The Way I See It

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Love Eternal

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Love Etermal I

Love Etermal I

I’ve been to some pretty romantic places in my travels. But on a hill outside downtown Seoul, I witnessed something that I will not forget for a long, long time.

The location is the base of the TV tower on the top of Namsan (South Mountain), overlooking the city. Ancient legend has it that couples who came to the shrine would have their wishes granted. Fast forward several hundred years. The shrine has now been replaced by an elevated lookout platform and here – along its perimeter – run the world-famous cable fences, gaily festooned with thousands upon thousands of apparently abandoned padlocks.

Let me explain. The locks are symbolic – of love and hope and promise – proclaimed in this romantic place; lovers locked to each other forever. Every day, couples show up with shiny padlocks in hand. On these locks (usually festooned with rubber plaques), they pen their hopes and promises to each other. Then they carefully select a location on the wall and it is to this special spot – high above the noise and bustle of one of the world’s largest cities – that they fasten their proclamations of love. Love that is undying, lovers bound together eternally.

Several times during sunset on that evening, I witnessed the earnest scribbling, the careful choosing, and that final, lingering, click. The tenderness and innocence of this unencumbered love etched itself into my being. I came to Namsan fully expecting to document the well-known lock walls. I departed with so much more.

Love Eternal II

Love Eternal II


Photog Notes
Patience was the name of the game for this location. I arrived about 45 minutes before sunset; there were so many visitors that it seemed like it was going to be impossible to isolate a special pair. But somehow, I lucked out and during a lull in the stream of bodies, I spied this couple lovingly penning their thoughts. I snapped a few, then moved on. As fate would have it, I managed to catch them again as they secured their lock.

I used a relatively long focal length to make these images. Focusing on their faces and using  a relatively wide aperture allowed me to isolate them, while leaving in enough detail to communicate what exists in the out-of-focus bits. In both images, their backs were to the waning sun. I thus overexposed by ⅔ stops to better illuminate their faces. This turned out to be adequate, but was not really to my liking so I selectively adjusted the exposure a bit more during processing. I also performed a teeny bit of tone mapping to bring out some richness in the sky (it was very, very hazy that day).


Written by xinapray

August 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

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