Poised as if ready to launch into space it stood high over the city as the setting sun cast an orange glow across the sky.  All around its small mountain home lights flickered on guiding the city into the night.  A symbol of success in a country of symbolism this landmark attracts visitors throughout the year.  Living at the base of its mountainous perch it goes unnoticed some days as its presence has blended into the landscape.  Other days it pops into view from around a bend, over a rise or in the periphery always reminding me of its presence.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/2.8 1/50th sec 16mm (25.6mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

Poised as if ready to launch into space it stood high over the city as the setting sun cast an orange glow across the sky.  All around its small mountain home lights flickered on guiding the city into the night.  A symbol of success in a country of symbolism this landmark attracts visitors throughout the year.  Living at the base of its mountainous perch it goes unnoticed some days as its presence has blended into the landscape.  Other days it pops into view from around a bend, over a rise or in the periphery always reminding me of its presence.

 

 

Built in 1969 on Namsan Mountain, at a cost of approximately $2.5 million, this communication and observation tower has become a symbol of Seoul.  The tower itself is 236.7m (777ft) tall and sits at an elevation of 479.7m (1,574ft) above sea level.  Open to the public in 1980 it presents visitors with views of one of the largest populated cities in the world.  At its base are several shops, concessions and ticket counters where rides to the top can be purchased.  Restaurants and gift shops are located throughout its top four levels, one of which offers a rotating view of the city.  All observation decks are enclosed and offer impressive views.  Unfortunately the one time I made the trip to the towers top the weather and dirty windows hindered photography of the city.  The above shot was taken from the main observation deck where visitors looked through the haze attempting to capture the landscape.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EFS 18-55 F/3.5-5.6 IS USM @ f/4.5 1/60th sec 23mm (36.8mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

Built in 1969 on Namsan Mountain, at a cost of approximately $2.5 million, this communication and observation tower has become a symbol of Seoul.  The tower itself is 236.7m (777ft) tall and sits at an elevation of 479.7m (1,574ft) above sea level.  Open to the public in 1980 it presents visitors with views of one of the largest populated cities in the world.  At its base are several shops, concessions and ticket counters where rides to the top can be purchased.  Restaurants and gift shops are located throughout its top four levels, one of which offers a rotating view of the city.  All observation decks are enclosed and offer impressive views.  Unfortunately the one time I made the trip to the towers top the weather and dirty windows hindered photography of the city.  The above shot was taken from the main observation deck where visitors looked through the haze attempting to capture the landscape.

 

 

The towers base can be reached on foot or by vehicle using a single toll road or the complex network of foot trails that circles the mountain.  The above image shows the more interesting and scenic option of a cable car on the northern slope accessible by vehicle or a steep half-kilometer uphill hike from the Myeongdong subway station.  Tickets cost 5,000-8,000 won ($5-$8 US) depending on age.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EFS 18-55 F/3.5-5.6 IS USM @ f/9.0 1/200th sec 41mm (65.6mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

The towers base can be reached on foot or by vehicle using a single toll road or the complex network of foot trails that circles the mountain.  The above image shows the more interesting and scenic option of a cable car on the northern slope accessible by vehicle or a steep half-kilometer uphill hike from the Myeongdong subway station.  Tickets cost 5,000-8,000 won ($5-$8 US) depending on age.

 

 

Dwarfed to the point of blending into their concrete surroundings massive structures that scrape the skies when viewed from below join the river, mountains and parks in impressive scenes.  With picturesque skylines stretching out in every direction the railings around the towers base are lined with amateur photographers year round.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/8.0 1.3th sec 35mm (56mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Camera resting on railing)

Dwarfed to the point of blending into their concrete surroundings massive structures that scrape the skies when viewed from below join the river, mountains and parks in impressive scenes.  With picturesque skylines stretching out in every direction the railings around the towers base are lined with amateur photographers year round.

