Things have picked up speed around here. First with the interview for the Meet-up group I run. Then a month ago I was invited via FB to join Seoulighters, a photography community based in Seoul, which led to me having a photo on exhibit. After getting home from that show I was invited to join an event being put on by The Korea Observer and the Senior Public Diplomacy Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea.
Honestly I wasn’t thrilled about a group tour, and I feel that the fortress and palace architecture seems the same everywhere you go; they have the same construction, decoration and paint schemes plus I prefer to do solo trips for the freedom, however I am interested in improving my photography so I went for the Workshops being offered.
I apathetically signed and when the day came I hurriedly carved a stamps to hide as part of my efforts to build a letter boxing scene in Korea. if you don’t know what Letter boxing is think of a treasure hunt, where the clues to the location are posted online and the treasure is someones hand carved art, in the form of a rubber stamp. you don’t keep the stamp, only stamp the image and return the stamp to its hiding place.
At the meeting point conversations got rolling and i started to recognize some faces from the Exhibition from the weekend before. One guy in particular stood out, carrying a massive metal bodied camera, no strap, just gripping the lens. It turns out he is the guy running the Seoul lighters FB page and one of the people running a workshop.
Namhansanseong or Namhansan Fortress is just outside the limits of Seoul to the South East, acting as the emergency palace and fortress for the early leaders of Korea up until 1910. Chinese forces surrounded the fortress in the 1600’s and cut off supplies. King Injo withstood 47 days before finally waving the white flag. Today the Fortress has been fully restored and has just been added to the UNESCO world Heritage list.
The Palace has a beautiful setting, much of the time you cant see the city, which gives the feeling of being far off in the countryside, but my intuition was correct and found the palace and fortress in itself to be much like the other places I have seen.
It was great to talk with so many people about gear, apps, programs, websites and many other things. I found out about Snapseed, a program for editing photos on your phone, a gadget that lets your phone read your SD cards, and Nate, the guy with the huge old, Russian, medium format camera, have so much advice about shooting film, which I am slowly venturing into with my newly acquired Canon Eos-1.
I heard that the workshops that I didn’t go were OK but seemed to be lacking something. I went to two of the workshops, Nate talked about how to pay more attention while shooting, to slow down and take your time. that can be done by physically weighting yourself down with a tripod , a bigger camera, an older camera, a manual focus lens, or by changing your mental process, the way you see with the camera.
The Second workshop was focused on landscape photography was held by a guy named Rob, who rocked a peasant style, traditional, earth tone, Korean getup. his thought process seemed a bit scattered but he ultimately gave me some tips on buying gear to make my sunset photos and cityscapes better. To make bright skies tone down use a graduated neutral density filter. Maybe it was catered more to people who didn’t know much or maybe it too was lacking something.
Really in the end I just had fun walking around shooting with other photographers because walking and shooting with non photographers can be a drag on both sides of the coin. The workshop also afforded me a minute with a smaller crowd. It was really difficult to find a place to hid the stamp i had carved being with a group of 50 people plus all the other visitors.
While shooting sunset shots I spotted a nook where the Stamp could rest a while and not be too bothered by people. if you are interested in a new way to discover places or interested in hiking and quests check out Atlasquest.com
Creating a free user name at that site will allow you to find more boxes and keep track of your finds and contact the box’s planter, which is really important to me. I like to know who has found my boxes, the condition they are in and when they were found.