Take Travel Photos – Korea How http://www.koreahow.com The English teacher's guide to living, working, and traveling in Korea. Thu, 28 Nov 2013 13:24:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Travel Photo Tips: Seoul, Korea by Aaron Brown http://www.koreahow.com/2011/01/travel-photo-tips-seoul-korea-by-aaron-brown/ http://www.koreahow.com/2011/01/travel-photo-tips-seoul-korea-by-aaron-brown/#comments Fri, 14 Jan 2011 10:20:22 +0000 http://www.thenomadwithin.com/?p=969 Learn about HDR from professional photographer and former Ilsan resident Aaron Brown.

Korea: Seoul Workers

Korea: Seoul Workers by Aaron Brown.

The story behind the pic: I nabbed this shot while out photo-walking with my girlfriend in Seoul. I was just getting into HDR photography at the time and had not really “mastered” my approach to it – that’s why the man up front is bending down behind himself – but it ended up looking kind of cool regardless.

The style: High Dynamic Range is a stylized method of photography I employ from time to time to allow me to capture a greater range of luminance within a particular scene. The tone mapping process usually involved with it tends to turn everything a little painterly and surreal, much like in this shot. Lately though, I’ve been approaching my HDR in a much more “realistic” way, lending to a look that’s achievable with filters and controlled lighting. I have fun working out ways to get a higher range of light that my camera couldn’t normally get on its own – whether combining multiple exposures of the same scene, or by simply introducing light to places that were previously dark. Thankfully, digital technology allows me to experiment so much on the cheap.

Life in Korea: I was living in Korea just a bit northwest of Seoul in the Juyeop Dong of Ilsan Gu, within Goyang Si from May 2008 to June 2010. It was a great neighborhood and I’d love to visit the area again sometime. Ilsan has a nice range of both city-life and countryside and allowed me the opportunity to shoot wildly different scenes that were only a 10 minute walk apart.

Life now: Since returning home to Crown Point, Indiana – which is just a bit southeast of Chicago, Illinois – I’ve been doing photographic work full-time. I’m looking to specialize in portraiture and real estate photography in 2011, but I’m including weddings and live events into the mix as well. Starting your own business and making it successful is tough, but being your own boss and doing work you truly love makes any of the struggles along the way worth it… so far, ha!

Favorite travel Quote: The Star Trek mission really says it all, “…boldly go where no one has gone before!” And remember the “boldly” part!

Travel Photo Tip: Take your camera everywhere you go and shoot everything you see. You’re bound to get at least one shot that will make you smile.


Photo of Aaron Brown courtesy of Dylan Goldby.

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Sumatra & Java, Indonesia | A Travel Photo Essay http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/12-photos-a-travel-essay-sumatra-java-indonesia/ http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/12-photos-a-travel-essay-sumatra-java-indonesia/#comments Sun, 26 Dec 2010 23:36:04 +0000 http://www.thenomadwithin.com/?p=887 Photos and words by Shawn “Flash” Parker.

From sunrise over an active volcano on Java, to the rice paddies of Sumatra, join intrepid travel photojournalist Shawn “Flash” Parker in Indonesia as he shows you around his favorite county.

Indonesia is a complex land of scattered islands, epic landscapes, fascinating people, heartbreaking history and beguiling customs. At once we were frustrated by, and fell in love with, the pace of life and rugged countryside of Sumatra. The hustle and bustle and jumbled mass of humanity that is Java does not lack for charm or grace, though you have to dig a little to find it.

I used to tell people that Cambodia was my favourite country in the world; after a month in the fertile hills of Indo, there is a new champion.

Mount Penanjakan view of Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia.

Bright and early, just before the light shines bright view of Mount Bromo, Mount Semeru and Mount Batok, with ample rolling fog and an epic eruption for good measure.

We climbed Mount Penanjakan in our Toyota 4×4 pre-dawn in the headlights of some 1,200 other vehicles. Once at the viewpoint Megs and I decided against the same shooting vantage as everyone else – all 3,000 tourists, gah – and climbed down the hill for a better look (and a few square feet to dig in our tripods). As soon as the sun started to shine and illuminate the volcanoes in the distance, all the nuisance and discomfort of the day, all the pain and suffering associated with actually making the trip to Bromo, it vanished. We spent the next hour shooting one of the most incredible sunrises I have ever witnessed.

Ancient Stupas, Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.

I could have and should have done more with the morning mist at Borobudur. Instead, we raced to the monument’s zenith to take it in before the rest of the hordes clamored up. By the time we made our way back down to the 4th level the light and the mist had changed, leaving me with this single, hastily made frame.