 

 

Seated along their concrete ridgeline, impervious to the winds, temperatures and precipitation of the vastly differing seasons they stare with eyes of stone on all who visited the mountains main attraction.  These figures along with reconstructed fortifications and adjoining radio towers proved to be interesting subjects on several of my visits.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 70-200 F/2.8L USM @ f/7.1 1/60th sec 200mm (320mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

Seated along their concrete ridgeline, impervious to the winds, temperatures and precipitation of the vastly differing seasons they stare with eyes of stone on all who visited the mountains main attraction.  These figures along with reconstructed fortifications and adjoining radio towers proved to be interesting subjects on several of my visits.

 

 

How many shutters have snapped open for a brief instant capturing its reflected light before closing to blackness while processors transferred data into digital vaults?  How many of those images resemble the above image regardless of where around the towers base the photographer stood?  Does its circular design limit the possibilities of different perspectives?  Does adding a tree, building, person or other objects make more interesting compositions?

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/2.8 1/320th sec 16mm (25.6mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

How many shutters have snapped open for a brief instant capturing its reflected light before closing to blackness while processors transferred data into digital vaults?  How many of those images resemble the above image regardless of where around the towers base the photographer stood?  Does its circular design limit the possibilities of different perspectives?  Does adding a tree, building, person or other objects make more interesting compositions?

 

 

What if we find a new location to shoot from?  For the record, I didn’t discover this platform in a grand Christopher Columbus fashion as photographers have been using its vantage long before I set foot on it.  This alternate observation deck is located along the mountains access road one kilometer to the southeast where views of the city as well as the tower are excellent.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/4.5 1/8th sec 16mm (25.6 mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Camera resting on railing using remote)

What if we find a new location to shoot from?  For the record, I didn’t discover this platform in a grand Christopher Columbus fashion as photographers have been using its vantage long before I set foot on it.  This alternate observation deck is located along the mountains access road one kilometer to the southeast where views of the city as well as the tower are excellent.

 

 

From here the concrete, metal and glass of the city illuminated by iridescent, fluorescent and neon lights collide abruptly with a frontage of dense green foliage that rolls off the mountain.  Rising from the peak like royalty on a chessboard the towers dominate the skyline.  During post processing this image became one of my favorites as I felt it took on the impression of a moonlit foreground with the setting sun on the horizon.  I discovered by using the graduated filter tool in Adobe “Lightroom” the exposure and brightness in the lower portion of the frame could be increased to create this effect.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/4.5 1/25th sec 16mm (25.6mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Camera resting on railing using remote)

From here the concrete, metal and glass of the city illuminated by iridescent, fluorescent and neon lights collide abruptly with a frontage of dense green foliage that rolls off the mountain.  Rising from the peak like royalty on a chessboard the towers dominate the skyline.  During post processing this image became one of my favorites as I felt it took on the impression of a moonlit foreground with the setting sun on the horizon.  I discovered by using the graduated filter tool in Adobe “Lightroom” the exposure and brightness in the lower portion of the frame could be increased to create this effect.

 

 

This same vantage offers many possibilities for compositions with or without the tower in the shot.  Year round the setting sun lights up the sky over the mountain framed city with brilliant colors.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/4.5 1/200th sec 34mm (54.4mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Camera resting on railing using remote)

This same vantage offers many possibilities for compositions with or without the tower in the shot.  Year round the setting sun lights up the sky over the mountain framed city with brilliant colors.

 

 

Farther down the access road a second observation deck can be found.  Built around the trees on the hillside it is closer but still far enough away to mute the clamor of the congested streets below

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/8.0 1/40th sec 16mm (25.5 mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

Farther down the access road a second observation deck can be found.  Built around the trees on the hillside it is closer but still far enough away to mute the clamor of the congested streets below.

 

 

This vantage offers a more personable feel for the city as it extends out to its mountainous backdrop.  Masked by a ridgeline the tower can’t be seen or included in cityscapes from here.  Not to worry though there are many locations on the mountain that makes up for this.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/5.6 1/200th sec 16mm (25.6mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

This vantage offers a more personable feel for the city as it extends out to its mountainous backdrop.  Masked by a ridgeline the tower can’t be seen or included in cityscapes from here.  Not to worry though there are many locations on the mountain that makes up for this.

