Pavilion Roof

Tired of visiting the same places all the time and having no car to find more distant and interesting places, I spent a bit of time on Naver Map looking over Gangneung to see if I had missed any photogenic locations in the area. I came across Namsan (South Mountain) Park which has a pavilion at the top of the hill. I’d been there one spring to see the cherry blossoms, but it’s a bad time to go for photography because there are hundreds of people there also making photographs. Some are middle-aged men with Serious Equipment looking the place over with Serious Expressions trying to get the perfect shot. Most were couples or families taking selfies with mobile phones.

After looking at the map and remembering the pavilion’s existence, I put my camera and tripod in a bag and rode my bicycle there. The park is only about three kilometres from my apartment so I arrived after ten minutes or so. It was November when I visited this time, so instead of pink blossoms on the trees, there were red, yellow, and orange leaves all over the ground. Very nice, but I was interested in making some photos of the pavilion there called Oseong Pavilion. ‘Oseong’ means ‘Five Star’, but I don’t know what the significance of that might be. The pavilion was built in 1927 by a group of men to commemorate their 60th birthdays. I couldn’t find any information about who did the calligraphy hung up around the ceiling. Maybe the fellows who had the pavilion built?

Interestingly, traditional Korean buildings don’t have nails in them. Everything fits together using grooves and joints. The weight of all that timber probably guarantees the roof won’t blow away. I like the red and green colours of Korean buildings called dancheong. You’ll find this colour scheme in pavilions, Confucian buildings, and Buddhist temples. The painting in Oseong Pavilion is quite basic, but the painting at some Buddhist temples can be very elaborate.

I thought I might be alone at the pavilion on a cool November day, but there was an older man there with a camera and a young woman looking for nice leaves on the ground. There are exercise paths on the hill and people in sports clothes were coming and going. I got a bit of exercise myself because I came up the 190 stairs on the north side of the hill. Hats off to the builders who carried all that timber up the hill in 1927.

Birthplace of Heo Gyun and Heo Nanseolheon

I’ve been to this estate many times in the past, but I enjoy going there every couple of months to see what I might have missed or to experience the buildings in different light. I usually see something in a new way every time I visit, which is one of the pleasures of photography.

I usually photograph this gate from farther back to get the long earthen walls and an impressive tree off to the right. But this time I walked closer and stayed to the right. That’s when this scene fell into place. I’ve walked up to this gate a hundred times before but never seen this particular view. Visit and re-visit is the lesson here.

This is one window/door of the sarangchae, the men’s residence. (Women in the past had to be in the anchae out back, where the kitchen is). This photo was an exercise in lining things up and keeping an eye on the viewfinder’s electronic level.

Looking at these two photos of the Heo estate makes me pretty happy. Time for another trip, I think. The best photo of my life could be waiting for me.