Jezzer

Top Gear, Series 12 Episode 8

December, 2008. I had been in Korea for almost a year and was still struggling, adjusting. It was a hard thing, being away from home like that. I had tried to fit in. I did all the things an expat might do. I was actually having fun, mostly.

The hardest times were those when I was alone. It was tough being alone. Too many things to think about. Home, family, school, what I should do next. I couldn’t sleep. I never could. Too much to think about.

Being from Canada, I didn’t hear much about Top Gear growing up. Maybe it was on TV, I don’t remember. I didn’t really know anything about it.

Christmas was the hardest for me, being away. That particular Christmas I remember a news feed linking to an article about this British show. I remember it saying they were in Vietnam. I managed to find the show and watch it.

Maybe it is too much to say a relationship was born then. Maybe. Although it feels like that is what it was. Of a sort, anyway.

I watched that episode. Series 12, episode 8. The Vietnam special. I remember laughing. I remember thinking that I hadn’t legitimately laughed in a long time. It wasn’t even an episode about cars. I like cars, but that wasn’t it. It was watching three guys, friends, mates, traversing the Vietnamese landscape on scooters.

I slept easy that night. For those 80 or so minutes I didn’t think about anything aside from those guys. I remember it felt like a relief.

For the next month or so I watched every episode. I fell asleep listening to it in the background. Crazy? Maybe. It relaxed me. I wasn’t sure what it was.

For the next seven or so years probably the one constant in my life was that show. I wait for the new series just after the end of a current one. I watch the reruns of the old series continuously. It is my background noise.

People might say I like the sound of an engine. I do. I love the sound of an engine. Always have. Ironically I have an Evo X in a garage in Canada. I should sell it, considering Korea is my permanent home. It’s hard to sell though. I’m a bit of a petrol head I suppose.

Honestly though, it isn’t for the cars I watch it. I don’t think that is the case for most. The soundtrack that has been playing in the background of my life the past seven years is that of a friendship.

I read a quote today which called the cast a bunch of kids unwilling to grow up. School yard boys that have never grown into men. Jeremy, supposedly being the worst.

Perhaps that is true. Whether or not it is I could hardly care less. Maybe it is in fact,THAT fact in which I love the most. Who wants to grow up? I see the years rolling by like everyone else, but the never-ever-land of that set is something I wish I could be a part of. I kind of felt like I was.

Fast forward to July 2010. In a hotel room in Seoul after a night out drinking to start a vacation. I fell asleep watching Episode 5 from Series 13. It was still playing on repeat when I woke up to a phone call from my sister telling me my father had died. We never watched the show together, but he loved cars. It was his passion. He had taken to watching it on my behest. Ironically he said, like me, he loved it because of the hosts, hardly caring about the cars. I never could watch that episode again. Weird how things stick in one’s memory like that.

I watched the rest of Series 13 on the flight home for the funeral. I watched some reruns, too. The Vietnam special among them.

The next Christmas was the hardest. I remember watching the Middle East special in a coffee shop in the Dapsimni district of Seoul. I thought it was weird that the coffee shop served eggs with coffee for free.

2013 I found myself back in Canada. My life had taken a couple of nose dives after my dad passed. I was living alone in a small Toronto apartment. I didn’t really have enough money to pay for cable. It didn’t matter much. I watched the same thing I had always done. Sixth time, seventh time, tenth time for some episodes. They didn’t ever really get old. I just needed background noise.

This all will make me sound like a crazy fan. Honestly, I don’t think that is what I am at all. Circumstance, living without a proper TV leads to such things. One thing I can say is that in the past seven years no matter how fucked up things have gotten, the one thing I could always rely on was that show and those three dudes.

So, yesterday’s decision ended and era for me as much as for anyone else. It was a shock to the system, if I’m being honest, as the normalcy I had known for years felt shattered.

It felt weird to turn on a rerun even as part of routine. Felt weird to not do so. Weirdly the first thing that happened when I heard the news was it hit me how I had relied on the show like some people rely on comfort food. There wasn’t anymore background noise.

Sure, I’ll always be able to watch reruns. They will make new shows, might even come back to the same.

It will, however, never be the same. At least not for me. I’m not excusing what he did, honestly we probably never will really know what happened. The sad part is this kind of thing probably doesn’t effect the people involved nearly as much as it does the fan. Ending of an era, indeed.

