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Last night Julianne and I headed over to Jogye Temple to watch the evening mini-concert and to see a preview of some of the lotus lantern parade floats that were out on the street. It was awesome. I also wanted to do some night shots with my Sigma 120-400mm telephoto lens to see if it’d be a good idea to bring it tonight to the actual parade . . . based on the shots I got I think I’m going to use it a lot. Here’s an example.
The lanterns at the temple looked great.
After the mini-concert, which seemed like a kind of dress rehearsal for the parade, the performers posed with people on the street for pictures.
And then the floats were moved off into their storage locations to wait for Sunday night.
This was one of the nicest floats I saw . . .
One of the coolest, and surreal, things you’ll see is the main streets of downtown Seoul shut down for the parade.
Well, it’s time to get ready to go check out the street festival that goes on from 12 to 6pm or so today . . .
See you there . . .
Yesterday afternoon Julianne and I went for a walk in the Jongno area of Seoul. We headed down to Cheonggye stream because I wanted to see if I could spot some cranes and take pictures of them with my Sigma 120-400mm lens. I’ve been trying to get a good shot of these birds for years and now that I have a telephoto lens I think I have a good chance of finally getting some good pictures of them.
When we got to the stream we saw one section had these mist fountain things and there were tons of people taking their picture with the mist in the background. Unfortunately there were no cranes to be seen anywhere . . . I think I’ll have to make a trip into the more rural areas to get my shot.
After taking a few shots with my Sigma 120-400mm I changed lenses and put on my Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens because Julianne and I were heading towards Jogye Temple. I also put on my Speedlite 580EXII flash. I’ve been trying to practice takings shots more with the flash in daylight conditions. I really like how the colors are so vibrant in the pictures I took of paper lanterns sitting in front of the shops leading up to the temple.
Julianne really wants to make a paper lantern at the Lotus lantern street festival this year. You can also buy them ready made at the shops near the temple. (Oh yeah, you gotta love the ajumma hiking crew, lol.)
Julianne thought this lantern was very cute . . .
Arriving at the main gate of Jogye Temple we could see that nearly all the lanterns had been hung.
I always try to go to the temple and get my lantern shots with blue sky before the actual festival because the temple grounds are packed with people once the festival begins.
Each year they do a different pattern picture with the lanterns . . .
Here are the guys putting up the last few strings . . .
I love the very old gigantic tree that sits in the courtyard of the temple.
This area right in front of the main temple building, with the giant tree, is absolutely stunning at night.
Further at the back of the temple grounds you can see white lanterns too.
There’s also this cool pagoda just across the courtyard.
And the ginormous awesome tree . . .
The temple itself has some really nice murals and the color patterns are neat too.
I can’t wait for the street festival to begin, and in particular the lantern parade which is on Sunday May 16th. Click on this link, 2010 Lotus Lantern Festival and Parade, to find out out more info.
Back in 2006 I went to my first Buddha’s birthday lotus lantern parade in Seoul. Tonight I was looking through pictures I took back then using a Pentax point and shoot camera–wow. I’m VERY excited about the upcoming 2010 Lotus Lantern Festival and Parade (May 14-23, and the parade is on Sunday May 16th), and can’t wait to take more pictures.
One of my favorite pictures from 2006 is the fire breathing dragons . . .
At this point in time I had no idea about things like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field . . . all I knew was that I pressed the button on my camera when I wanted to take a picture, and that taking pictures at night was difficult, lol.
The dragons were not really moving all that fast but in terms of trying to get good shots they were there and gone in almost no time . . .
I really can’t wait for the festival and parade!
The 2010 Lotus Lantern Festival and Parade that celebrates the Buddha’s birthday is coming soon (May 14-23, and the parade is on Sunday May 16th), and I dropped by Jogye Temple last week to see if the lanterns were up . . . about 40% of the lanterns are done, and I can’t wait for the parade again this year. This is a shot of the main gate of Jogye Temple which is just 3 blocks or so from Jonggak Station in the center of Seoul.
The lanterns by the gate were lit, but the others weren’t yet.
I tried using my Speedlite 580EXII flash to take a shot of the lanterns not yet turned on . . . I haven’t tried flash photography with anything this big at night yet, and had to play with the settings a bit.
