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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

#hellofromTaiwan: 6 Photography Spots Around Taiwan for Symmetry Lovers

2022-08-24
4
389

Planning a trip to Taiwan and hoping to visit some unique spots for photography? How about going on a symmetry hunt? From urban areas to museums to the countryside, Taiwan native and symmetry hunter Allen Lo (IG: @allenlo0809) shares some of his favourite images taken in Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Nantou, along with some shooting tips. (Images and tips by: Allen Lo)

In this article:

 

1. Gushan Station, Gushan District, Kaohsiung

EOS R6 + EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (with mount adapter) @ 16mm, f/5, 1/160 sec, ISO 100 (EV +1.3)


Harsh sunlight, unexpectedly beautiful results

This is one of my favourite symmetry images. It was taken at midday, and I was afraid that the strong sunlight would cause the contrast in the image to look too harsh. But it turned out better than I thought—the overhead sunlight cast shadows of the roof architecture’s patterns onto the walls, and even created a starburst that accentuated the image. The lines created by the metallic handrails complement the architecture and complete the shot, creating the perfect picture.

This shot taught me that photography can be done any time of the day. In fact, shooting the same place at different timings can give you unexpected results!

Tip: Turn on your grid and get your horizontal and vertical lines straight before you leave the shooting spot. Correcting a tilt in post-processing might crop the shot in an undesirable way.

Also see:
3 Quick Ways to Get Stylish Urban and Street Shots

 

About the location: A unique architectural structure that’s usually off the tourist radar
The Gushan Railway Station serves both Taiwan Railways and the Kaohsiung subway system. It was recently renovated in 2018. The design of the station is said to be inspired by the Shoushan mountain located west of the station, the undulating soundwaves of the drums from the mountain, and the Love River to the east of the station (Source, in Traditional Chinese).

 

2. The Pier-2 Art Center, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung

EOS R6 + RF16mm f/2.8 STM @ f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO 100


Start shooting from further away and move in closer

The red container sculpture in this picture is a permanent exhibit and distinctive landmark at the Pier-2 Art Center. When I photograph giant installation art structures like this, I will start shooting from a little further away, and then slowly move closer to the structure until I find an angle that I like. Using a prime lens encourages you to explore angles with your feet.

Tip: Try tilting upwards towards the sky—it could give you impressive results too, especially on a wide-angle lens.

Also see: Composition Techniques for Wide-Angle Lenses

 

About the location: A hip contemporary art enclave
Located by the waterfront beside the Kaohsiung Harbour, the Pier-2 Art Center consists of once-abandoned warehouses that have been refurbished and repurposed into spaces for contemporary art. Since then, it has become a vibrant art centre with galleries, exhibitions and activities, as well as lifestyle and retail outlets and cafes to take a break in.

 

3. New Art Park Camp/ Xinying Art Park, Xinying District, Tainan

EOS R6 + EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM (with mount adapter) @ 120mm, f/5, 1/320 sec, ISO 640


Don’t leave your telephoto lens at home

This rainbow-coloured tunnel in Xinying, Tainan, is part of the Xinying Art Park and a local social media photo hotspot. It’s also where you can take full advantage of the compression effect of a telephoto lens!

It was quite challenging to find the best balance between the shutter speed and aperture without bumping the ISO speed too high. If the shutter speed is too slow, you can’t freeze the action enough, but if the aperture is too wide, the colourful arches at the back wouldn’t be sharp enough.

Note: I’ve shared this because it makes a nice picture but actually, cycling on the walkway is not encouraged. Netizens have raised safety concerns.

Tip:
- The longer the focal length, the shallower the depth of field. You might need to set your aperture narrower than usual to get the sharpness you want.
- If you are using an EOS R system camera, try out the Fv mode. I especially like using it to capture moments: you can easily switch any exposure parameter from automatic to manual settings using the touchscreen without having to change the exposure mode.

 

About the place: A colourful installation artwork that children will also love
Around 1km long, the rainbow tunnel in the Xinying Art Park is part of a public installation artwork titled “童年狂想曲 (Childhood Rhapsody)” by Taiwanese artist and designer No2Good (Chen Po-Liang). One of his most famous creations is the character “Mousy”. You will find large Mousy figurines playing all throughout the installation. Also look out for the classroom-inspired elements such as giant classroom chairs, which pay homage to the three schools in the area. It’s a great place for portrait photos, and also for taking the kids.

