The Ruins of Prambanan in Yogyakarta (and two new reviews)

Just outside of Yogyakarta in Indonesia are the ruins of Prambanan. Getting to this place is a long way from home, so we tried to take advantage of everything in and around the city. Prambanan is a Hindu temple that was first built in 850 CE.  It began a painstaking reconstruction in 1918.  I can’t imagine what difficult work that must be.

Actually, it was quite nice to get out of the crowded city.  Will and I had spent a long night walking around down near the markets.  The streets were so crowded in the busy night streets that it was unbelievable.  I had always known that Indonesia had hundreds of millions of people, but when stuck in the throngs, you can really feel it.  Also, that was a disconcerting night because it was the first time I stepped over a dead body.

I have a few new reviews for you too! These were mentioned in the most recent newsletter that went out a few days ago.  Both of these are short and sweet, since they are simple but great products.   The first one is for sharing large files with others and moving files around between computers easily. It’s called DropBox and you can read a short DropBox Review here.

The second tool I’ve been using is for backing my files up onto the Internet (the cloud). This gives me peace of mind in case there is a fire and my local backups are also destroyed. Even if you don’t have a ton of photos and just want to back up your family digital photos, it’s a smart idea. And it’s super-cheap. You can read more at the Backblaze Review page.

The Ruins of Prambanan in Yogyakarta (and two new reviews) (by Stuck in Customs)

The Beating Hearts of the Buddhas

The morning fog coming off the top of the jungle trees was not like anything I had seen before. There was just enough morning light to give everything a twilight blue and paint the mountains in the distance a deeper color.

I tried something a little bit different with this photo. I was holding two flashlights to help me climb the temple in the morning. I think I got there about 5:30 AM when it was still pitch black, so the flashlights helped me find the right footholds and whatnot. Anyway, this was an extremely long exposure, so I used some of that time to “paint” the inside of the bell cages with the beams of my flashlights. Each of those bell cages held a solitary outward-facing Buddha. I’m glad I was there alone, because I’m sure I looked like a loon running around shining the flashlights in patterns to illuminate the Buddhas inside.

The Beating Hearts of the Buddhas (by Stuck in Customs)

Going Outside to Play

Although Indonesia was quite a beautiful place, it was also incredibly poor. Every country has its Hans Rosling (see his amazing TED video here) predictable bell curve of wealth distribution, and Indonesia has so many people in it (almost as many people as the US), that a lot of people end up over on the left-hand side of the curve.

While walking around one of the cities there, I went off-track and ended up in a small settlement underneath a bridge. This family had set up here, found old couches and bits of refuse to build their home. This little girl was outside playing, arranging scraps of trash on the ground in interesting patterns.

I stopped and talked to the family for a short time. They were nice and didn’t mind me taking photos. The mom seemed a little suspicious but then calmed down when she saw I was good with kids. The dad did not speak a lot of English, and I indicated to him that his house looked pretty sturdy compared to some of the others. He pointed to one across the river, which you can see in the upper part of the photo, an, in broken words, said that part of it had recently washed away. The dad was pretty happy with what he had built. He motioned to the little fence and then motioned to his little girl.

Going Outside to Play

Borobudur in Poetry

One thing we always ask for, as part of the deal, is for the companies to send us a copy of the final product. So we get several of these kinds of things a week, and it is always cool! I get excited and giddy to see my work used in creative ways across many mediums. Here is one we recently got of a poetry book that used on of my Indonesian pics on the cover. I put the orig below, along with a few other shots from that temple.

I end up throwing all of this stuff into these giant boxes in my office. I don’t know what I will do with them! They just kinda pile up… I should have a giveaway some day! 🙂

Borobudur Book

Buddha in the Jungle Highlands

The Hidden Buddhist Temple of Borobudur at Sunrise

The Dark Temple Corridor in Morning Mist at 4 AM

The pool that taunted me in Jogjakarta

Can you believe that I looked at that pool every day and I never got in? It was there day after day… alluring and perfect… looking warm and fun… I would walk around it, admire it, take photos of it, pass it on the way to the spa… I did just about everything to that pool but get in. I thought about it a lot, for whatever that’s worth (a lot, actually, I have an active imagination). But next time I get there, I’m goin’ in… I think about what those little tiles will feel like slippin’ around under my toes… It’s gonna be great!

