Great time at EG!
I had breakfast with Freeman Dyson, ended up having several conversations with Neal Stephenson, sat by Alexa Meade, talked about Icelandic horses with Stephen Tobolowsky and his wife, got to speak today between the great Elliot Erwitt and Max Ferguson, talked about the “haters’ with Masie Crow, discussed photography with Chris Rainier, shared adventure stories with Rachael Kinley, and decided to collaborate on something awesome in the future with Masa Kuwamura. Plus, about a dozen other remarkable things that are also worthy of mention! But I am so tired…. need to sleep after the…
Daily Photo – Prambanan Sunset
Sometimes the lighting is best right after the sunset.
And sometimes this is right when the police come to get you. Maybe they were security guards. But it was hard to tell in the dark – and, besides, I didn’t know the difference between the clothes of a security guards and a policeman in Indonesia. I had Will with me when these guys approached us, and he was no help at all. He did manage to keep them busy for a while so I could take some final shots, but we could tell that we had worn out our welcome. So then the guards started to escort us right out of there.
Shooting after the Storm
Here is something new that I have accidentally figured out in the last few years.
So, I watch clouds and skies all the time now. Sometimes, I feel a bit like a shaman, back arched against the sky, watching subtle clues on the horizon for upcoming deltas in the weather. I’ve become very sensitive to dozens of types of clouds, their layers and elevations in the atmosphere, and the incident angles of the sun in relation to the humidity.
If you are have in one of those late-afternoon storms in one of the tropics, the chances are pretty good for a spectacular sunset. The “quick storm” is usually a localized cell where the clouds don’t reach to the horizon. This means that the sun will be able to dip below the clouds and light them from underneath. Watch for this.
Daily Photo – Purple Sunset in Indonesia
I promised that I would continue my story about the dead body in Indonesia, so here it is. It doesn’t really go with a pretty sunset, but, well, here we go. It’s short and not to spectacular, so don’t get your hopes up for a good old-fashioned dead-body story.
While walking through downtown Jogjakarta with Will, the crowds were thick. There were thousands of Indonesians walking around through busy downtown streets. It was an area without cars, but hundreds of bikes and carts darted in and out of the traffic. It was not really a commercial district, but it was somewhat third-world in the types of little shack-like stores that fringed the edges. Food carts rolled around selling hot, steaming mysterious meat-mashes and small ziplocks of coconut juice hung from poles, ready for sale.
After walking through a bit, we approached a curb where we saw some poor soul splayed out across the concrete. I’ve seen thousands of homeless / passed out / drunk / unfortunates splayed out in the street before, but this was different. This guy was dead. You can just tell. People walked around him and certainly regarded him as an empty shell. The crowds were thick and people would kind of step on or trip on bits here or there. I passed by his legs and didn’t quite know what to do. There was no one stopping to help, and I didn’t really want to get involved, since I don’t speak English and didn’t want to get carted off for questioning/shakedown. So I passed by and Will said, “Do you think that guy was dead?”. I nodded and we got the hell outta there.
The Amazing HDR Workshop Results!
I told the HDR Workshop class last weekend, very sincerely, that I was quite impressed with their progress. It’s my first workshop, and I love teaching people, but I did not expect them to make so much progress so quickly. Mind you, we already had a few people that were already quite good, but even they picked up a bunch of new stuff. Without further ado, here is a random selection of some of the resulting shots from their newfound skills!
(and yes, we are making an HDR DVD of the workshop for those that could not attend the event!)
- A shot from Cliff Blaise of the Driskill Piano, The Pennybacker Bridge, and see his recent Textured Shot (everyone got a copy of my Ultimate textures set) too – nice!
- Michael Steighner is a wonderful guy and artist. Look at this recent shot of his of a Peaceful Evening. And see his photo of the Oasis. AND his latest of an incredible shoreline.
- Wes Browning took this STUNNING HDR from the first day, and also said nice things about the workshop – thanks Wes!
- Michael Paolini was a heck of a nice guy and took this shot of Yours Truly hanging out over the railing at the Oasis.
- Eivind came all the way from NORWAY for the event! See this great 6th Street shot he took during one of our photowalks. He is just 20!
- Frank Jaquier really picked up everything well as you can see from this Driskill photo he took on the first day!
- Mark Interrante did a great job capturing our evening at The Oasis, where I took the group on a bus to capture the sunset.
- See this pretty sunset from Mark Schaffer, who is taking photos for all the right reasons… he loves it!
- Steve Popkin took this killer shot inside the Driskill on the first day!
- Ken Liu was a cool guy that came in from LA for the event – I enjoyed him very much and he got this sunset shot.
- Tim Donar came in from Arkansas for the event…. and I told him I was jealous because he got a better picture of the Frost Tower than I ever have!
- MOST IMPROVED - She flew in from Hawaii and won a great prize for it! Diana Hudson, Before the Workshop and After the Workshop – awesome!
Thanks Frederick Van for the Interview!
Hey that was a great interview! Hehe… I just listened to it and forgot about all the HDR Controversy we addressed therein! You can listen to it also from Frederick Van’s blog. Thanks again for all the kind tweets and emails about the interview. Even though I went out on a limb in many areas, I think they struck a chord… thanks again y’all. And when I say “Internet” – I mean YOU!
Daily Photo – Templestorm
It’s hard to keep up with my students! I feel they are catching up and surpassing me! I won’t have it! Hehe… no no… my theory is that HDR will begin to splinter into a million different shards. I can’t wait to see where each of them take the artform.
This is just outside of JogJakarta, Indonesia at an ancient temple called Prambanan. It was the kind of place that has been sitting there waiting for me to bring my story-telling-machine there. You have seen a few of my other shots of this place perhaps, just after the storm hit. As I was leaving, I looked back over my shoulder to see this. I sometimes forget as I walk away from things to turn around and look back, and I can see things I don’t expect.
This is from an awesome monument in Indonesia called Borobudur. There are about five ways to spell this temple, at least when I spell it. But, you get the general idea.
I’ve re-mastered this one by using the textures from the Textures Tutorial. This one is actually featured in the video. I have a non-textured version of this which is also interesting… and I think I explain in the video that the use of these textures doesn’t necessarily make something “better”, but what it does do is make something else that is equally satisfying in a different way. So then, at the end, you have two photos, rather than one, each one different and nice in its own way (if that makes sense!).
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 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.
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.
So, many of you know that I am represented by Getty and also do a lot of direct licensing. Because my work is Creative Commons (means you can use it for free for personal use on blogs/wallpaper, as long as it is not for commercial purposes), it gets spread all over the diaspora of the Internet, and companies contact us on a regular basis to license photos commercially for one use or another. Even in a bad economy, this is doing very very well. In fact, every month continues to get better, even as traditional travel magazines like Conde Nast are losing advertising revenue. Although, I am sure this is not a surprise to any of us that use the internet so much to get info nowadays!
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!
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!
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.