If you like taking pictures and have never visited Jogye Temple I highly recommend you check out the festival and parade. It’s AWESOME! The shot below is of the lanterns that have not yet been turned on, and on the left you can see the main temple building.
Here are two posts from last year . . .
I can’t wait to go again this year. Julianne wants to make her own paper lantern at the festival during the day which should be fun to take pics of while she’s making it, and the parade is probably one of my top 10 things to see and do in Seoul. Some people say they can’t go because they have to work on Monday morning but I would say it’s worth it to go to the parade and then sleep a few hours in a jimjilbang or cheap hotel and jump on an early bus or train home Monday morning–it’s that good!
date and time
|Traditional Lantern Exhibition||April 24 (Fri) –May 5 (Wed), 2010||Bongeunsa Temple in Samseong-dong|
|Ground of Fraternization
|April 26, 2010 (Sun) 1:00pm||Jangchung Gymnasium|
|Festival Evening Celebrations (Yeondeungnori)||April 25, 2010 (Sat) 7:00pm-9:00pm||From Insa-dong to the main street in front of Jogyesa Temple|
|Buddhist Culture Street Fair
(Bulgyo Munhwa Hanmadang)
|April 26, 2010 (Sun) 12:00pm-7:00pm||The main street in front of Jogyesa Temple|
|Ground of Harmony
|April 26, 2010 (Sun) 4:30pm-6:00pm||The sports ground at Dongguk University|
|Buddhist Lantern Parade||April 26, 2010 (Sun) 7:00pm-9:30pm||Jongno Street (from Dongdaemun to Jogyesa Temple)|
|Ground of Unity and Hope (Daedong Hanmadang)||April 26, 2010 (Sun) 9:30pm-11:00pm||Jonggak Intersection|
|Buddha’s Birthday Celebration and Lantern Lighting||May 2, 2010 (Sat) 10:00am
(Lantern Lighting starting at 6:00pm)
|Temples across the nation, including Jogyesa Temple|
Yesterday afternoon I returned with a friend to the 2010 Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (also see here for info) and the 2km lane way that runs around the National Assembly Building. Click here to see part 1 of this two part post. By this point in the afternoon about half the sky was blue, and the sun had come out . . .
I was really happy that the cloudy sky was disappearing, and had a great time taking pictures.
I noticed this little group of blossoms seemingly growing out of the tree’s bark . . . the contrasting light and dark are awesome.
At this point I decided to try using my Speedlite 580EXII flash to get some portrait shots with the sunlight coming almost directly behind me. I set up my camera and then asked Julianne (she had joined my friend and I by this point) to take the shot.
I then had fun taking pictures of Julianne with cherry blossoms in the background. This was tricky to do, however, with a nearly constant stream of people walking down the sidewalk, but most would pause for 10 seconds and let me take the shot.
At this point my friend decided to become the ‘photo shoot director’ and told Julianne to look up and pretend to think about something, lol. I like it!
In the previous two pictures I was using f/5.0 on my Sigma 18-200mm lens. For this next shot I put it on all depth and I really like that Julianne and the cherry blossoms are in focus.
We finished walking the 2km lane way and then headed towards the other side of Yeouido Park (it’s about 4 or 5 blocks away from the lane way) to find a restaurant for dinner. I showed Julianne and my friend the giant fish that is one block away from Yeouido Park–they really liked it.
After snapping a few shots of the giant fish we headed to a restaurant for dinner.
I highly recommend checking out the cherry blossoms that line the 2km lane way around the National Assembly Building. While I know there are other parts of Seoul with large concentrations of cherry blossom trees, walking the 2km lane way is a unique experience where you can not only see the beautiful cherry blossoms in large numbers, you can also see thousands of Koreans of all ages enjoying the spring weather and blossoms in their own unique cultural behaviors (for example, the different picture postures).
Well, time to get ready to go out again today (Sunday) and take more pictures. The forecast again calls for cloudy skies all day . . . but I’m hoping for sunshine and some blue sky here and there.
Yesterday afternoon I returned with a friend to the 2010 Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (also see here for info) and the 2km lane way that runs around the National Assembly Building. We took a taxi to the area but got out about 8 blocks away from the actual 2km lane way because traffic was moving really slowly. We then started walking down the sidewalk that runs parallel to the river. There are quite a few cherry blossom trees here too . . . fortunately the crowds weren’t too bad yet.
