Big Buddha Night Zen | From Nomad Within

About the photo

I went back to photograph the big Buddha at Okryeon Seonwon Temple at night. This woman was sitting there, motionless, for at least 15 minutes. We were right smack in the middle of 4 million or so people (Milak-dong), but up on the side of the hill it was like a massive Zen bubble. I was wondering what she was thinking – probably nothing. I felt like an ass every time the click of my shutter broke the silence. The view from behind the statue is also an interesting one.

To make this photo, I took three pictures at three different exposure levels (+2, 0, -2) and merged them in Photomatix to create an HDR image. Many people think HDR is only for creating surreal or psychedelic-looking images, but I’m finding that it’s extremely helpful to create natural looking images too when the lighting isn’t balanced (think a brightly lit subject in a dark setting, or a landscape photography which includes both sun and sky). I’ve used graduated ND filters in the past to get some balance back, but I never quite get the range of light to dark that I want.

With this photo for instance, the spotlights were so bright that when exposed the photo for the Buddha, the background was black and the statue was perfect. You could barely make out the woman or anything else. I wasn’t about to use a flash to light up the rest of the scene, nor could I even if I wanted to. Once I had my HDR image from Photomatix, I used LR4 and Trey Ratcliff’s Lightroom Presets (recommended) to process and give it the look I wanted.

Big Buddha at night

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