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Archive 2012 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)
  
 
no_surrender
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p.1 #1 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Spent the weekend in Seoul as part of a retreat. Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at street photography with a specific goal in mind. I feel I fell well short of the goal, but still want to pursue it over the long term. A friend and I walked the streets of Itaewon to do some shopping, but neither of us bothered to shop...instead we shot the streets. My goal was to try and capture the love between couples as they walked by. Koreans seem to be more touchy feely than Americans, in my opinion, as the majority of them either held hands or walked with an arm around the other.

I've posted a few of what I think are my better shots here to get some C&C so I can improve my street photography 'skills.' I would like to continue this 'theme' in different cities/countries. I prefer candid shots, but quite a few of the locals didn't hesitate to throw up the 'Peace' sign once they saw the camera.






1 (my favorite shot as I saw it on the camera LCD...wasn't as impressed once I got it to the computer)






2






3






4






5






6

And a few others from the day:





7






8






9






10

Last night, Seoul celebrated some sort of fireworks competition. Supposedly, there were close to a million locals near Yongsan Station to view the fireworks display. I'd believe it, the roads and sidewalks were very congested, but it was a lot of fun. I saw ONE drunk person...I thought that was unusual.






11

And then I saw this young lady...sporting a Hasselblad.





12

And finally, for S's and G's...the Seoul skyline as seen from Yongsan Army Post. This is my first attempt at a stitched pano. 9 images...didn't spend too much time on it, as you can tell.






13


Thanks for looking.

Kevin



Oct 07, 2012 at 02:10 PM
BauerPower
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p.1 #2 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Interesting. I noted that most of the couples are holding hands. More than would have in the US. I liked the photo of the man reading the newspaper.


Oct 07, 2012 at 02:26 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #3 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


BauerPower wrote:
Interesting. I noted that most of the couples are holding hands. More than would have in the US. I liked the photo of the man reading the newspaper.


Yes, as I noted in the comments, most of the couples were holding hands...more often than I would say Americans do in the US. I found that to be heartwarming. I was actually in Seoul attending a marriage retreat for spouses geographically separated from their better half. Inspired by "The Five Love Languages," I wanted to capture candid shots of couples displaying love. An easy way to show this is through them touching. I tried to keep my eyes open more for their facial expressions though. I must say, Koreans in Seoul definitely appear to be happier and closer out in public than most Americans in the states. It was a nice getaway from Gunsan City.

Kevin



Oct 07, 2012 at 02:44 PM
jd2012
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p.1 #4 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Nice series! Lots of lovely couples!


Oct 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
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p.1 #5 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Hi,

I enjoy seeing photos from around the world.

So, I enjoyed seeing these from a place I have never seen before.

I was struck by several photos that appeared as if they were made in NYC (or any USA city with a large Asian population such as SF or LA)....due mostly to the clothing styles and signage AND the Baskin Robbins store front.

In fact the two ball caps (NY and Indians) caught my eye.




Oct 07, 2012 at 08:22 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #6 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Steady Hand wrote:
Hi,

I enjoy seeing photos from around the world.

So, I enjoyed seeing these from a place I have never seen before.

I was struck by several photos that appeared as if they were made in NYC (or any USA city with a large Asian population such as SF or LA)....due mostly to the clothing styles and signage AND the Baskin Robbins store front.

In fact the two ball caps (NY and Indians) caught my eye.



Steady, I've noticed that as well. The locals seem to have a taste for American styled clothing, but I would say that mostly older gentlemen here wear suits. There are LOTS of walking parks on the peninsula and there you'll find the locals wearing pretty much nothing but 'North Face' active wear. I haven't been bold enough to shoot the women in the park yet, but many of them cover their faces completely with hats fitted with visors that extend downward towards their chin. They will complete this with a bandanna, I assume, around their mouth and nose. It took me a while to get used to seeing this style, but it really makes sense. I think they are either protecting themselves or others from airborne disease.