My friend noticed this kite and I got this shot–not an easy one to get either with it moving all over the place really fast.
A few blocks later we saw this pink cherry blossom tree. I pulled out my Canon 100mm macro lens and began taking pictures. It was a little tricky cause I hadn’t brought my tripod . . . oh, and several Koreans kept wanting to get their pictures taken standing close to the blossoms on this small tree, and some would put their hands on the branches which would then shake the tree. With no tripod, Koreans shaking the tree, and wind off the river I’m surprised I was able to get a few nice pictures, lol.
We finally arrived at the beginning of the 2km lane way–and it was PACKED! I was really glad I’d come this past Thursday afternoon to do macro shots with my tripod because if I’d wanted to try that with so many people around it would have been impossible. One of the favorite poses Koreans have at the flower festival is to crouch down and put their faces next to the flowers . . . as you can see below. If I’d been trying to do macro shots with this many people all wanting to do that at the same time I’d have been bumped around a lot. You can see my Thursday pics here.
We began walking down the lane way and I noticed these little banners . . . one of them was in English and it says, “North + South Korea PEACE.”
Later we came across some street performers doing their act. My friend tried to get closer to see but the ring of people around the performance was probably 10 deep, and she was too short and unable to see . . . I held up my camera and snapped a few pics over the heads. The crowd seemed to like what these guys were doing, and laughed and cheered for them several times for the brief minute I watched–but I was there to take pictures of the blossoms and moved on.
We then saw this monk asking for alms, well, he wasn’t asking for them but I know that the monks do this sort of ritual when they’re trying to get donations . . .
Suddenly, a blinding yellow light appeared, and exuberant university students posed for my camera, lol. I then offered my email so they could get a copy of the picture, and they were all slightly amazed and nervous to have a small conversation with a native speaker of English on the street. Normally, I try to avoid this kind of situation when I’m out on the street because it feels just a bit too much like teaching English when I’m on my free time–but these guys were funny and had a great energy so I didn’t mind.
A few minutes later this guy walks over to the sidewalk where my friend and I were sitting and taking a rest. The area we were in didn’t have as much crowding, but this guy banged on a drum a few times, yelled something in Korean, and then climbed up onto a tall box and began performing; a large crow appeared in less than a minute to watch him and we had to stand up and get out of the way, lol.
Up till this point the sky had been very cloudy and the lighting generally dismal–and then the sun appeared and patches of blue sky began peeking through, yay!
This is one of the bigger cherry blossom trees on the lane way . . .
Some of the trees seemed to be more fluffy and white than the others. This tree in particular really impressed my friend.
With the sun out and some blue sky I decided it was time to try and get a shot of the trees lining the lane way to give people outside of Korea a sense of just how many trees there are–oh yeah, and the crowds too.
Here are more shots of the fluffier looking trees . . .
I don’t know what this guy’s job was, but you have to love the hat!
Look for more pictures in part 2 of this post . . .
Yesterday I went to the 2010 Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (also see here for info) and took pictures along the 2km lane way that runs around the National Assembly Building. Arriving in the area I began taking pictures right away with my Sigma 10-20mm lens . . . I couldn’t believe that the sky was a nice clear blue! Awesome . . .
I made sure to visit some of the bigger cherry blossom trees (I’ve been to the festival now 5 times so I know the area fairly well).
After that I pulled out a tripod and mounted my Canon 400D on it, and then changed lenses putting on my Canon 100mm macro lens. There was some cold damage to the flowers sitting in massive pots at the start of the lane way, but they still looked nice to me.
This is Julianne’s favorite . . .
I really like the contrasts between the yellow and orange-red with the green bokeh background here.
This is another of my favorites because while the background blur is still fairly strong it’s just weak enough to see the light and shadow lines on the green leaves . . .
I was able to use my tripod and get these macro shots without much trouble because there weren’t many people at the festival Thursday afternoon . . . if you’re going on the weekend you might have a ‘little’ trouble, lol.
If you want to see what the crowds are like take a glance at past posts I’ve done on the cherry blossoms . . . in the 2006 pictures you can see what it looks like when the cherry blossom petals are falling off the trees, and the both posts give a sense of how insane the crowds are.
