Meaningful Nothings

Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with words as much as images, and the idea of somehow combining the two had always been close to my heart. Also close to my heart, is my own stories; ones that plays over and over in my mind - loudly, softly, or otherwise. In short, Meaningful Nothings is a mini-series trying to combine my love for words, images, and stories (that of my own, in this case). Meaningful Nothings is also an experiment; an attempt for me to try different things in exploring my work. _DSF4469




Feel free to drop me a message/comment on thoughts!


They Who Dance

Last month, I was able to visit the city of Ubud, Bali, in search for stories to cover. What I found was an interesting dichotomy between art preservation and means of living. I wished I had more time to work on the story, instead I had to return before long. I visited one of the performance space, Ubud Palace, to see if I could get access to the behind the scene of one of Bali's most famous dances; tari Barong. The show was on almost every day in the Ubud Palace; that night was Sadha Budaya Dance studio's turn, who kindly allowed me access to behind the backstage. _MG_8180






cover3 After a long, arduous steps, I have finally published my most recent project that took a bit of time to make - Buskers. Buskers tells the story of the art of street musical performance, and the people behind it (click on the image or here to go to the project). It is an ongoing project, but I had to share the first part because it felt so close to my heart, and perhaps because it's a personal message to a friend.

It is not everyday that we meet people who inspires us, and I blame fate to have allowed me to have met such an inspiring figure, B - the man behind the first part of the busker project. I truly hoped that my work - to a certain point - captured the essence of the man, for my words could never have. I have never met a man more open to strangers, both through music and rconversations, as B. Warm as a kindling fire to anyone who approaches him, I had wondered how B's past had affected him. I, of course, am in no place to understand the links between his story and his present, and can only gaze in wonders.

In the end, this post is a message to B - it has been a great pleasure in meeting you. It has been a great learning process, and I did learn a lot from you. I truly hope that whatever you are doing will be fruitful, and that you never stop being a source of warmth in the cold of winter, nor the comfort of rain in the draught of summer.

Cheers, Adi

Within the Walls of the Prayer - an Ongoing Work

I crept my way on the wooden floors towards the room, stopping silently by the door. Beyond the wooden frames, lit by the morning sunlight filtering through the window were the sounds of chanting. Earlier in the day, a woman came to give offering to Buddha through the monks. Other than the sounds of the chants, the room was completely silent as the sunlight shifted and gave way to rain clouds - soon water started to trickle down the temple roofs. Buddhist temple 1 (2)

Buddhist temple 1 (3)

"Within the walls of the Prayer" is an ongoing work, stemming from the interest in the confined space upon which faith and culture blooms. In the big cities like london, where culture and religion are largely a private matter, it found itself confined in the physical walls of stones and steel. It is in those space, however, another wall was erected, a wall of prayers. Growing within the walls of the prayers were faith and culture, bloomed, and flowered into a microcosm of its own - a completely different universe from those outside of the walls. This work attempts to take a peek into those microcosms, and make sense of its place in the largely cold city of London.

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Hindu temple (11)

Hindu temple (20)

I managed to visit three different places of worship; a Hare Krishna (ISKCON) temple, Buddhapadipa Temple, and the East London Mosque - all of which contained not only the most pleasant people I had met in London, but also a solemn air unlike those outside. Teachings were told, some in english, others in their own native language, or both, and prayers were said to their own faith and for some reason, the warmth provided by each institution had always contrasted the cold rainy weather of London streets.

mosque (1)

mosque (12)

mosque (11)

I long to continue working with the people in each institutions, and perhaps along with others to continue this work. Having always been interested in faith and culture, I long to understand more of each faith.

Studio Shoot with Andrea and Petalie

I had the honor to work along a great photographer and a great model last Tuesday; Andrea and Petalie. The two of us - Andrea and I - decided to put LCC's studio to good use. Andrea managed to invite a great model who stood, sat, and pose around for a three long hours. Thank you, Petalie. Along with Petalie, Andera himself became a model for my shoot - the results of which I was rather happy with. This would be the first time I ever work with such wonderful studio light (graduating from a 'speedlight on a tripod stand' strobe) - and more than one at that. _MG_0455



With Petalie, I decided to go black and white; the theme being longing and waiting - for some reason. Petalie was being very helpful with the amount of poses she suggested.



And finally one where I wanted to accentuate her gorgeous looks.


At the end of the day, it was a lot of learning done in a couple of hours; not to mention great pics. Again, Thank you to Andrea and Petalie for your time, help, and participation!


Craftmen of London Pt.2 - The bicycle

bike and fish-36The morning sun crept slowly, coloring the cold blue morning a trace of yellow. I made my way towards the spot indicated by my Google maps, a red pointy dot pointing towards a Goulton road in the Hackney borough of London. Looking around for signs, I noticed the residential area surrounding me - no signs of a shop, much less a workshop. My map led me to a cast iron fence guarding a compound of a couple apartment units; a little search revealed a buzzer on top of a red brick wall, marked 'unit 2, Kennedy city bikes'. Within minutes, I was walking inside an apartment, revealing a workshop with giant windows by the side; tires and tools by the walls; and a bicycle in the middle of the room - much like a trophy. James, a tall, gruff man wearing a work apron, greeted me, offered some tea, and started working on the unfinished bicycle chassis.

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bike and fish-61

Started as a hobby, James had been making bicycles for a couple of years. "I wanted to travel cheaper, so I decided to make a bicycle," He said, stopping for a while to drink his tea; "It ended up not being that much cheaper," he said before continuing his work. Soon after, he quit his job to open Kennedy City bicycles, and started hand building bicycles for sale. James worked almost two hours straight, almost never once moved his eyes from the bicycle - except for a couple sips of tea.

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The Bicycle he was working on was a teal chassis with a honey leather seats; simple, classic, and lovely. At the end of the two hour long process, he declared the bicycle to be done, stood back, and marvel at his work. The sunlight poured through the windows giving the bicycle a yellowish tint, and for once, I have never wanted to ride a bicycle as much as I did then. James shook my hand, and informed me that they are moving to a new - better - workshop. As I walked outside the workshop towards the cast iron gates, I wondered if James, the work that he does, and the kinds similar to his, are the rising modern counter-attack towards industrialization. Young artisans, producing hand crafted, high quality masterpieces; if it truly is the way of the future, I am behind it all the way.

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Craftmen of London Pt. I - Leicaman

Project1-Leica (393 of 618)"You are lucky to be able to see a Leica being dismantled," the man said as we descended a flight of stair into a dark workshop. Scattered around the room was shelves of Nikon SLRs, Leica boxes, and pieces of Leica bodies. Ever since I picked up my M3, I had always been a big fan of the camera (I care not about the battles between brands - I love Nikon, I use Canon, and adore Leica, Mamiya, Zeiss, and everything else), so when I was allowed to peek - and document - the process of repairing a classic Leica M2, I was filled with glee. "Come here and take a look," the man said as he sat down and put his assignment - an M2 - on the desk; he had shifted some boxes around him just enough to make space for me to stand. "Now let's see here...," He mumbled a little as he lowered his magnifying visor; after which, he began to work. What followed was almost two hours of concentration as he slowly, carefully, and tactfully disassembled the camera. Screw by screw, part by part, the Leica began to look less like the famed sleek minimalist body that it had been known for, and more like a piece of random machinery. Project1-Leica (217 of 618)

Project1-Leica (221 of 618)

The work was not fast - one does not go fast when dealing with a camera older than I am - but it was thorough. Along with the repairs, the man also changed the leather ("Vulcanite - I don't know why Leica used this trash; it's very poisonous," as he put it), and did some maintenance with the lens, a 50mm collapsible Summicron.

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Project1-Leica (556 of 618)

"Done! Another happy customer," The man said as he marveled upon the finished camera; it looked brand new by then. As he walked us upstairs back into the shop, I wondered how many Leitz Cameras and lenses had this man worked on? how many times had he thought to himself, "another happy customer"? and as he walked outside, and tried to shoot with the leica, feel the tiny whisper of a click from the fabric leaf shutter, how many times had he tested a camera by shooting it outside the shop? The number, however many it is, will grow, perhaps past the hundreds. It was an otherworldly experience, seeing a man fixing a piece of wonderful mechanical engineering like a Leica, with such finesse, and such pride.

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Full Manual

The plastic bag rustled as I put it on top of the wooden table; I reached inside,grabbing some sandwich and a bottled water. I had just arrived early at the campus, we were supposed to meet at 10; it was 9.50. Eating the first couple of bites, I noticed a man running towards the large campus glass windows, and looked inside before smiling a large smile at me - he soon joined me at the table. The man was Andrea, one of the many who joined the group of people pursuing the path of photojournalism in my college._MG_0738 Later that day, we spent close to six hours huddling in the darkness for our first portfolio presentation - it was then when I truly realized how high the bar is for the class. 32 people in the class presented, all of which had wonderful works, many of which were very well thought and organized. "Full manual," paul, the magnum photographer - course director said, giving us our first assignment. "35 mm lens, 400 iso, full manual, and pay attention to everything in your frame," he continued. So i did.

The next couple of images were all in full manual (except for one picture - I was holding a giant book, and could not use my hand to focus, so I set to autofocus) iso 400, manual exposure. The only difference is that I was using a 50mm instead of 35, since it's the only prime I have.







The White Table And a Pile of Books

_MG_4221Hours of editing and four bottles of coffee later, here I was, finally typing the introduction to My sister's pre-wedding photos. The wonder of writing is that you don't have to worry about how you look while saying something - usually the readers will take care of those by their imagination themselves, so here goes. The four of us; My sis, Doug; her fiancee-but-actually-husband-already-but-for-the-sake-of-this-writing-fiancee, Vincent, and I, spent a whole day shooting prewed pictures. We went to about 8 locations, scattered around Columbus, OH, in around 7-8 hours, non-stop. We spent a total of around an hour of sitting, and that included driving, so needless to say it was a long day by the end of the day. I have to say, however, that all throughout the shoot, it was a wonderful experience. My sister and Doug never ceased to be energetic, never once lost a smile on their face, and to our gladness, never ceased to have fun - even after the long photo-shoot (some of which included running, and *ahem* faux-running). Over the eight locations, there always exist tons of "blooper" shots, which usually includes either or both of them making stupid poses, non-publishable expressions, and stupid gags; it was those fun and games that kept us going, and perhaps, for once in my ignorant life, made me a tad jealous of another's relationship - something I hadn't experienced before. There you go, sis, that's as much of a compliment as you're gonna get from me. Long story short, I believe that love is being able to have tons of fun even after 7 hours of pretending to point at books, running around in front of a stranger's house, and trying not to get run over by passing cars; for we are all young, and couldn't truly understand what love is, let us take it as such for now. I pray in the little time I spend praying, that the two of you never cease to make stupid faces at each other, no matter how difficult the times may be. Cheers. _MG_4199

Potentially heartwarming introduction aside, time for the pictures. With the help from a friend, I developed a pre-shoot vision of what the pictures are going to be like, and then decided on the theme and general color palette. There's a first time in everything, and this is my first time with said workflow. Many of the shots were preplanned to fit a certain narrative, though to be perfectly honest, it did not come out as effective as I would have wanted. I was wondering to myself how I could present the picture, and decided to go with narrative based arrangement. Below are some of the photos arranged along with the intended narrative.













I hope the narrative flowed along the pictures above. I took an alternative shot for the table and the books:


Following the narative shots, was supposed to be some more follow ups with sunsets, but the weather wasn't very helpful that day. I decided to skip the (practically nonexistent) sunset, and go ahead with more non-narrative shots. Most of the following shots were decided based upon lighting conditions. I would go somewhere, and would fall in love with the lighting of said place, and noted on how to utilize it. Near the heart of OSU, is an old building called Pomerene hall; an undergraduate based classrooms with huge windows allowing downpour of natural lights. Armed with a reflector/diffuser on hand, we played around with the light.