You may be interested in:
Urban Art Studio: Xinying Art Park – Childhood Rhapsody (in Traditional Chinese)

 

4. Nanke Museum of Archaeology, Xinshi District, Tainan

EOS R5 + EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ f/4, 1/160 sec, ISO 100
Panorama stitched from 6 shots; some elements removed in post-production


Panoramic symmetry

The Tainan Branch of Taiwan’s National Museum of Prehistory has a very interesting architectural design. This is its courtyard, with distinctive yellow walls and an open roof that frames the sky like a picture. It wasn’t possible to express the scale and grandeur of the place with one single shot, so I went to one of the corners and took 6 shots from the bottom to the top with my ultra-wide-angle zoom lens. I then stitched them into this panorama.

To express the serenity of the scene with the person admiring the sky, I simplified the shot by removing a small tree and some chairs in post-production.

Tip: If you stitch the images on your computer, you get more control over the final image. However, if you want quick results, some cameras like the EOS R7 and EOS R10 have a Panorama Shot mode that automatically does the stitching in-camera.

 

About the place: A building filled with archaeological meaning

Completed in December 2017, the Nanke Museum of Archaeology is located in the Tainan Science Park, which contains 82 archaeological sites. The building incorporates architectural features that explore the anatomy of archaeology and the relationship between past and present, among others.

Read more about the museum’s design concept here and here.

 

5. 174 Wing Knights Inn Café, Dongshan District, Tainan

EOS R + EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (with mount adapter) @ 16mm, f/4, 1/200 sec, ISO 100


Leading lines and reflections

When you have leading lines like this, you can enhance them by using the perspective exaggeration effect of an ultra-wide-angle lens and shooting from a low angle. This makes the picture look even more impressive. It was a cloudy evening and the sun was low on the horizon, so you can see the reflections in the glass walkway. I made use of these to create an image that is both horizontally and vertically symmetrical.

Tip:
- Get as close to the ground as you can for best results. This is where your Vari-angle LCD monitor will come in handy. 
- If you want to achieve another effect by making the glass look clear, use a PL filter to reduce reflections. This also enhances colours!

 

About the location: A scenic café in the mountains
The 174 Wing Knights Inn Café is a refurbished farmhouse turned café located along City Highway 174 in the Siraya National Scenic Area. It is best known for its 12 metre-long glass walkway that has become a popular photography spot. You will need to spend at least NTD 100 at the cafe to access the bridge, around the price of a cup of coffee. Travel tip: It’s near the Dongshan area, which is famous for scenery and coffee plantations.

 

6. Houtanjing Sky Bridge, Nantou County

EOS R6 + EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM (with mount adapter) @ 113mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 400


Telephoto leading lines

“Leading lines = use wide angle lens” isn’t always true—it really depends on the scene and what you want to achieve. This suspension bridge is around 204 metres long, so I used a telephoto lens to pull in the background, compress the scene, and bring out the symmetry. On a wider lens, the scenery would have looked small and less impressive.

Also see: Creating a Captivating Scene with Telephoto Leading Lines

Tip: This is a popular tourist spot famous for its sunset view. If you want to catch the bridge while it is empty, go early in the morning at the start of its opening hours (8.30am to 5.30pm, correct as of August 2022).

 

About the location:  An area with stunning panoramic views; also great for hikes
The Houtanjing Sky Bridge is located in the Houtanjing Recreation Area. It is 204 metres long with 265 steps and suspends around 150 metres from the bottom of the valley. Don’t expect to stay too long on the bridge—due to weight limitations, only 150 people are allowed on it at any time. There is a 50 NTD entrance fee.

 

7. Ci’en Pagoda, Sun Moon Lake

EOS R5 + RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM @ f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO 160


A spiralling vortex inside

This was shot from the top floor of Ci’en Pagoda. Getting up there was a huge test of physical fitness, and ideally done without carrying a tripod! Looking down, I was rewarded by the sight of this spiralling staircase vortex. It was very dim inside, but with the combined image stabilisation (Coordinated Control IS) on the EOS R5 and the RF15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM, I was able to get a clean handheld shot with a low ISO speed.

Tip: When photographers climb many flights of stairs, we’re usually looking forward to a scenic view of the outside. But don’t forget to look down from the inside—you might be pleasantly surprised!

 

About the location: 1000 metres above sea level
Built by the late President Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother, the 46 metre-tall Ci’en Pagoda is located on the 954 metre-high Shabalan Mountain and is a famous landmark of Sun Moon Lake. It provides a panoramic view of the surrounding islands and lake. There is a scenic 700 metre-long trail leading to the pagoda.

 

Allen’s tips for finding symmetry

- Vantage points: When exploring architecture, check out the view from the corners and the centre of the structure. They often give unexpected results.
- Staircases: Staircases have always been an important design element that reflects an architect’s style. If you like a building, don’t forget to explore its staircases. You will probably make some interesting discoveries.

About the Author

Allen Lo

A photographer with a passion for reflections and symmetrical architectural structures, Allen hopes to share the beauty of Taiwan with the rest of the world with his architectural portraits.

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