After I finished taking my macro shots I switched lenses and put on my Sigma 100-400mm telephoto lens. I brought this lens because I remembered trying to get pictures of blossoms that were just out of range in the past. With this lens I was able to shoot any part of the tree that had blossoms I liked . . . and it also has some nice background blur too.
Like I said, the trees are about 70% in bloom . . . I can’t wait how much bigger the blossoms are after 48 hours. I’m going again tomorrow.
This little guy caught my attention . . . love the pink and purple dye job! Lol . . .
More blossoms . . .
I noticed a fair number of two-seater bicycles roaming around . . . I hope they ban bikes in general on the weekend–if they don’t I could see that making for some really bad person vs bike collisions.
Here are a few more shots of the blossoms . . .
Spring flowers and young love . . . I imagine the flower festival must be a popular dating event to go to for Koreans.
Time to go prep my camera gear for tomorrow. If you see a shaved head Canadian walking around taking pictures it’s more than likely me, lol. Julianne will be joining me later on in the afternoon cause she’s taking photography classes with Michael Hurt from Scribblings of the Metropolitician and Feetman Seoul. Check out his blogs, and specifically the posts about his classes here, and if you’re interested you can see a description of the beginner level classes here.
I really hope there are blue skies and sunshine all day tomorrow!
Click here to see my ‘flower macro set‘ at flickr.
Yesterday I went to Yeouido and the 2km lane way that runs around the National Assembly Building to take pictures of the cherry blossoms and check out the Yeouido Flower Festival. The cherry blossom trees line the entire 2km lane way . . . I took this picture using my Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens.
It seemed like the trees were about 70% in bloom so I think this weekend will be the peak time for going to take pictures. The forecast for early next week doesn’t look good for taking pictures and walking around the area so if you want to see the trees while they’re very white and fluffy I think this Saturday and Sunday are going to be the best times to go. That being said if you can’t make it till the end of next week or next weekend don’t be afraid to go because it’s also fun to take pictures when all the petals are falling out of the trees is massive showers and bursts of color–that can be a great time for pictures too.
In the next two pictures I used my Sigma 100-400mm telephoto lens. I really like the background blur it produces in the first shot.
Some of the trees seemed to be in full bloom, and I think this is one of my favorite shots from yesterday.
The official website says to go to the two subway stations listed below, but Julianne and I walked to the National Assembly Station to go home (click this link to find an interactive subway map (then click on the map itself)), and it’s only about a 5 minute walk from the beginning of the 2km lane way–the other stations are a bit of walk away from the lane way . . . if you do arrive at those stations you can expect to see quite a few cherry blossom trees while walking to the National Assembly Building . . . just don’t be surprised about the walk.
Julianne and I are going to go again tomorrow afternoon. I’m dreading the MASSIVE CROWDS that will be there, but it’s worth it to see the trees in full bloom.
|① Get off at the Yeouinaru Station of subway line 5→Take exit 1 and walk towards the LG Twin Towers
② Get off at Yeouido Station of subway line 5 →Take exit 2 and walk towards the front gate of the National Assembly building
After the final match was finished at the Snow Jam event I began to walk home . . . and came across a Flugun Gate . . .
Since I’ve never seen one before I did a Google search for “flugun gate” and came across taryn’s korea adventure blog posting, Incheon Global Fair & Festival. She writes about how she had to wait “in line first to be spritzed with hand sanitizer, and then to pass through the so-called “Flugun” gates where a machine doused us in some kind of germ-fighting mist.”
Another blogger, With Backpack, also went to the Incheon Global Fair and writes,
“Along with the hundreds of hand sanitizer machines, there are also many “fluguns” installed where crowds are expected. This is a device that is suppose to kill flu germs, I think. I doubt that it works, since after being “flugunned” about three times in Songdo I had a cold the next day.”
Another day in Korea blogger writes, “It’s misty and apparently kills the flu.” And Annyeong! writes, “Of course, before entering we had to walk through the Flugun Gate, just in case we were carrying H1N1. The swine flu scare is getting ridiculous – so many festivals have been cancelled because people are scared to gather in large groups because of the flu.”
