Three times I have been to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon (수원 화성) and I won't mind going a fourth time. Walking along the fortress wall and taking pictures along the way clears my mind and keeps me in shape. Because the wall slithers over hills and snakes between several parts of the city, there are multiple vantage points to take in the view. The highest point is Paldalsan Mountain (팔알산) from which you have an excellent view of Suwon. Although the "mountain" is 145.5 meters, climbing it feels effortless. The same goes for the rest of the 5.52km fortress wall. Walking on it is a breeze.
After I first went to the fortress in the winter of 2012, I was very much experimenting with editing pictures. I just had a new program (Apple's Aperture, which has been discontinued sadly) where I had a lot more control than in iPhoto. I was inspired by the history of the fortress and decided to give my pictures a vintage, washed out look. Consistency in your style is important in photography (so they say on almost every website about photography, but normally I just ignore that and experiment away) so every time I go to the fortress, I try to stay true to the theme. It makes for a nice series I believe.
Now that I have several years more experience with photography and more powerful editing tools to my disposal (NIK software is fantastic), I made subtle changes in this style. I look more at the color in the scene and edit according to what I feel brings them out more. If you notice, the pictures below are a bit warmer than those from 2012. There are a lot of yellow tones in the pictures so I decided to bring those out a bit more while maintaining the washed out look.
Also, I learned how to do panorama shots with my camera by stitching several shots together in Lightroom. It's a bit tricky sometimes because you need to balance the very bright with the dark parts. Otherwise you'll get a very underexposed or overexposed part of the picture. If I have to believe Lightroom however, my biggest challenge is keeping the camera straight. Anyway, I think this style works very well with the length of the wall and gives it a bit more character.
In conclusion, I had a great day. Walking around in a beautiful environment taking pictures always gives me a sense of calm and makes me forget any problems I have been stressing about at a given time. Editing has a similar effect on me. Having to edit these pictures in a style I not often use was very fun. I would like to know what you think of this style and if you have any pictures of the fortress you would like to show. Let me know in the comments.
How to get there
Depending on where you come from it might be better to take a direct bus to the fortress than to the Suwon subway station first. If you're unsure how to figure out which bus to take, I would suggest you go to Suwon Station (수원역) first. Get out of Exit 4 and walk until you get to a bus stop. Take bus 11 or 13 and get out at Paldalmun (팔달문, it's a big stone gate) When you get out of the bus, go to the right and walk around the gate until you see the street with the entrance to the fortress. You'll see a wall going up a mountain, it's impossible to miss. If you're still unsure how it looks like, click here to see a video with directions.
There is an entrance fee to get access to the fortress (a 1000 won per person), but if you check the website of the Korean tourism agency you can see they have a deal until 31 December 2016 to get in for free. It will also get you in for free in four other touristic sites.
910, Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do
경기도 수원시 팔달구 정조로 910 (장안동)
Other places of interest
The fortress is not the only interesting place in Suwon. There are several places that can keep you occupied for most of the day. Check out this post by Wee Gypsy Girl about a mural village in the city. Or you could go to the Hwaseong Haenggung Palace (화성행궁).