Night Photography at Cheonggyecheon

I shared some photography with you in my last post, I was in the Gwanghwamun area in Seoul, South Korea. I did some photographs at the front gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, after that, I came down to Cheonggyecheon. I’m picking up where I left off from my last post.

Cheonggyecheon is a manmade stream with a long history in Korea. The main area of this stream is located right near Gwanghwamun. This very busy business district in the center of Seoul drastically changes to a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere in the evening. There are many couples, friends, and others who hang out. Venturing down and taking some photographs has its challenges. There are areas with light, and then there are darker areas. In the darker areas, we have no choice but to boost the ISO up, so we come out with some images that are quite gritty and noisy.

In street photography, I’ve often been used to more gritty, noisy photos. So I don’t mind much. We’re not working with polished studio photographs or commercial images. With narrow walking paths and the desire to depict people in the photos we’re keeping a quick enough shutter speed, and I’m also avoiding dropping the aperture too far to capture more. So in this case I’m simply putting up with the noise.

Cheonggyecheon Photographs

People relaxing at Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, South Korea during COVID-19. Police Officers walk through the stream and enforce current COVID safety restrictions set by the government.

You definitely get the idea of a more relaxed atmosphere. Interestingly though police officers are walking through the stream at select times and enforcing current COVID-19 restrictions. (I’m assuming this includes wearing masks, groups of people not going over the maximum set limit, and even eating. I specifically saw them tell people who were eating to stop and leave.) That’s just a little sidenote.

Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul, South Korea by photographer Don MacDonell

This photograph shows the beginning of the stream. The buildings you see at the top of the photograph are right there at the main intersection of Gwahwamun. You can come from Gwahwamun, walk down the stairs on the right of the photo (or slope on the left side), then you can follow this stream for quite some distance! For me, I came down one side, walked just a little bit of the way down before circling around and coming out the other side. They have this waterfall setup here with lights, so I definitely took a photograph I wanted to include some people in the frame as well. Thus, I took the photograph behind these two ladies.

Coming up out of Cheonggyecheon, they have this seashell of cone-like structure/artwork. I’ve been to the stream many times, I’ve seen this statue countless times. But with the woman sitting right in front, eating a little meal that’s set in front of her, I couldn’t pass by without photographing the scene.

Some Street Photography

After coming out, I simply headed back to Gwanghwamun where I got the bus and headed back home. On the way, I did take some more photographs. A more street photography style that I enjoy. High contrast, black and white! Here are a few final photographs from the evening.

Night Street Photography in Seoul South Korea. Woman wearing a mask riding a bike.
Couple walking in the streets of Seoul South Korea. High Contrast black and white street photography by Don MacDonell
Woman walking out of Seoul Subway station wearing a mask. Street photography
Woman wearing a mask walks as she's deep in thought. Seoul Street Photography

I called it a night with those last photographs.

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