 

On one of my outings to the top…

 

With head down and arms swinging to the rhythm of each step the steep trail passed by while my thoughts drifted from one thing to another.  Forcing myself I slowed and made a three-sixty degree turn taking in the landscape.  Years of forced marches have instilled a “put your head down and go” mentality that doesn’t work well for seeing photographic opportunities along the way.  Alternatively, moving at the slower speed of say a combat patrol would mean taking an extraordinarily long time to get to the top.  Combining these techniques I continued on, head down where the terrain masked views and slowing where it opened up.  On the next rise I glanced to the left and there it was peering down through the trees like a sentinel constantly on duty.  Still wanting to make it to the top before sunset I hurriedly pulled out my point and shoot for a quick snapshot.

Sony DSC-W300 Cyber-shot; f/8.0 1/320th sec 7.6mm ISO 400

(Handheld)

With head down and arms swinging to the rhythm of each step the steep trail passed by while my thoughts drifted from one thing to another.  Forcing myself I slowed and made a three-sixty degree turn taking in the landscape.  Years of forced marches have instilled a “put your head down and go” mentality that doesn’t work well for seeing photographic opportunities along the way.  Alternatively, moving at the slower speed of say a combat patrol would mean taking an extraordinarily long time to get to the top.  Combining these techniques I continued on, head down where the terrain masked views and slowing where it opened up.  On the next rise I glanced to the left and there it was peering down through the trees like a sentinel constantly on duty.  Still wanting to make it to the top before sunset I hurriedly pulled out my point and shoot for a quick snapshot.

 

Weeks later…

 

After a few hours in the overcrowded market I was happy to be leaving the busy streets of Myeongdong behind.  As I turned the corner heading for the subway I looked up and to my front framed by the tall buildings on my flanks it mockingly sat shining down at me as if saying,  “Cheese!”

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/22 1/100th sec 32mm (51.2 mm equivalent) ISO 200

(Handheld)

After a few hours in the overcrowded market I was happy to be leaving the busy streets of Myeongdong behind.  As I turned the corner heading for the subway I looked up and to my front framed by the tall buildings on my flanks it mockingly sat shining down at me as if saying,  “Cheese!”

 

On my way home from work…

 

Turning the corner I stopped to shoot a few images of the narrow walkway.  Seoul city streets vary greatly in size and I like to capture the more interesting ones.  I didn’t notice the tower until closer examination during post processing. It had snuck up on me again.

Sony DSC-W300 Cyber-shot; f/5.6 1/60th sec 7.6mm ISO 80

(Handheld)

Turning the corner I stopped to shoot a few images of the narrow walkway.  Seoul city streets vary greatly in size and I like to capture the more interesting ones.  I didn’t notice the tower until closer examination during post processing. It had snuck up on me again.

 

In the park this fall…

 

With the turning leaves I was out after work making my way around the mountain taking in the colors.  Shooting images along the way with my focus on the trees I didn’t notice the tower at first but was happy to find it in the image later on.  Anyone with a little knowledge of Seoul would be able to identify the location of these images based on the tower.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/6.3 1/30th sec 16mm (25.6 mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Handheld)

With the turning leaves I was out after work making my way around the mountain taking in the colors.  Shooting images along the way with my focus on the trees I didn’t notice the tower at first but was happy to find it in the image later on.  Anyone with a little knowledge of Seoul would be able to identify the location of these images based on the tower.

 

Back at home...

 

While daylight faded into the blue skies of twilights the tower lit up from within and soon would be bathed in green, blue or purple light.  As either the focal point or an unintentional inclusion I feel the tower brings its own perspective into a composition.  While not as aged or prestigious as the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or landmarks found in other cities the Seoul Towers geographical prominence sets it as the signature site of Seoul.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D, EF 16-35 F/2.8L USM @ f/8.0 0.3 sec 35mm (56mm equivalent) ISO 100

(Camera resting on railing using remote)

While daylight faded into the blue skies of twilights the tower lit up from within and soon would be bathed in green, blue or purple light.  As either the focal point or an unintentional inclusion I feel the tower brings its own perspective into a composition.  While not as aged or prestigious as the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or landmarks found in other cities the Seoul Towers geographical prominence sets it as the signature site of Seoul.