Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jan 31, 2012. This Is The End

It's this winter's biggest snow so far and I had to go out for a walk with a friend. However the best view was from the dormitory's study room where white ashes fell over an urban apocalyptic scene.
Just in time to end January's Gallery!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Jan 30, 2012. This City.

Some photos can be enhanced by my words, but...
I want this one to speak on its own.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jan 29, 2012. Fishtank Neighbors

Have you ever stared into your neighbors window curiously, as if they were a mysterious pet creature in their little cage where, if you're lucky, you'll be able to see them like when the tiger leaves his cave in the zoo. Only able to stare from far away makes them seem small and, like a fish in a tank they are sealed away from your world. If you look at different times of the day you will see them doing different things, like laying in bed listening to music or running in their exercise wheel, attending guests or gnawing their teeth on a hard edge. And when they're not there, it's like a fishbowl with only water which you didn't know what to do with after the fish died, lying there without purpose in the room.
Or you may just think it's your neighbors...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jan 27, 2012. Call It What You Want

Complete with matching hand warmers, I can actually go by seeing 1 or 2 of these every day. If I saw one in Guatemala, it would be a novelty. The owner would probably even have cult fame, known as the guy with the pink moped. Guy, you say... why not a girl? Well, because I'm pretty sure the owner of this bike is a guy, since each one of these pink marvels I've seen so far was being driven by one, ranging from skinny jean-pretty boys to the hard-skinned manly man. Doesn't get any more hardcore biker than this!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jan 26, 2012. Old Friends

I took off in the night today, walking in circles not knowing what I would find in the lack of light, when I started peering in through glass doors. In a simple little noodle restaurant , these two old men drank and conversed, and you could tell from their expressions that changed quickly from hard to soft, that they knew each other well to the point that they could hold two different conversations at the same time. One with words, the other masks, but both stories would be wound in their familiar minds into one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jan 25, 2012. Energy Inefficient.

I walked outside today expecting to come back in with photos of last night's snow. Instead, I came with a photo of the university's hospital, hot and steamy in the cold air. The back-lit steam just intrigued me, as it vanished few feet away from its source. Today, I go with a minimalistic  photo.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jan 24, 2012. When Life Sucks

If you've ever worked in an office, then you can relate to this man. Sitting in an uninspiring room surrounded by uninspiring things having to do uninspiring work, and you'd wish that clock would tick just a little bit faster.
Struggling to stay awake, the man didn't notice me. But I understood him...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jan 23, 2012. Majesty.

Traditional Asian architecture is beautiful. The luxury and complexity might seem absurd, but it's art. I ventured out today to see if I could find any special events commemorating the Lunar New Year but came up with nothing. Not to worry though, I still like the photo I got. This gate from old Korea is always a wonder to observe, combined with modern day artificial lighting creating a sight even the people back then couldn't enjoy!

Jan 22, 2012. Fun With Friends

So I decided to go with something more lighthearted today. After all of the dramatic photos I've tried to take these days, it's nice to think of a warmer theme, like the stupid things we do with friends. You don't need alcohol to get rid of your useless shame, just some good company to get your spirits up!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jan 21, 2012. A Man's Tools

Perhaps this blog is getting too monochromatic... But on my quest for today's photo I walked across a car service shop and saw these greasy tools that hit home. My home was always avast of wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers and the like. It always felt so normal to have such objects at hand whenever needed, and though I didn't very often, my dad made extensive use of them outside on his precious motorcycles. These hard metal chunks from the mechanical world are indeed built for men, those with thick-skinned hands that aren't afraid to get dirty. A mechanic pries steel bolts off hard screws, and is concerned about getting the machine running, not whether he got grease on himself or is forming another callus. He has to be as firm and strong as the metal he is taming, or it will tame him.
As I stopped and lifted my camera, the mechanic saw me, smiled, nodded, and walked back into his office...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jan 20, 2012. Rui's Rooftop

I wasn't happy with my last few evening city scrounges, resulting to often detail-less over-contrasted photos, so I wanted to find somewhere new that wasn't too far, but could give me a different perspective. I a phoned a friend who lives on a rooftop and he was fortunately home, so I hauled my camera and tripod to see what I could get. I real professional would wait until the weather is good, but since I have a daily deadline I had to work my way around dull winter skies. The first thing that caught my attention in the city landscape was a large crane which I can only partially see from my dormitory. However there hasn't been a day in which I've been able to look out without seeing any kind of construction, and actually at the moment I could see three of these towering metal skeletons within close distance of the building. As packed as the city may seem they always seem to find enough space for more construction, as Seoul grows at an unstoppable pace.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jan 19, 2012. The Little Ramen House