As far as technique for this type of photography, do you have any suggestions? I found myself stuck to aperture priority as I'm not fast enough to raise the camera, meter, expose, and press the shutter while still capturing the moment. I would have liked to have used a smaller aperture, but the shutter speed may not have been fast enough to stop motion blur. I'm actually kinda bummed with the results.

Kevin



Oct 08, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Velu01
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p.1 #7 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Kevin,

Seems indeed, holding eachother is not an exception ( like over here) but more a "public" thing ( as in #4)
I wonder, what aperture do you use in general ?
Often, for street photography, one uses a small aperture ( at least f5.6, f8 ...), in order to have enough dof, which you seem lacking in #2, 5, 7
And off course, shutter speed, should be sufficiŽnt enough ( #4).
What camera and "method" do you use ?

Rgds
Velu

PS Rather unusual, to see a Hasselblad with that flash



Oct 08, 2012 at 06:20 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #8 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Velu01 wrote:
Kevin,

Seems indeed, holding eachother is not an exception ( like over here) but more a "public" thing ( as in #4)
I wonder, what aperture do you use in general ?
Often, for street photography, one uses a small aperture ( at least f5.6, f8 ...), in order to have enough dof, which you seem lacking in #2, 5, 7
And off course, shutter speed, should be sufficiŽnt enough ( #4).
What camera and "method" do you use ?

Rgds
Velu

PS Rather unusual, to see a Hasselblad with that flash


Velu, thank you for taking the time to look and comment.
The more I noticed them holding hands, or each other, with happy expressions on their faces, I realized maybe we could learn something from their culture. My intention with this 'project' (and yes, my goal was to shoot couples and so I did) was to capture the love between them, specifically touching. After having just participated in a marriage retreat, Gary Chapman's 'Love Language' of "personal touch" was the easiest to capture, especially in strangers. My intention is to improve in this facet of photography and continue to capture the smiling faces and happy couples as I travel, eventually putting something together--an album, collage, or story of some sort.

In general, I don't really use any specific aperture--just depends on what I'm shooting. In this application, I chose f/2.8 because it was around 2 stops down from the max of the 50mm f/1.4, which gave me a slightly broader DOF whilst still being fast. I wasn't as concerned with stopping motion, but didn't want that P&S look of f/16, you know? As previously mentioned, I shot in Av mode because I wanted to instantly capture the mood without having to adjust exposure. I spent most of the day walking, but also stopped along the way on street corners to give myself more coverage, which in turn changed how the light hit the couples depending on which direction they were coming from or going.

I agree with your statement about using f/5.6 or f/8 and as you can see I may have captured one of the partners nicely, but left the other OOF. This is where I'm asking for suggestions. What is more important, low ISO (thus less noise) or more DOF? I also need to consider using a longer lens to get more reach as I don't exactly want to be intrusive. I enjoyed travelling light with just the 50 f/1.4 and leaving my bag at the hotel. Besides, the next step up for me would have been the 70-200 which is heavy, bulky, and attracts attention.

Camera and method? I've got a 30D w/ grip here with me, but primarily use the 5D2 w/out grip. Honestly, this is the first time I've shot in Av mode in a while. I prefer manual, but don't feel confident in my ability to adjust quickly enough to get the shot the instant I want it, make sense? However, you may notice a few of the latter shots were shot in manual exposure mode. After the fireworks display, I found a parking garage with a large sign lighting the sidewalk. I metered people as they walked by and chose 1/50, but at a higher ISO...shot just as an interesting couple would walk into that light. Not a big fan of noise so I scrapped a lot of those shots.

You can see a few more from the outing at: http://www.kcrawphotography.com/Travel/Seoul/25787819_KwG3CP#!i=2133749989&k=k8M8TPS

The girl with the Hassleblad...not a great composition, but happy with what I got. Not sure if she spoke English, but she understood that I wanted to take her picture. At first she thought I wanted to see and touch her camera because she tried to hand it to me. I would have liked to, but was more interested in taking her photo. I agree, and didn't notice at first, that she had a Canon 430 EX II mounted on some sort of adapter in the hot shoe.

Overall, I had a great time but of course would like to improve. I'm all ears for suggestions!

