It isn’t often I get through two rolls of film in a couple of weeks. Normally I shoot about two rolls a month.
Why am I shooting so much?
I guess the first reason is travel. I shoot a lot when I am going somewhere. I shoot photos in the same time that people read books or listen to music. I take photos to not be bored.
I end up with lots of boring photos like this. That said, I think the main reason I shot a lot in the last two weeks was the excitement for being back shooting film. I’d used the M10P for a while and hadn’t shot any film.
Lots of these photos too. They don’t always turn out well. Rarely do they in fact. That said, some of my favourite photos were taken through the window of a train or bus.
A long time ago in Canada I had my favourite lens stolen. Honestly, I change lenses a lot. People will say I have never stuck to anything. I used the 40mm Summicron exclusively for 4 years. I couldn’t afford anything else but I loves that lens. I recently got the chance to get another. I love this lens. Feels like coming home.
All the photos here are Ilford HP5 at 3200.
This is a boring roll, I apologize. They aren’t always interesting.
I do really love the next photo though:
This was early in the morning. The air quality has been terrible lately, so much so that it looks like fog. The field had just been plowed. One of my favourite photos in a long time. It was very much how I’d imagined it would be.
I’ve been doing this a lot lately too. Cat photos are boring as well I guess. I love my cats though. I think I would be perfectly happy for a roll to consist only of photos of them. In this photo, Spoko is sitting in her favourite spot in our living room under a Nicholas Dominic Talvola print. He named her, so it is fitting that she loves this spot.
Maybe the next roll will be more exciting. I have several trips planned in the next little while. Including one to Kyoto / Osaka. Looking forward to that.
That trip will be with team Leica Korea, haha. More on that in the weeks to come 😉
Other than that, I’m happy to say if you’re in Korea soon I’ll be opening an analogue photography class at the Leica Akadamie here. During the class I’ll cover all sorts of film related topics from the basics of loading film to developing and even perhaps some printing.
I just realized half of this roll is photos of trees.
No trees here. Sucks this photo. They were all looking at me a split second before. I was super bummed when I saw it.
This was second last photo of the roll. It is boring but I quite like it. Iksan feels like this to me. It feels like Iksan.
The last photo. It is usually of my wife or one of the cats. Wife wasn’t in the mood so Spoko stepped up.
This is a photo of my mom. My mom came to Korea for the first time in 2018. I cherished that time with her. We didn’t have a great relationship when I was young. She’s a bit like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. Tons of heart but extremely strict and can be borderline scary. She was a high school teacher and the type that you’d imagine still might have a belt lying around. That said, she has softened much in her old age. I took this after my wedding reception. She was hungover. My mom literally never drinks. Well, Junku bro and friends had her drinking at my reception and she was feeling the effects. She stayed like this for a whole day. She’s coming back this may. I can’t wait.
I shared this in my last post as well. I absolutely love this photo. When my wife cleans the floors she dances like a ballerina. It is one of the most beautiful and graceful things I’ve ever seen. She clears the floors of obstructions, plays a classical piano arrangement and floats through the rooms with a cloth and some water. I’d never been able to get a very good photo during the routine. She’s embarrassed by it. I haven’t a clue why.
This was also taken during the unusual snow storms that plagued Iksan for a couple of days in 2018. I was on my way to class when I saw this loan man just kind of standing there contemplating his plight. I took this without much care to be honest. I was cold and had no gloves so I wasn’t much in the mood to be taking photos. I’m glad I did. Prints of this now hang in many countries throughout the world. It was my most requested photo from this year. Generally I don’t agree with those numbers but in this case, I love this photo.
So the last two photos were taken one right after the other with the above having been taken second.
I took this photo of my wife on our wedding day. I didn’t take many photos during the day, perhaps 10. Every time I see this photo I am filled with happiness. She was talking to a friend or something but I couldn’t see anything but her.
This is my favourite photo of 2018. It isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken technically. It is a photo that I would describe as an amalgamation of compromises. I took the photo in our then unfinished living room. The lighting was a simple placeholder light that struggled to light the entire room. I had 400 speed Ilford film loaded in my camera and no flash. I’d shot the previous 15 photos on the roll at 400 because I’d dreamed of my wedding photos being “clean.” Realizing this wasn’t going to work I just said f%$k it and decided to shoot this at what I’d thought to be 3200 (no meter on my camera). I think continued to take 6 photos of her during the next 3-5 minutes (number 2 on this list being also taken during that time) at what I judged to be 3200. I developed the film as such and just threw out the rest of the negatives. I only wanted these photos. They are grainy, and show the lack of dynamic range in the film at 3200. I don’t care. I wanted to get those photos. Do I wish they were digital? Not at all. I can’t tell you how much happier it makes me to look through my book of negatives and see these photos. Those pieces of film were there with me at that moment. Cheesy? Maybe.
I could give a f%$k.
Hope you enjoyed this year’s top 10. I didn’t take many photos this year. Around 500 in total. That’s okay. I love the photos I did get. Nowadays I’m more than happy to get 2-3 photos a year I consider to be good.
So, it is 2019. How time flies. I can’t believe last year went by so quickly. Was shocking to me. Was really one of the best years in my life. That is, at least personally. It almost felt like a vacation of a year. 2019 is here and I need to buckle down and get productive. Here are my five goals for 2019:
Number One: Blog More
This one is kind of a must. The beginning of all this photography stuff from me came from my blog. I’ve become more lazy when it comes to my blog. I posted five or six times all of last year. That isn’t enough. I need to be better.
I plan to blog at least once a week, rain or shine. Some of the posts may very well be boring. I am still going to write them though. It is something I need to do for me.
I purchased a domain for the first time in my life today: jtinseoul.com.
Number Two: Take More Photos
This one may seem obvious. I took around 500 photos last year. That is down from the 800 the year before. Down again from the 1100 in 2016. I need to be better at this too. I think this goes hand in hand with my blog posts being down. I write my blog posts based on my photos and not the other way round.
I have started walking in the mornings with my camera. This isn’t something I’d done in a really long time. I very rarely just take photos. I always needed to have a purpose. Another purpose. I consider my other purpose to be getting in better shape.
Number Three: Get in Better Shape
Well, how about that for a segway. I have gained 15kgs since 2016. Not good. Basically the happier I am the lazier I am. Also not good. Last year was a happy year. That means lots of beer, good food, and very little exercise. Time to change that. I plan on doing those morning walks every day. It may not seem like much but it is a hell of a lot more than I’ve been doing for about 18 months. Hopefully I can keep this up. I promised my wife I would lose weight this year. I have to keep my promise. She literally dances like a ballerina while she cleans (see above picture) so I have a tough critic to please.
Number Four: Actually Start my YouTube Channel
This one I have been promising for years. I have tried several times to get it going but have never had the gumption nor the equipment to do it properly. Truth be told I was never really sure how to start. I was never really sure what content you guys may want. I will gladly take advice on this! I filmed a video last week about a laptop I got from Samsung. An unboxing, of sorts. Not sure how well it turned out yet. I’m scared to sit down and edit it, haha. I will do so this week. It won’t be the first video I post, however. I plan on shooting a channel introduction this week as well. I even hired someone to help me shoot it. No turning back now!
Number Five: Transitional Year
During this year one thing I really want to do is transition into an artist. Sounds cliche. Sounds stupid even. I’ve never given this lifestyle a real chance. I have never really taken this whole thing very seriously. I know it isn’t easy. I know it is in fact, really hard. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. I feel I owe it to myself to try. So, I will do so! I have already started the remodeling process of a darkroom and studio in my house. I have always dreamed about having an analogue studio in my house and I am going to make it happen. I am most excited about this of all the things I’ve mentioned so far.
This is perhaps the biggest of these goals. Again, I’m open to advice! In fact, I really enjoyed reading the advice from some of you after my post last weekend. It all helps.
Up Next: My favourite 10 Photos of 2018. Stay tuned 😉 One of the photos in this post is on the list.. can you guess which? haha.
Hello everyone! I’m happy to announce a workshop I will be hosting in Seoul at the end of July.
Here is all the info:
Workshop: Jtinseoul in Seoul
This workshop is meant to be an informal, fun, and informative. During the workshop, students will spend time with myself, JT, in the streets of Seoul. We will take photos, edit photos, discuss projects, and most importantly, have fun!
Students will experience be given a small and fun tasks to complete on the street. These will be fun and easy but informative. Students will take photos together with the instructor and receive instruction as necessary during this time.
Students will join the teacher to discuss their photos, their goals, and concerns they currently have.
Workshop will not focus much on the technical aspects of photography. It is meant more to help the students feel more comfortable taking photos on both the street and in their personal life. Of course, any technical questions will be answered by myself if needed.
– We will start with a short meeting in the morning (10:00AM) to discuss the goals for the day.
– Everyone will share a small sample of their work with the group as well as give a short introduction of themselves.
– We will shoot for 3-4 hours and then sit down in an informal atmosphere to talk about, process, and talk about the day’s photos.
– I will give a short presentation on the processing and editing I do to my photos and share some tips and tricks that relate to the day’s shooting. We will wrap up around 17:00.
– Students are welcome to join myself for dinner afterwards.
Students will be asked to use a digital camera during the day’s shooting. I know some of us enjoy shooting film, however, shooting with a digital camera during the day means we can discuss the photos taking during the day during the second part of the workshop.
Note: Any digital camera is fine for this situation. You can use anything from a Leica to a DSLR to a smartphone. All of the things discussed in the workshop will apply to any type of camera.
A Computer, Tablet, or Smartphone
Students will be asked to bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to use during the “processing” part of the workshop. These will basically be used to edit and share your work with the other participants of the workshop.
In order to find out pricing information please email me at the email address below. This price includes one signed print of any photo of the students choice (225mm x 160mm approx.).
Attendance and Payment
To confirm attendance please reply to this email. Payment options will be sent following confirmation of attendance. The workshop will be capped at 6-8 students to be determined by a first come, first serve basis.
This is a post about nothing in particular, I promise. It isn’t about anything that has been talked about a thousand times and it certainly isn’t going to be about comparing anything.
It is just a post about some photos I took on a day trip to Gunsan.
I had planned on going the previous weekend but the weather was shit. Luckily, the weather was nice on this particular day. Barely any clouds in the sky (depending on your processing of course) and no signs of rain!
Gunsan is about 30 minutes west of Iksan, where I live. It is a nice drive but nothing particularly interesting along the way. Perfect for some digital photos. If one were to be wanting to talk about such things.
Of course, I’m not.
Gunsan is cool in that it is an interesting blend of the old and the new. It is mostly old, though. It is famous in Korea for being the site of a great deal of the Japanese occupation. I like the blend of the old and the new. Kinda reminds me of film photography in the modern age. It is a little slow, in Gunsan, but peaceful at the same time.
A sense of nostalgia without feeling lost in time. I like that.
(Just a reminder, this is a post about a city and a trip to said city.)
Gunsan is also famous for its Museum of Modern History. Ironically, being a new and beautifully “modern” building it stands in stark contrast to the surrounding area that still shows hints of the occupation. Seems somehow out of place. I’m not sure the two things “go” together. It always baffles me how to put things like this together. That being said, I prefer this approach now as opposed to trying to make the modern “look” old.
I found it a little strange walking around that area. Some things looked old but were obviously new. It was almost like they were trying to pretend to be nostalgic and traditional yet were very obviously modern. I don’t mind this of course, but somehow I prefer a more subtle approach to this sort of thing.
Sometimes I think our “memories” (I put memories in quotations here as most of us have no actual memories of such times) are more extravagant than the actuality of how things were. Reminds me of the guys who try and mimic Daido Moriyama’s classic film look on digital. The photos become way too over the top and a lot more contrasty than his ever were. Pushed Tmax or Trix really isn’t that contrasty unless you print it. Even then, it isn’t as much as our “memories” seem to tell us.
Got a little off topic there, I apologize.
It is like when there is an extremely new cafe inside a traditionally styled Korean house. It isn’t quite “right” is it. Something about it plays with my idea of nostalgia and confuses it.
There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with this notion. I mean, people can do as they like and like what they like. I used to be the type to build a modern cafe inside a traditional house and think it was great. Not sure where along the line I changed.
I have accepted the fact that being completely traditional isn’t really possible in the modern world. There has to be an air conditioner (or should be) or fan in a traditional Korean restaurant for convenience. Some things are really better, now.
Anyway, Gunsan is cool in that it doesn’t feel like it has completely lost the plot in terms of this mix of nostalgia and modernism. It is close to becoming “too much” but not quite there yet. Not that this post is at all related to photography, but I feel like I am right around where Gunsan is on this scale if you were to compare it to photography.
I am slightly confused but trying to find my balance. I am trying to compartmentalize things. I am trying to separate my photographic brain sections into more clearly defined areas.
