So, last week, while Gyeongbokgung Palace was open for nighttime viewing, I was admiring some shots taken by Nightviewer Skip taken of the palace from the rooftop of Twin Tree Towers, the funky glass high-rise offices erected where the Hanguk Ilbo headquarters used to stand.
Sadly, I was denied permission to shoot from said office towers, but luckily, a nearby building—with just as good a view—permitted me and some friends of mine to go to the roof on Saturday and shoot.
What makes Gyeongbokgung Palace so special—really, what makes all of Seoul’s Joseon Dynasty palaces special—is not just the palace itself, but just as importantly, its surroundings, particularly how the palace is embraced by Mt. Inwangsan to the west and Mt. Bugaksan to the north. The peaks of Bukhansan National Park loom in the distance.
By the way, that big group of people gathered in the front courtyard behind Gwanghwamun Gate—that’s the line for the ticket booth. Having experienced that line the next day from ground level, it moved pretty quickly; it was not nearly as insane as the line to get into Gansong Museum of Art that Sunday, in which you needed to wait four hours.
Like I said, we were quite lucky to be able to take these shots—or as one of the guys we were with put it, it was a real 대박.
Lotus Lantern Festival
After shooting for a while, we came down and headed for Jonggak to take in what remained of the Lotus Lantern Festival (which I photographed last year here and here; Chris Backe took some shots during this year’s festival, too). One of the guys knew an elevated spot right behind Jonggak with a view of the intersection. Might have been nice to have a view from the other side so we could get a shot like this one that got run in the the Grauniad, but alas, this view would have to suffice.
None of my shots of the parade came out too great, but I did manage to squeeze off some relatively OK shots of the performances that followed the parade at Jonggak Intersection. The fireballs were a nice touch.
On Sunday, I went to Gyeongbokgung again—OK, this might seem a tad obsessive, but you don’t get many chances like this. This time, I got there super-early to grab a spot at the southwest corner of the Gyeonghoeru pond to get the iconic blue hour shot. Again, however, it was already occupied a full two hours before sunset.
The southeast corner was open, though.
This vantage point has its benefits, too, one being that’s it’s much less crowded. The others are that you’re able to capture Mt. Inwangsan and its reflection, too, and you get a bit more light shooting into the western sky.