Adventure is out there!
August 27, 2010
Runaway Photo of the week: Mirror, mirror in Jeju island
August 31, 2010

This is my, our first #AstronomySunday. It was something  Giulia Cimarosti  (@giuliaccia ) suggested. Since she and I loves astronomy so much, she suggested to me to create another hash tag fun and I couldn’t agree more!

I thought about it for weeks, and here I go. My astronomical photography adventure.


Photography. It is one of my great passion. It leads me to so many different directions. Science project I did in middle school started the fire. It was about cloud and weather and how they are related to. So I took photos of cloud everyday on the roof top, and I fell in love with both. Photography and sky.

Since when I was about thirteen, I started deeply into astronomy. It was for fun rather than for study. It was fun, reading science magazines or books about universe. Science was always my thing, especially physics and earth science.

My dear friend handed me her mechanical camera when I was a freshman at high school. It made fire bigger. Since then, I concentrated to astronomical photography. It contains with long exposure photo that mechanical camera could do the best, and travel around the country to find no-light pollution sites. Hey, look!! I combined photography, astronomy and travel all together. How cool is that?

On that note, I want to tell you all about my memorable photography trip.

Reason 1. It was the coldest day in my life. I realize how can people ‘freeze to death’.

Reason 2. Photos from that day were the best pieces. Hats off.

Reason 3. I climb the second highest mountain, for just take photos!

I worked as a staff &  teacher at Ansung observatory for few years. Me and three other coworkers wanted to take some amazing star trail photos. You could say ‘why don’t you take photos at the observatory?’ well you are right. We could and we did, so many times. However that observatory was not ‘deep’ enough, so light pollution was quite bad. It was just for visitors and not for serious astronomy study purpose.

So we set a plan to go Jirisan (Mt.Jiri). The second highest mountain in the country and one of the most popular hiking places. I don’t recall how we choose that place, maybe someone did that before, I don’t know. Anyhow Jirisan is a great place for so many reasons.

It was a day before New Year’s Day. It was snowing, and of course we didn’t have any proper hiking devices because we weren’t going there for hiking, for taking photos! We have to hike to do that but that we just concentrated on ‘cold’ part, not ‘hike’ part...

4 hours train to Namwon and we headed to top from there. Our goal was to ‘Tokki bong’ not ‘Chunwang bong’. Chunwang bong is the top (1915meters) and Tokki bong is 5th higest (1538meters). We climbed to the shelter which was just below the peak. For sure, we didn’t wear neither cloths nor shoes properly, and we had at least one camera body, two lenses, loads of films and a heavy tripod. Phew… Our photo time is at night (Obviously), so we cook some dinner and take some rest till the dawn.

It was the very first time I’ve stayed at a shelter in this deep in the mountain. There was a bunk floor – more correctly. One heater in the middle of the cold, stone wall room, nothing to heat me up. Just my sleeping bag and clothes. Well, I expected to be cold, since I’m top of the mountain in the middle of cold, cold winter, so now just get to work!

We climb again to Tokki bong. Oh and Tokki means Rabbit in Korean. Tokki bong was quite perfect to take trail photos. It is open to both north and south and east and west sides are filled with beautiful small hills to other peak and pine trees. It was beautiful. Good that we got such a great place for the first try.

Long exposure photography could be frustrating. Because literally have to wait to be done all the exposure time. Hours and hours… It usually from a half an hour to two or three hours according to what you want to take.

I’ve decided to start with one and a half an hour exposure photo toward the northern star. It is a poll of the rotation of the earth, so it means the trail is shorter than the equator direction and also it means that I have to exposure longer. Oh how smart, choose the way that have to stay out longer.

Set the tripod, stuck deep into the snow, measure the balance, calculate the angle of trail, and calculate the exposure time. Connect the release, ready, set, and go!

Then what?

Just wait. Till it ends.

That is why photographers bring several cameras. Set one and one and another one. Then you can occupy yourself rather than just sit and wait.

