Seongyojang

Some years ago I made photos of Seongyojang using the Hipstamatic application on an iPhone 4. The iPhone/Hipstamatic combination was very limiting – there was only one focal length, the rendering of the scene by the application was a bit random, and the iPhone 4 didn’t produce raw files I could adjust later. What I got when I pressed the shutter button was what I got, but it was challenging and fun. I sometimes thought about doing the same kind of photography again with a ‘proper’ camera, keeping the square format but using different focal lengths and possibly doing the whole project in black and white. On the way to Seongyojang the other day I thought it was a good time to start.

Blurred Calligraphy Sign.

If you go right after entering the grounds, you come to a pavilion called Hwallaejong. It’s a nice place to sit and look at the lotus pond and you can pay to have tea there on certain occasions. It’s been photographed from the front by thousands of people in more or less the same way, including myself. This time I decided to do something a bit different by purposely blurring the calligraphy sign and papered windows around the back of the pavilion.

Lawn and Buildings.

There is a large lawn on the estate that doesn’t seem to be used for anything. I’ve never seen picnickers on it or even children running around on it. Maybe it’s for special events? Although I’ve been to Seongyojang dozens of times, I don’t think I noticed this perspective before. One of the joys of photography is continually seeing things in new ways.

Stepping Stones.

I used my Fujifilm X-T3 because it has in-camera square format and because it’s light. No need for awkward tripods. This is especially important at historical sites and festivals where many people can be moving around. This requires a fairly high ISO setting at times , but, interestingly, the X-T3’s Acros simulation looks better at higher ISOs than it does at lower ISOs. I generally set the camera to auto ISO and aperture priority mode to make life simple.

In traditional Korean houses, especially those in the south, there is no real distinction between doors and windows, since the whole wall is basically removable and a can enter anywhere.
These stairs lead up to an empty plot of land. Possibly they are for the gardener.
Stairs and wall made of stone blocks.

Because I photographed Seongyojang in square format for the iPhone exhibition, I was worried about this new project being more or less the same except in black and white. But I have (I hope) learned more about photography in the past five years and I think that using different focal lengths will give me some new perspectives.

A moderate telephoto lens compressed this chimney nicely against the clay tile roof.
These 18th and later century buildings have been fitted with electricity for interior and exterior lights.
This photo was made in winter, so I’m not sure if the trees in the background are dead or have just lost their leaves for the season.

I’m going to make the rounds of the historical sites in Gangneung and keep an eye out for traditional festivals, but I also want to get out of Gangneung and look for some traditional buildings, etc in other towns and locations. Maybe it’s time to just off my driving license and rent a car.

A Walk in the Hills

I’ve probably mentioned the hills and paths that surround Stone Island Valley behind my apartment complex. It’s not much of a valley and dale might be a better word to describe it. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a nice place to take a walk because most people take their walks on the concrete road that goes up the dale and fewer people go up into the hills to stroll amongst the trees.

The hilltop path as it dips between two hills.

Not only are there fewer walkers on the path, but at most points you can’t see any houses or roads. I almost said you can’t see any signs of civilisation, but this would be false because the hills are full of grave markers and tombs.

I don’t know if these flower pots were blown over by the wind or if they were casually tossed there by someone.
The walking path passes by many graves and grave markers like these.

On my walk this day, I saw only one person and he was quite a distance away. He must have turned off somewhere, because he never caught up to me even though I frequently stopped to make photos.

In addition to a human, I saw and heard birds the whole time I was walking and as I was coming down off the hill near the end of my walk I was surprised by a deer who leapt out of some tall grass and ran for the hills. It was at the bottom of that path where I cam across a photogenic tree that I want to visit again in different kinds of weather. This might make an attractive colour photograph in late spring.

An interesting tree on a less-travelled path coming down off the hills.

I noticed today that WordPress automatically includes the captions I write in Lightroom to the bottom of each photo. This might be a new feature as it’s never happened before. Or perhaps I deleted metadata in the past when saving for the web. Anyway, it’s a convenience. I wish it would read the keywords, though. That’s what takes up the time.