After doing several different searches on Google for about 20 minutes I finally gave up on finding an expert source defining what a “Flugun Gate” is and whether research has been done that proves there’s any degree of effectiveness in H1N1 prevention . . .
I suspect the gate is more for a public display of ‘Look! We care about you and we’re doing something about H1N1″ than anything to do with a medically sound preventative measure.
Did anyone see people, or families, using the gate? Did you go through the gate?
And if you happen across a website with info about the gates could you please post the link here?
This past Sunday afternoon Julianne and I headed back to Snow Jam for the afternoon qualifying match, which was scheduled to run from 1-5pm, and then we planned to hang out for an hour till the final match that would happen from 6-7pm.
We got to the snow ramp at about 3:45pm and I snapped a few pictures of the scaffolding with my Canon D400 and Sigma 10-22mm lens . . .
I think the white bags here are the ice or snow or ? that the workers used to feed the snow blower up on the ramp.
When we walked to a spot where we could see the ramp there was nothing going on . . . I’m not sure if the afternoon match finished early but . . . yeah . . . arriving at 4pm, 2 hours before the final match starting time (6pm), actually proved to be a bonus in disguise because I was able to get a good spot inside a barricaded area just across from the ramp. If we’d arrived at even 5pm we would not have been standing at the edge of the street. Even so, it was FREAKING COLD and standing in one spot for 2 hours was not exactly the most fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. The only thing that kept me motivated to ignore the cold was that I was pumped about it being my first time taking pictures at an international sport event!
Waiting for 2 hours was worth cause Monday morning when I went through the 500 shots I took during the final match on Sunday night I found a fair number of good shots. Julianne then helped me select the 35 pictures I’ve uploaded here.
Last night while I was writing this post I noticed that The Marmot’s Hole has a link to Hermit Hideaway’s Korean Photography Blog and the Hermit’s post called Snow Jam Highlights. The Hermit has mad photography skills and if you’ve never taken a look at his site check it out.
From Hermit Hideaway’s Korean Photography Blog, Snow Jam
“drew an impressive crowd of 260,000 spectators, including 45,000 foreigners, to the center of the city over the weekend. A total of twenty-nine snowboarders from ten countries competed in the tournament. Switzerland’s Gian-Luca Cavigelli took first place, with Austria’s Stefan Gimpl and Finland’s Markku Koski finishing in second and third, respectively. The three-day event won considerable praise, with 92% of respondents (from a survey of 650) citing Snow Jam significantly helped raise awareness of Seoul to the rest of the world.
But all figures aside, the fact that a 34-meter ramp was set up right downtown along the newly revamped Gwangwhamun Plaza was reason alone to celebrate.”
The Hermit also posted a link where you can see pictures by a photographer named Oliver Kraus (who also has mad skills I might add) here, LG Snowboard FIS World Cup BA Seoul.
When I look at The Marmot’s Hole, The Hermit, and Oliver Kraus’ photographs I imagine myself doing this if I ever met one of them,
Anyways, back to Sunday afternoon and standing in the freezing cold . . . after realizing Julianne and I had a two hour wait where we’d have to stand in the same spot if we wanted a good location from which to take pictures I began killing time by shooting the crew prepping the snow ramp. Oh, and I put my Sigma 18-200mm lens on my camera.
Here you can see the crane lifting up the white sacks of ice/snow to feed the snow blower.
The photographer on my right was an elderly woman. I thought it was totally awesome that she was out in the cold with her camera and she stood waiting for 2 hours along with Julianne and I and about 15 other people.
I think the photographer in this picture might be Oliver Kraus. He had full access to every part of the snow ramp and I could see him taking pictures of the snowboarders, etc.
Since I’ve never been to a snowboarding event it was kind of interesting to watch the crew prepping the snow and evening out the snow on the landing area.
Around 5pm I hear someone setting up a tripod behind me and turn to see the MOTHER OF ALL LENSES looming behind me!!!
Around 5:40 the snowboarders began to do practice runs . . . and I started taking pics.
About five minutes into the practice run this ajumma shoves Julianne and some other Koreans aside to push her way up to the front. Needless to say Julianne and I were NOT impressed . . .
I played around with my shutter speed and ended up selecting 1/250 with an ISO of 1600. I wanted to use 1/500 or 1/1000 shutter speed but I was about 100 feet from the snow ramp and lighting so the shots I tried at those speeds were too dark.