Western Shore, Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Life slowed down while we were making these frames on the sparsely inhabited western shore. Here the karamba – floating net cages – are few and far between, the landscape is rugged, the roads rough and the water calm. This lone fisherman was the only person we saw during our time on the west side.

Highlands Lookout, Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

The magnificent architectural designs of the Minangkabau. Touring Indonesia is a lesson in epic, ancient building styles. You can keep your gothic revival and Victorian and whatever else it is that the Europeans can dish out; for my money, Sumatra is more impressive.

Maninjau Village, Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

This, my friends, is a Maninjau tako, and it is better than any taco you have had anywhere, at any time, in your life. It is stuffed to the brim with ground beef, grilled vegetables, eggs and spices. It is oven baked. It is succulent. It is savory. It is $1.25.

Long live the tako!

Basin Rice Paddies, Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

I have had this frame in the back of my mind since the day I landed in Asia. It took me two and a half years and nearly a dozen new countries to find it.

I made hundreds of frames in the hour we trekked through these paddies yet it is this one, the first frame, that I return to. It captures so much of what I love about Sumatra without saying much at all beyond what is captured. I like that.

Tuk Tuk, Samosir Island, Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia.

This elderly lady was sorting her fruit and veggies when she spied Megs and I wandering about. She called me over to check out my camera and quiz me on goings on. She even decided to try her hand at shooting portraits of me. I was more than happy to return the favour.

I look back at these Indo portraits fondly; not once was I turned down when asking for photos and more often than not I was asked to shoot before throwing the question out myself. More importantly, I was able to share some genuinely fantastic moments with incredibly interesting people. It makes the experience of the road that much sweeter.

Tuk Tuk, Samosir Island, Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Like every other destination in the world (save maybe Iraq, I guess?) Lake Toba has a fair share of tourist traps and gift shops selling assorted mass-produced crap. Off the beaten path, however, there are some fantastic shops selling really beautiful stuff.

We stocked up on hand-carved masks, as we are prone to do in every country we stop. What I really wanted, though, was this chess set; pieces eight inches high and a game board, carved into the table, four feet squared. Sadly, with my underwater camera and flash equipment, my suitcase was already a little bulbous. Plus, I’m not much of a souvenir guy; I’ll collect a little sand, a little bottle of water and the aforementioned masks, but other than that I take nothing more than photographs.

Buddhist Statue, Borobudur, Java, Indonesia.

A Buddhist statue faces South on the cardinal compass (if my records are correct). My research indicates that this statue is in the Vara mudra group and represents benevolence and alms giving – as noted by the position of the hands. Mario might be able to tell us more about this. I, on the other hand, am a man of simple pleasures, and spend the days contemplating eternity in a position similar to this.

Mauro Beach, Lake Maninjau, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Another look at the gorgeous sunset over Lake Maninjau, one of the finest I have ever been witness to in my life. I can’t comment on sunrise, as each time I woke up prior to the 5:45am sunburst it was pouring down. So, for the sake of this argument, I will say that sunset is superior. Ha!

These karambas belong to the family that owned our villa and our wonderful hosts would head on down to the water each evening after we ordered dinner and pluck out a slippery footless delight for supper. I have a few frames of our fisherman/chef diving, spear in hand, after these fish. Not a bad way to get on.

Oh, the best part of all this, of course, is that I didn’t experience the Mudd Butt at Maninjau. Not at all!

Bromo Rim, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia.

This wild stallion understands a little something about epicality, as you can plainly see. Rolling fog in a volcanic valley is the new softbox.

The Bird Market, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.

I wonder if you can tell why Megan loved the Bird Market? It’s hard to imagine, really. Seems like such a brutal, viscous place, with multi-coloured chicks running amok and whatnot.

Alas, she left disappointed; I could not in good conscience let her buy a dozen of these. She hasn’t spoken to me since.


  • How to get there from Korea: A number of airlines make the 7 hour flight from Seoul’s Incheon Airport to Jakarta for around 700,000 – 900,000 won (depending on the time of year).
  • How to save money on your flight: China Southern Airlines has some of the most economical flights you will find to Jakarta from Korea. The flight time is longer since you have to transfer planes in China, but the cost reduction may make it worth your while. China Southern also offers service to/from six Korean cities.

*You might be wondering how Shawn got some of those dreamscape-like images. Learn how to add colors to your photos by reading Shawn’s Basic Filter Guide.

