24 hours in Seoul: 10 Captivating Photos Shot with the EOS R
A lot can happen in 24 hours, especially in a fast-paced city such as Seoul. Follow photographer Joseph Mak as he spends a day capturing life in this bustling capital with the EOS R, Canon’s latest full-frame mirrorless camera.
6am: Kwangjang Market
My day starts early with a visit to Gwangjang Traditional Market, one of the oldest traditional markets in Seoul and the place for authentic Korean street food. Walking through the market, I notice store owners are already busy setting up shop for the day. I use ISO 8,000 and f/9 aperture to ensure the subject is in focus with 1/320 second shutter speed to capture the owners busy at work.
As a photographer, it helps to blend in with the crowd when you’re shooting. With the EOS R’s Silent Shutter function, I am able to photograph locals getting their groceries without distracting them with my camera. Plus, the Vari-angle touchscreen LCD allows me to compose and shoot at different angles perspectives easily.
EOS R, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/9, 35mm, 1/320sec, ISO8,000
9am: Cheonggyecheon Stream
After a traditional breakfast at the market, I take a leisurely stroll at Cheonggyecheon Stream, which used to be a neglected waterway obscured by an overpass. Today, this natural haven flows through the heart of Seoul and is where locals exercise or simply relax at the bank of the stream.
When shooting landscape photos, the aperture is my go-to setting to ensure the right focus. With a customisable control ring on the Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, it’s now easier to adjust the aperture setting – a quick twist of the front dial ring on the lens while I maintain focus on my subject.
EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/11, 31mm, 1/250sec, ISO500
10am: Bukchon Hanok Village
My walk leads me to Bukchon Hanok Village, home to hundreds of traditional houses called hanok. It feels like I’ve time-travelled to the Joseon Dynasty when such architecture was more common. Today, these hanok serve as cultural centres, guesthouses and restaurants for tourists to immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.
EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 58mm, 1/80sec, ISO160
11.30am: National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
From the ‘past’, I travel to the ‘present’ with a visit to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. With a special focus on contemporary Korean artists, the museum aims to advance Korean art through collaborations with international institutions. It also features Korea’s traditional architectural concept of madang (yard), which combines the exterior and interior of the building to the surrounding environment.
EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 58mm, 1/80sec, ISO160
Installation by contemporary Korean artist Choijeonghwa
1pm: Gyeongbokgung Palace
Thanks to the camera’s ergonomically-designed body, I still get a good grip on it after shooting for five hours. I continue my exploration of Seoul’s old and new with a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Built in 1395, this is the original palace and remains the largest of all five palaces and most beautiful. I arrive just in time for the Gwanghwamun Gate Guard Duty Ceremony at 1pm and manage to snag a decent spot at the gate to get my shots. Tip: Stay on to observe the Gatekeeper Military Training at 1.30 pm and Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony at 2pm.
EOS R, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/18, 35mm, 1/250sec, ISO250
I love how the touchscreen function on EOS R’s Vari-angle LCD monitor allows me to focus on the guards and track their movement. With the live tracking autofocus, my photos of the guards are constantly in focus. And with up to 5,655 selectable AF positions, the camera gives me the freedom to focus on any part of the frame. 1/250 second shutter speed helps me lock and capture the action, while f/16 aperture enables enough depth of field from the guards to the gate.
Find out more about the EOS R’s focusing performance and functionality in 8 EOS R Focusing Features We Can’t Wait to Try.
EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/16, 35mm, 1/250sec, ISO250
3pm: Deoksugung Palace
With its elegant stone-wall road, Deoksugung Palace is where tradition and modernity meet. Situated at the intersection of Seoul's busiest downtown, it’s the only palace in Korea that features a beautiful mix of Korean and Western styles and lends a unique character to the surrounding scenery.
A highlight of my visit is the Changing of the Royal Guards ceremony. Taking place three times daily (11am, 2pm and 3.30pm) in front of Daehanmun Gate, it’s a tradition much like the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Seeing the guards in their brilliant costumes and playing traditional musical instruments is a feast for the senses.
To avoid missing out on the action, I use the camera’s new FV (flexible AE) exposure mode to change my exposure settings like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO between AUTO and direct adjustment in a single mode. This allows me to change my settings even while looking through the viewfinder, without having to use the mode dial or LCD screen. Using 1/100 second shutter speed, I’m able to capture the moment the guard beats the drum.
EOS R, RF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, f/7.1, 24mm, 1/100sec, ISO100
Famished from all the exploring, a few locals suggested Myeong-dong for some Korean street food. This popular district features street food carts, major shopping malls, and is a must-visit for tourists. As I’m shooting at night, I decide to swap my Canon RF lens for the EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens using the dedicated EF-EOS R Mount Adapter. I love how the RF lens mount gives me the flexibility to use my EF and EF-S lenses. As part of the new EOS R System, this camera fits easily into my existing EOS system.
With a standard ISO sensitivity range of 100-40,000, the camera allows me to capture high image-quality photos even under low-light conditions. The latest DIGIC 8 image processor coupled with In-body 5-axis electronic image stabilisation means I’m able to shoot stable night shots without a tripod. Because of low-light conditions, I use f/1.4 to capture the ambient lights and create a bokeh effect. A shutter speed of 1/320 seconds helps me capture the couple walking hand in hand.
EOS R, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/1.4, 35mm, 1/320sec, ISO640
If shopping at Myeong-dong leaves you wanting more, I suggest a visit to the 24-hour Dongdaemun market. This market caters to wholesale buyers as seen from overseas retailers who purchase in bulk and leave with large suitcases of clothings. Tourists can shop here too, but keep in mind that trying of clothes is not permitted.
Walking around in this bustling city, I am mesmerised by its bright lights and colourful signages. With a low ISO of 100, the camera’s usable dynamic range allows me to show the contrast of the lights on the signage against the darker parts of the image.
EOS R, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/2.2, 35mm, 1/320sec, ISO100
2am: Back alleys of Myeong-dong
By the time I’m done shopping, it’s already way past midnight. Feeling peckish, I drop by the back alleys of Myeong-dong for supper before heading back to my hotel, relieved that food stalls here are open till 3am.
Seeing how the bright neon signs and street lights help to light up the area, I snap a few shots. Even under dim lighting conditions, I’m able to enjoy precise focusing with the camera’s low-light focusing limit of EV-6. Even at a high ISO speed, the image turns out sharp, full of details with vibrant colours and well-controlled noise level.
Discover how to capture night portraits using light sources in 3 Ways to Light Your Portraits when Shooting at Night.
EOS R, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, f/2, 35mm, 1/100sec, ISO1,000
Learn more about the EOS R:
Reimagine Optical Excellence with EOS R
An Interview with the Developers: Introducing Canon's First Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera, EOS R
Expand Your Range of Shooting Possibilities with the All-New RF Lenses
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Photography is not just about having the best equipment or the latest gadget. It’s about seeing things around us. Everyone has a different perspective of things, and each views the same subject matter differently. It is always very interesting to see the different perspectives recorded in photographs, and I will always try to understand what story each photographer is trying to tell from their photographs. My style of photography is to keep it simple and clean. The key element in the photo is to be able to tell a story of the scene. Photography is an art of visual storytelling, rather than snapping a photo by itself.
Every photographer ought to be respected for the work they produce, because each photograph taken by them reflects his own unique personality.