Julianne and I were standing about 100 feet from the snow ramp. While I’m very happy with my Sigma 18-200mm lens the distance, lighting conditions, and snowboarders flying at high speeds through the air were right at the performance edge of my lens’ capabilities. That being said, I think I got some decent shots.
How do you make a crowd of about 100 photographers all yell simultaneously? Drive a bus through their line of sight while the subject is doing a kick ass aerial maneuver! This happened about 8 or 9 times, maybe more, during the final match.
The Hermit has a killer fish-eye shot of what the snowboarder sees when looking down from the top of the snowramp–check it out at his post, Snow Jam Highlights.
Me on the other hand, well I got a decent shot from the spectator’s point of view looking up at the starting point.
After some hard landings the crew had to go out and fix up some patches on the ramp.
I was really impressed with how fast and professional there were.
And then the match continued . . .
One thing I thought about while shooting was that I wished the lighting had been aimed higher up in the air cause the snowboarders highest point in the air was not quite in the lighting. This meant that many of the shots I got of the snowboarders doing their aerobatics were too dark or blurred. I don’t know if the guys around with me with the insanely priced telephoto pro lenses were able to overcome this challenge with their higher performance lenses . . . I wonder if they were.
And then came perhaps the best wipe out of the final match . . .
I began to notice that depending on the line the guys took down the snow ramp they’d enter the lit airspace in ways that allowed me to get good shots–so maybe the lights were focused on a limited area high up in the air and the lines the guys were taking down the ramp and through the air were outside the lit space . . . I donno.
On facebook yesterday, while editing my pictures, I kept posting a pic here and there and writing “DUDE!” Why is it that snowboarding brings out the ‘dude’ expressions? LOL!
Near the end of the final match I took one more shot of the uber lens of all telephoto lenses . . . oh baby!
The snow ramp crew lines up for a final trip down the ramp after the final match wrapped up. These guys did an awesome job.
After standing in the cold and wind for nearly three and a half hours I was ready to go home. Julianne had had to leave earlier as she lacks my Canadian DNA which combined with eating pancakes with maple syrup provides me with a natural defense against the cold and H1N1 (if you live and teach in Korea you’ll catch the irony here, if you don’t do a Google search about kimchi and illnesses and see what comes up–wink!)
On my way out of the area I walked past the Food Zone . . . I don’t know what they were serving but they had massive line ups.
To give you an idea of how big Ganghwamun Plaza is you can see the snow ramp in the background of this shot. It’s going to be interesting to see what other major festivals, events, and what not take place here now–and it’s totally awesome that I can walk to the plaza from my apartment in about 25 minutes!
I really enjoyed the Snow Jam event and hope that Seoul continues to organize more things like it.
As I walked down the street towards Kyobo bookstore I saw this elderly woman sitting on the freezing cold ground cooking snacks she was selling to passersby. I thought about how I’d been complaining I was cold while taking pictures of a sport event with my expensive camera. I thought about how I was warm enough with my Northface Goretex winter hat, thick Thinsulate gloves, and winter coat . . . and realized that I needed a reality check.
If you’re out and about at events around Seoul and see elderly women selling snacks buy something from them. Even if you don’t eat it yourself don’t worry about that–give it to one of the homeless you see near the subway stations. This way you’ll be doing two acts of compassion for one small price.
You can see more pics and blogging about the 2009 Seoul Snow Jam ……
This blog has pics from another location near the plaza where a second snow ramp had been set up at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts.
This blog has some awesome sketches of the main snow ramp event.
This blog has a cool little 30 second video taken close to the base of the snow ramp.
Some very nice pictures here and the bloggers says more will come later.
A personal snapshot about attending the event.
A new blog I haven’t seen before that has several videos linked to youtube of each snowboarder’s jump–I left a note asking the blogger to fix the embedded video links cause they weren’t working when I tried to watch them. That being said his blog is interesting and worth a look.
An excellent write up about Saturday night’s Big Air and the crowded conditions and cultural differences in crowds.
A series of photos (sans text) showing one person’s experience at the event.
A guy who had a ‘blue pass’ and access to the snow ramp itself writes a bit about his experiences.