**You can also find more great tips in these articles by other photographers.


Shawn "Flash" Parker

Biography: Flash is a writer and photographer originally from Toronto, Canada, and spent two years living in Osan, Korea (2008-2010). He is a screenwriter (film credits include Wireless and I Hate Dating) and author (Night Has Fallen, 2008) and travels extensively on assignment as a photojournalist. In 2010 Flash has had articles and photographs published in Conde Nast Traveler, American Way Magazine, CNN Traveler Magazine, Groove Magazine, SE Asia Backpacker Magazine, Eloquence Magazine, 10 Magazine and more. He has been nominated for a 2011 PATA Gold Award in destination journalism.

Blog: Flash Parker: Love The Light

Flickr Photostream: Flash Parker

Book: The Ubiquitos Kimchi (Korean Food and Culture)

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Travel Photo Tips: Yangshuo, China by Simon Bond http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/travel-photo-of-the-week-yangshuo-china-simon-bond/ http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/travel-photo-of-the-week-yangshuo-china-simon-bond/#comments Mon, 20 Dec 2010 16:13:23 +0000 http://www.thenomadwithin.com/?p=718

Yangshuo, China: "Next to you, all of life's obstacles are surmountable" by Simon Bond.

Korea How interviews England native Simon Bond, who is currently living in Suncheon, Korea. His work has been featured in galleries and publications around the world. Although he is most well-known for his perspective-bending glass ball photographs, the popularity of his collection on Getty Images is proof that he has an eye for great travel images as well.

Q: How long have you lived in Korea?
A: 4 years.

Q: What’s your job?
A: English teacher and a freelance photographer.

Q: Where did you take this photo?
A: Yangshuo, China.

Q: What’s the story behind the photo?
A: This photo was taken on a distinctly unpromising day for landscape photography. I remember the day was grey, and visibility was nothing special. We’d paid for a riverboat cruise from Guilin down to Yangshuo.

In the afternoon we got taken to another river, and it was there I took the shot. The photo was taken at full zoom on a 70-300mm lens with a Canon 40D, making the focal length effectively 500mm (this is to do with the conversion to focal length you need to make for cameras with crop sensors).

Q: Why did you include the people in the photo?
A: We were on a bamboo raft and had just got to a riverbank and I saw a scene within the scene in front of us. The two people in the bottom right of the photo added a lot to this image as the people give the mountains in the background a sense of scale.

The two people standing as they were also reminded me of a photo I’d taken in the UK two years previously. I think this helped me “see“ this photo faster and indeed I only really had time to take one or two shots before these people had gone. I feel for me the photo has a romantic side of two people standing together against the backdrop of the grandeur of these mountains.

Q: How did you get that layered look with the mountains in the background?
A: I think the layered look was helped by the fact I’ve used a telephoto lens here, with the mountains being some way in the background this allows them all to be framed in the one photograph as the angle for the point of view is quite narrow. I’ve taken photographs in S.Korea that have this layered mountain look, and that has also been with the aid of a telephoto lens. It also has to be said that the geography in this area of China helps a lot when creating this layered mountain look, as there are many karst mountains here.

Q: Do you have any tips for taking better travel photographs?
A: When it comes to travel photography it’s often a good idea to research the place you’re going to visit, and then plan the type of photographs you’d like to take.

If you can possibly plan your trip so you’ll be there when the weather is at it’s best. The weather is not all important though, as it should be possible to take good shots in the rain or the sunshine, just you’ll have to think of some different types of photos.

In an ideal world you’d also have several days in a place to consider the photos you’d want to get. Perhaps there is somewhere that works for a photo much better at sunrise, in which case coming back to that location at the optimum time is desirable.

As was said in a previous post, it’s also a good idea not to stay in any one location for too long. If you are on a time limit getting that good shot and then moving on is important because what you’re really looking to do with travel photography is to tell the story of a place and this is often achieved through a variety of shots.

One last thing I should mention is be quick on the draw like a cowboy in a good western movie, because once that “moment” is gone you’re not going to get it back.

Q: Wow, thanks for all that great advice. What’s your favorite travel quote?
A: “Photography, as we all know, is not real at all. It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world.” ~ Arnold Newman

You can see more of Simon Bond’s work here:

Simon Bond

Blog: 369 Photo
On Flickr: Mr. Bond
Website: 369photography.co.uk (under construction at time of writing)

In case you missed it: check out the previous Travel Photo of The Week of Seoul, Korea by Gregory Curley.