Kevin



Oct 08, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Velu01
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p.1 #9 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Kevin,

For sure, we can learn something from their culture !

Personally, when the concept is "shooting couples" and the love between them, I'd like to see both of them in focus.
But I understand what you mean by that f16 P&S look and prefer more "depth".
But for example as in #5 and #7, it disturbs me, since the couple and the group of friends act as a "unity", and they "should" be all in focus. Fact that you focus on the girl ( #5), standing further away, makes it even more "disturbing" to me.
In #4 it's a shame that the girl, making eyecontact and smiling, is out of focus ... you get ?

So there's a difference in situations ... some "demand" larger dof, other's don't.
Posing anyhow, everyone envolved should be in focus.

But let's concentrate on "street photography"

A 70-200 is a great lens, but it's not excactly a street photographer's lens, for all the reasons that you've mentioned yourselve.

I think you would benefit getting a 35L !
Say, using f2.8, distance 3 meters, you'd get a dof of 1.3 meters ( on your 5DII), compared to 0,60 meters, when using the 50mm.

So, not only you would benefit from the wider aspect, but from the extended dof as well, and still maintain your shutter speed/large aperture.

Understandable that you would want to keep ISO as low as possible in order to reduce noise, but you are using a 5D2 ... ISO 800 ( or even higher) should not be a problem !

Regarding metering/mode, I'd consider to work more Manual ! In general, light conditions stay more or less the same when you post yourselve somewhere, and adjustments are made quickly.

Rgds
Velu



Oct 08, 2012 at 08:27 AM
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p.1 #10 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Velu01 wrote:
Kevin,

For sure, we can learn something from their culture !

Personally, when the concept is "shooting couples" and the love between them, I'd like to see both of them in focus.
But I understand what you mean by that f16 P&S look and prefer more "depth".
But for example as in #5 and #7, it disturbs me, since the couple and the group of friends act as a "unity", and they "should" be all in focus. Fact that you focus on the girl ( #5), standing further away, makes it even more "disturbing" to me.
In #4 it's a shame that the girl,
...Show more

Velu, thanks again for the response. Yes, I understand all the points you're making. A few of my shots were ruined from the camera mis-focusing and some were just an error on my part.

Interesting, you suggesting the 35, I was thinking I needed more reach because I ended up cropping a few and would rather not have to. True, 35 would allow more DOF at given distance to subject, but I would need to get closer to the subject to get the shot, which I would rather avoid. I could try my 17-40, but I haven't had much luck at all getting sharp portraits with that lens. I'd like to learn to use it better, but from my experience with it I just can't get it to give me what I want. Landscapes only.

I can definitely try manual next time and see how it goes. Looking forward to the next outing.

Kevin



Oct 08, 2012 at 09:01 AM
 



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p.1 #11 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Nice set!!! Its amazing how our busy and fast paced society in the US has made OUR lives more important than the ones we love or care about. Those young people look so very happy and carefree more than we care to imagine. The US plays a very important roll in culture awareness than most other countries as you can see by BR and baseball caps.


Oct 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM
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p.1 #12 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


no_surrender wrote:
Steady, I've noticed that as well. The locals seem to have a taste for American styled clothing, but I would say that mostly older gentlemen here wear suits. There are LOTS of walking parks on the peninsula and there you'll find the locals wearing pretty much nothing but 'North Face' active wear. I haven't been bold enough to shoot the women in the park yet, but many of them cover their faces completely with hats fitted with visors that extend downward towards their chin. They will complete this with a bandanna, I assume, around their mouth and nose. It took
...Show more

Hi,

Thanks for the reply notes above. I read your remarks with interest.

While I did find it noteworthy that scenes looked very "American" in styling (signs, stores, clothing)....that is no what I would find most interesting (in general).

In general, I believe you will find more interest in the photos if you show those things that are not "americanized" in styling.

My Suggestion: Go to that park and photograph those women with the visors and scarf coverings. That is more interesting to me as a "local look, and I suppose there must be some areas of the city that have more of a "local flavor" to them. I would seek those out.

You asked about camera techniques. I saw as I glanced down this discussion that Velu and others have posted their suggestions on lens and camera settings. Good advice there.

