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..

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Fun the Aline Smithson Way

Aline Smithson is an established and respected photographer, and her involvement in the profession of photography runs deep and sure.  One telling sign that a photographer is a professional is the willingness of that person to interact and to share with others who can benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the professional.  

Over at her blog, Lenscratch, Aline Smithson provides a great many opportunities to learn more about photography, and to enjoy photography.  One specific feature that is fun for her readers are the theme specific exhibitions she hosts at her blog.

Currently at Lenscratch, submissions for the Summer Fun Exhibition are being accepted.  Go on over to the Lenscratch Exhibition Opportunities page found here to learn more about how to submit to the exhibit.  There isn't a fee to get involved, yet it's important to read the details.  Have fun with it!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Be Used or Be Paid

I am very grateful to those who visit this blog.  Regular visitors will recall my posts about Jason Teale and his photographic work.  He was the very first artist I featured for my ongoing project to interview those whose art and work touches me and moves me emotionally; read it here.  I also wrote about Jason being the Walk Leader in Ulsan during the 2012 Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk; read it here.  He is involved in other endeavors that can be found and read on his website and blog, as well as his Facebook and Google+ pages.

He is developing and building his reputation and credentials, not just here in South Korea, but internationally, too.  It is a slow and tedious process in the art world, and in the world of photography.

Over at his blog, The Sajin, Jason has written an informative article about how a photographer should be paid for his or her work as opposed to giving it away to a business or an organization.  I made this comment about his article:

"The restaurant across the street doesn’t give away its meals for credit or exposure. I guess there are enough amateur photographers out there who gladly give it up for nothing, and that is just bad business especially if the work is done well."

Read Jason Teale's blog post about getting paid as a photographer here.

Speaking to the specific and unique issues surrounding those who have E-2 visas in South Korea, I let it be known that I was a photographer when I taught at an institution.  The power-that-was was fine with my other venture, because it didn't conflict with the teaching job.  I really don't know how other E-2 visa holders handle this issue with their sponsors and bosses.  I imagine the rest of the world doesn't have to worry about such nonsense.