photography

Meaningful Nothings - Revisited

In between sending emails, contacting people, and making myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I came across - and decided to revisit - my old mini project, Meaningful Nothings. The idea of combining prosaic poetry and photographs have always been close to my heart. I realized, however, that I did not capture the essence of the combination in my last rendition of Meaningful Nothings. I decided, then, to redo the whole thing; this time rethinking the use of text, specifically its purpose and relevance within the image. Instead of putting the text side by side with the image, I decided to incorporate the text within the image, and play around with the formatting to reflect the feel of the prose. 

A little background about the items; they are pieces of memories I collected over my lifetime alongside various ticket stubs, receipts, and random maps I found on the street. The items I picked to show in the series are those that have the deepest stories - stories that are both mine and not mine to tell. Playing with the text's format has been easier on some proses more so than others, and I ended up having to rewrite some of them here and there. I found the way 'untouched' in the Twinings image truly fit the way I wanted the prose to flow at the end - slow enduring, and somewhat playful. 

There are more images under way, containing some more memories, but I suppose it won't be so easy or obvious as the first two, but we'll see where this project will go. I realize I'm not the best writer in the world, especially with prosaic poetry, but I decided to keep doing it anyway. Email me with thoughts or whatnot about the story, or let me know whatever you think about it. 

This year, something entirely different; a brother's marriage

_DSF5425Only last march I went back to Indonesia to attend my sister's marriage, and yet here I am again, attending a brother's; this one, however is a brother from another mother (and father too). Liman, as we like to call him among many other, less appropriate names to call him from, had been our sworn brother - a practice common in asian countries, mind you - for at least 8 years. A brotherhood (to be more precise, a siblinghood) of 8 people, we knew each other from series of both fortunate and unfortunate events, and had a series of traditions we uphold. Long story short, we know each other very well, and treasure ourselves quite a lot. Yesterday, the 2-day long wedding ceremony took place; today, he is officially a married man. Three Cheers for a brother in love, and an extra one for going where no one of us had gone before.

I had the fortune of documenting some behind the scenes, and here they are. This is for my brother, Leeman (another name we call him amongst the more appropriate ones), and to my other brothers and sisters.

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And here's a portrait for you, dear brother,

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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

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

Cheers!

Natural Surveillance

title gradient-4A month later, a website was born. Over the last month I have been working on a project in collaboration with the British Geological Survey (BGS) about natural surveillance. In keeping with the surveillance heavy nature of the recent conversations, I decided to take a more relaxed perspective on the subject matter. I also decided to explore using websites in order to present a photographic/multimedia work in order to make the experience (a little) more interactive. Check out the website by clicking in the image above!

Cheers, Adi

Film? Film.

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For my upcoming project, I have decided to switch into using film. I love digital photography, and I am still using it, but at the same time I'm trying to push my boundaries with film; seeing as I have never actually use it for a project before. I choose to use a medium format camera, and a Kodak Portra 400 for the film, because once you go for film, might as well go big (not 5x4, however, that's a little bit too much). I did a quick test with the camera to make sure it was working and thankfully it still is. Edinburgh, here I come.

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

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Buskers

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

And so it was

Following a couple of hours of plane ride was three days of marriage ceremonies - my sister's of course; not mine. Having been married already in the states, my parents longed to see her married in our hometown Makassar, in front of our grandmothers, and inside the church we had been going to for long. That time arrived yesterday. The procession was complex as it was long, with one formalities followed by another, long hours in the humid air of the typical townhouse, and sometimes inexplicable activities, and yet the couple marched through. With all the camera around, almost dictating every single move, it was hard to get a glimpse of truth in the whole situation, but perhaps, just perhaps, I managed to obtain some - a small window in which nothing matters but love. _MG_7763

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At the end, perhaps there's more to marriage than the photos, and that photographers should strive to capture real moments instead of creating them. Also perhaps, is that I know nothing about weddings, and am just being a bitter old man. All those bitterness dissolved down the sink when I then realize that regardless of what the people put them through, it was their moment, as a couple, in a home where she lived in. Moments of truth will arise when it felt the need to, wherever they are, whenever it is. Love needed made, and so it was.

Another three cheers for a sweet marriage. Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah.

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Iphone photojournalism? why not!