In general I think you are doing well for a start.

"Street Photography" is a genre that has lots of potential (any city, any crowd) and it can yield wonderful images. I have some inspirational articles, hundreds of images by acknowledged Masters of Photography, and really instructive and inspiring videos on my free educational website/blog. You are welcome to see those, and I encourage you and others who enjoy "Street" to visit and view them. I built it as a labor of love to share with others what I have found so interesting and inspiring. I will send a link (via PM to you or others who are interested) to a few pages to see.

My Simple Suggestions:

1. Shoot wide (show us the scene), rather than "tightly framed."

2. Look for expressions and motion (which seems likely with those couples you are focused on).

3. Consider setting the camera to a higher ISO for higher shutter speeds OR tighter aperture (more DOF) for some of the shots involving multiple people in a crowd walking (for example).

4. Look for ways to use the surroundings to create a more unusual image.




Oct 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #13 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Steady, thanks for the reply. Yes, I'm sure the women at the park will be interesting, but that's not the subject of the series I want to work on.

Not sure how showing more of the surroundings will make it more unusual...to me that would look more like I snapped a shot with my cell phone or something.

Thanks for the PM and link to your site, I'll check it out when I get time.

Kevin



Oct 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Access
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p.1 #14 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Do you feel you were able to stick to your theme? When you approached people, were they genuine and natural or did they change because they saw a 'person with camera'?

People see things through their own eyes, they act most natural toward others who seem to be 'one of them'. I'm not sure if I'm reading your post correctly or not, at first I thought your first photo (not numbered) was of you and your friend but now I'm not too sure ().

But if you want to talk about technique this is part of what I will do to prepare for street photography. Study the scene, how people dress, how people move, the routes they take, how they interact with others around them, and so on. You can even spend half an hour or an hour practicing this without a camera, trying to become part of that scene without looking like a poseur.

I find that even in cases where fitting in to a scene is a total 'lost cause', practicing like this can help because in reality there is a whole spectrum between 'fitting in' and 'not fitting in'. The more you fit in, the greater the likelihood that another will act natural toward you.

Contrast your photo (2) with (5). Also if I'm in a 'lost cause' situation myself, sometimes the best I can do is asking people to look natural even if they are posing for the camera.



Oct 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
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p.1 #15 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


I see you're at the Kun. I'm presuming military, but I know there were some American businessmen and some missionaries in the area as well. I was stationed at KAB back in the mid 90's. Is A-town still a hovel of debauchery?

I did not go home on my mid-tour leave, instead my gf (now wife) came over to Korea and we toured the country. I recall a lot of parks in Seoul, and a lot of brides in their gowns in the parks. Some of the parks have the traditional temples in them as well which make for nice "local flavor" backgrounds.

Other areas I found interesting were the open-air markets (don't be afraid to point at things to eat and give them a try!) Kusan city had a decent little one, not sure I remember seeing one in Seol, but Pusan had a great one by the docks. And at the docks you can get a "tour" around the harbor on one of the tugboats...gets some different perspectives on some of the ships in the harbor. Sometimes crewmembers might have a line in the water too.

As for techinques, street photography is a great place to try all sorts of things. If you're shooting a zoom, go wide to show the scene with some, go tight to get people's expressions with others. If you have time (more likely on wider shots) shoot verticals as well as horizontals. Experiment with high shutter speed to freeze motion, as well as slow shutter speed capture motion-blur. And with the slow you can do "still" to have everything motion-blurred and also experiment with panning so you have in-focus face/bodies and arms/legs blurred.




Oct 10, 2012 at 10:58 PM
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p.1 #16 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Access wrote:
Do you feel you were able to stick to your theme? When you approached people, were they genuine and natural or did they change because they saw a 'person with camera'?

People see things through their own eyes, they act most natural toward others who seem to be 'one of them'. I'm not sure if I'm reading your post correctly or not, at first I thought your first photo (not numbered) was of you and your friend but now I'm not too sure ().