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Take Better Pictures: 5 Korean Photo Blogs You Should Follow http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/take-better-pictures-5-korean-photo-blogs-you-should-follow/ http://www.koreahow.com/2010/12/take-better-pictures-5-korean-photo-blogs-you-should-follow/#comments Thu, 16 Dec 2010 15:55:51 +0000 http://www.thenomadwithin.com/?p=673 Whether you want to become the next Ansel Adams, or just learn how to take better pictures to post on Facebook, these blogs will help you get there.

Photography in Korea is like a national sport. Photo by P. DeMarco

So you want to improve your photographic skills? Someone once said that success leaves clues. Given the load of photographic talent here in Korea, you don’t have to look far for hints.

There’s a large group of skilled foreign photographers living in Korea who are sharing their knowledge for free on the web. It is true that there are many amazing photography/travel blogs by foreigners in Korea. But only a few actually teach you how to get better as a photographer.

The following sites have the best tips, tricks, and stories about photography. And you might even see some amazing images of Korea and the world as well.

Here are the best of the best in no particular order:

The Information Specialist

Dylan’s site is a fantastic resource for photo tutorials and videos. One of my favorite features of his site is when he “deconstructs” some of his more complex and stylized (think Photoshop) images. Hopefully, he will hold another Strobist Seminar again so I can learn how to use my flash.

Two helpful posts:

1. Want to take pics of your friends playing in the snow but can’t figure out how to photography snowflakes? Check out Quick Tip: Flashing in the Snow.

2. Another helpful post is Shooting Portraits.

The Traveling Photojournalist

Are you dreaming about becoming a travel writer and/or photographer and looking for some inspiration? Shawn “Flash” Parker was working in Korea for some time and has since set out on a global tour shooting and writing about places from Brunei to New York. He is also a wedding, engagement, and portrait photographer. Check out his photo travel blog on Flickr as well.

Two helpful posts:

1. Learn how to use filters with the Basic Filter Guide.

2. So you just published some of your photos and you want to upload them to your blog/website. But alas, the editor sent you a PDF file of your published work and you can’t upload PDFs to your site. Check out Published! for learning about how to convert PDF files to JPEG files…for free!

The Connector

In addition to being a great writer and photographer, Gregory Curley is like the connector described in Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point; he links his readers to the world. His “Weekly Snapshots” posts always showcase the best of what is happening in the Korean photographic world and beyond. You can also find some informative photo tutorials and Korean travel articles.

Two helpful posts:

1. Go to Weekly Snapshots | 12.10.10. Next, click on the link “What Yeonpyeong looks like post-shelling” for some chilling images of the island bombared by North Korea.

2. Can you name one Korean photographer? You can’t. Check out this post: Kim Jung-man | Korea’s Ace Photographer.

The Learner

Jason Teale writes his blog from Ulsan, Korea. He’ll tell you that he is always learning, but he’s also always sharing some awesome information too. As his site says, his blog is full of stories, tips, and photos from around Korea. Jason has made a name for himself, especially in the realm of HDR photography. If you don’t know what HDR is or do and love it, then YOU GOTTA CHECK OUT Stuck In Customs.

Two helpful posts:

1. Can’t think of any new ideas? Check out the post Creativity.

2. Learn how to get your work in front of more eyes by reading Getting Published.

The Persistent Photographer

Jay Boyle is taking his photography to the next level and he is taking you along for the ride. Follow him as he tries to complete his 365 Project (taking 1 photo every day of the year for one year). Although Jay only recently started his blog and hasn’t published as much stuff as some of the other photographers on this list, he still has some good info to share. Not to mention his persistence is inspiring.

Two helpful posts:

1. Your photographs can make a difference in someone’s life. Yes, yours. Don’t believe me? Read Help Portrait 2010.

2. Check out Jay’s useful review of a recent photo workshop held in Seoul called Learning Curve: SPC Lighting Seminar.

The Columnist

Okay, I lied. There are actually 5 blogs AND 1 newspaper column that will help you improve your photographic skills. Even though it is not a blog, Aaron Raisey ran a column for the Korea Herald called “In Focus” that is worth mentioning. Aaron and other photographers living in Korea wrote the articles. Today you can still find over 20 articles that will help you improve your photographic skills. Aaron also runs the Seoul Photo Club on Flickr.

Two helpful posts:

1. Learn where to be and when to be there if you want take great pictures with Mario Taradan’s article Be at the right place, at the right time.

2. Or check out Aaron’s article on how to Improve Your Composition.

*This is not a complete list and I’m sure I left out some excellent blogs. However, shameless promotion of your photography blog is highly encouraged – be it based in Korea or abroad. Be sure to add a link in the comments section below.

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