For some of us, music isn’t what it takes to sooth the soul. It takes a pedantic pianist, an angry hamster,

and a loud, brash, filter-less orangutan. A dinosaur, perhaps.

“All the dinosaurs died and now, years later, no-one mourns their passing. These big, imposing creatures have no place in a world that has moved on.” – Jeremy Clarkson

Not everyone, so easily.

March 27th, 2015.

Seoul, South Korea.

#24hourproject

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

Yesterday (and sort of the day before) I took part in the 24 Hour Project. For those of you that don’t know, it is a street photography initiative that involves photographers worldwide.

Basically, how it works, is you take one photo per hour for 24 hours in your given city (cities in my case). So, from 00:00 on Saturday, March 21st, until 11:59 I was to stay awake and take and post one photo per hour. By the time 00:00 rolled around I felt more like #fml than #24hourproject.

Why partake then? Well, I think it started with this photo (above). Not exactly this photo, per say, but this time. I had gotten so much away from street photography since coming back to Korea that I probably wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing six months ago. Lately, however, I got a bit of the itch back. I say it started with this photo because this photo was the first “street” photo I took that I actually liked since coming back. I took it with a Ricoh GRD3 that I just happened to have stuffed in my bag after coming home from being out. The first time I took it out all day was when I saw her grabbing her head. She was too into whatever was going on to notice me. I took five or so before she did.

It isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken, but I like it and that IS a start. It was a while since I could say that.

South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 1. South Korea. March 2015.

A couple of days later, I heard about the 24 Hour Project from a contact on instagram (click for mine). I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. The theme, was “The Human Condition.” Whatever that means. I took it as I’d better just take photos with people in them. The first, above, is my girlfriend Areum. Thought it was a good way to start since she was going to try and make it through the night with me.

Hour 2. South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 2. South Korea. March 2015.

Considering the time of night, and the theme, I decided the best place to start would be the pub. Honestly, I just needed a beer to wash away the trepidation of the 24 hours to come. Plus, there are people in pubs.

Hour 3. South Korea. March 2015.
Hour 3. South Korea. March 2015.

The pub we went to was pretty small. It is near a university so figured it would be open late with some people in it. Lots of expats and otherwise. I wanted to start out easy. Plus, like I said, the beer.

As for gear (for those curious), I only took the Ricoh GRD3, extra battery, EyeFi card, and my iPhone. I edited the photos in vscocam and posted on the go.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I ended up spending most of the first four hours getting drunk and playing pool. Met a couple decent dudes though. This guy just came to Korea from Moscow.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

By the time 5AM rolled around, we were getting hungry so we went out to get chicken at a late night place near the pub with some of the guys we had met there.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

It was nearing 7 by the time I took this. I was dead. I had already had a cold and in the worry that I might actually die, I decided to get at least a couple hours of sleep. Lame, I know.

After waking up. South Korea. March 2015.
After waking up. South Korea. March 2015.

After a couple hours of sleep, we were back at it. Areum, had to go home and get some real rest so I took the bus to Myeongdong where I could continue. I needed to be where it was busy considering I still felt like a zombie after only a couple hours sleep.

South Korea. March 2015.
Into Myeongdong, Seoul, South Korea. March 2015.

I actually didn’t post this to instagram for the challenge. It was from the bus ride into downtown. I was still pretty groggy by this point. Couldn’t wait for the second wind.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I took this when I got out of the bus outside of Myeongdong. Figured it was a decent freebee considering I had forgotten that I was supposed to be posting every hour.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

When I had thought about the photos I’d take before starting the project, I thought I would try and tell the story of my day (s).

Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3
Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GRD3

By this point, however, I was barely taking photos. I was more concerned with food and more coffee.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I would basically walk around for ten minutes, take a photo (sometimes a couple of the same scene) and then get into a cafe to relax and post. It actually became more of a battle for cafe seats in the busy downtown Seoul hub than an exercise in street photography.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

Not to mention the amount of money I was spending alternating between tea and coffee. I actually ended up returning to the same cafe a bunch of times with the same cup to save some cash.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

At around 6, I had to help a friend find a lens in Namdaemun Market which is adjacent to Myeongdong. The light was pretty nice then, although we spent most of the next two hours in and out of shops looking for the lens since I was his official Korean translator/haggler.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

I should note, that I’m not showing all the photos I took here and some of these I didn’t post to instagram. I can’t even really remember what I was thinking when I posted, lol. I mostly posted the one I edited first in vsco.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

By the time 7/8 o’clock came I was really wondering why I had started this in the first place. I wasn’t really thinking anymore about taking photos. I was thinking about my bed.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

The one thing I was having fun with though was the little Ricoh. What a gem of a camera. Really, probably still one of the best digital cameras I’ve used. I was really glad I took it instead of something else, especially considering how tired I was. I probably would have given up already if I was using something bigger or more complicated.

