It was a joy, mostly, to shoot yoga instructor Ka’ale Sea performing feats of grace in the gushing mist of a tropical waterfall.
We had just a couple hours to capture teaser stills and video for the up-and-coming launch of Waterfall Yoga at Nihiwatu Resort, in western Sumba. And since the bamboo platform for this offering hasn’t quite left the ground, we were further challenged to find flattish perches on which to prop Ka’ale and cameras.
Thankfully, Ka’ale is a pro, and made a one-legged squat on a boulder look effortless. “That’s the move!” I said. “Can you do that 20 more times?” She didn’t bat an eye.
By capturing a wide shot of Ka’ale’s full sequence, followed up by “B-camera” cutaways of the same moves (“Perfect knee bend! Do it again!”), we got just enough footage for a two-minute flow.
Lensbaby Control Freak – Rock ‘n’ roll!
The dreamy, creamy shots were courtesy Lensbaby. This was the first time I’d strapped one on for video on my Nikon D7000. I’d seen a Lensbaby in movie mode while fixing some reconstruction sequences on a production of Man vs. Monster. But that was a Lensbaby “Composer”, and sure enough, it’s the more forgiving lens in the heat of action. Not like my “Control Freak” which is 150% manual, from the poke-em-in, pry-em-out aperture rings, to the accordian-like tilt/shift focus, flexed by two hands, or better yet, three.
The strategy: I picked an f8-ish ring from my quiver, which offered maybe f0.8 depth of field with the lens mid-squish. Next I hunted down a sliver a focus (“Hold that squat!”), and once I found it (at last!) I probed gently all around it, rocking the lens and/or my body in the rhythm of breath. It was like meditating, save for the cuss words, and the odd shots where my wobbles jived with Ka’ale’s, which were quasi-orgasmic.
Hoodman loupe — Keep out of reach of rodents!
None of this would have been possible without a decent loupe. Sadly, mine was barely decent as the night before its eyepiece had been half-eaten by rats! They’d marched past my Toblerone and cashews and went straight for my $5-a-nibble eyecup. Tragic! I’ve yet to find a camera loupe dealer in Indo, let alone Sumba. Anyway, even half an eyecup was indispensable for a 3-point brace on the camera (make that 20-point, with the rat nibbles) and for fishing out “sweet spots” of focus.
Since the dawn of DSLR video, there’s been a proliferation of loupes that cost more than most used cameras. ‘Til now, I’ve been happy strapping on my $90 Hoodman loupe (better known for reviewing still images) with a couple over-sized hair ties. The Hoodman comes with a nifty case. Use it!
ASMP Bulletin editor Jill Waterman made a marathon effort interviewing this year’s 20 photographers. Even I learned a thing or two in my own Q&A, thanks to her probing questions. And Director of Communications Pete Dyson bent over backwards to wrangle last-minute tear sheets and photo captions into my web profile.
Far-flung in Indonesia, it’s easy to feel cut-off from the mainstream photographic community. Devoted efforts from people like Jill and Pete, and the generous wealth of experience at the ASMP forums, make me feel right at home. Thanks guys!!
An excerpt from the Q&A…
Best of 2011: Djuna Ivereigh
Poachers-turned-guides scale giant trees, some with their first branches 50 meters off the forest floor.
During a 1998 Indonesian caving expedition, Djuna Ivereigh’s forest guides turned out to be a gang of highly skilled cockatoo poachers, trapping birds for the pet trade. At the end of the trip, she stayed behind to photograph the group as a personal project. Her resulting images inspired a conversion: While the poachers initially showed no signs of remorse in stringing up birds, they felt differently after studying her pictures. They now run a wildlife rehabilitation center and lead groups into the trees as ecotourism guides. Ivereigh has remained in Indonesia, as well, where she continues to photograph conservation and tourism, including luxury villas in Bali.
Djuna Ivereigh, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Project: A personal project documenting how Indonesian poachers operate and why, which resulted in their change of heart to work in ecotourism and wildlife rehabilitation.
Guides from Seram Canopy Safaris (clockwise from top: Sonny, Ois, Buce and Peter) share a laugh beneath their newest rainforest canopy platform.
ASMP: How long have you been in business?
DI: Freelancing for 20 years; writing and shooting full time for 13; still working to wean myself of words.
ASMP: How long have you been an ASMP member?
DI: Finally(!) pulled my head out and joined this year.
ASMP: What are your photographic specialties?
DI: Trees, hobbits and the odd luxury villa. Emphasis on “odd.”
ASMP: What do you consider your most valuable tool or piece of equipment?
DI: Menfolk envy my 500/f4 and its dedicated extender. My only consolation: “It’s not about the equipment, it’s how you use it!”
