Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Korea Photo Dump #4

Today you get three photos! Today's theme: nights in Seoul.

Sometimes, nights in Seoul get crazy. Really crazy. Especially in a little area near Hongik University, appropriately named Hongdae (the Korean word for "University" is 대학, which sounds like "dad-hak"). It's a large area full of bars and restaurants and coffee shops, much like any university town you'll find in the USA. It's where the cool kids hang out and have fun on the weekends. Except this is Korea, and Korea does things a little bit differently.

For starters, the bars in Seoul do not close until 7 or 8am. Yes, you read that right. There is essentially no closing time, and that is dangerous. It gets even more dangerous when you consider that most people use public transit, and that public transit shuts down at midnight and opens back up at 5am.

What does that all mean? Well, basically, you have till midnight to decide if you want to get home that night or not. If you miss it, you are basically obligated to party all night till the subways open again or sleep in a sauna (more on that later). And, because of that, crazy stuff happens around 3 or 4 am...

Like in this picture, which was taken at a small park in the middle of Hongdae. If you notice, the horseman and wizard have headphones on. That's because they are in a silent disco, one of the strangest events I have ever seen. This was taken around Halloween, and everyone was in silly costumes and properly inebriated. Everyone was also dancing around, but there was no music. Apparently, the DJ is spinning some techno music that is being broadcast to about 100 different pairs of headphones that the people are wearing. So, to them, they were at a crazy party. To us watching, we thought they were nuts.'s a horseman petting a wizard's beard. That's just crazy.

This next picture is actually one of my favorites, and I have still yet to hear back from the girl in the picture (so if you are reading this, email me so I can get you your photos). That same Halloween weekend, I was scheduled to take pictures at a Halloween party for a bunch of foreigners hanging out at the Han river. It was a cool gig, and it was hosted by a microbrewery in Seoul. beer all around. It was awesome.

Anyways, I was taking pictures for the event, and I come up this Korean couple and ask if I can take their picture. The girl says sure, and the boy is all reluctant. They do the normal peace-sign pose, I take a shot, and I start to put my lens cap on. She asks for one more from me and, just then, grabs her boyfriend and gives him a sweet kiss on the lips! It was kinda romantic in a way, and I was just there to get an awesome picture of a young couple in love.

You can see on his cheek that I had the flash pointed right at them. I was using a wide angle lens, and so I was really close and, therefore, the light was pretty harsh on their faces. As it turned out, however, it pulled them out of the scene and put the focus on them too. I also got lucky with some backlight from the barge that really made the scene that much more vivid.

This last one is from the Seoul Fireworks Festival on the Han River. Korea and two other countries (this particular year it was Japan and Norway? Or the Netherlands? Some European nation) bring a ton of fireworks and put a show on for the city of Seoul. They are all judged, so each country brings their A-game to the competition.

Thing is, the two visiting nations are restricted because they only have a week or so to prepare on the ground. They can plan it out, sure, but they have a distinct disadvantage to the Koreans. I would consider this cheating, as the Koreans blew us all away with their show. We all win, though, because we get to see some cool things go boom.

This shot is actually from the Japanese show. We were a little bit down river, and I had my tripod and my 70-200L mounted to take some long exposure shots. Each of these shots were about 3-5 seconds each: just long enough to catch the trails of the different shells exploding. The end result is these awesome streaks of colored light framed by the river and the city itself. I have a good 30 shots from this night that turned out this way. It was truly an awesome night.
Tune in tomorrow for the last photo dump of this week. I'll pick back up on them this coming Monday and make it a regular thing. Hope you enjoy!

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