South Korea. March 2015.
South Korea. March 2015.

When the night really was wrapping up though, I was pretty happy with what I had gone through. While I probably would never take my best photos in a situation like this, I was happy to have gone out and taken some. It really reaffirmed that I need to take more photos and how much I love to do it. I did have fun.

The last photo of the project was supposed to be a selfie.

On the way home. South Korea. March 2015.
On the way home. South Korea. March 2015.

Should count, those ARE my feet.

So, after all that would I recommend someone participate next year? Well, it really depends on whether or not you value sleep.

Well, kind of.

I think it more depends on what you wish to get out of it. I didn’t do it to get exposure or new followers or whatever. I did it because I wanted to go out and take some photos. I wanted to “HAVE” to do so.

In the end, really, I did it for me.

March 23rd, 2015.

Seoul, South Korea.

March 18, 2015. 

Newfoundland , 2013.

Just one of those nights. Nothing wrong, really, just invariably being abroad like I am there are moments like this one. Missing the family I’ve barely seen, missing the father I can no longer see. It is hard. I rely on external things to fill voids. I rely on other people. I shouldn’t do that, I am too old for pity, and I would like to think too smart to continue to live in a stasis. The people in my life now shouldn’t have to pick up the pieces. I’ve lost things, people, that I’d taken for granted. I take solace in the fact that loosing them taught me to appreciate what I have now. Until now, I’ve made a hash of it. No more, though, if I can help it. 

The photo, is from Newfoundland in 2013. 

We had just visited my father’s grave. 

Http://jtinseoul.wordpress.com/newfoundland

March 9th, 2015.

Somewhere in between Seoul and Busan. March 2015.
Somewhere in between Seoul and Busan. March 2015.

I don’t feel inspired much lately. I don’t take my camera with me very often, don’t take photos often even if I do. I don’t get a chance to travel much. This weekend though, the arrival of a friend from Toronto gave me the excuse to head into Busan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Enter Neil Ta. Well known for his roof-topping photos and also a successful wedding photographer in Toronto, he is also the manager of mutual friend Eric Kim. We known each other for years, so, when he decided to come to Korea for a trip we thought we’d take a bromantic holiday to Busan (about 4 hours by train) from Seoul.

Suwon Station, South Korea.
Suwon Station, South Korea.
Photo by Neil Ta. Suwon, South Korea.
Photo by Neil Ta. Suwon, South Korea.

We decided the night before our almost exactly 24 hour long trip that we would have a contest for best photo to be judged by Eric, lol. I think this was both of our ways to go on a trip and actually try hard to take some photos.

On the train to Busan, South Korea.
On the train to Busan, South Korea.

Because of the nature of the contest we both took digital cameras. Neil was using an X100S and I had an Olympus OM-D E-M1 (17mm 1.7). I don’t want to talk about cameras too much, but, I think that Olympus is probably my favorite digital camera I’ve used. I’ll mention it a little bit throughout.

Neil, who ironically (for a dude who climbs tall buildings) gets motion sick so we didn’t take too many photos on the train. A couple walking back and forth to the vending machine or whatever.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Felt great to arrive in Busan. I forgot how much I missed the smell of the ocean. I think I say this every time, on every post, about this place. It is always true though. I guess its true what they say about our sense of smell being the strongest tied to memory. Looking at the gulls and breathing in the sea air brings me back home no matter where I might be.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Busan itself has a completely different feeling than Seoul. The area we were staying in, Jagalchi (the fish market is famous) is teaming with markets, shopping, and a giant fish market. The first day after arriving late we decided to just walk around the shopping area. I don’t think I was really “in the mood” to take photos really. Was nice hang out with an old buddy though.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

By this point we were teasing each other about our inability to really take a decent photo. I don’t think I was even taking many. Neil said my exposure compensation dial needs to be adjusted since it usually sits around -1. I just laughed at him struggling to take photos with the X100S that seemed to be pretty slow. Maybe it just seemed like that because the Olympus is probably the fastest camera I’ve ever used in operation. I was blown away, honestly. I don’t really get excited by cameras anymore, either.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Anyway, tired from the train ride, we did more eating and talking than shooting. Probably for the better. It was more a time to catch up than anything else.

