Monday, June 25, 2012

Close Encounters of the Real Kind

     On one of my earliest blogs, I talked about meeting a group of people regularly doing photo-walks in Seoul.  I had a blast with them during my first time.  The problem is I was more interested on talking to them first, taking photos second, and never really observed them or how they work.  It's been a year now (I think).  And this same group announced another photo walk.  But this time, they have subjects that I'm very interested in, lately.  The group I joined before were a bunch of street photographers.  This time, it's different.

     Real Urban Explorers!  I don't really work with a crowd (either I get shy or nervous) of photographers.  But this walk is a must for me.  I need to see what "exploring" really means to them and how they do it.  I also want to watch them do their thing.  I could learn a thing or two just by watching.  But of course, I should take pictures as well.  What makes me feel inferior is how easily they see what they want.  Or how they find a potential.  It was night shooting in an abandoned corner.  Not a lot of light and therefore, not so much on sight.  But they seem to easily spot areas and can instantly shoot. One of them (Fred) knows what he wants and immediately works on it.  I usually stare at something, compose on my mind, then compose with the camera, change if necessary, then test shoot.  Rinse and repeat.  Fred works smoothly.  He sees something, quickly sets camera, start taking multiple shots.  The slow buffering on my camera doesn't help my insecurities either.

     But Fred's quite enthusiastic.  Aside from his long strides making me chase him all the time, I like him.  He talks when needed, yet goes straight to photography mode whenever it calls for it.  I'm quite amazed by how he works.

     *The following pictures (except "No Way In") were treated with minimal editing.  Just a little contrast.  Since I was a bit shy and more a watcher, these are more like test shots and potentials.  I will be coming back to the site and work as I normally do.  But for now, it'll just be a sneak-peak of what's to come.*

One of the first spots Fred spent time with.  Everyone else were doing their own thing but I'm just watching Fred.  Aside from his speed, I was wondering what he sees in this spot.  I don't get it.  So I tried to take a shot myself.  What I noticed was on each house, there's a "K" painted in it.

Door... Knob?
Trying to fit in, as I went ahead and took this picture.  All I have was my past from this blog.  And it's where I was getting ideas at this moment.

Ghost Town
How eerie it was that there was supposed to be life in this area, yet hear or see no soul.  What got me worried is that I don't even feel any ghostly feeling.

     It was actually stressful being with other people.  Although I feel a bit more comfortable with Fred, I can't shake off the feeling that the others are watching me.  I tried to make myself comfortable.  Do what I was used to do.  Lying on the floor?  Yes, I did.  Obviously go for different angles?  Yes, I did.  Still, I felt nervous being with them.  "He likes lying on the floor." says one and "He sweats a lot!" says the other... or the same one.  I'm not embarrassed whether I lie on the floor or sweat a lot.  I'm actually glad they didn't say, "You're obviously a beginner." 'cause that's what I was thinking.

     It was when I see that I can't talk to Fred or Ara (the only guy I didn't meet for the first time in this group), that I just have to man-up.  My last card of "making myself comfortable" was my mini flashlight.  I don't have much experience with light painting.  But I know I did it more than once.  It was time to do my thing.

No Way In
The grit of the walls vs the finely-made brick wall, attracted me first.  It was a dark area but I noticed the golden decorations of the door.  How sad it is that such a welcoming door end up this way?

     I got my confidence back.  I was on my own for a while so I got a chance to be more an adventurer than a watcher.  I climbed up inside one of the housed to see what's left of it.  This is good.  At least I got to think for my self and do my stuff without getting self-conscious.

House Brought Down
There's a tilt on my framing (too dark inside to see without a torch) but it is obvious that the floor I'm standing on is about to go down.  

Inside Looking Out v2
Sometimes things just don't work as initially thought.  Since framing by a window worked, I thought of trying it again on this scene.  I wanted to show how lovely a view would have been for the people who once lived here.

Too Much Light
Since I started getting in houses and climbing up stairs, the group got into it and we almost always end up on rooftops.  There's so many potentials, but I'm having some problems seeing them.  It might be because I'm in a crown again.  In this picture, I realized that it's not just about painting some light on a subject.  But also finding the balance of exposure time.  It shouldn't look like this.  It almost look like daylight.

     The group is getting thinner as some of them had to go home.  Time was running quite fast and the rest didn't intend to spend the night here (I was ready for it).  As Fred and I went up another rooftop (he spotted an awesome view), I saw a nice part of Seoul.  A scene with Namsan tower in it (something I haven't had taken a picture before).  I was dying to get a panoramic shot but I'm having problems with my camera.  Fred works really fast and I will just slow him down if I start shooting panorama.  So I settled for just one frame.  One of the pictures I'm most proud of this night.

Stars Not In The Sky
The city at night makes a beautiful view.  But light pollution also dominates, that a clear starry sky is impossible to capture.  

     I think the only good thing I did this night was discovering potential spots.  Leaving it alone for when I can come back and shoot for real.  I do have some preliminary shots.  But being with a bunch of people, I just have to take mental notes.  I work slow.  Slow is not good when in a group of well experienced photographers.

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