isolation of characters in my photographs, drawing the viewer into the scene with the focus just being on one individual. This one is a little different. It is cool. I am beginning to see how to see things differently. Pleased with that.


Magnetic Mishaps

The iPhone photograph for today comes from Korea also. When I first posted this on Instagram I gave it the title “Anarchist”. I was struck by the petrol can to her right and the look of innocence she projected. I imagined her plan. You can imagine it too.

Photography is fun, no? And giving street images titles is part of it. But street photography must be the only art form that gets all snooty about giving titles. All art forms have titles – it is funny the one that documents human activity in its dynamic form has to be stripped of the artist’s interpretation and a uniformity of titles with only the place name and date are considered OK.

How bland – how cold is that!? How void of personality – how conformist – how utterly lacking in imagination – how full of pretension that the image needs to speak for itself. A good image will speak for itself no matter what.

The street photographers on Flickr whose work I follow kill me with titles. So often their images suck me in and stop me and when I read the title I am elevated, brought to places with a cleverness, a wit, a vision that is genius. You can click on the links to see their work.

Ya, there are images that have place names and dates that are class, but the photographers must have felt something when they took the shot and when they viewed the image. The image must have sparked some emotion in them. Why not couple that with the image? Why not let the viewer into that part of the story? I do not get it. Can someone fill me in?

And you know, it has affected me. At times, I m trying to be inspired by my image to attach an appropriate title and I chicken out and just give it the title of the place where it was taken. This has to stop!

photo (5)





Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

August 11 2014

Today, I am continuing with the series of blurred and bleached out passersby taken in a burst in Daegu, South Korea. This first image screamed to be shot. I had found my backdrop of a boarded up store and now all I had to do was to wait for people to walk by and for me to fill the frame. This girl, fashionably attired in wonderful contrasting blacks and whites came into the frame. Photographic serendipity! I love it when it happens.

I processed this in Snapseed, increasing the brightness, playing a little with contrast and levels.


A Daegu Delight

The iPhone photo is another in the series of cool elderly Korean dudes. This guy in the hat – hats make for such cool images – was waiting for a bus. I got as close as I could and snapped with the iPhone. I like his gaze and elegance. There is such grace in these old Korean men. Grace and wisdom.

photo (4)

Bus Schedules

It’s a new week. Have a good one.

Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

August 10 2014

August 10 2014. Two more photographs from Korea.

photo (3)

Believing each other

This was taken in Geochang in the centre of Korea. On weekday afternoons it is common to see older people out and about killing time. Unlike younger Koreans who are committed to rushing, the older Koreans are more leisurely, even contemplative in their getting about. This makes it easier to photograph.

Seeing this guy, I knew immediately that I wanted to shoot him and that it had to be with the iPhone. As I approached, I readied the camera and as I held it up our gaze collided for an instant. Snap!
I heavily processed this in Snapseed, applying scratches after scratches, and somehow it works. It might appear that the scratches would conceal or mask him, but still he shines through. His eyes pierce.


Destination always

This shot was taken just moments after the previous shot. I was waiting outside a shop while my wife was browsing – a fair exchange. Next to the shop she was in was another boarded up. Painted in white it gave me the backdrop I wanted. All I needed now were passersby. The wonderful thing about Asia is that you never have to wait long. People are plentiful. I set the camera out of focus and clicked as they pass. This guy here passed on a bicycle. I am obsessive about getting people fully in the frame. If their feet are cropped out I very often immediately delete the shot. Framing this guy on the bike, I had to reposition myself to get the full bike in the frame.
I suppose I am trying to achieve a painterly effect when doing the post-processing. I use Lightroom. It makes it easy.
Thanks for dropping by. Any questions or feedback post a comment below.


Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

August 9 2014

Each day I post two photographs to Flickr. I have been doing this for the past three years or so. One iPhone photograph and one DSLR photograph. I rarely miss days, unless I am too busy with work or away on holidays. I love the discipline of it. It forces me to produce and to fight my laziness and love of procrastination.

It is silly having a blog and not posting these images here also. It is silly not to give some background information on the photos I shoot.

Today, I posted this DSLR image of a person, who I cannot recall if it was a man or a woman as it is blurred beyond distinction, walking perpendicular to my position. The photograph was taken in Daegu, a large city in South Korea. For a number of years now I have been photographing pedestrians passing perpendicular to me and blurring them out. Why am I attracted to these scenes?


Invisibility in the everyday sense

Working with two cameras is fun, but they compete for attention. Each has its appeal. I love the iPhone because it fits. It fits so perfectly in my hand and I can do it all with that one hand. I can get in close and not startle people in the way a hoisted Nikon can. This photograph was also taken in Daegu, a city full of the coolest old dudes. Men who I imagine saw war in their lifetimes. Men who exude attitude. This guy I saw on the train with me. He sat opposite where I stood, hands on his knees and his legs open, his gaze straight ahead. When we made eye contact it was confrontational. I guessed he knew I wanted to photograph him, but I rarely ask. I don’t like to convert the scene.

Luck had it that we both were getting off at the same station. He alighted first and I followed and amidst the crowd I got ahead of him and waited and snapped as he passed. He didn’t seem to notice or perhaps he did and didn’t care. I knew immediately that I liked the shot.


Daegu dudes


Posted in Daily posts to Flickr, iPhone, photograph posts, Street Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , |