Saturday, December 21, 2013

성탄 하고 과새해

기쁜 성탄 하고 과새 해 복 많이 받으세요!!  축하해요!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Photographers and Photography: Freedom

Photographic art is about freedom; the freedom to express honestly that which is in the heart, mind, and soul of a photographer.  It isn't about the ridiculous and unreal idea that photography must follow the expectations and guidelines of some faceless and nameless cabal that pontificates edicts that are nonsensical.  It is about being real and true to the self.

Expressing oneself honestly and truthfully is a liberating experience.  Yes, one does run the risk of alienating those whose vision is narrow.  On the other hand, one can find immense satisfaction and fulfillment following his or her own pathway.  Often times that path will have others who are also being true to the self, and wonderful attachments and relationships can be formed.

There is no one true way for all.  Each of us must find our way that is honest and true for each of us individually.  

I am sharing five different links to show how different processes have been used and are used when working to create a photograph.  None of the five links speak to the subject of digital photography.  I do this to show that those who have used film in the past, and those who photograph using film today, have and do manipulate their film negatives to create something special.  I am a digital photographer this day and age, however, I learned the art using a film camera in some other century.  To this day I continue to learn how to improve my skills.

Three of the five links are youtube videos.  I must warn you that some time will be needed to watch the video about Ansel Adams and the video about Alfred Stieglitz.  For those who are dedicated to photography, it will be time well spent.

In fact, the first video is about Ansel Adams and how he approached his profession.  His attention to details in the field and in his darkroom are lessons to be remembered.  A special thanks to Joe Wabe who made me aware of this video several months ago.  The link:  Ansel Adams.

The second video is about the man who worked so hard to create and to promote the arts and the art of photography.  He association with the great artists and photographers from Europe and America and his fearlessness in promoting the arts and the art of photography is nothing short of amazing, in my opinion.  The link:  Alfred Stieglitz.

Video number three is a short example of how a finished film print can be manipulated to enhance the final product.  Some of my favorite prints in the past were those I hand painted.  The link:  Manipulation.

The fourth link is an example of how film negatives can be manipulated to create one artistic effect or another.  A viewer will be able to search the internet to find articles about how the great photographers from the past processed their film negatives in order to create some stunning images.  The link:  Distressing Negatives.

The fifth and final link leads to a forum discussion.  A photographer discusses his manipulation process:  Kill Your Darlings.  To see the results of his darkroom manipulation, visit his portfolio over at  Emil Schildt Photography.

In this age of the internet, so many examples and stories of photographic art by way of a film camera exist and can be accessed for anyone to learn from.  That is the easy part.  The hard part is the honest retrospection and inspection of the heart and the mind that is necessary to be the creative being that is full and fulfilled.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The People of the Mud

Suncheon Bay -- Home of waterfowl, crabs, fish, reeds, and tourists on the one side.

Tour Boat Thrill
© Mark Eaton

On the other side, the side that sees far less tourists, is the working side.  To me it is no less beautiful; in fact I think it is more beautiful for the reason that it is not commercialized.  It is a place where the inhabitants of the fishing villages that dot the coastal enclaves of Suncheon Bay toil on a daily basis to harvest seafood for everyone else.

South Korea experiences extreme tidal flows, and I've wondered if Poseidon plays games with mere mortals by simply pulling the plug to drain the waters that surround this peninsular country.  Alas, that is not so, 'tis not so. 

Suncheon Bay Workplace II
© Mark Eaton

The tidal flows, however, do provide many opportunities for harvesters to collect different species of seafood for consumer consumption.  During the low tide period at Suncheon Bay, vast amounts of mudflats are exposed.  The only way to travel across the mudflats is by a sled that a harvester propels with a single leg.

 Secured Sleds
© Mark Eaton

The harvesters, men and women of all ages, drive the sleds to a specific farm or collection area on the bay.  The seafood is put into baskets or buckets.  These baskets and buckets are the handlebars, so to speak, that allow the harvesters to successfully guide their rig to and from the farm located on the mudflats.  

© Mark Eaton

The people of South Korea who enjoy eating shellfish and other types of seafood do so because of the work of these harvesters.  

Over at my website I have uploaded an ongoing longitudinal study of those who harvest the farms on the mudflats of Suncheon Bay.  Do you ever wonder what happens to all of those shells after a meal?  I'll show you; it's a part of the project.  To view the study, please visit The People of the Mud.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fire, Fire, Fire

This short article is a discussion about my photography of fire.  To see my work with fire, please visit my website here.

While living in the United States I mostly resided in one western state or another.  Western US states are prone to devastating brush, range, and forest fires due to man's mismanagement of natural areas of the if nature is going to follow any government edict.

One solution used to combat these fires is to fight fire with fire by initiating controlled burns in designated areas in order to reduce the excessive build up of dry fuel that, in the past, nature dealt with in her own way.  Those who know my work know of my love and appreciation for water and the sea.  I also happen to respect fire, too.  These controlled burns provide so many photographic opportunities.

I will share the procedures and protocols I used when legally entering a controlled burn area.  To preface just a bit, if someone were to ask me about photographing fire in a natural setting, I would have this to say:  Don't do it!

There are dangers involved with photographing fires.  The smoke and particulates that are continuously breathed in, especially when in the the fire area itself, are ill-suited for human lungs.  I've had chronic bronchitis since childhood (living in Los Angeles during the heyday of smoggy days was a challenge for this active boy), and I'm sure I knocked some years off the lifespan scale photographing fires.

Additionally, fire does not follow the Hollywood script; fire has its own rules and its own life, and when it speaks, it demands attention and respect.  The influence of fire is both above and below ground level...roots burn, too.  And the ground above a root system that has burned out is not strong enough to support the weight of a human.  I've dropped up to my stomach level into a root hole a couple of was surprising since the ground looked normal in the light of my headlamp.

Now, the procedures and protocols I used back in those days of living in the western US.

1)  There are various news agencies and forest service agencies that announce when and where a controlled burn is taking place.  It should be obvious that these same organizations will announce forest fires and the like also.

2)  Most controlled burns are on public lands, hence access to said areas is permitted.  Several times I've seen campers and hikers set up camp in the fire area.  If access is not permitted for any reason, do not enter.

Years ago I drove into the then active fire near Strawberry, Arizona to look for a great spot to photograph when I met a fire security officer in his marked truck.  He asked me incredulously how I had driven to this specific place where we met.  I told him that I drove.  He informed me that there should have been three checkpoints to halt any entrance into the fire area.  He was the only person I saw, and he believed me for the simple reason that I was there.  I told the officer that I photograph fires, and he then said he would show me a great spot to view the action.  It was just outside the fire area on a hill; during the drive he could clearly see there were no checkpoints to stop anyone from entering the fire zone.  All that changed in a few minutes, I noted.  The officer was a great man to work with.  

If I saw signs that informed that entrance is not permitted, then I did not enter.  In the case I cited above, I followed the instructions of the officer.  As a result I was shown a great spot to photograph the fire.  As it so happened, I spent many hours at that location, and it turned out that the fire started to climb the hill I was on; I could hear the fire crews shouting to each other in the dark as they worked to control the fire.  "Voices at Night" was one image from that time on the hill.

 Voices at Night
© Mark Eaton

3)  When I planned to go into a fire, as opposed to going to a fire, I told someone.  It was always ideal when I had a partner or two just so everyone could watch out for each other.  Most of the times, I would be alone.  If I saw another person in or near the fire, I would stop and say hello.  That was another connection that worked both ways.  Always.

4)  Equipment and gear...note that fire conditions produce a lot of smoke, soot, ash, dirt, debris, smells, and all manner of unexpected things. 

A -- I paid attention to the types of synthetics I wore, especially during the winter burns.  A lot of synthetics can melt and burn given the correct circumstances.

B -- Good quality boots, not tennis shoes.

C -- Headlamp, flashlights, and plenty of batteries.

D -- Food and water.  I always went prepared with at least two meals for unknown contingencies.  

E -- Back in the day, had I a cellphone or some other tech gadget to connect with other people, I would have taken it into the field.  I suppose it would have been nice to have a digital map, but even today I would prefer a topographical map of an area I planned to visit.

F -- The usual camera gear and equipment, which included a tripod.


A -- I have already mentioned above about the burned out root holes.  I made it a point to watch where I stepped.  This is especially true during night photography.

B -- Dead and dying trees become fast friends with fire.  Just as the root system of a tree can burn, so can the interior of a tree...and that presents different hazards.  During the day, if I saw smoke coming out of a tree, I would be sure to be twice the distance from it than its height.  Nature has a way of flinging and tossing things a far distance.

Burning trees at night posed greater concerns, because the tops of trees were not usually visible -- especially if a tree was burning from within.  If I did see smoke or flames emanating from a tree at night, I would remember the general height of the trees in the area and triple the distance.

It was not uncommon for me to hear the groans, moans, snaps, and crashes of trees falling to the ground, but I had never witnessed it until one night.  I was on a forest road when I came upon an area that was actively burning on one side of the road only.  I pulled off to the non-fire side of the road and forced my big frame out of my truck.  I immediately became aware that something was different.  Fire speaks its own language, and when it has the upper hand, it lets everyone know.  The tree was singing its own death song, and I knew I had to hurriedly set up all of my gear to witness the fall.  I could not see the tree, but I could see the fire coming out of the tree.  I had no sooner set up the tripod with the camera, the attached shutter release cable ready to go, and everything leveled and squared when the tree shouted its farewell.  I knew I was less than my triple distance rule from the tree, but there was nothing I could do about it right then.  This was the only falling tree I have ever photographed:

Falling Tree
© Mark Eaton

Fire shot out of the falling tree and the burning embers were like rockets.  It is difficult to gain a perspective from the photograph, but the size of the fire was immense.  I was glad the tree fell to the left and not towards me.  Perhaps the tree in the foreground would have shielded me, or perhaps not.  I just don't know the answers to such questions.  Strangely, after the tree stopped bouncing on the forest floor, and after the fire hit the ground, it became dark as night.  Only my headlamp gave light; all other light seemed to have retreated.  I knew I had photographed something rather rare.

C -- Controlled burns have been known to become out of control forest fires.  Near Flagstaff, Arizona, my partner and I were once completely surrounded by a fire.  It was the friendly fire that is reminiscent of the neighborhood kids playing a prank on someone.  We just walked through it...well, more like over it.  Not once did I ever feel it worthwhile to test the patience of an angry or fast fire.  Never.  

Just as many humans smolder and keep their anger just under the surface, it is obvious something is not right.  They aren't ranting or raving, but something is not right.  So, too, with fires.  A fire can be quiet, yet smoldering...just waiting for the right set of circumstances to vent its anger.  Just as I could never reason with a raving angry person, I knew I could never reason with a raving angry fire.  I always had sense enough to run away.  It's too bad I never could quite practice that same principle with people.  

D -- My final safety protocol is a bit of advice:  Don't go into a fire to photograph a fire.

One image I happen to be very fond of was taken one night during a full moon.  It was a cold November night, and the eerie light shining through the smoke of the fires is something I hope never to forget.

Smoky Moon
© Mark Eaton

It was during this night I experienced my first drop into a burned out root hole.  The hole was very warm, and I made it a point to exit rapidly.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Grants for Photographers

I cut, parse, pare, discard, and eliminate...then I realized that after all is said and done, I continue to receive email newsletters from only two photography based organizations:  Alexia Foundation and Documentary Arts Asia.  Today I will speak about an opportunity for photographers to work their trade by possible by the Alexia Foundation.

The Alexia Foundation has announced a call for entries for its 2014 Professional and Student Grants program.  The Professional Grant award is $20,000USD, and those who are students can vie for a couple of outstanding awards.

For details about how to submit proposals for the grants, visit the Alexia Foundation call for entries page here.  A reader will note that these grants are for those who approach their craft with professionalism and dedication.

Good luck and have fun!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Paradise Revisited -- Urban Hike in Final Form

My penultimate weekend here coincided with the long Korean thanksgiving holiday, and I thought it would be the perfect time to revisit paradise in Suncheon.  I originally wrote about this lovely place in the city on this blog last May that can be seen here.

The construction of this park has been completed and the foliage planted during the project has firmly taken root.  As read in my previous article, the trail was a bit treacherous due to the construction; however, the trail is now unhindered and safe to walk.  The old ajumma trails that would make a mountain goat feel at home have been completely eliminated and replaced by wide boardwalks or concrete pathways.

Waterfall Flows into the Pond
© Mark Eaton

The pond shown above is fed by the runoff water that flows from the large earthen dam that abuts the park.  I was very surprised to see that this park project also included work on and near the dam itself, too.

Boardwalk at the Earthen Dam
© Mark Eaton

At this time, the trail and park discussed here does not connect with the trail pictured above.  Except -- some enterprising soul has tied a series of ropes at the spillway to allow the brave to traverse down into the spillway itself.  Some careful stepping and a small climb up finds the intrepid on the new trail above the park.

The Intrepid Way
© Mark Eaton

As seen here and in my previous post about paradise in Suncheon, the view from atop the dam is nice, though the sky during this trek was very hazy.

 The Park from atop the Earthen Dam
© Mark Eaton

I was the only person in this area.  Ah, it was paradise.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Time for 추석

즐거운 추석 보내세요.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Four Venues in South Korea During the 2013 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk

Saturday, 5 October 2013, is the date for the 2013 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk.

Last year there were three separate photo walks in South Korea; however, at the time of this posting there are four walks scheduled for this year.  Two new comers to this international event will be hosting walks in Seoul,  while two returning veterans will again host their walks in different cities in the southern part of the country.

There is still plenty of time to join the walks, but a photographer must register to participate and to receive the perks and prizes offered this year.  Here is a list of the walk leaders and their locations:

1)  Zelri Coetzee is new to the Scott Kelby photo walk scene in Korea.  She will be leading her walk in Seoul.  To contact Zelri and to register for her walk, visit the photo walk site here.

2)  Another new comer is Matthew Theron, and he also will be leading a walk in Seoul.  To register for his walk, click on the link here.

3)  As he did in 2012, Joe Wabe will be leading a walk in Gwangju in Jeollanam-do.  Sign up for his event here.

4)  Also returning to lead a walk is Jason Teale.  His event will be held in Ulsan.  Walk with Jason by registering here.

Good luck to the walk leaders and to the participants!

Edit:  Joe Wabe has published the first issue of PIK (Photographers in Korea).  He was kind enough to include the above article about the photo walk on the opening pages of this wonderful magazine.  Take a look at PIK here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

한복을 위한 사진모델을 찾습니다

전에 나는 마틴 톰슨 의 / Martyn Thompson 창작에 관한 글을 썼습니다.  이제 그는 한국의 문화를 알리는 큰일을 하기 위해 적합한 사진모델을 필요로 합니다.

 © Martyn Thompson

작업에 대한 컨셉을 읽어주세요:

As foreigners, the expectations that native Koreans hold regarding our cultural knowledge and linguistic abilities are minimal at best.

한국인이 외국인에게 기대하는 자문화에 대한 이해, 언어 능력은 그다지 높지 않다.

Uttering the words for ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ are often greeted with awkward laughter, which becomes as repetitive as being asked if you can eat spicy food.

'안녕하세요?', '감사합니다'와 같은 말을 할 때면 종종 ' 매운 음식도 먹을 수 있느냐'의 류와 같은 기특함 섞인 환대의 대답을 건내온다.

A slight nod of the head here or a hand gesture there, receiving something with two hands, or holding back your sleeve to pour an elder a drink, the cultural differences become more noticeable with time spent observing. The subtleties are highlighted, or become apparent through witnessing others.

가벼운 목례나 손짓, 두 손으로 받는 것, 그리고 어른 앞에서 술잔을 돌려 마시는 것 등의 미묘한 문화적 의미는 시간이 흐르며 터득되어 갔다. 그리고 사람들과의 부딪힘에서 더욱 더 명료해질 수 있었다.

Small differences like whether the left or right hand is atop the other for a bow, or how far away the supporting hand is from the pouring hand, meant a lot to past generations of Koreans.

절 할 때 보이는 손 모양과 위치, 왼손과 오른손의 구별이 보여주는 각 각의 차별적 의미는 오랜 세대를 거쳐 온 한국의 예법을 의미한다.

© Martyn Thompson

But now younger generations of Koreans are prone to the same cultural obliviousness as many foreigners. In a culture that is hurtling away from its traditional past, Korea attempts to grasp hold of the few cultural practices it still adheres to.

그러나 외국인의 눈으로 본 오늘날의 젊은 한국인 세대는 이와 같은 문화적 전통을 잃어가는 듯하다. 이러한 과거와의 문화적 단절에도 불구하고, 한국인은 실천을 통해 몇 몇 전통 문화를 여전히 유지하고 있다.


Actions are gradually learned: they’re sometimes taught, sometimes figured out subconsciously, or sometimes acquired through repeated practice. This series draws attention to these intricacies by replicating the Korean bow, displaying a sequence of superimposed images, mapping each model’s actions, from standing to fully bowing.

몸짓은 단계적으로 익히게 된다. 가르침을 받거나 무의석적으로 알아채기도 한다. 그리고 반복적 연습을 통해 배우기도 한다. 본 기획의 연작물은 한국의 절을 반복적 과정 안에서 완성시키고자(배우고자) 의도했다. 이에 따라, 절의 전체 과정에서 보여지는 부분적 이미지를 중첩시켰고, 이러한 반복의 연속성을 바탕으로 행위 전체를 조망했다. 

사진찍는 과정은 이달에 시작해서 2014년 1월에 마칠것입니다.  추가로 모델께서는 완성된 액자를 받을것이며 또한 컴퓨터에서 다운로드 받을수 있을것입니다.

자세한 사항은 Martyn 에게 물어보세요:


Phone:  010-9891-3231

Facebook:  Martyn Thompson 

Website:  Martyn Thompson

모든 번역에 대한 실수는 저의 책임입니다.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Abstract Photography Vision

I appreciate minimalism and abstract concepts in life, and that is reflected in the creation of my photographic work.  The distracting elements are eliminated -- only the important concepts and facets are revealed.

I have on my personal website two volumes in my photography collection:  1)  Abstract and 2)  Minimalism.  Some of my projects can be viewed on the site; however, the projects are not a part of this current discussion.

By way of preview, Ear is a part of the collection:

© Mark Eaton

Specific details are irrelevant at the moment, but I will say that no colors were added for 99% of the compositions I make public.  Only available light, shadow, colors/tones, and imagination are used.  This does make for some very interesting and creative portraits, in my opinion.

Take a look at my Abstract gallery over at my website here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Must Love Reading -- Photo for the Day

Nothing will stop a person who loves to read from reading.  I saw this scene a couple of days ago, and I knew that I had to stop everything else I was doing to photograph this scene.  It has become one of my favorites for personal reasons.

Must Love Reading
© Mark Eaton

A cherished memory.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sticky Fingers

The photographer Hengki Koentjoro had one of his photographs stolen by someone with sticky fingers.  That lifted image actually was the winning submission in a Samsung photography contest not too long ago.

This situation has caused a bit of an international row, and rightly so.  The win was voided, but...

Take a look at this news article about this at the Mail Online site here.

PetaPixel reported in ongoing incident here, but its version of the original version of the photograph is a bit different compared to other media sites.

Also, over at the Image and View site, there is some additional information that can be found here.

What a shame.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Journalism and Photojournalism Is Not All Fun and Games

On a regular basis I visit the Reporters Without Borders site to read the latest news about the worldwide effort to suppress the dissemination of news and information.  It's happening in the freedom loving USA, too.  Take a look at the RWB site here.

Now, to Egypt.  Most readers will recall the terror inflicted upon female journalists here and here.  Unconscionable acts of brutality.

Recently, Aymman Ismail posted over at the Animal site his experiences of being in the midst of the turmoil of rebellion and revolution while he was in Egypt.  It is a surreal tale with several compelling photographs to complement the often strange and bizarre story of life.  Read and view his article here.   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Imamura Ayako: Japanese Deaf Filmmaker and University Professor

I completed my teaching practicum for the University of Arizona at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in some past century.  I've always enjoyed the time I spent with my Deaf/deaf friends and colleagues while in the US.  My current city, Suncheon, has a rather large deaf community, and I have always enjoyed spending time with the group and with individual friends.

Topics on Deaf Japan is a blog I follow regularly.  Recently, I read a couple of posts at ToDJ about Imamura Ayako who is a Deaf filmmaker in Japan and who also happens to teach Japanese Sign Language at Nagoya Gakuin University, which is a private university in Nagoya.

Imamura Ayako made and released a short movie some time ago about Deaf people who were in the region of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the resultant tsunami that devastated many areas of Japan.  One can correctly surmise that many Deaf people in those areas never knew of the evacuation announcements and orders that were broadcast using the community alert systems and loudspeakers.