The pool that taunted me in Jogjakarta (by Stuck in Customs)

The Dark Temple Corridor in Morning Mist at 4 AM

I arrived at the temple of Borobudur a little after 4 AM. I had a tiny disposable flashlight, and, other than my driver idling about a mile away, I was the only person here. In fact, it was my second day in a row to do this, since I had so much fun the first. I was there with my friend Will, and he decided to sleep in the second day… but I had a few shots in mind I wanted to grab before the sun came up.

There were these strange argon lights around the temple to light up areas of excavation. They cast a gloomy and surreal light on the Buddhist reliefs that make concentric circles up to the top. I was able to get about 45 minutes of nice darkness with unexpected light until the sun started to appear over the nearby volcanoes and jungle mist.

The Dark Temple Corridor in Morning Mist at 4 AM (by Stuck in Customs)

The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year

I look forward to many more adventures with you this year and in coming years. We have a lot of things to do, don’t we? Mais oui!

Change and tumult and highs and lows will come and go with the winds, but I will always be here, ready to take you on fun new adventures with unexpected discoveries. This year has had a lot of unexpected things happen in all corners of life, and I don’t expect the next to be any different. In the end, I’ll do my best to keep pushing forward and exploring the world and the world of ideas with you.

If life gets kind of confusing or you get down, come visit to take your mind where it would rather be anyway. At best, it will be a deep experience, and at worst, it will be a pleasant distraction. I’ll take the worst if that’s the best I can get!

For the last photo of the year, I hope I have selected a great one to set the tone for the next year. I’ve been in artful concert with this one for what seems like ages. This happenstance scene is from a remote Hindu temple in the Indonesian jungle. It was a horribly stormy day and I could have easily found myself quite miserable… but I had seen this before, seen these patterns, and I knew I’d have the chance to see the sun again. Just for a few moments, the sun appeared there, and it was timeless. I didn’t think about the future, I just sat there, unconsciously moving around the temple and capturing the moment forever.

Okay, so… moving into left-brain mode now (getting practical logistical things done…), there have been a number of changes to the site!

1) I updated my HDR Tutorial ! It has become almost completely revamped… I have a few minor things to fix – let me know if you see any typos, because, as you know, I am horrible at catching my own… (anyone want to be my editor out there?)

2) A new Header Photo and CSS Background! Hit Refresh on your browser in case you don’t see it

3) A new “Reviews” section. You can see that over on the right.

4) A new “Popular Articles” section to catch some of the cool stuff that is now buried deep in the blog

5) Minor fixes: Comment font sizes, Comment entry box streamlining, Safari problem where the fonts were huge for single posts…

6) Enabled comments on “Pages” – things like the “About Me” and “Camera Equipment” pages did not allow comments before

The Mysteries and Adventures of the New Year

Family Errands

I am sure cramming three or more people on a motorcycle looks surprising, but, surprisingly, my surprise began to subside after just a few days. I think the MOST I saw on a motorcycle was 6 people… a mom and dad and 4 kids squnched in between. I never got a great shot of that…

…as I was walking around Jogjakarta, I did find this young mom and her two kids off on their daily errands.

Family Errands

Turning a Blind Eye

I must have walked 10 miles in Jogjakarta that day. There were so many things to see… interesting people, clothes, etc etc. I saw this guy a few times, and I decided to take a shot on the third time. He regarded me with a cool one-eyed stare and didn’t give much reaction one way or the other. I’m pretty good at getting the vibe if someone does not want their photo taken… I got no vibe from him. Actually, I got no vibe at all.

Turning a Blind Eye

The caged Buddhas look outward towards the sunrise

Each of these “bells” is really a stone cage that houses a seated Buddha statue, facing outwards. At this time in the morning, you can take little flashlights and peer inside the cages. It’s all very eerie and fun…

In the distance, you can see a few volcanoes poking through the mist.

The caged Buddhas look outward towards the sunrise

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