When I took these photos, usually I set the camera and went inside and out when the time comes. But I could not do that here! Because of the openness of north and south sides, it was really windy. Winter, high ground over 1500 meters, and winter! So I had to wait and prepare in case our tripod fall down. I didn’t want to blow once in a life time chance no matter how cold I was.

My watch stopped. Magically. Yes it was that cold. Thankfully I brought a pencil, so I still had something to write. I wore the warmest glove, hat and thousand layers of clothes but I was still cold. I seriously thought ‘this is how people die over cold.’

Still, I didn’t want to blow these chances. Weather was great, and the effort! So we took a shoot after shoot. Two people gave up, couldn’t fight the cold but I stayed. It was just too good opportunity. We were out almost 5 hours. Who knows these pictures come out what we want. We had to wait to go back to Seoul, and few hours in the photo developing studio.

Well, now most of people shift to digital camera, so they can make photo more beautifuly then what they actually take, and don’t have to wait around. I also shift to digital but not for these photos. I am quite an old fashion, and can’t wait to go on another long exposure adventure. 🙂.

Check out my work from Jirisan. Are those count as success? I would say, hell yes!.



Shot of the open South. Accidentally, there’s a shooting star! What a luck! 🙂



I had to expose this longer. It was Northern star centered angle, so it’s prettier if I did more than 3 hours of exposure. Shame. Well, next time! Nonetheless this is my favorite. I have to thank the tree.



Orion’s falling. After several hours after, this is one of my best colorful trail. See, all the stars have different colors. Did you know?



Another lucky coincidence, someone was hiking with lantern when I opened my shutter. Thank you, someone! You light up my photo.


Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .


  1. Hey Juno… wow this is amazing! I love the different colors of the stars! I admit I wouldn’t know how to do that, and I hope to meet you someday and go for an astronomical photography expedition together!
    This is so beautiful. THANKS… and happy 1st #AstronomySunday! I hope Aug 29th will be a date to remember:)

    • Juno says:


      hehe It was your idea! 🙂 Happy writing this yesterday. It was my the biggest passion at one point. Still eager to take off with cameras. Films are waiting 🙂
      Yes someday we could meet some place and do some photoshoot!! To desert perhaps? 🙂
      Happy first #AstronomySunday!!

  2. Gray says:

    Wow! You are a dedicated photographer to put up with those cold conditions, but it was certainly worth it! These are amazing photos!

    • Juno says:


      Thanks Gray 🙂 It was still, the coldest night of my life, but hardly think as that. And yes it was worth it. Shame I only took few shots but consider the time I spent, totally worth it. Grateful to those few shots turn out great!

  3. LeslieTravel says:

    Great photos! I loved your article– but I’m not ready for another # day on Twitter. They are multiplying! By the time I finish #TT it’s on to #FF– and you know how confused I get 😉

  4. Laurence says:

    Great shots. I have done a number of night time long exposures on digital, but have found that you get quite a lot of sensor noise on long exposures. I found out subsequently that it is better to take multiple shorter exposures and layer them digitally. Your shots are brilliant, I love the lantern one in particular.

  5. gay travel says:

    This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love to blog. This is great everyone sharing opinions 🙂

  6. Dina says:

    Juno, this is really inspiring! I love astronomy so much too. When I was small, I wanted to be an astronaut. But then I realized it’s the science that I’m into, and my eyes and teeth are too crappy for even thinking of being an astronaut. Turned out I picked Chemistry later on, since I can do that better than physics. But, I never stop loving astronomy.
    I just recently become more into photography, and soon will switch from a pocket camera to hopefully SLR. I hope someday I can take amazing trails photos like yours!!

  7. Awesome photos! I suppose it was worth the wait for the long exposure times 🙂

    • Juno says:

      It was, it was. I really want to do another one. But I guess I’m being lazy lately! But winter is the best time to do it. So.. maybe I should pack a camera back and head to Southern land?? 🙂

  8. Audrey says:

    I really like the lantern trail lighting the last photo. It’s a nice unexpected surprise!

  9. inkmytravel says:

    hi juno…
    lovely clicks…

    shooting star trails has always been considered one of the tougher part of of the job….must say you have done it pretty well….its only going to improve from here…..congrats….

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