I have never been a big opponent of Iphone (or ANY SMARTPHONE) photography - I love using it when I don't have my camera with me, and I had always thought that it takes good picture; for instagram at least. Whenever I could, however, I would prefer my DSLR - faster focusing, better dynamic range, and... now that you mention it, I don't know what else. Indeed, one day, a mob of workers in protests appeared in front of my eye when I didn't have my camera with me. I took out my Iphone, and started shooting. IMG_2210

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Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) the Iphone (or again, ANY SMARTPHONES) allowed me to get really close. The tiny, non threatening size allowed people to be more comfortable with me putting a piece of thin box before their faces. I might look funny running around pointing my cellphone at people's faces, but at least I got great photos from such tiny contender (it's smaller then a Leica!)

So, Iphone photojournalism? Why not indeed.

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)

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"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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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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!

Cheers!

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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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)

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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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"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.

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Intermezzo - A congratulatory post AKA yay for work!

_MG_0564-3 I would like to take a short moment to congratulate a good friend of mine for her recent employment - to acknowledge the amount of work she had put into this job hunt; directly, indirectly, or anywhere in between. The amount of time, the emotional roller coaster, the anxiety and troubled minds. The barrage of emails, the replies, and the prayers and whatnot. Today I raise my glass to this great tidings, and say a word of congratulatory; even when you don't hear it. For towards whatever ends this employment will take you, you had deserved it, through and through. I raise my glass to you.

Cheers.

_MG_0512 On a side note - good luck for your immediate first day of work.

The year of plenty, the year of change - an end of the year review pt.1: The States

First off, pardon the long tite. As we all know, the end of 2013 is approaching. A year ago from around this time, many believed that the world was going to end; regardless, I kept shooting photos just because. Hundreds of days have come and go, and we have yet to perish, which means it’s time for a year-end review! At the start of 2013, I started to take photography much more seriously, and purchased adobe Lightroom – this purchase opened the floodgates to many hours of reading on LR editing. Coincidentally, I created my first B&W look at the start of the year after doing some landscapes in Ohio. Below are the works I did over the years, selected for one or other reasons – whether it’s due to its novelty, quality, or merely due to the fun involved - ordered chronologically. 1. Into Chicago (Original post here)

L9995579 At the start of the year, I had purchased (and later returned) a Leica M9. I took it to Chicago on a trip to visit my cousin, and ended up falling in love with it. The size, the weight, the feel, and oh my God the picture quality - I loved it all. I took "Into Chicago" in the O'Hare airport, despite the looks of the tens of people passing by. This picture will always remind me of the astonishment I had when I first edited all the pictures I obtained from the Leica M9.

2. "Faces of a sister" (Original post here) _MG_1970 _MG_1968 While I was in Ohio, I visited my sister in Cleveland quite some times. Almost in all the occasions, she'd ask me to snap a picture. This one was taken a little before she was married, and was the first time I ever did a 'posed shot'. The pic ended as some of my better portraits.

3. "Handwriting Analysis" (Original post here) IMG_9498 "Handwriting Analysis" ended up in my portfolio, and became one of the paving stones for my interest in street photography/photojournalism. With the help of a friend, I developed a preset that until this point I still sometimes use as a starting point, along with a split toning color that seemed to work for everything Californian.

4. "I do" (Original post here) _MG_2259 A couple of weeks after the "Faces of a sister" picture, my sister finally got married. Her marriage alone should grant this picture in this list. I, however, loved the pic due to the framing and the moment; both of them captured something I always look for in my photography - a split second of a once in a lifetime moment. I also liked the photojournalism look of the framing, along with the tinted monochrome look (the "golden monochrome" preset I developed at the start of the year)

5. "The thousand yard" (Original post here) _MG_3035 I had been looking for a collaborator upon which I can practice my photography. After much talk, I ended up working with a talented, movie major student of OSU; Mike. Mike was working on a final project on the OSU football team, and was wondering if I wanted to include my photo in his project - to which I replied wholeheartedly: Yes. Not exactly a big fan of football, nor an athlete myself, I lacked the many skills a football photographer requires. That said, I could definitely capture the timeless moment - this was perhaps one of them.

6. "Two Good Reads" (Original post here) _MG_4387 There could be many reasons why I love this picture; it being my sis' prewed picture, the framing, the oddity, the planning, the mere fun of the day, the surprisingly good end result - the list goes on and on. In the end, I loved the pic because It's just a good one. I developed the idea along with a good friend of mine, scouted for places to shoot, and spent half a day frantically shooting the whole set with my sister, her husband, and another friend of mine. It was totally worth it.

7. "Columbus Theatre" (Original post here) _MG_4683 Columbus theatre was beautiful - nuff said. To do continue, it was the graduation day of three close friends of mine - all of which were of art major (one of them later converted to nursing - good for him, either way). I loved the architecture inside the theatre, the color, the drama, and fell in love with my own 17-40 f/4 after taking this picture. The reason might be circumstantial yet again, but I still love this picture for the composition.

