Today I learned something. How to see some local culture during a long layover while traveling. It was cheap too. For $30 I had a guide who took me from the airport to Incheon and up the mountain to the Heungryunsa Buddhist Temple where I could do some photography. I love visiting the temples when in Asia.
Until I arrived here I wasn’t aware of Transit Tours. What they are is a short trip away from the airport to do sightseeing, shopping, and eat. Maybe they were recently invented here at the Incheon airport and I love the concept. It really was terrific to get outside and see some of the city instead of walking aimlessly inside the airport waiting for a connecting flight. Let me give a shout out to Omi Travel, the company doing these tours. Also, my faithful guide, Jane. I’m pretty sure Jane isn’t her real name but for taking around us English speaking types, I think she adapts a little.
Another thing I learned is that the Buddhist temples here in Korea look different than those in Thailand. It’s the architecture that’s different. They have more of a gritty look than Thailand’s temples. Not that’s that’s bad, not at all. I love the temples in Korea and wish I had time to visit others this trip! They seem, to me, to be a morph of Japanese and Thai temple architecture.
Inside though, they are quite similar. There is always a Buddha front & center with candles and incense and possibly some offerings. My guide informed me that the candles are there because that’s when the Buddha listens. So now I understand the ceremony that I saw countless times in Thailand where you enter a temple, get a candle and some incense, light them and then pray. Light a candle so you are heard by Buddha. Now that’s three things I learned for my $30.
This one is not HDR. It’s dark in the temples and since my tripod is packed in my checked bag, today I am hand holding my camera. When it’s dark, like in this shot, I disable auto-bracketing and find something to brace the camera on so I can still shoot at f8 with a reasonably low ISO… anything under 800 on my Nikon D-90. If there’s nothing to brace the camera on I sometimes have to open up the lens all the way, but I resist doing that since it leads to shots that aren’t as sharp as they could be.
Rules are meant to be broken, is what I’ve heard, and so I broke my own rule here. Leaving the aperture at f8 I allowed the ISO to auto adjust to 3200.
The first thing I do is run the RAW file through NIK Dfine. I do this on pretty much all photos, single shots as well as HDR’s, so noise doesn’t build up while I’m processing. The resulting noise on this shot at ISO 3200 was very noticeable but the Dfine treatment tamed it easily. The straight image also was way too bright for me and didn’t at all convey the mood of being there inside the temple. So I decided to globally reduce the exposure and then selectively brighten the meaningful elements to create that solemn mood and get to the essence of the photograph.
This is meant to be viewed on a dark background so, to get the real flavor of what I was going for, just click on the photo and it’ll open enlarged in a black lightbox.
They’ll be calling my flight to Denpasar, Bali in a few minutes so see you from Paradise next time!