The photo submission for this week in mid-June comes to us from south of Gwangju. As the hills roll out of Nam-gu, past Innocity and onwards through Naju, they slowly give way to vertile farming areas around Hwasun. Marked by low ridges with rolling hills between, this area makes for several days well spent in search of new imagery. The other week, I found myself in this area after weekday rains graced this part of the peninsula. The grasses, weeds, and the odd wildflower greeted me with vibrant greens, and an air heavy with pollinated goodness.
Scattered in and amongst the rice paddies which dominate this area sits the occasional animal farm. At this particular spot, I found several small cow farms nestled in adjacent succession at the end of a dead-end downhill road. As you can see represented towards the top of the image above, the barns were surrounded by fruit trees amid a larger expanse of long grasses. An interesting composition presented itself as large swathes of recently cut grasses lay in highlighted horizontal strips across the hillside. It took just a minute to exit my car, take a light reading, and find my preferred framing for the scene above. However, my finger paused gently on the shutter button. Something was not quite right. Perhaps it was the lack of contrast in the foreground grass which I knew might still show on the negative even after pushing this Kodak T-max one stop past it’s 400iso rating. Or, my reluctance could have resulted from a secret desire to see some action somewhere in the frame. The bottom third of the frame, for example, just craved action.
Situated below the farm at the road’s end, my ears heard a sound which I could yet see. A low humming to my left quickly crescendoed into a rattletrap roar of sorts as overweight tractor with steaming guts slowly came into view. I looked quickly off-camera to find that this beast granted me only several seconds to either capture my preconceived image, or to go with this evolving image-in-the-making. I chose the latter. Above is the image which resulted from brief, decisive moment. A mechanical arm juts out into the scene from the left of the image. Given its surroundings, it is both alien and familiar. Its’ metallic, shadowy texture seems at home with the background barn. Yet it also seems utterly out of place amid the organic lines dominating the rest of the frame. That being said, it provides a convenient focal point for our eyes. As it bisects the highlighted and mid-toned regions of the frame, it also opens its mechanical hand facing rightward. As if to say “nothing to see here, move along….move along”, it therefore gently pushes our eye back towards the center of the frame. After winding to the next frame, I lingered for several minutes before indeed moving along.
[Image taken with a Hasselblad 503cxi with a 180mm f3.5 telephoto lens while shooting T-max 400 pushed to 800iso.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)