Read a couple of posts about her at the Topics on Deaf Japan blog here and here.

Learn more about Imamura Ayako at her website here.  She has a couple of short clips of her film on her site that can be seen here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Same Subject, Different Compositions

A couple of days ago I wrote a short post, with an accompanying photograph, about my favorite place to swim in Korea, Namyeol Beach, that can be read here.

Within the photography profession, there are other genres, such as sports photography and photojournalism to name a couple, that once a scene or moment has passed, so too the opportunity to photograph that specific event in time.  Other genres whose subjects are stationary, or mostly stationary, allows a photographer to shoot a subject multiple times from different angles and perspectives.

The following images from Namyeol Beach/남열해수욕장 provide some examples of how a subject can be approached in different ways.  These were all taken after the business of the beach was closed for the evening.

Tables, Chairs, and Umbrellas
© Mark Eaton

Namyeol Beach After Hours
© Mark Eaton

© Mark Eaton

Take the time to photograph a scene or subject again and again from differing positions and places.  Somewhere in that series there just might be a nice image to work with. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

남열해수욕장 문닫아요

Even the beaches will shut down at the appointed hour.

© Mark Eaton

This past May I wrote an article on this blog here about the new construction that was changing Namyeol Beach...남열해수욕장.  The dredging and the shore build up has all but eliminated the large wave action close to shore; however, the swimming experience remains excellent.  

Recently, I was able to travel to the beach twice in a single week, and there is another trip planned for tomorrow.  I would love to live on or near a beach...perhaps in the near future.  Back to the point of swimming -- being a mere 15 to 20 meters off shore means a genuine ocean swim begins.  

This past Thursday was a national holiday in South Korea, and I was actually invited to go to the beach.  After setting up camp on one of the rental platforms atop the beach in a small forested area, I entered the water.  Even though I was within the designated swimming boundaries, I saw that I was beyond the lookout point where many people gather to watch the rocket launches from nearby Naro Space Center.

Because I do wear my broad rimmed hat when I swim, like so many Korean citizens do, I'm sure the young Coast Guard rescuer, who was also wearing a broad rimmed hat, couldn't see my face.  He swam near me, unbeknownst to me since I wasn't looking shoreward, and he blew his whistle as he rested on his red rescue float.  Even though I was in the swimming area he was in the act of waving me to shore, politely, but he stopped when I turned around and began speaking in Korean to him.  So, as we casually swam away from the beach, and as we tread water, we chatted about the weather, family, language skills.  We were both passable speaking to the subject of our foreign language skills.

The Coast Guard rescuer was keeping a watchful eye, because he was the only one on station until a second young man arrived a few hours later.  After our watery chat, he swam to his rescue jet ski, which was the number 3 unit from 여수, and he let me be.  With the exception of a Korean man swimming parallel to the shore, I was the only person swimming without a vest or using some sort of floatation device.  I like swimming in the ocean; watching the swells hide the horizon, feeling the alternating warm and cool currents below the surface.  Being in the water brings peace to me.

Then at 6 p.m. it's closing time.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Billionaire Photographer

The business side of the arts is the most difficult aspect for most artists.  Kim Gittleson over at the BBC site wrote an article about how Jon Oringer became a billionaire in photography.  

Read the news article here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Timing is an important facet of life.  Timing is most important in photography, too.  For example, a photographer photographing a sunset doesn't just arrive at a designated spot at sunset.  He or she will arrive earlier in order to prepare the camera gear and to resolve any issues that a photographer can face when shooting outdoors.

Back to that timing concept in life -- the time for the punchline is not when the barber is in the act of trimming eyebrows with a pair of scissors.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Zach Rensberger -- Nagoya to Nagasaki for a Better World

I had the good fortune to meet Zach Rensberger in Suncheon, which is a city in the southern part of South Korea, when we both happened to be living and working there at the same time.  We even exhibited together as part of a Gwangju Artist Collective group show at the Jami Gallery in Gwangju-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea.

Zach has since moved to live and work in Japan, and he made me aware of a project that he is starting there.  He is a cycling enthusiast, to say the least, and his project involves a 1,000 kilometer bike tour for a cause.  This is part of his project statement:

"Like many people, I always wish I could be better or wish I could do more. When I first decided to do a long-distance cycling trip I just wanted to test myself. I thought it would be a chance to see what I am really capable of, and of course it would be a great experience as well! Then I thought that this would be a great chance for me to do more! I decided to use this journey as a way to spread the word about a cause that’s important to me. And because I’m totally convinced that creating a better world for our children is the best thing we can do, I wanted to advocate an amazing organization that helps and supports children! Save the Children is an independent organization that strives to better the lives of children all over the world, including Japan!

So as I am about to embark on this adventure across western Japan, I ask you to please visit the Save the Children website and donate! Your donation, whatever amount, will be a chance for you too to do something more, to make an impact and make the future a better place!"

To read more about Zach's project in fine detail, please visit the Common Road site here.  I believe you will be impressed, too.

Why am I promoting Zach and his project?  Because the catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear plant that was destroyed by the tsunami in 2011 continues today as it will for years to come.  Read a recent Reuters news article about it here
Good luck, Zach!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday's Musing - The Sun Is Going Down Edition

I have no one to blame but me.  We didn't survive this -- I talked myself into believing that I was overcoming the loss, the betrayal, and the anger, but I hadn't.  And the family relationships I had worked hard to cultivate have been for naught, because I hadn't worked through the loss, the betrayal, and the anger with a trained professional.  South Korea has the best medical and dental care I've seen anywhere in the world; however, the mental and emotional fields are lacking.  My queries about finding a psychologist in this region was met with furrowed brows or shoulder shrugs.  So I told myself I could do this myself, but I erred.  I have no one to blame but me.

I will take several weeks to cease my business ventures here.  That time will allow me to send my archived photographic work overseas.  The significantly large number of framed images intended for exhibition and for sale have mostly been dealt with at this writing.  Those few that remain that can't be sold or donated will be destroyed prior to my departure.  

I have a lovely group of friends in Gwangju, and I am indebted to them for their assistance during this period of time.  Their help has been invaluable.   

I believe Elton John says it best:  Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.

© Mark Eaton

This story I share with my readers for a couple of reasons.  First, if your spouse, family member, or friend experiences the death of the child, please realize that someone needs to step up to help that person who experiences the loss...and that person will be you.  No shit, if the grieving person tells you he is okay, he is bullshitting himself and he is bullshitting you.  A parent will never fully recover from losing a child, because of the guilt and because of the 'what if I had...' type of questions, but the parent can learn to develop some tools to deal with the loss.  By way of illustration, maybe you can start here, or maybe someplace else.  Understand that the grieving parent will not know which way is up or down for a long time, and the process of starting to help your friend or family member can possibly save relationships.

Second, you, as the grieving parent will not know what the fuck you are doing.  You will not even have sense enough to pull down your pink panties when you need to piss and shit.  Don't think so?  Just wait, man, when that shit happens.  One or two of your buddies will be a great help, because they read the above paragraph, but most will not know what the fuck is happening either.  I can tell you to be patient with others, and that the rage you vent at others won't be taken personally, but that is bullshit.  You are going to need help, sooner, not later, and that help will come from outside sources.  None of this stiff upper lip nonsense; that mindset will only destroy relationships in the world of now.  Ask, and continue to ask, and ask again for assistance, and for resources.  

If you live somewhere that doesn't have resources, then planes, trains, or automobiles to someplace that does have resources.  Can't afford that?  Not to worry, man, when your job performance or business takes a dive to the bottom of the won't have any money then either.  Better to go sooner, not later.  

Third, if your friend or family member experiences loss, then patience, patience, and patience.  That person doesn't know what the fuck is going on.  If they continue to talk about the loss, that person needs professional help.  Especially true for family, the grieving person will rage at the strangest of times; something triggered a memory, or guilt, or something subconscious that hasn't been work on yet with a trained professional.  In these instances, do not take anything personally, because you are not the just happen to be there when something triggered the outburst.  If you haven't sought out professional help, then now is the time to do it.  Forget the priest, rabbi, and imam, because they don't know what the fuck is going on either...speaking from personal experience.

I don't know what else to say, except that I royally fucked up the best situation and relationship I've ever been in.  Sooner, not later.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Meat of the Matter is not Sunsets, Wispy Markets, or Duck Lips. The Meat of the Matter is Freedom.

I have added to my blogroll, on the lower right hand side under the "Freedom and Anti-censorship Blogs" heading, a link to the Reporters Without Borders blog.  I would be remiss if I didn't say thanks to Steve Miller who made me aware of that important organization -- he posted an article from RWB over at the Linkedin site that reported that yet another photojournalist from the Philippines was shot to death recently.

Journalists, artists, and bloggers are being targeted by governments and illicit organizations (yes, I do agree that government and illicit organization can be one and the same) for shedding light on various activities that need to be made public.  Even in my home country, the USA, journalists, artists, photographers, and bloggers are being targeted for informing the public of the goings-on of different groups and organizations.  The Chinese artist Ai WeiWei has a thing or two to say at the RWB site. 

Take a look at the Reporters Without Borders site here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Memorias: A Solo Exhibition by Joe Wabe at PDG Gallery in Gwangju

Joe Wabe is a fixture in the city of Gwangju.  He is a dynamic mover in several different facets of life and living.  I've had the good fortune to know Joe for the past few years here in South Korea, and it is an honor for me to present this bit of news about him here. 

Joe will be hosting his first solo photography exhibition beginning Saturday, August 10, 2013.  The exhibit will be at the increasingly popular PDG Gallery in Gwangju-si, Jeollanam-do, South Korea.  There will be an opening reception at the gallery from 5:00pm to 8:00pm, and this will be a great opportunity to meet and greet the artist.  The theme of his show is Memorias

The following is the exhibition statement as posted on the event page over at Facebook:

"Memories are the only real treasure that we can keep forever. I'll like to share with all of you my first solo photo exhibition. A small walk into my past memories, without leaving the present. A nostalgic visual recount of my time here in wonderful Korea. Each photograph will have a story to tell, a story that requires no verbal form. This is just a small expression of gratitude for the land that has giving me so much."

Joe Wabe's photographic style is one that connects well and resonates well with my view and outlook on life.  Here are two photographs that will be on display during the event:

Old Love
© Joe Wabe

By the Sea
© Joe Wabe

Paul Kerry from The Korea Herald has taken note of Joe's photographic work, too.  Read the article written by Paul Kerry about Memorias here.

As I mentioned above, the exhibition begins 2013/8/10, and it will conclude some time in the middle of September.  

For those who are not familiar with Gwangju be assured that it isn't difficult to find PDG Gallery.  In fact, it is just across the street from the U-Square express bus terminal in Gwangju.  It is important to note that the building that has the gallery is on the Shinsegae department store side of the bus terminal.  

Exit from the Shinsegae department store itself directly outside, not in the terminal itself but rather outside of the store, and look across the street for the Mr. Pizza sign.  The gallery is on the 5th floor of that building that displays the Mr. Pizza sign.

Here is the address of the building:

460-33 Nong Sung Dong, 
Dana Medical Arts Building
Gwangju-si, Jeollanam-do

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mithcell Kanashkevich in Mauritania

Mitchell Kanashkevich is truly a travel photographer.  Read about his adventures in the 'red zone' in Mauritania here.  

I think you will agree with me when I say his stories are interesting and that his photography is fantastic.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Grandmother on the Sled and 맛조개

In the northern hemisphere of this orb that is home, it is hot.  Thanks to that wobble, it's summer time, and it's supposed to be hot...and humid...and sultry.  It's that time of the season when a lot of people just stay inside.

So, I was surprised when my wife said she would join me on the trip to west Suncheon Bay.  I suppose my offer of paying for dinner at the octopus restaurant was too good to pass up in spite of the weather.  There is a dandy octopus restaurant right on the coast on the west side that serves up different dishes of cephalopod mollusc -- from the tame non-spicy soup that we order due to my ulcer to the metal melting spicy dish that not only exacerbates an ulcer, but opens it up to bleed for days on end.  My doctor would nod in approval my choice to eat the non-spicy delicacy.

My wife went into the restaurant while I strolled along the coast to photograph a rather large fishing vessel and a barge.  Along came a grandmother pushing her own wheelchair.  I made her smile when I spoke a few Korean words.  She stopped to chat.  She told me that she learned to say "hello, hello" in English.  We both enjoyed a good chuckle with that one.  

Grandmother then performed the almost obligatory frisking and patting that would made any US cop proud; I probably should have started a count years ago when I realized that those about a decade younger than I to the near deathbed grandmothers will want to made some sort of contact.  I had to learn not to flinch and not to become flustered.  Anyway, after a while we said our good byes and she continued along the road pushing her wheelchair.

Shortly afterwards my wife called to say that the meal was being served.  I walked to the restaurant, and we enjoyed a lovely meal.  Scissors are an essential and necessary utensil during almost any meal in Korea.  Scissors are used to cut all manner of different foods from vegetables to meats.  I haven't become used to the ink pouring out of the head of an octopus when I scissor it to bite sized proportions.  It's tasty, yes, but I can't shake that feeling that I'm chewing on a Bic pen.  

While eating our meal, a Korean family entered the restaurant.  The youngest son saw me, and he stopped in his tracks.  He bowed and began to speak in English.  His older brother was all smiles, though he didn't join the conversation.  The parents and the grandmother smiled, too.  I shall refrain from comments and any judgment about education costs and time, but I will say the young boy was conversant and delightful.

While the earth continued its non-stop rotation that marks the days for humanity, I walked the seawall after dinner.  In the distance I saw one of the mud people I've come to enjoy photographing.  During the low tide on Suncheon Bay, the harvesters will kneel on a wooden sled and leg it to the seafood farms that frequent the coast.  The west side of the bay has extensive and large farms.  The person in question was returning to shore after collecting a basket full of seafood.

The distance was too great for me to see any detail, but the photograph below is the person returning to base.  I walked to the top of the stairs while this person was using a bowl to rinse off the mud of the bay.  I was completely caught off guard when I saw the harvester to be a grandmother in her late 70's or early 80's.

She was weathered and bowed down, but was smiling while we talked.  She waved me down the concrete steps, and asked if I wanted some 맛주개 -- razor clams.  She had quite a large amount in her basket.  I said yes, and she gave me a mesh bag to hold as she scooped some of the shelled creatures into the bag.  I then helped her carry her gear up the stairs all the while my camera was dangling from my neck.  She had a hand dolly waiting at the top of the seawall so she could wheel the catch home with ease.  

Grandmother on the Sled
© Mark Eaton

The haul was very heavy, and I wondered at the number of years this woman legged to and from the belly of the bay on a mud sled to harvest that which a large majority of us take for granted.  And she was smiling all the while during our chat.  She was soaking wet from her trip into the bay and from washing herself down after returning to her base.  Worn black leggings so popular with Korean women, an outlandishly designed shirt so favored with the elder generation in Korea, a cap that protected the ears from the winds, and a pair of plastic shoes that I often have seen worn by the inhabitants of fishing villages -- the attire of a grandmother whose work feeds countless people.

This is what grandmother gave to me.  All I could give in return was a helping hand with her gear up the concrete stairs.  Maybe that was enough, but I don't feel it.

 맛조개 -- Razor Clams
© Mark Eaton

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Genius That Is Curiosity

What do intelligent people who have a thirst for knowledge do?  They do this.

It is that curiosity and the search for answers to questions yet unanswered that makes this life interesting.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Woman at 와온 수퍼

It was one of those rare days in the province here today:  the skies were clean and blue.  It was the perfect day, as can be seen by the image below, to use the circular polarizer filter and the red filter on the camera today. 

와온 수퍼
© Mark Eaton

I'm going to talk about the woman who worked at 와온 수퍼 today, because it was she who made the day a great day.  However, I will introduce her in the proper chronological order of the events of today.

I took the day off from my other business today for the simple reason that I can do that.  My wife was with colleagues in Gwangju, so I took the city bus to Waon Beach.  Both the 97 and 98 buses travel from Suncheon to Waon and back.  I use the 97 bus, because it is convenient to my home.  For those who are adventurous, take a look at the Suncheon city bus schedule here to find the best locations to depart.  It is easy to know when the bus has arrived in the village, because it runs along the sea.  Take careful note where the bus stops are located since not all the bus stops are obvious to a visitor.

I chose to get off at the market that is shown above.  There is a bus stop across the street for the 98 bus that is very obvious; however, this market stop has no sign or bench to clue a visitor that the 97 bus stops at this location.  

After using the public toilet, I made ready my gear and walked to a couple of different docks to photograph Suncheon Bay.  I am conducting a longitudinal study of the working side of Suncheon Bay as opposed to the well known tourist locations, and I was able to compose a number of scenes that just might contribute to the study.  Recently on my website, I have presented The Boats of Suncheon Bay, which is that part of the study that shows the vessels used by the fishermen to harvest seafood.  To see The Boats of Suncheon Bay, please visit my site  here.

Today was Thursday...a working day for the villagers.  There wasn't a tourist in sight; no couples with matching wardrobes, no little children running around aimlessly, no one carrying a little dog with pink or blue highlights.  It was a workday, and everyone was working.  Below is an example of my work for the day.  It might be a nice addition to the longitudinal study.

© Mark Eaton

In Suncheon, it was hot.  In Waon, with the wind blowing from the sea, it was much more pleasant.  Even so, after a few hours I was becoming hot and tired.  I walked from the old dock to the market mentioned above.  The only person present was the woman working at the market.

She eyed me carefully as I gave the traditional Korean greeting.  I bought a bag of original chips.  After receiving the change, I asked her where a restaurant is located.  She gave no obvious hints, but her previous suspicions were seemingly swept away as I spoke in Korean.  She replied that there is no longer a restaurant in the area.  I said that later I would be hungry, and I was looking for a place to eat.  I responded in the affirmative when she asked if I wanted to eat something.

The woman promptly walked to a large pot and retrieved two corns on the cob.  She put them on a plate for me to take to an outside table in front of the market.  I pulled out my wallet and asked her how much I need to pay.  She waved me off and said this is what she normally eats daily.  She gave me a cool cup of water, too.

As I ate the delicacy of corn, I watched the woman complete some of her outside duties.  Her work was thorough, and to her delight, it was with water.  She sat after a short time, and we commenced talking.  My Korean is far from decent, but she was patient.  With some deliberateness, I made attempts at humor; she laughed.  Topics, wide ranging.

The owner of the property arrived in his black car and parked in the covered area especially reserved.  The owner, an elderly man nattily dressed, scowled mightily as he exited his vehicle.  He ignored my traditional greeting.  The woman must have seen some sort of facial expression of mine, because she laughed heartily.  The man later made a comment about my large wide brimmed hat, and I caught him off guard when I responded in Korean.  We got along passably well after that.

I asked the woman about the arrival time of the 97 bus during the 4 o'clock hour.  She said 4:20, and sure enough the bus arrived just a couple of minutes after 4:20.  I thanked the woman for her kindness and said that I would see her later.  

In a rural working area, a person went out of her way to be kind and decent.  I was moved.  I never assume here that I will receive something for nothing, and I always have my wallet at the ready.  It is always nice to meet nice people.   

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crowning Achievement -- Photo for the Day

It isn't often the skies over South Korea are so blue these days.  There are a number of reasons for this, but I will leave that for another day.  I found this gem at a rest stop located somewhere between Gwangyang and Suncheon.

Crowning Achievement
© Mark Eaton

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Register the Copyright

Not too long ago I wrote a short article that can be found here that spoke to the subject of how the photographer Yunghi Kim protects her images from theft.  Within the past few days I read a PetaPixel post here and an article at The New York Observer here that discussed lawsuits that were filed against those who were alleged to have used images without permission and without compensation.

These stories are a reminder to me to be diligent with my own photographic work.  Some time in the future I will write about how photographers can try to keep track of their images on the internet.  

I don't know the specifics of copyright or fair use laws in other countries, but I do have a bit of knowledge of such laws from my home country, the USA.  As soon as something is created the copyright belongs to the creator (I'm not talking about those who work in the large corporate structure...they have given up most of their life and rights, including most things that they created for the monstrosity).  In order for a creator to claim fairly significant monetary damages, then the work must be registered with the United States Copyright Office.

To register photographs at the United States Copyright Office, visit the official website here.  A photographer will appreciate the reduced cost, and the reduced amount of time needed to register an image by filing online.  It is important to read everything at that USCO site; it reduces the potential mistakes that can be made when filing.  

Here in South Korea, Steve Miller, also known as the QiRanger, had a personal experience with copyright issues with his own work.  He has a fantastic vlog over at Youtube; listen to what he had to say about his experience with this issue:  Korean Broad Fair Use Laws.

Yes, I know it's easy to take while on the internet, but that doesn't mean an artist has to lose in the process..