Over the last eight years, I’ve been honored to shoot Bali’s top luxury properties. Here climate, craftsmanship and jet set indulgence collect in the perfect storm of architectural abandon. Walls are optional, as are handrails and a bath that precludes nude sunbathing.
These homes look and feel like heaven. But shooting them can be anything but. The challenge is to capture the essence of indoor-outdoor living. If you can saunter, unhindered, from a shady day bed to a sun-blasted pool patio, I insist that this be known in a single frame. Nevermind the 1000-fold gulf in light. Yes, one thousand-fold! Our eyes leap 10 stops without blinking. Our cameras (yes, even mine) can’t see more than five.
The solution? Add light. A lot if it. Enough to fill a car, and empty a bank account. In my case, a few times over! Yes, I thank the gods for the miracles of digital compositing. For some shots, I meticulously blend dozens of exposures into one. But compositing, alone, does not make for a compelling, realistic image. There simply is no substitute for big strobes on big stands, and the wherewithal to set them up. Click into our exterior and interior galleries and see for yourself.
#5. Because, sooner or later, you will. Too much of our work follows on the heels of non-specialist shooters — photographers who don’t know what shots sells villa nights. Our well-oiled team — including a stylist, a lighting wizard and a digital darkroom magician — will do what it takes to make your property look its best. Save time and money by shooting once, and shooting right.
#4. Because a villa is not a hotel. Your property is unique — in a class of if its own. How do you communicate that? Your clients won’t be relying on corporate brand recognition, fueled by a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. They’ll be scrutinizing your image gallery long and hard before sending a deposit, sight unseen. What will it take to drive that conversion?
#3. Because you, too, are a professional. Professional photographs reveal more than “hardware” — a villa’s furniture and facilities. Top-notch images speak to quality, trustworthiness and attention to detail. And to the heart — to values that transcend money.
#2. Because your competition did.
#1. Because with great photos, your villa will sell itself.
“Djuna captured the mood and character of Villa Home perfectly. The shots bring to life the villa’s unique energy and our rental occupancy has gone through the roof since we loaded the shots to our web site.” — Emily, Villa Home
“Djuna’s photos tread that fine line of showing a villa to its best advantage and being honest in the representation, giving a great idea of actually being there.” — Johan Mansur, The Istana
“The photos you took have withstood the test of time, and have been universally admired. They really captured the spirit of Khayangan Estate – Seventh Heaven. I was also personally very impressed by the efficient and professional way you worked, and got so much done in such a short time.” — Mark Saunders-Davies, Khayangan Estate
“No, Djuna, listen. Do you know how beautiful your pictures are?” — Wendy Wilcox, Karang Kembar Estate
“We worked with Djuna and her team on a new luxury villa shoot in Seminyak. The villa was a pure white colonial style residence and it was essential that amazing images were shot to add to the website and promotional literature. At the time this was no mean feat with the unpredictable weather of that season! Djuna was a consummate professional. Her team were almost invisible, ensuring set up was perfect and Djuna completed not only our shot list but angles I could have only dreamt about. We were so happy with the resulting shots and the client was delighted! I would not hesitate to work with Djuna and her team again, they make it all look so easy!” — Joanne McFarlane, ClearWhiteSpace Creative Marketing Solutions
“I’d never leave another photographer alone. They’d screw it up. Do you know how beautiful these pictures are??” — Wendy Wilcox, Karang Kembar Estate
“Djuna rocks! We love her work and can’t wait to have her come back to shoot our new villas as soon as they are done.” — Claude Graves, Managing Director, Nihiwatu Resort
Dian, Nelly and I spent four long days and nights shooting new suites at Bambu Indah, the eco-luxe retreat fashioned by Green School founders Cynthia and John Hardy. The property is a fantasyland of antique Javanese houses, surrounding a black bamboo Minangkabau palace, all perched over the verdant Sayan River gorge. Every house is unique — at each one it took us some time to discover the hidden windows and portals through which we could beam strobes. And while some are plenty spacious, others were clearly built for hobbits. Wedging into a corner with camera, legs and lights left me feeling like Alice, having eaten the wrong bit of cake.
Shooting during the full moon, it was hard to get any rest! By the time we’d finish dinner, a clean blue light would start beaming off the horned thatch roof at the Minang house. I had no choice but to stay up half the night, set the camera on long exposure, and paint the bamboo by Maglite…
This was our first shoot putting some homegrown LEDs to work, and boy, was I glad we did. Dian and I scrounged some 10- and 20-watt (i.e., honking!) LEDs from a lighting shop in Denpasar, and rigged them up via inverters and motorbike batteries. How fun it was to go “unplugged” with a lot of light in a little package, cool enough to hold in hand and gel any which way! And with the native temperature darn close to daylight, it was easy for us to bring out the blue and green patinas in some of the old Java houses. These would have been lost under incandescents.