Most people's experience of ramen in the western world is packaged dry noodles with flavoring chemicals in a bag. I was once another believer that this insult to Japan can actually be called ramen. Now on the other side of the world I can get my hands on the real thing, and you'd wonder who was the evil genius ("genius" only because he probably became filthy rich) who created instant ramen, which is nothing like the properly broth flavored noodles with fresh, sliced green onions, a hard-boiled egg and a happy slab of pork. Not only does real ramen NOT feel like it'll reduce your lifespan by 3 days, but it also doesn't sell for under a buck at the local convenience store. It can get rather pricy, but you get what you pay for... but then again you can not deny that when broke and in need you'll still find yourself feeding off the $1 slow death  instant ramen. Just add hot water!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jan 18, 2012. Shapes in the Shadows

Nothing will cool your head better than an evening walk. Whether you're alone, with friends, or a significant other, a nice nighttime stroll can easily put your heart in a more comfortable place. Shadows and silhouettes around you are like remnants of the day, impressions from rushed mornings and busy afternoons.
Walking in the night allows you to think and meditate in ways you can not indoors, where artificial lighting destroys your sense of time and robs you of that relaxing feeling you get from open darkness. You can reflect calmly on your life and let the cool breeze take away your worries for at least a brief moment...

This picture is a bit of a delicate balance of contrasts on the sides, and I'm worried many screens will not show all the detail I want them too. I hope you can see more than just the harsh silhouette in the middle, and appreciate a bit of the softer lighting on the sides.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jan 17, 2012. Making a Living

I've wanted to photograph this lady for a while. You will often find her on her usual corner yelling "O-bek won! O-bek won!" in a high, raspy voice. This is the price of the snack food she sells for 500 won, enduring skin-punishing winds every day in the city bustle. We purchased one of her snacks and I took the opportunity to snap. The elderly always make stunning portraits, crevices lining their features for every experience you have yet to go through. I walked away with what I wanted.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jan 16, 2012. Clear Skies and Old School Movies

Seoul doesn't have very dynamic skies. It's either really clear, or really cloudy (grey) but either way it's not easy to get those stunning sunsets. A view over the city in the evening is more like an old-school Asian movie; a town crammed with long eyed people that do some kind of martial art, and if you look closely you might find Jackie Chan hanging from a helicopter in one of his absurd stunts. (I'm half Chinese, so that's not racist!) That's kind of the feel I got from this picture, so I gave it a bit of an old look and some grain. The view from the window up here makes it seem so calm, quiet, but once you're down there it's lively and noisy. It feels more like staring at a picture than the city you're living in.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jan 15, 2012. Slow Business Sunday

Well I'll be honest about this one. It was me running around at 8 at night trying to get a photo for today due to procrastination. While dodging between allies trying to find something worth photographing, I crossed a small, practically invisible coffee shop. Not exactly genius positioning, they had no customers on this Sunday evening, but I couldn't really see many potential customers walking the dark, desolate alley they were in any night at all. The quiet, after-work-hour feeling came over me as I snapped, and walked back home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jan 14, 2012. Come and Go

As I entered the subway to go meet some friends, I took note of the time... 4:30pm; I would have to come back at that hour again. Winter's early sunset and busy commuters come together during this golden hour to make a dramatic scene. Today I went back with my camera to record the feeling I had gotten that day. Nobody else seemed to notice of the transforming change in the interior of the complex, brought about by a simple variation in the light, now rushing blindingly through the window. Needless to mention, I walked away happily with my immortalized moment.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jan 13, 2012. Keeping The City Running

Something that really makes Seoul stand out is the maintenance of its businesses and facilities. Back in Guatemala, excitement over new places doesn't last long, as they are usually not maintained and whatever facilities it had become unusable soon enough. Burnt out lights that are never replaced, broken bathroom doors, electronics that break down and are never repaired... Not here though. Time is taken to make sure everything is up and running like it's supposed to be, and (usually) kept clean too. Of course a few smaller businesses (like the store I showed last weekend) get old and fall apart, but for the most part the city always feels fresh and new.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jan 12, 2012. Grandma's Things

Every old lady in Seoul must have some kind of device with wheels she can push around. Half the time they're pushing around things you have no idea where they came from, nor what she's gonna do with them. Well here's one from around the block, pilling what looks like something that used to be a baby stroller. She looked right when I snapped, then continued ignoring me.

