Its been a long busy summer for me finishing up all my classes for my masters degree, which were followed quite promptly by the beginning of the academic year (a busy time for any teacher). Needless to say my blog has suffered a significant period of neglect as the result of this. While I have managed to make some time to keep shooting and practicing I really didn’t get out as much as I would have liked during these past few months either. So with Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk – Gyeongju just around the corner and the prospect of me getting out and ending my dry spell, anticipation for the weekend was running high. It would be my first walk and though in retrospect I may not have got all the images I wanted (who ever does really?), it was a fantastic experience and simply a really good time.
The day began at the local bus terminal. Not the most photogenic of locations but convenient. After a short meet and greet the group head to Daereungwon. Daereungwon park, pictured below and above, houses the ancient tombs of Korean royalty and nobility (I believe) which date back to the Silla period (approximately 1500 years ago). It’s a beautiful park, but I’ve always found it tough to shoot there. The early afternoon light didn’t really do me any favours in this regard but luckily the company was good and discussions about light, locations and gear (three topics which bore my wife) kept everyone busy.
Exiting the park the from the South side, most of the group decided to cross the street to Cheomseongdae park. Cheomseongdae, also from the Silla period is the oldest standing observatory in East Asia. On this particular day the park was teaming full of family’s and youth, all drowned out by blaring K-pop music. I choose to split from the group and explore some of the back alleyways. It’s my understanding that Gyeongju has some sort law/bylaw requiring buildings to follow strict traditional building practices. While many of the buildings are clearly not maintained regularly, the traditional hanok buildings, old and new, add to the towns historic charm. Even the local Starbucks was sporting the hanok roof top, though it somehow lacked the charm of the some of the more humble buildings forming the alleys.
Stepping out of the alleyways I rejoined my group at the festival. Pushing through the crowds I explored the festival and felt better about my choice to spend my time in the alleys. There were a few interesting booths showcasing pottery and the wares of local craftsmen and even one with a Buddhist nun operating a traditional loom. I did grab a few shots of her on my 35mm Minolta but will have to wait for processing to see the results. I reached the other side of the festival relatively quickly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t really anything that stood out for me from my previous experiences over the past ten years in Korea though ‘m sure it would have been fascinating for others. At this point I came across another hanok home. Standing alone in the large park the house seems oddly out of place. My best guess is it belongs to the current park caretaker(s) or to a historic politician/celebrity. Either the hanok seemed so tranquil and quaint when juxtaposed with the festival at its doorstep.
Leaving the hanok behind, I made my way back through the festival and met up with a few group members who were preoccupied with the kite flyers and a beautiful backdrop of rays of sunlight streaming between the clouds over Gyeongju, some of the royal tombs and the distant mountains.
By this time sunset was creeping in on us quickly and not want to miss my chance to shoot Woljeonggyo (월정교) bridge I headed out. Woljeonggyo is reconstruction of Silla dynasty bridge nestled nearby a partially reconstructed village area and overlooked by a row of coffee shops and traditional restaurants (one of which we finished our photo walk in). Currently the bridge is inaccessible and is scheduled to be finished this year. While it looks impressive as it is, the completed bridge will have two gated entrance buildings, standing two stories high and should be even more stunning. I can’t wait to see the completed project.
Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk is a fantastic day out and I’d recommend that any photography enthusiast make the effort to attend one. Its definitely something I’ll be doing in the future. However, there is no doubt that the day couldn’t have come off as well as it had without the efforts of Jason Teale, who organised this walk, and everyone else who made the effort to get out. So I’d like to close with a big thanks to all those involved. Thanks for a great day out…