Down below is a good example, lifted from a “bonus” slideshow at Entra. Yes, there’s a bonus slideshow! The added content at this e-mag is great! Extra photos and video content.. even the ads are cool, linked to take-it-or-leave-it digital brochures.
There’s several more spreads and slides to this story. Go see for yourself at entramagazine.com. It’s a candy store read, with drop-dead gorgeous layouts. I’m tickled to play a part in that, from a property that — they said it best — is “redefining home”.
Shooting the Shrimp House was also the first time I called up room service to order whale ribs! Just a few of the odd treasures strewn about the Bambu Indah estate… Propped against the left wall in the final shot, the big old bones played nice with a wooden paddle and traditional fish trap that accent the room.
And here it is — your exclusive behind-the-scenes look at fish-wrangling. Dian loves all things fish, and was happy to bait them with food and flashlights ’til well past midnight.
By the time we wrapped, it was well past my sweetie’s bedtime.
For more of the inside scoop on Entra magazine — people profiles and a sneak peak at what’s ahead — check the DesigninTell blog at VandM (Vintage and Modern) Design.
No, we’re not in Indonesia anymore. In May 2009 I was lucky enough to get back to the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, a rapsberry swirl of Navajo Sandstone on the Colorado Plateau. Smack dab between Arizona and Utah. In the United States of America.
Back in the day, access to this geological playground could be secured with a shoulder rub that would earn you a bit of map pointing by the right BLM official. Then photographers got wind of it. These days, permits are all by lottery, and your chances are about one in a hundred that a bingo machine (yes, a bingo machine!) will pop up your number for the coveted northern section (a.k.a, “The Wave”). Not to worry. This southern section is well-guarded by natural obstacles and is well worth the extra trouble of 4WDing and orienteering.
I was just happy to see naked rock. Not much of that here in Indo for us recovering geologists.
Let’s face it — East Timor has gotten a lot of bad press. Five centuries of colonial rule and 24 years of bloody occupation didn’t help. In my mind’s eye, Timor was all rocky scrub and rubble. How wrong I was…
A few weeks ago, I joined my partner Joe Yaggi and Jungle Run Productions on a circuit around the coasts and highlands of western East Timor. Joe shot footage for Tour de Timor 2010 — a mountain-biking-cum-nation-building initiative launched by President José Ramos-Horta. I helped out, and shot a few stills.
All in all, I was smitten. We made our way over two high passes — 1500 and 1800 meters, one at the base of Timor’s highest peak, Mount Ramelau, topping out at 2963 meters. The rolling, green highlands looked like something out of New Zealand, just add Austronesian architecture.
And the people… Most have a story to tell, and are grateful they’re here to tell it. There was Ferdinand Xavier, the last guerilla commandante from Ainaro, who fought alongside Xanana Gusmao. There was Gaspar Leki, who joined the Indonesian army to oppose Timor’s independence, but was welcomed home when his side lost. And there was Sister Elsa, who speaks of unspeakable massacres, and moves on: “Of course, I have to be peaceful, I have to be joyful, so that I can bring this peace, this joyful in my heart to other people.”
No one practices peace so vigorously as those who had to earn it.
Take a spin on the summit of Gunung Api, an active volcano at the heart of the Banda Islands of Maluku, Indonesia. As the native home of nutmeg, these are the “Spice Islands” that drove Europeans on their first journeys around the globe. In 1667, the tiny island of Run, just visible in the far the west (opposite the rising sun), was traded for Manhattan.
Fun with panos
1) Do somersaults!
2) Right click… “Little Planet View”. Now try somersaults!
3) Click lower right corner of image to toggle full screen view. This calls for more somersaults!
How’d I Do That?
This “spherical panorama” depicts 360° in all directions from the camera. It’s a stitched composite of four fisheye images shot from a single point. The camera was mounted on a special support, so that rotation centered on the “nodal point” of the lens — the point where all light rays converge. This eliminated parallax (displacement of the view throughout rotation) so that images could be neatly stitched using the program PTGui. From there, the image is beamed through the krpano viewer, which offers some fun projections and interface features.
Impress your Friends!
At last, the perfect gift for the know-it-all New Yorker. Put them in their place with this Banda-centric world view. Which speck of real estate in this image was once worth more than their rent-controlled apartment? You’ll leave them stumped for sure…
Click “Planet Banda”, below, then “Add to Cart” to order a 20″x20″ inch print, shipped anywhere in the world. Just $50!
A "little planet" projection of a 360-degree panorama from the summit of Gunung Api volcano, Banda Islands, Maluku. Pulau Run — the distant island at 5 o'clock in this image — was once traded for Manhattan. (Djuna Ivereigh)