It is sort of akin to the Seven Eleven I saw in Jeonju once. It was built like a traditional Korean house. It is obviously not a traditional Korean house, is probably more expensive than a traditional Korean house, and most definitely takes at least as much or more effort to build in the style of a traditional Korean house than in the style of a modern Seven Eleven. Fancy frock or not, in the end, it is a Seven Eleven. And it wasn’t a “real” representation of a Korean house. It maybe had a traditional-ish roof that upon closer inspection was littered with fake engravings and plastic bits.
Why should it look like a traditional Korean house in this case? Just make it look like a Seven Eleven. EVERYONE knows it’s a Seven Eleven. Build an actual traditional Korean store. That might actually be cool. But I digress. I need to go try the new film preset in Snapseed. Heard it really does a good job at mimicking Portra!!
Well, that was how my mind wondered during my recent trip to Gunsan. A wild ride, I’m sure. Hopefully you all followed along 😉
So, it has been about a month since I have been using film almost full time. It is an interesting experience. I mean, I shot film for years but somehow it makes a lot more sense to me this time. Maybe it is because I’ve gotten older or more patient. Maybe I am just learning to appreciate the art of it.
Perhaps I have just have more time. I do like the photos and I am learning to love the process. I never did like the process much, to be honest.
There are several problems I have noticed thus far. First, the way of processing digital photos has gotten so good that the “look” of film argument isn’t what it used to be. I am getting photos from my phone that I like almost as much and I would have thought that crazy in the past.
I do still enjoy my M3 more than most other cameras. I like the feeling of shooting with it. It is a lot of fun and I find I enjoy the process of shooting more with it than with nearly anything else. It makes me want to take photos and I suppose that is important.
I know that no matter what I say about the convenience of digital cameras and the look getting closer and all that in the future I will still appreciate the film photos more. I don’t know why that is the case. It is a hard thing to quantify.
I think it isn’t something that is meant to be explained. I don’t really get it. If the above photo was digital I feel as though somewhere deep in my brain I would know that the photo doesn’t actually exist anywhere.
In any event, it is an interesting argument. Digital vs film and all that. I don’t know if it matters much to me anymore. That being said, I have gotten so many questions in the past month about the differences between both and about which is “better..” Or which I think is better anyway.
It is a hard question because like anything there are lots of pros and cons to both.
The part about film I love the most is what I mentioned before. I love the tangibility. I know, I scanned all of these so technically they are digital too. I also have all the negatives in a binder.
Some people say the biggest problem with film is anything related to low light. This is sort of true. I mean, I will never have ISO12800 film. I make do, though. I shoot all of my HP5 film at 1600. This has nothing to do with the look and everything to do with the shutter speeds, ha. If I need light, I use my cell phone torch like I did above. It always works well enough for my purpose.
The last email I received regarding this matter was the most poignant. The writer said he hasn’t really ever seen a real world comparison between a modern digital camera and a film camera in which the person did everything themselves. He went on to say that he hasn’t seen a comparison with a full frame camera with the same lens as the film camera and someone who is deliberately “trying” to make both look like film.
I don’t know about all that. I’m sure I have seen similar tests. I have never really explored the topic myself though.
So, I spent some time thinking about a good way to do it. I think it could be (to borrow from the old Top Gear) actual useful consumer advice.
First, I had to decide on which digital camera to use. This is a complicated question as the easy answer would probably be to use a Leica since my film camera is a Leica.
The first problem with using a digital Leica is the price. The cheapest full frame digital Leica is the M9 which is still $3000 or more here in Korea. The M8 (which I loved a long time ago) would make my 50mm lens a 75mm lens so I didn’t want that. They are still almost $2000 as well compared to my M3 which is less than a grand.
The second problem with the Leica is that for a real comparison they aren’t exactly “modern”.. I mean, I wanted something that afforded some modern conveniences. So, being that the Sony cameras are the only full frame mirrorless options I decided on the Sony A7R for my test.
The Sony used was around the same price as a used M3 so that was fair enough. It does, however, offer some of the modern things I was talking about above. It charges with USB which was one of the first things I wanted. It has WiFi, which was the second thing. It has a ton of resolution and can do decent enough video. I think it ticks all the boxes.
Yes, the stickers. Don’t let a girl with a label maker at your cameras.
Anyway, let the games begin. And for the record I processed the Sony photos intentionally to look like the film scans.
Finally, the YouTube channel I have been talking about is just about ready to go with this post being the first “topic” of conversation. So far, I have been quite surprised by what I’ve experienced. It isn’t really what I thought it would be. Stayed tuned, as this post will be continued in the weeks and months to come.