Jan 11, 2012. The Busy Sushi Master

 With 3 friends, we went to hit the nearby all-you-can-eat sushi bar. Men of large appetites, production had to speed up to keep us fed. I swear, at one point I took a break and it was as if the train of sushi plates suddenly became cluttered from more plates being placed than taken. This busy man sat before us pumping out sushi after sushi dish to quickly disappear at our table, and he didn't seem too kind either. We observed a sudden increase in the amount of wasabi put into the sushi, making them almost unbearable to eat (eyes watering and noses leaking) but it didn't stop us. I swear, though, I've been there twice before and they never added that much wasabi before; it really felt like it was intended for us. Nevertheless, I walked out of there having conquered 27 plates of rice balls topped with raw fish. A new personal record I will walk in there to surpass again!
Not a spectacular picture but crappy lens under crappy conditions only yielded me this, and I didn't want to spend TOO much time with the lens in front of the angry sushi man. He might have started making our sushi purely out of wasabi balls.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jan 10, 2012. A Moment In Time

This photo doesn't have much of a focus, but sort of carries a cinematographic feel to it. A pale, cold, moment frozen in time before something happens. This is what it feels like to ride the subway. There is an unspoken rule to not speak. You do not make eye contact, you do not disturb others. They are all stuck in the same situation as you, riding an empty can, uncomfortably sharing space with others until they arrive at their destination. Please continue silently on your way.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Jan 9, 2012. Dirty Air

Seoul's air can vary drastically from one day to the next, so some  days I get asthma and some days I don't, but for the most part I'm fine. I don't know what it is about this photo I like, since I'm usually more inclined toward the contrasty type, but the fade here kind of gives it this feeling I can't describe. Since I can't describe it, my description will end short, and make of the photo as you want.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Jan 8, 2012. Not For Relaxation

Seoul's most popular modern shopping district, Myeong Dong, is not a place where people go to relax. If you're not a'shoppin, then choose a different location because slow walkers will be pushed and run over. Taking this pic was actually angering some people because I had to stand in the middle of the river and hold my camera over my head as passerby's had me swinging left and right for balance. In the end, I got the shot. It is nice, though, that even in this kind of crowd I can feel safe and don't have to be hiding my personal belongings and checking by pocket every minute to make sure my wallet is still there. Nevertheless, I am not a fan of being a cow in a herd, thus I am not a big fan of Myeong Dong either.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jan 7, 2012. The Supermarket

Everything is smaller in Korea, including what they call a "Shyupomaketuh." They borrowed the word from English but their definition of a "Supermarket" is exactly what is above; somewhere between a convenience store and an actual supermarket. They range from clean an organized to old and falling apart, but prices seem the same everywhere regardless. Korea has lots of sharp, new buildings towering over wide sidewalks but that doesn't mean that there is any lack of the opposite. Luckily I was carrying my tripod this evening so I was able to get this shot with a steady cam.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jan 6, 2012. Strolling Down

Well I went out early for today's photo because I plan on going out tonight. After a bit of a stroll around the university, I sat down for a break. I hadn't found anything interesting until I looked behind me, and saw what I was looking for. Due to harsh daylight I took an HDR of this trail and the leafless trees that lined it. The photo is sharper but Blogger kind of gave it that unsharp look when resizing, perhaps it will look better if you enlarge. So, enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jan 5, 2012. Taking a Moment

Winter is the worse season to get busy. This morning we were under -10C, and all anyone wishes to do at that temperature is sleep. I take naps almost every day to avoid passing out while studying and I eat almost twice as much as I did in summertime. I swear, all I need is some body hair and I'm ready to hibernate like a bear. What's worse, the sun is already setting at 5pm and by 6 o'clock its totally dark, making it feel like bedtime already. Posting photos everyday like this is hard, but at the same time it helps keep me sane while studying. Back in High School it seemed like my greatest bouts of creativity came when I had tons of homework to do, or when it was exam week, and once I was finally free my head just felt empty. Now I just want to turn into a big fluffy winter mammal and take a 2-month-long sleep.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jan 4, 2012. Art Block

Well not everyday is a good day to take a photo. Went out, nothing. Threw together somethings to try a macro. Nothing. Tried something new. Nothing. Wrote a lame excuse on a piece of paper. Works, I guess.
I guess too much studying has been making my mind gray. I really hope this month goes by fast.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dec 3, 2012. Staying Sharp

Ironically, running around, I found time to take this picture in the subway while waiting for the next train. An odd clock... actually other subway stations don't really have clocks (especially not like this one) they just keep the time on screens running ads and train schedules. This is one of three candidates I had for today's photo... all of which were OK though I wasn't completely happy with them. In the end I chose this one, though I don't know why.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Jan 2, 2012. Held Up High

This is a close up of one of the statues in front of "Hogwarts." It's an HDR, to enhance the tones, and I think it could also turn out pretty neat in black and white but I really liked how the bronze looks, so I made it color. I feel, though, as if blogger slightly altered the colors because I think it looks way better on my computer. Anyway, despite the fact that I used my kit lens for this one, I think I was able to get it very sharp ( though again, blogger didn't seem to do much justice to this). Architectural  photography isn't quite my thing but I'm happy with this photo.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jan 1, 2012. Future Genius

When I was his age, I would grab a rubix cube and twist it around randomly for about 5 mins, then get bored and move back to my simple-minded toys. Well, to be honest I didn't see the whole thing through, so I don't know whether he actually solved the darn brain teaser, but it did make him look like a smart little guy.
Anyway, may this child make you feel the world has a "bright" future, and have a happy new year!