Cityscapes of Korea – Summer 2016

John Steele/ September 24, 2016

The summer season of landscape photography has just wrapped up here in Korea. Yes, it’s almost October, but it’s still not quite cool yet even though most of the schools and offices have turned off their air conditioning (they do it here by date, not by temperature for unobvious reasons)! What is summer landscape photography in Korea all about? For me, that can be wrapped up in one word – monsoons! Korea is a land of beautiful, underrated landscapes including impressive mountain ranges, lovely coastlines, lush rice fields, and temples and palaces. But one thing that we don’t get here often that is necessary for great landscapes and cityscapes is dramatic, colo(u)rful, cloud-filled skies at the golden hours of the day. And, that’s where the monsoons come in. The summer season is a wet one in Korea, but leading up to and following the heavy rains we get stretches of crisp blue skies filled with white puffy clouds (great for IR during the day, by the way) for as far as the eye can see. During these can’t-miss periods the normally drab Korean skies are full of life and color, particularly at sunrise and sunset times. These dramatic skies complement just about all types of landscapes and photography in general quite well, but today I am going to highlight the cityscapes of Korea (had to add “of Korea” for SEO purposes) that I captured this summer. Most of my work was from Seoul this summer as it’s hard traveling with a dog in extreme heat, but we did make it down to Busan for a few days to catch the fog rolling in from the sea. Hope you enjoy the pictures and the rest of your weekend!

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Bonum 1957 Hanok Stay and Hotel – Seoul Interior Photographer

John Steele/ September 9, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the fine folks over at Bonum 1957 Hanok Stay and Hotel to take photographs of their beautiful establishment for website and promotional purposes. It had been a while since I’d shot interiors or architecture, but when I saw snapshots of the place I knew this was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. Bonum 1957, located at the entrance of Bukchon Hanok Village in the heart of Seoul, prides itself in mixing the ancient traditions of Korean living with luxurious, modern amenities. From a photographer’s perspective, it was love at first sight.

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Seascapes of the Southeast Pt. 2

John Steele/ August 30, 2016

Continuing on from the previous post, where I featured my black and white film work from the same morning, tonight I’d like to share my digital work from twilight and sunrise. There was no better feeling after being on the road for 3-4 hot, relatively unproductive summer days, than rolling out of the tent at 4 am and seeing beautiful pastels and textures already forming in the sky. These images are in time order so you can see how the morning transpired.

This first image is probably my personal favorite of the year (so far, still a long way to go). It was a 200 second exposure using my Lee Big Stopper, and I just love how the blues and the blacks melt together smoothly in the foreground along with the dash of orange in the sky. Extra bonus is the bird on the rock who kindly sat motionless for over 3 minutes.

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Seascapes of the Southeast Pt. 1

John Steele/ July 26, 2016

Last week I took a trip down to Busan in hopes of capturing the summer fog rolling in from the sea. I had seen some great images by my buddy Pete DeMarco and other talented photographers in Korea, but as always when I visit Busan, the weather just didn’t cooperate. After 3 days of driving around, scouting locations, hiking mountains, and camping on beaches in the summer heat, I felt like it just wasn’t going to work out this time. So I headed a bit north to Kyungju, also known as “the museum without walls”, according to Lonely Planet anyway. As the nickname suggests the city is full of temples, palaces, royal tombs, and other historical and cultural attractions, but it was the sea that called my name, the same sea that I visited some three years ago with my buddy JongYoung.

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Surreal Ride on the Tancheon

John Steele/ June 28, 2016

Bicycling and photography – two of my greatest passions. It’s so nice to have interests that go well together.

Now that the weather’s warmed up here in Seoul I’ve been spending most of my free time exploring the tributaries of the Han River, including the Anyangcheon, Tancheon, and Hongjecheons on my bicycle. I highly recommend it to anyone living in Seoul, and especially to photographers. There are so many wonderful places that are very difficult to access by any other means of transportation. These tributaries are much less crowded than the main path around the Han, and on my recent trips I noticed that they have a lot of elements that I look for when composing infrared photographs: an abundance of greenery, water for contrast and reflections, and a nice mix of beauty and signs of decay/abandonment. Now, I just had to wait for a day with the final and probably most important element that I need – clouds! I finally got the right day this past Sunday, and for anyone living in Seoul you know that these opportunities don’t come often. So I suited up in my nerd gear and headed to the Tancheon and Yangjaecheon (which branches off from the Tancheon).

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