Sunday, February 21, 2010


From the Guardian's Environment News:

"80% of our calories are provided by just 12 plant species (eight cereals and four tubers), despite the fact that 30,000 edible species of plant are known."


Just read this from A Photo Editor. Bascially the article is about two new laws being considered by the British government. The first concerns 'Orphan Works'. These are images that have an unknown creator. The new law would allow these to be used commercially if the author cannot be found after a "suitably diligent search" without defining what a suitably diligent search is. So if you have any images online that don't have your name or copyright plastered over them, then they could be used without your knowledge or consent.
The second law is a lot more straight forward. It basically proposes to ban pro photographers from photographing anyone in public who might object to being photographed. They don't have to object, they just have to be someone who might object.
And people wonder why I've been out of the country for over a year now...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birds in Flight



  A couple of shots from the river near our house.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teaching Craziness

There are three broad categories of teaching institutions in Korea for most foreigners entering the country:

1) Public School
2) Private English Schools (Hagwons)
3) English Villages

English Villages are pretty crazy places. They're like English language theme parks. Schools send groups of kids there to experience situational English. The foreigners aren't so much teachers as they are performers. It's pretty rough on them, teaching the same lessons to different kids, day-in, day-out. As a result, the staff turn over rate is pretty high.
Hagwons are a little more hit or miss. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a very nice, family run hagwon that treated me very well. From what I've heard from my friends here, the larger chains are a lot more impersonal and don't treat their staff that well. As private enterprises, hagwons are interested in keeping their customers happy. Their customers are the parents, so a lot of silliness goes on to make sure the parents are kept happy. At my hagwon, the students took a lot of tests that meant nothing and were rather easy, just so the hagwon could send home good results.
Public schools seem to be the most stable institutions to teach in. There's a contract that's the same for all foreigners across the country, as well as one, national textbook. This means that you have to be quite creative to make the lessons interesting but you also have a Korean co-teacher with you in the class. People's experience's with their co-teacher's range from amazing friendships to want to inflict serious harm.
Now that I've given you a brief outline to the options available you'll understand my confused and disappointed state. We signed contracts at a public school and were led to believe we'd be teaching the public school curriculum. However we're teaching in the school 'English Centre'. This means we teach hagwon style afternoon classes with regular students. That part of the job is pretty good. We see the same kids three or four times a week. The downside is that as parents are paying for those classes we're under pressure to keep them, and not the students, happy. Our morning schedule has been absolutely nuts since coming here. I haven't had one week be the same as the last yet. That's not so much the fault of the school. We've come in at a turbulent time, in between semesters. So students are graduating, new schedules are being drawn and re-drawn. Unfortunately for us, because of our school's special English Center, it looks as though we'll be teaching random students from other schools. From what I can gather, we'll teach the same weekly schedule again and again and again to random students from the Incheon area. Much like an English Village.
Needless to say that, applying for what we thought would be a public school position, and finding ourselves somewhere between hagwons and English villages, we are more than a little disappointed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

River birds

Canon 30D, 300mm IS f2.8
f5.6, 1/100, ISO 200

 Canon 30D, 300mm IS f2.8
f5.6 1/500 ISO 100

Canon 30D, 300mm IS f2.8
f5.6, 1/200, ISO 100


It seems as soon as I start earning money, I'm pretty eager to start spending it! For people who aren't particularly fond of crowded shopping centers, we've certainly been spending a lot of time in them.
Last weekend we headed up to Bupyeong, a largish town near us. We didn't fancy going all the way into Seoul so decided to explore some of the more local places. While there, I bought myself a watch.
Not exactly a frivolous purchase, as I haven't had a watch since the strap broke on my old one and I wasn't able to get a replacement.
This weekend we went into Seoul and hit up the Yeonsan techno-mart. I bought myself two Seagate 500gb external hard drives. I haven't been happy with having just one copy of my photos with me. I have all my photos backed up on a 320gb Western Digital external here and on DVDs, kept in my parent's loft back in the UK. So now I have three hard-drives with most of my photos on them. I'm also using one of the drives as a Time Capsule for Mac's Time Machine function as a way to back up everything else on my laptop. Most of this was inspired by Scott Kelby's digital workflow, so now I'm going to try and keep all my photos off my laptop and just on external drives. Hopefully that will help keep my laptop running more smoothly.
While at the techno-mart I was once again toying with the idea of getting myself an Ipod touch. I've been without an mp3 player for a while and the other functions available on the touch are pretty enticing. However I've been trying to cut back on buying things that I don't really need. Partly because of the anti-consumerist streak in me and partly in an attempt to save some of my paycheck each month. The main reasons that I want the touch are that it's super cool and can do a heck of a lot. The main reasons that are turning me off it are that I'm not sure how much I'll use it, it's kinda pricey and that I don't need one. I want one, just don't need it.
It's not a bad internal conflict to have; whether or not to buy something shiny. If I decide not to buy one, then the money will definitely go towards getting a Canon 7D.  Had fun playing with one of those at the techno mart too :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A little quiet

I know I haven't been posting nearly as regularly as I should be. All is well, we just don't have any internet in our apartment yet. We can't set up an account until we have our green cards. We've had our medicals, peed in cups twice and had two visits to the Incheon immigration office so the cards should be on their way soon. Currently we're logging in at home thanks to our various neighbour's unsecured wifi. Eumnji83 has the best connection, but iphome is also quite reliable.
The job is continuing to plod along nicely. This month seems like it's going to be a bit of a weird one. It looks as though our morning classes change pretty much every week, but we've accepted that for the next month or so we're not going to have a clue as to what's going one.
Later this month we'll both be taking part in an art exhibition. I'll be submitting a photo and Courtney will be doing some live painting. It'll be in Seoul and should be a good opportunity for us to meet some like-minded people.
Photographically, things are a little slow for me. I managed to find a great little river full of ducks and herons. Unfortunately the sun doesn't rise until about 7:30, and we have to be out of the house around 8 a.m. to get to work. So I only really have the weekends to shoot in the mornings. Don't get me wrong, it's better than nothing, but I do tend to get a bit antsy if I having triggered my shutter for more than a few days.
At least now I've managed to find a way to update this while at work. Not great for my lesson planning, but I've got lessons planned up until the 12th so I figure that I can spend a few minutes at least doing something like this.