Buddha's Birthday 2014

I'm rarely handed a photo opportunity so easy as Buddha's Birthday.  Every temple in the country is covered in multi-colored lanterns, lit as if to blot out the moon, and with the rhythmic chanting of monks and banging of drums, filled with a serenity that can't help but seep into whatever photographs I might come away with.  Last year we took a road trip and ended up at Haeinsa Temple, a secluded country temple in the middle of nowhere.  This year, after a weekend that included something like fourteen hours of softball, we decided to stay local.  Down the hill from E-Mart, tucked behind the neighborhood elementary school, stands a temple taller, wider, and more imposing than any other I've seen in Korea.  Nearly square, adorned with the wing-tipped corners of most Korean temples, this one hides a community center on the inside, and a hidden garden in the back.  Fifty weeks a year it's a colorful building that stands out against the otherwise brown and grey fabric of our neighborhood.  For the two weeks around Buddha's Birthday, it becomes even more inspiring, even more exotic, even more worth a visit.  Lanterns strung and lit, the facade shines, lighting up the entire corner of the neighborhood the temple occupies.  If you find yourself in Pohang in May, it's definitely worth a trip.

Temple Pohang
The sensor in my camera's dirty, I didn't have my tripod, but I managed this.  By setting my camera down on the ground, propping it up on my external flash, shooting a ten second exposure, and making sure nobody hit the camera with a car.  One of my favorite's of the night.

Temple Pohang
Before the sunset, it's still something worth seeing, especially with the warm light we've been having the last couple of weeks.


Temple Pohang
From the years I've been in Korea I have hundreds of photos of these lanterns, and yet whenever I see them, I take a few more.  There's some platonic form of 'Buddha Lantern Photo' that I'm searching for that I just can't find.
Temple Pohang
Behind the temple sits this statue.  It's a quiet, beautiful spot where I assume people stop to reflect, though I never see them doing so.


Temple Pohang
For the first time in three years, our local neighborhood temple had floats, like this one.  A mechanical lotus flower rose and fell, covering and revealing the seated Buddha.


Temple Pohang
Another one of the floats.  Buddha riding an elephant.


Temples Pohang
This dragon was the highlight of everybody's night as it had been rigged up to blow fire and breathe smoke.  Yes, someone figured out how to put a torch inside a giant paper dragon and not burn the whole neighborhood down.


Temple Pohang


Temple Pohang
This temple is not a country temple and that meant there were a lot of people walking around checking things out.  This little girl was fascinated with Sara.  Following her around and saying hello and asking "What's your name?" and the usual stuff.

Temple Pohang
The big temple down the street is one of a couple in the neighborhood.  I found this one as I followed the sound of chanting and drum banging through a bamboo forest.  I crept back over after the festivities were finished and set up this ten second exposure.  The color's in this one might be my favorite for the whole night.

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