But if you want to talk about technique this is part of what I will do to
...Show more

Yes, I stuck with my theme, but occasionally shot other people or things that I found interesting. Everyone was genuine with their expressions because most didn't see me until after I shot them or didn't see me at all. The only people I would say that changed their expression or behavior were those that posed and gave me the 'peace' sign.

All of the images are numbered, underneath. I'm not in any of the pictures.

Thanks for the suggestions. Kevin



Oct 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #17 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


TJSarchett wrote:
I see you're at the Kun. I'm presuming military, but I know there were some American businessmen and some missionaries in the area as well. I was stationed at KAB back in the mid 90's. Is A-town still a hovel of debauchery?

I did not go home on my mid-tour leave, instead my gf (now wife) came over to Korea and we toured the country. I recall a lot of parks in Seoul, and a lot of brides in their gowns in the parks. Some of the parks have the traditional temples in them as well which make for nice
...Show more

Hi, yes I'm at the Kun. I do try to get out some, which I did today and posted another thread: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1157296
I haven't been able to get out as much as I would like due to school, but just finished my classes until the Spring. I really enjoyed Seoul and am planning a winter trip with some friends.

The day after I took the pictures attached in this thread, the Dragon Hill Lodge hosted a wedding out back behind the hotel. I watched as I ate lunch. A friend that was with me left his lunch to get cold while he went outside and practiced shooting the wedding. We had a great time in Seoul.

Thanks for the tips, I'm sure I will improve with more practice.

Kevin



Oct 14, 2012 at 11:21 AM
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p.1 #18 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


no_surrender wrote:
Steady, thanks for the reply. Yes, I'm sure the women at the park will be interesting, but that's not the subject of the series I want to work on.

Not sure how showing more of the surroundings will make it more unusual...to me that would look more like I snapped a shot with my cell phone or something.

Thanks for the PM and link to your site, I'll check it out when I get time.

Kevin


Hi,

You wrote above: "Not sure how showing more of the surroundings will make it more unusual...to me that would look more like I snapped a shot with my cell phone or something."

This is a text message and so harder to tell some of the subtleties of style in a short comment like this.

What follows is intended to help you.
_____________

That is the challenge.

It could look like a cell phone shot, of course. ALL photos could look like that.

Gotta get your eye to see things we might miss.

Some of the best "Street" photography I have seen incorporates the surroundings (more than merely closeups of faces or heads or single person.

Hope that helps.



Oct 14, 2012 at 07:02 PM
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p.1 #19 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Kevin, I'm just writing to say "Thanks!" for the pictures. I worked in Seoul for a year back in the mid 2000's and lived in the downtown JW Marriott hotel. But I spent my evenings and weekends prowling all over Seoul and spending time with the Korean members of my project team. Your pictures from Itaewan are great and bring back good memories.

I have worked all over the world and the 2 cities I love the most are Seoul and London - - I'd go back to either in an instant.

Edited on Oct 15, 2012 at 02:16 AM · View previous versions



Oct 14, 2012 at 08:16 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #20 · Weekend in Seoul (street photography)


Steady Hand wrote:
Hi,

You wrote above: "Not sure how showing more of the surroundings will make it more unusual...to me that would look more like I snapped a shot with my cell phone or something."

This is a text message and so harder to tell some of the subtleties of style in a short comment like this.

What follows is intended to help you.
_____________

That is the challenge.

It could look like a cell phone shot, of course. ALL photos could look like that.

Gotta get your eye to see things we might miss.

Some of the best "Street" photography I have seen
...Show more

Thanks for the reply, Steady. I agree, it is a challenge. To clarify, by "cell phone snap shot", I imagine a busy foreground and background with most elements in focus when trying to incorporate surroundings whether it be an environmental portrait or street photography. I tend to want to avoid this, but in some situations I'm sure it would help add to the image.

I'm still learning and do appreciate your help and yes, I agree that text in a forum can be misunderstood.

Besides having trouble achieving an interesting composition, I'm also having trouble getting sharp images...consistently. Sure wish I could take a few weeks off and just practice, practice, practice!

Kevin



Oct 15, 2012 at 01:14 AM
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