8. "The fishermen of Matador Beach" (Original post here) _MG_1722 Another picture that found its way into my portfolio. I loved this picture when I took it, and still do now. I have had an ND filter, but haven't used it very often - this picture was the first usage which I truly love. Granted, technically it is highly flawed - spots everywhere, mostly from the seawater splashing into the filter, and there are some glares from the sides. That said, I loved the composition, the context, and the lines. I truly believe this picture earned its place in this list.

9. "Stars and Stripes" (Original post here) _MG_3171 Something about this picture hit my nerve in every right kinds of way. Among many photographers that I bow my head and heart upon, Eliot Erwitt is among them. Is it the stare? the flag? his stance? or many other things currently brewing in my head? Perhaps it's all of them. This picture also happens to be among the last one I took in the States, making it a little more special.

So there you go. The first 9 of the end-of-year-review list which spanned from January to July 2013. The second half of the year took me to my home country, Indonesia, and I have decided to create another list for that. Keep your eyes peeled open for Pt.2 of the list!

Cheers~

waterfalls and thunderstorms

Following thunderstorm on the previous day, was a morning with heavy, shadowy clouds; a double edged sword to a photo journey. It was a gamble; without rain, we'd get dramatic clouds and gentle lighting, but rain - depending on the intensity - could potentially hinder some plans, and the day seemed like it could easily lean towards either one. Our day started a couple of hours away from the city, on a state park called Bantimurung. Dubbed the 'Kingdom of Butterflies', Bantimurung had been a tourism spot for as long as I can remember. The area itself boasts a massive biodiversity of butterflies; I remember people telling me to wear red in order to attract butterflies. Its conservation status, however, held no power in Indonesia - trash were scattered everywhere, signs broken, and to make matters much worse, butterflies were captured and sold by the dozens right by the entrance. Aside from the butterflies, the main attraction for the area was the waterfalls, from which the national park obtained its name from. Arriving at the waterfalls, we realized that the previous day's rain had made the waterfall massive. Standing close to the falls one could feel the enormous force behind the waters, rushing and twisting throughout the river. Near the base of the waterfall was a stone steps, used when the waterfall is usually gentle, so that the visitors could descend and swim in the waters. That day, however the current was overwhelming, and the steps were rendered useless. _MG_0004

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After a quick lunch in a neighboring town, we decided to wait for a while before heading to our next destination - Rammang Rammang; an area in the regency of Maros, whose name means "clouds." Rammang - rammang was supposedly a part of the sea millions of years ago, leaving hills of giant cloudlike formation of bedrocks. Arriving there, however, the day had taken the turn for the worse - thunderstorms came heavily, and the paths into the seastone formations themselves were almost non-existent after being nearly submerged in water. I, however, was happy enough to meet a local; he was working in his rice paddies when I came over asking for permission to take pictures. The man smiled and granted me his permission before continuing his work.

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Shooting in a thunderstorm proved to be difficult. I did not have any raincoat for my camera nor myself, and had to resort to an umbrella. I ended up half kneeling, holding my umbrella with my thighs as to free both arms to take pics. In the end, I loved rammang rammang even more - more than bantimurung, in fact - due to its remoteness. It was relatively unknown, and thus was left untouched by people, cept for the locals. I long to return, and see if I could make more pictures.

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A guitarist named Eric; no, not johnson.

_MG_9520-2 "A guitarist has to be in love with their guitar," Eric said to me as I commented on his highly NSFW unpublishable "guitar kiss" photo we took during a photoshoot earlier today. A close friend of mine, Eric is not only a wonderful guitarist with lightning fingers (a very slow lighting, but lightning nonetheless), but also one with a tremendous knowledge in guitars - the wood, the frets, design, sound, pickups, bridge, and everything a guitarist needs to know to love their guitar. It is therefore, only true to form to make a portrait of him with his guitar, and I was given the honor to take my best friend's picture.

We took a number of pictures, and despite the day being hot and humid, not to mention the location being less than comfortable, Eric marched through with every single request from myself and another friend of mine. "Strafe right please," "relax and just play the damn guitar," "try raising the guitar more," and the most painful request being "can you kneel for a while?" which ended up with him kneeling on concrete ground for close to half an hour. The result, however, was quite good.

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We made quite a number of shots; some which are better than others. That said, I consider many of them to be rather good. Following are one or two shots which I liked. In reality, we had no uses for any of this pic - merely some fun and studies to be done regarding "studio" lighting (in this case, studio lighting equals EX430 flash and a diffuser). Lessons were learned, pictures were made, and fun was had. Good day.

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