Finally, location based shot. I was walking around pomerene hall when I noticed some stairs/steps with large windows. The lights weren't as nice as I would've loved, but I thought that it might look good with some strobes. I took a canon 430EXII with an umbrella attachment, and shot away.




I also fell in love with the windows at Pistacia Vera, and decided to take some shoots there:






All in all, it was a great learning experience, and a great time working with three great people. I also want to thank German village's Bookloft for letting us shoot inside their store. Bookloft is jam packed (quite literally) with awesome books, both new and used, and most definitely many obscure ones, at great prices - also, seriously? did you guys see the interior of that bookstore? that's one awesome bookstore. The more spacious bookstore shots were taken in half price books - again, super great bookstore with awesome book at low prices; I got all of my photography books there! Another super thanks also to Pistacia Vera for letting us shoot at their awesome bakery. With PV, you have to, or rather, MUST try their macaroons, specifically their pistachio macaroons - not much can be said about that than "awesome piece of round thing."

If you somehow make it this far, I personally thank you; it means a lot to me that you enjoyed looking at some of the pictures I made. Thank you!!


Portrait practice - selfie

I don't do selfies that much, for a couple of reasons; not having a flattering face is one of them, difficulty with clicking the shutter being the other, but this time i decided to study about lighting._MG_3693supersmall The lighting setup in this shoot is much too simple (but the simpler, the better, yes?) LightingSetup

After a couple of tries, compared to using a very expensive diffuser, bought from Hanes (a sock; white, specifically), I decided to bounce the undiffused flash through the wall, towards the subject (me), and the reflector. The flash was full-CTO gelled, while no other light was used in the shoot. I used Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 70mm, F/11, 1/200, effectively cutting off any ambient light. The reflector managed to fill the shadows very nicely - to my surprise.

This was my first "studio" lighting setup, and of course, by "studio", I meant draping my window with a brown blanket, and use my mike boom as a holder for the reflector. When I saw the picture right out of the camera, I couldn't edit much anymore than what was there, so a little dodge and burn and that was it.

Also, credits to Kevin Kertz for the very easily adjusted lighting setup creator. You can get your own here:


The Thousand Yard

_MG_3035Michael, David, and I arrived in Oxford, Ohio around 1 PM; the sky was clearer than any days prior - a wonder for Ohio, where the weather had been pretty much a Russian roulette of ice, rain and cold. The three of us came to Oxford, to Miami University to attend a football match; this was my first collaboration project. A previous discussion I had with Michael established that I was going to take some action shots and some still shots. Obviously, I am more comfortable in hunting for moments in stills, slower paced moments; in fact, this was going to be my first action shoots, and boy was it a steep learning curve. Autofocus was my first problem - moving subjects means moving focus points, which means "single image focus" I had been using until now is rendered useless. I managed to borrow a Canon 70-200 f/4 IS from the folks at borrowlenses, and it, along with servo-AF, managed to fix my focusing problem (of course, it being a sunny day enabled me to use smaller apperture, and that always helps). The second problem is exposure, aperture priority gave me inconsistent readings and output on many shots. Remembering an article I read somewhere in Kenrockwell's site, I grabbed my lightmeter, took an incident light reading, and set my camera to manual; I only changed my aperture accordingly if the shot is distinctly overblown or underexposed - this saved me a lot of headache with dealing with pure white or pure black shirts. All problems aside, I borrowed another lens from Borrowlenses - Canon 16-35 f/2.6, and that, along with the tele 70-200, captured my heart completely. I used the 16mm end for the photo above, and shoot almost over the shoulder of one of the players. I used the 16-35 a lot for the still shots, for its in-your-face-wingeangle look; for the image below, I used the 35mm end. _MG_3404-2 Overall, I managed to grab a couple of mediocre action shots. The shallow depth of field provided by the 70-200 helped bring the pictures to life. Below are a couple of my favorites. _MG_3311




Much of the captured moments were due to luck - I had very little football knowledge. THe next couple of shots are those that I like a little less than the ones above (composition wise).














Overall, It was heck of a fun experience. I learned a lot, and managed to use great tools. More projects with different people will be posted, so stay tuned!


Sneak Peek

A couple of days ago, I sent out a request to work with random people in order to increase my photographic experience. Over the next weeks, I will be working with a couple of very talented people on a couple of projects. Brainstorming had been done over the last couple of days, meeting with a bunch of people will be done over the next weeks, photoshooot/assignments, editing, and hopefully, great results at the end. Currently I'm in the middle of sorting out the images from my first collaboration. Here's a very small sneak peek! _MG_3145

Come back for more stuff to come!

New Site

A friend of mine and I had a chat about the importance of web presence. In this day and age (spoken like a true 22 years old) one cannot undermine the importance of web presence and attention to detail and design. As a practitioner of the pictorial arts, I understand that whatever improves the experience of enjoying said picture, is a part of the art itself; web design is one of them. David Duchemin, a humanitarian photographer whom I look up to once said (paraphrased) "do not skimp on portfolios, get it done, and get it done right."  A website that helps focus attention to the pictures will prove to be a indispensable tool today - especially for those who do not yet have the opportunity to display their works in a showroom or studio. So I did - I spent some time to finally revamp my blog and gallery. Along with walking around and taking pictures, spending some (difficult) time working on how you present those work of yours are also as important. That all said, to those of you taking the time to look at my blog and ramblings; first, thank you very much, you all made me happy, second, and most importantly, Enjoy your stay here. :)

More photos and stories coming up soon.


Painting with lights

There is something about being alone at night - before the crack of down, even - alone, taking pictures of the world. I have been experimenting with strobing, illuminating the world at night one strobe at a time, is how I'd put it. This time I traveled to Park of Roses in Columbus, Ohio to take a couple of pictures. The photos were taken at around 2 A.M. in the morning - it was as dark as ever; I needed a flashlight to guide my way into the park.That said, I managed to come up with some interesting pictures, below are two of them.

A little change o' pace

Since the subtitle for the blog is "life through science, music, food and pictures",  I think that it's about time for me to upload some music of my own. I am a big fan of jazz; I play mostly guitar, with very little knowledge on piano. Despite my interest towards jazz, in reality, not only I listen to everything, I play and write music in many different genres. From classic to metal, jazz, blues, even dangdut for those of you who are Indonesians. Yet, somewhere along the way my path in guitar took me to jazz: acoustic-slow jazz, fast paced gypsy jazz, Montgomery bossa and swing, and many others. Here are two of my jazz tunesI recorded over the course of few months; Shore is a slow, basic acoustic jazz that always always reminds me of the sea, while slow night is a tune inspired by Montgomery, which is pretty much self explanatory.

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Astrocyte, the new star of the show.

Freshly Isolated Astrocyte, viewed using Leica DM IRE2, 400x magnification DICMammalian brain is a curious thing. Powerful, yet elegant piece of machinery that allows us mammalians to function. Among the many cells contained within the brain, not many is as enigmatic as astrocytes. Many would argue that neurons are the forefront of neuroscience research, and they would probably not be wrong. Recently, however, a new underdog is rapidly rising in the neuroscience research, reaching a stardom status, just like its cousin cell line; that's right, astrocytes. My professor dubbed astrocytes as "the most boring cell in the brain", due to its non-excitability; that is, unlike neurons that constantly fires (through massive ionic movement), astrocytes mostly stay silent and  would rather stand behind the curtains. What they are doing behind the curtains, on the other hand, have been a mystery since the dawn of astrocytic research. The majority of past neuroscientist argues that they perform supportive roles to neurons, while other more recent neuroscientist argue that they are involved in many signaling pathways critical for neuron survival, function, learning, and work. In fact, astrocytes could definitely perform all of the obove, and more. One thing is clear, that the study of astrocytes is now an inevitable part of neuroscience, and will gain more footage as time passes. All that said, here is a picture of an astrocyte at 400x magnification, taken using a Leica DM IRE2, using the DIC method. The cell shows bush-like processes surrounding the soma (cell body). -Adi