Gulsan Temple and Surrounding Area

Gulsan Temple was founded around the middle of the ninth century. Alas, it did not survive the Anti-Buddhist Joseon Dynasty which came to power in 1392 and set out to reduce that religion’s influence in the country. The land that once belonged to the temple is covered with farms now, with just a few artefacts remaining. I went out that way about a week ago to make a few photographs.

A sign pointing the way to a temple artefact. The sign has just been transliterated instead of translated. To be useful to a foreign traveller, it should read, “Gulsan Temple Statue of a Sitting Buddha.”
The sign for the sitting Buddha is next to the most famous artefact of the temple and one of Gangneung’s best known traditional treasures. These two stones have holes drilled into them so that banners can be hung up.
A view of the hills through the tourist information sign next to the banner stones.
This group of trees is visible in the view of the hills above.
The sitting Buddha in his ‘house’.
The Buddha’s face is missing, though the reason is not known.
Buddha’s neighbours
Korean fields are usually small, and farmers use these multi-purpose tractors in them. The cart can be detached and various tools such as plows attached. Buses only come to the bus stop in the background a couple of times a day.
Self-portrait at traffic mirror.
The building on the right is a typical farmer’s house made of concrete with a brick facing. The building on the left is new, but I don’t know what it is.
A woman working in the fields.
These wheelie bins are usually for food waste, but there seem to be a lot of them for such a small neighbourhood.
Stone circle for shamanistic rites.
Entrance to the stone circle

Heo Estate

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be using the Nikon D810 for the foreseeable future, but there is a queue of photos made by the X-T3 waiting to get posted here. I imagine Nikon photos will start getting posted in a few weeks. Of course, I have to get out with the camera and do some photography first . . . .

Wood and Paper Door, Heo Estate, Gangneung.

I’ve made photos of this door in the past, and here is another variation. Someday I’ll get around to choosing the best ones and putting them in a portfolio.

Papered Walls and Locked Window, Heo Estate, Gangneung.

Again, I have photos similar to this one in my archive somewhere.

These buildings are well cared for and maintained, but there is almost nothing in them except for a bit of calligraphy on the walls sometimes. Or maybe a copy of a portrait of the most famous person who lived here. It would be nice to have some furnishings to bring a bit of life to the place and provide a glimpse of historical ways of life.

A Few From Obong

I caught a taxi to the Confucian School on Obong Mountain to make a few photos but came back with very little. And even less survived my editing process. And that’s a good thing because organising a lot of photos on the computer is a royal pain in the arse.

School Wall and Tree, Obong Seowon

I only thought one photo of the school was worth publishing here. I’ve made similar photos of this tree and wall before, but I think this one is a slight improvement. Better micro-composition, etc. This is from the camera with no adjustments made on the computer. Just how I like it. It was an overcast morning, so I think I may have adjusted the highlight setting on the X-T3 to +1 for a little extra contrast.

No Burials, Obong Mountain

The sign on the left says it is illegal to do burials and set up graves within 500 metres because the water off the hill feeds into the water supply for the town. The sign on the right says you can’t dump garbage there. These signs are next to the Confucian school and I made the photo as I was leaving.

House Gate and Shadow, Obong.

Like the other photos above, this photo is straight from the camera. I think I spot-metred off the pavement underneath the gate and compensated by +1 or +1.3. I keep forgetting to change settings, so although the sun was out, the highlight setting on the camera was still probably at +1. This gate is just down the road from the Confucian school.

Although I dislike making adjustments to photos in Lightroom, I wonder if it might not be a good idea to darken the lower righthand section of the first photo for a bit of balance. Any suggestions?

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.