Photographing the Busan Fireworks Festival 2012 Pt.1

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So the big day is coming up down here and there has been a lot of talk about where the best place to shoot is, what time to start, where to go etc.  PeterDeMarco has offered up some great information on the subject over on the Busan Lightstalkers page and I thought I would add some details in to help those who are thinking about going.


When to go

the whole event starts this Friday at 3 pm with a street parade. The K-pop concert will follow at 7. However the fireworks don’t start until Saturday. Now, according to the site there will be a “Fireworks Concert” starting the countdown to the fireworks.

The fireworks are set to start at around 8 pm and finish around 9 pm.  So I would get there at around 3 pm or 4 pm at the latest. Get in your spot and sit tight.

Where is the best place to shoot?

There are several ideas on this topic and it all depends on what type of shot you are looking for. Personally, I think that the straight on shot of the fireworks over the bridge is great. Ju Seok Oh has a great shot of this, however, it may be tough to find a good location and one that isn’t packed with photographers and other people as well. However, there are a few options:

Hwangyeongsan/Geumyeongsan Mountains

These are located directly behind the beach and are tall enough to get a great view of the show. However, parking and transportation will be a challenge because everyone and their dog will be heading up that singular road to get shots. The best thing to do is to get there early and stake your claim. Remember, everyone is trying to get that awesome shot and they will get in front of YOUR lens to get it. So just be vigilant and be there early.

The View from Hwangyeongsan


This is one that I have been researching for a bit. Rooftops can be quite a challenge if you don’t scope the area first. It might be wise to head down a day before and just see what is open and has the best view. The last thing that you want to be doing is running around searching for an open roof top that isn’t full of people.

Getting There

The easiest way is to take the subway and avoid the traffic. The Geumyeongsan Station is where you want to get out for both the above locations. However, getting to the top of the mountains might be a bit of a challenge. The last time that I did it, I took my car and that was much easier but granted it was not during the festival.

A word of caution about taking a taxi. They really really hate going up there and will complain endlessly about it should you dare ask them to drive you. The first time I went up there, I made that mistake. The taxi driver bitched and moaned the whole way and even after we gave him a tip worth more than the fare itself, he was still grumpy. So just a word of caution about using taxis to get up the mountains.

Getting Farther Away

You may want to get farther away and get a little more perspective on the area. Mount Jangsan is probably your best bet for this. Granted it takes some time to hike up there, it may be just what you are looking for. Peter’s shot is from there and you can see that you can get a great view from the top. According to Peter, this area also gets quite crowded and getting there early will be a must too.


To get to the mountain, you can take a taxi to the park and then just get out and hike. If you take the subway, then get out at Jangsan station and either walk to the park or grab a taxis, but again you are facing the fact that you are going ot pay the minimum fare, so there could be some bitching and moaning there too.

If you are coming in from Ulsan, the bus passes right by the park and if you are lucky, the bus driver might just let you out there before he turns. If not the bus does stop right at Jangsan Station.

The view from Jangsan with a 70-200mm lens

What to Bring

Don’t even think about stepping out that door without a Tripod. With that said being said, you must think about your time out there. So charge all your batteries, including your phone and whatever device you use to amuse yourself. Next, dress warmly. The temperatures are dropping these days and a good “padding jacket” might not be a bad idea. Finally, bring some snacks and perhaps some coffee or other beverages to have while you wait and protect your space.

Stay tuned for part two as I give you some tips to capture the fireworks

HT to Peter DeMarco for finding this useful link too. More information on the festival



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