As a side, my photography group @wearethestreet on Instagram has just launched a new blog! Check us out at wearethestreetblog.wordpress.com.
I have thought about doing this post for a long time. People often ask me where I get my inspiration. They ask me what photo books to buy or what cameras. They ask me how I decide such things.
Truth of the matter is, I try not to think about much of either. Photographically, the two photographers that have most influenced me aren’t named Bresson or Moriyama.
This is the photo that really made me start to take photography seriously. I still remember the first time I saw it. I’m sure other people have had similar moments. For me, photography started on Flickr. I made a flickr account as a way to share photos with some friends from home who also were using the site. One night, while researching my next camera purchase (I had some serious GAS back in those days) I stumbled upon the photos of Junku Nishimura. I can’t remember what the first photo was I saw, but I remember very clearly when I saw this one. There isn’t an easy way to explain why it hit me like it did aside from saying it did. I have a tattoo of this photo now, ha.
Fast forward years later and I would point to Junku’s photos as those that have influenced me the most. His photography is personal. He does street photography, sure, but he also photographs the people and places around him. I always get the sense from his photos that he is photographing for himself. I get the sense that the photos he takes in the street he takes simply because that is where he finds himself. I dig that.
Junku and I eventually became friends. I am certainly honored by this. I think I’m most directly influenced by people around me. I like the guy, and love his mindset. He loves music, and I can almost see the beats in his photos. I envy his rhythms. I envy the fact that when I look at a photo he took in 2007 it is as certainly his as one he took yesterday. I envy the fact that he doesn’t give a shit about gear. One camera dies, he gets another. One film stops being produced, he starts using another.
I really envy the fact that he doesn’t live and die by such things. I have friends who talk of nothing but gear. I am still guilty of this. The problem is, when I look back at my photos they change stylistically so much from year to year and even month to month. This, I think is directly related to the amount of cameras I have used. While cameras don’t mean much when it comes to creating a style it is hard to argue that a camera doesn’t have its own character. I think this is even more the case for lenses. Junku has used a 50mm lens for years. Mostly the same one, in fact. It certainly helps in maintaining a consistent look.
Aside from his consistency, I think the thing I appreciate the most about Junku’s work is the fact that it is so very personal. I don’t think you can call him a street photographer or a documentary photographer. He is simply a dude who likes taking photos.
Great, great photos.
This kinda leads into the other photographer I’ve gotten the most inspiration from. As weird as it may sound, I love colour photos. Easily my favorite colour photographer is Sean Lotman. His psychedelic style is one I get lost in. I’ve probably seen his entire Flickr stream 5 or more times because when I start with one photo I invariably end up looking through the rest of them.
While it may seem I limit my inspiration to Japan based on this post I think it is just coincidence. I found Sean’s photos after our mutual friend Eric Kim directed each of us to each other’s work. I still remember the way I felt when I first saw Sean’s photos.
“This is why I like taking photos.”
I felt like that. I felt like creating the body of work he has is the reason I do this. I look at his photos and imagine his family’s photo album. He, like Junku takes a lot of photos of friends and family. I love this. I love the idea that the photos he takes seems to be taken because he happens to have a camera. Even today, I looked through his stream and felt as amazed as I did the first time.
One thing I love about both Sean and Junku’s work is that it really doesn’t matter where they are in the world. It doesn’t matter if they are in Japan or Europe or wherever the photos they produce are theirs. It is like seeing the world through their filter. I love that.
I don’t want to call either of these guys selfish, and I hope this next paragraph doesn’t get taken out of context. They photograph in a selfish way. Sean’s photos are mostly certainly taken for him and I think that is something I’ve always taken from his work. I could be way off base, but when I see his photos that is how I feel. Personal memories. They just happen to be done in a way the rest of us couldn’t dream to.
The strangest thing about talking about these two guys is that even though stylistically they differ so much I think their philosophy is quite similar. Also, I think it is no coincidence that these are the two photographers I like the most because I think my own philosophy on photography is similar. Sean writes poetry (and other things) and has it accompany his photography and I love that. I suppose, that is what this blog is for me and why I write these things.
I originally set out to write this post as a “five things I’ve learned from these modern masters” but somehow I didn’t feel like that was the right way to do it. Too impersonal a way to describe how much these two guy’s work has meant to me. If you haven’t heard of them before (although I’m sure you have) please check them out. We live in a wonderful time where we can discover inspiration in ways such as this. It is made even more wonderful by the fact that I can call both my friends.