Friday, August 21, 2015

Photography lessons from Korean dramas (Empress Ki, The King’s Doctor, The Moon that Embraces the Sun, Yi San, Queen Seondok, Sungkyungkwan Scandal, Queen Inhyeon’s Man, Jejoongwon, Jumong, Dong Yi, A Jewel in the Palace)

I love Korean historical dramas (“sageuk”), and so I thought it would be fun and informative to review with you the photography lessons I have discussed in this blog by using screen grabs from my favorite Koreanovelas. (Jump to The King’s Doctor; The Moon that Embraces the Sun; Yi San; Queen Seondok; Sungkyungkwan Scandal; Queen Inhyeon’s Man; Jejoongwon; Jumong;Dong Yi; A Jewel in the Palace)

Empress Ki





Lessons: natural frame, symmetry, rule of thirds. Note: This scene from Episode 4, if I remember correctly, foreshadows SeungNyang’s series-long conflict in choosing between Wang Yu and Togon, between Koryo and Yuan.



Lessons: natural frame, diagonal line, line of direction



Lessons: natural frame, selective or differential focusing, shallow depth of field, center the dominant eye





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing. Note: This scene shows Empress Ki leaving after confronting Wang Yu; in the background, Bang, the faithful eunuch, is torn about revealing that Maha is Empress Ki’s son.



Lessons: sidelighting, out of focus highlights



Lesson: sidelighting



Lesson: background blur, shallow depth of field. Note: In this scene, Empress Tanasiri is about to be hanged; she looks back at Wang Yu after telling him not to witness her execution.



Lesson: high angle shot



Lesson: natural frame in the foreground



Lesson: natural frame in the foreground



Lesson: low angle shot. Note: In this scene (Episode 50, I think), Tangqishi reveals to Togon that Maha is Empress Ki and Wang Yu’s son.



Lesson: natural frame in the background



Lessons: low angle shot, diagonal lines. Note: SeungNyang finds Prince Togon hiding in a box; Episode3 or 4, I think.


“The King’s Doctor”



Lesson: natural frame









“The King’s Doctor” and the full moon


In photography, we speak of shooting pictures using available light, ambient light, or existing light, which means not using any kind of flash. I don’t know how this drama’s cinematographers did it (CGI? elaborate studio set lighting?), but as you can see from the screen captures below, they managed to get some beautifully-shot scenes with the full moon. The shadows fall in the right directions, and no artificial light sources can be seen.













Silhouette





Selective or differential focusing





High angle shot, diagonal lines



Linear perspective



Rule of thirds





The Moon that Embraces the Sun





Lesson: How many reflections can you see in this picture?



Lesson: rim lighting



Lessons: low angle shot, diagonal lines



Lessons: low angle shot, shooting fireworks



Lessons: low angle shot, keystoning, rule of thirds



Lessons: low angle shot, natural frames





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing


Jejoongwon





Lesson: blue is a cool color, emotional content of certain colors. Note: In this scene, Seok-ran, played by Han Hye Jin, waits for Dr. Allen to arrive, Episode 3 or 4, I think.



Lesson: low angle shot, hidden geometric patterns in composition. Note: This scene is from Episode 20 or 21, I think, where Hwang-jung is forced to leave his medical studies.



Lesson: how many natural frames can you see in this picture? Note: In this scene from Episode 17, I think, Seok-ran finally realizes that she loves Hwang-jung. (In Episode 16, she received a blood transfusion from Hwang-jung.)



Lesson: reflection


Queen Inhyeon’s Man





Lessons: low angle shot, keystoning, natural frame. Note: Queen Inhyeon’s Man is not strictly a sageuk; it's a time-travel drama.



Lessons: natural frame, emotional content of colors, red is a dominant color



Lesson: reflections


Queen Seondok





Lessons: natural frame, linear perspective, rule of thirds



Lesson: rule of thirds


Sungkyungkwan Scandal





Lessons: high angle shot, linear perspective. Note: This shot looks weird because of the unusual depth of field.





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing, rule of thirds


Yi San





Lessons: triangular composition, aerial perspective. Note: This scene is from Episode 2, I think, when Song-yeon and Dae-su help Prince Yi San escape from the palace to see his grandfather, King Yeongjo.



Lessons: out of focus image as natural frame, low angle shot, rule of thirds, diagonal line. Note: In Episodes 7 and 8, Song-yeon, as a “damo” (slave-assistant) at the Bureau of Painting, gets the opportunity to enter the Palace. She finally meets Crown Prince Yi San after eight years, but Yi San doesn’t recognize her.



Lesson: linear perspective, rule of thirds, diagonal line. Note: Dae-su finds out that Song-yeon is about to be appointed as Royal Concubine.



Lessons: creating depth through overlapping forms or objects, line of direction. Note: Song-yeon, now a Royal Concubine, impresses the Queen Mother, the Queen, and the noble ladies with her knowledge of the Silk Ceremony.



Lesson: natural frame. Note: Song-yeon mourns her child who died of measles.



Lesson: shallow depth of field. Note: Yi San, now the King, confronts his lifelong nemesis.


Jumong




Lessons: selective or differential focusing, shallow depth of field, compressed or stacked perspective. Note: In this heartbreaking scene from Episode 40, Sosuhno says goodbye to Jumong. Thinking that Jumong had been killed in battle (Episode 33), Sosuhno married her bodyguard to escape Prince Daeso’s harassment.





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing, compressed or stacked perspective. Note: In this scene from Episode 73, Jumong asks Sosuhno to marry him in order to preserve Koguryo’s unity.

Dong Yi





Lessons: color wheel, color temperature, harmonious colors, cool colors. Note: This scene from Episode 38, I think, shows Queen Inhyeon arriving in the palace; she was reinstated to her position because of Dong Yi’s sacrifices.





Lessons: themes in photo essays, reflection. Note: The first picture above shows the young Dong Yi in Episode 2, while the second picture shows Dong Yi as a new Lady Investigator in Episode 12.



Lesson: linear perspective



Lessons: patterns, line of direction, conveying depth through overlapping objects









Lesson: in these four pictures, a natural frame is created as the camera moves to the right. Note: This scene from Episode 20 shows Queen Inhyeon right after she has been deposed.





Lessons: natural frame (partial), diagonal lines



Lesson: natural frame using out of focus highlights





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing



Lessons: rule of thirds, silhouette, aerial perspective



Lessons: natural frame, symmetry


A Jewel in the Palace



Okay, now you try it. What lessons in photography can you see in the pictures below?

(Known to Filipinos simply as “Jang Geum,” this highly-popular drama started the Korean Wave back in 2004. It has been broadcast in more than 90 countries and has earned more than 100 million US dollars. Its lead star, Lee Young Ae, is currently filming another historical drama titled “Saimdang” and scheduled to be aired before September 2016. Yes! Yes! Yes!)





























































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