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May photo review.

May Photo Review- 2019

May 4th-6th: Daejeon. (대전)

Somehow after two and a half years of living in South Korea I've failed to visit the country's 5th largest city, Daejeon. To be honest I had preconceived ideas of this popular metropolis being just like the other gigantic cities, filled with nothing but high rise towers as far as you could see. My mind was completely blown as I stumbled off the bus, my tripod bashing everything it could reach, to be faced with a large park complete with trees and grass! In fact breaking up the blocks of tall buildings these parks were scattered everywhere. Daejeon was full of nature for the locals to enjoy in between the hectic daily city life. This stark contrast in concrete and plants could potentially offer some interesting compositions.

Picture 1: Hanbat Arboretum 'I got lost in here' Park.

I happened to stumble into this park while on my way to Daejeon's Gapcheon river. And I never made it back out again. Okay I did, but there was a moment where I thought I was going to need to vault a large fence to escape. (I want to be freeeee) Filled with spring flowers, trees, lakes and an overwhelming amount of pathways it was easy to forget you were in a city. This Korean style pavilion on the lake caught my attention immediately...

f/16 ISO100 1/160

Although your eye is drawn to the pavilion as it is the largest object in the photograph, there are actually three main points of focus; the pavilion, the tall buildings and the suspended rocks across the lake. This subject 'triangle' makes use of the foreground and background offering a mixture of culture, nature and modern cityscape. I think this image works well. Although there are multiple main objects the image isn't too overwhelming.

The lighting situation wasn't the best, shot in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was to the left side of the pavilion and quite frankly in the wrong direction. This did mean I had to raise the shadows of the pavilion in post processing to make it stand out more, otherwise the image was well lit. Mid to afternoon sun can be very harsh so luckily I was able to capture a slight reflection of the buildings in the lake without unwanted water surface reflection. This scene could be even more interesting with a softer light during the early hours of the morning or during sunset to give the sky a dash of colour.

Picture 2: Expo Bridge on Gapcheon River.

This was not an easy image to frame. Walking up and down the river bank while dodging the walkers, runners and cyclists, I tried to find a composition where the bridge and its reflection was the main and only focus. Retracing my steps over and over like a madwomen I soon realised there was no way to do so without the bank side popping into the lower right corner to say hello. Sure I could have edited out during post processing but I had a better idea! Instead, I'd incorporate it into my composition and use it to my advantage.

ISO200 f/18 0.8 Seconds

A slower shutter speed resulted in a soft, dreamy image with a blurred passer by giving the illusion of passing time. How fancy!

My original composition vision really would not have been interesting enough especially during that blue post sunset light. The leading line of a walkway and figure makes the image more interesting. I do admit to going back and forth between this capture mixed between loving it and wishing the colours were warmer. I don't tend to shoot during that cold blue evening light and prefer my images to have warmer tones, but that step outside of my comfort zone is good for self improvement.

May 11th-12th: Jirisan National Park (지리산국립공원)

Picture 1: Rise sun rise!

Jirisan claimed the top spot of my favourite mountain in South Korea the first time I hiked it two and a half years ago. The hiking trails are stunning all year around but the Nogodan peak has always managed to evade my camera...until now! And I had to work hard for it.

It takes me a good few hours of should-be-sleeping time to get to Jirisan park. After practically running up the trail to the peak in a race of time and testing my patience with my tripod (why you gotta be so awkward?!) I managed to arrive at the peak at the same time as a tour group of 50 people whose aim was to also watch the sun rise from behind the mountains. And I've never fought for space to set up my gear so hard in all my life. I was taking people down with my elbows, swinging that tripod around breaking ankles and shoving my camera lens up peoples nostrils to indicate they were in my space!

...or at least is what I imagine I would have done if I wasn't an overly polite person. I did the best I could, sneaking my camera in between sets of shoulders in a desperate attempt to find some room and a decent composition.

f/9 ISO400 1/60

I did feel frustrated knowing that if I moved inches to the right or left there was the potential for a better composition that I wasn't able to consider before taking the final shot. I framed as best as I could, using the pink flowers in the foreground and the sun rising in the background. The clouds that chugged along were a perfect addition to the scene and caught the orange and yellow light making the sky a bit more interesting. Is this going to win 'Sunrise photo competition of 2019'? Nah. But I do like this image regardless.

Picture 2: Those other mountains...

This image is proof that I still need to grow as a photographer. It's okay to have not-so-successful photographs as it gives you room to improve. What is good is that I know exactly why this image doesn't work. I don't like to give myself excuses buuuuut battling the rush of people and my limited time to get back down the mountain meant I went into panic photographer mode and became more concerned getting images rather than the quality of those images.

f/11 ISO 200 1/50

The light here is beautiful, the pinks painting the sky gives a soft dreamy image and compliments the spring flowers in the foreground. However the mountains should be the main focus and they do not lead anywhere. They are abruptly cut off by the right side of the frame and it feels like something is missing! I can vision what should be there, the mountains dropping into open valleys filled with early morning mist. This image would have worked better as a panoramic or the camera positioned more to the right, forgetting those pink flowers and focusing on the leading line of the mountain range. This rushed composition means it is not an image made for print and makes me wonder whether it was better to get a mediocre image or whether it would have been best not to take it at all. Is it better to come away with something rather than nothing? Either way photography tip: Take.Your.Time. Take yo time girl!

May 18th-19th: Seoul (서울)

Eunbongsan is one of a few small mountains (pfft more like a hill) around Seoul offering amazing views of the Han River and incredible city surrounding it. This location is perfect for some night time city light photography.

I originally chose this spot for some golden sunset images however as some thick and large clouds blocked off what would have been a good sunset, I angrily shook my raised fist at the sky to the alarm of the Korean photographer nearby and changed the aim of the game to some night shots. Versatility.

Picture 1: Blue and Orangji!

f/5.6 ISO 200 5 Seconds

The main attraction from the view of Eunbongsan is the orange bridge crossing the Han River. I decided to use that post sunset blue light as I wanted the silhouetted mountains in the background to be visible as well as the city lights to be lighting the scene to indicate the time of day and add depth to the image. And depth is what I attempted to serve with the criss crossing of bridges from the foreground to the back. I kept the exposure short enough so that the city lights didn't look unfocused but long enough to get a soft river where the orange and blue colours blend together nicely on the surface of the water. To say I was suffering with allergies here and could barely keep my eyes open I'm honestly impressed with the manual focusing here. I think this is a successful image and Eungbongsan can remain on my list of good Seoul locations for a snapshot.

There you go, May in pictures! Feel free to leave your own thoughts and feelings on these images. Time to focus on June's potential locations!

Thanks for reading.

Check out these images on:

Instagram: @talkie_travels

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