Neil is one of the rare people in my life that is completely honest with me when it comes to photography (or anything). He doesn’t hesitate to tell me a photo is shit. I heard that a lot in the past two days. I repay in kind.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

We woke up with the sun the next day in the hopes of getting to the fish market when it was opening. We kinda missed that, being the lazy idiots that we are.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

We spent a couple minutes just looking at the boats and the water. We said it was because it was pretty. I think it was because we were still half asleep.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

The fish market itself, looks more like this.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

Lots of fish.

Dead fish.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I find it a bit hard to take photos here now. They’ve all been done. Kinda like my post last week though, I figure it is okay if its been done as I can just do it again. My way.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

I wanted to take a photo of this woman because she told me off the last time I tried. I usually just ask, talk a bit, but she didn’t have any of it. This was as close as I could manage. Scared of a grandmother. Sad story, I suppose.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

All in all, we probably spent twenty or so minutes in the fish market before we figured out coffee was a better time had than taking photos.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

As for our contest. I forgot to mention that the rules were that I had to shoot in colour, and Neil in black and white going against our normal aesthetic. I figured I would go with the theme of old women. There was no reason for this aside from I saw a lot of them.

Probably due to being up at 5:30AM.

Busan, South Korea.
Busan, South Korea.

After coffee we made our way back to Seoul. A short trip, but a fun one.

On the way back to Seoul, South Korea.
On the way back to Seoul, South Korea.

Was good to get out and shoot with a buddy. Reminded me why I loved photography in the first place.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

It is this. The friends, the people you meet. One thing I realized during this trip is it doesn’t really matter at all if I take any good photos. It isn’t about that.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

We headed into Myeongdong to drain the rest of our batteries and for something to do.

Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul, South Korea.

And that was it, we said our goodbyes. It was a fun couple of days. Neil is a great dude, and an inspiring photographer.

Above all that though, he is a good friend.

Good photographers are easy to fInd.

Good friends, not so much ;)

Seoul, South Korea.
(That’s my head at the bottom, ha, face detection plus flippy screen is epic) Seoul, South Korea.

As for who one the contest, I’ll leave that for later ;) Let’s say the winner is humbled, and the loser, well, owes as were the agreed upon terms, a bucket of fried chicken to be paid promptly after our next meeting.

Busan, Seoul, Suwon, South Korea.

March 7th, 8th, 2015.

The Underground

Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.
Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.

Its been a while since a post. In fact, my posts are coming less and less lately. It is hard to find the time to take photos, and even harder to find the time to post them.

I realized that 90 percent of the photos I take are on the underground. I suppose it is the place I find myself most often. On transit in general. The only time I have to take photos is while on the move.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

The metro in Seoul isn’t the friendliest of places. In fact, it is quite cold.

People keep to themselves.

Always.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

Maybe that’s why I like it. I like to keep to myself. Headphones are a theme.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

As is sleep. Maybe that is why I take photos.

I don’t like much of either.

Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.
Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.

I more or less, like to watch.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

And take photos.

I had thought once to do a series on the metro here.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

I never did though.

Too cliche.

Too done.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

Maybe so, but then I have to ask myself why I do it then. Why do I take photos there?

Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.
Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.

Maybe that was the start.

The start of a new series that I probably should have done a long time ago.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

It might be cliche. It might be done far too often.

Not sure I care. I’m going to do it again.

Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.
Suwon, South Korea. February 2015.

I’ll just do it my way.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

And I’ll call it quite simply,

The Underground.

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.
Seoul, South Korea. February 2015.

A photo from my next post, talking about spending a day in Myeongdong for the first time in a long time and covering an upcoming trip to Busan. Should be up later in the week ;)

February 19th, 2015.

Areum

It was a nice day, in Hongdae,

with her.

It’s always a nice day. We talk, walk, eat.

“You take too many photos of that girl.”

Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t care. I spent this day with my camera around my neck. I only took this photo.

It was my favourite moment of the day.

I’m not sure why, entirely, aside from I liked the look she gave me.

I wanted to remember.

That’s why I do this, take photos.

To remember.

February 19th, 2015.

Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea.