FUJIFILM 2017 CALENDAR

FUJIFILM 2017 CALENDAR

I've been so busy with projects recently that I haven't been updating the blog...I haven't even finished editing the Azores photos.  There's lots happening though, quite a few projects that will be coming to fruition throughout next year that need all the seeds planting now.  

In the meantime though, I've just received my official Fujifilm calendar for 2016 from Fuji. It's a massive honour to see my image from Bali on there.  They selected 6 landscape images from all their X Photographers for the A2 sized calendar and mine was chosen for November/December.

Lots more images and news coming soon.

TRAVELLING WITH THE FUJI X SERIES TO INDONESIA

TRAVELLING WITH THE FUJI X SERIES TO INDONESIA

I've just returned from 25 days in Indonesia, my first trip with Fuji cameras and my first trip without a large dSLR.  We traveled the entire length of Java and Bali overland so it was important to me to have a camera that wouldn't feel heavy and cumbersome to carry around, but also one I could completely rely on to produce excellent image quality.

The experience of traveling with Fuji cameras has been a revelation! Not only in how much lighter, smaller and easier to carry around it all is, but how I've not once missed my old Nikon in terms of image quality or autofocus in any of the many situations I've encountered, from fast moving street scenes to dynamically lit landscapes.  They've been brilliant, reliable and a consistent pleasure to use.

INDONESIA PART 6: UBUD

INDONESIA PART 6: UBUD

Ubud is the cultural capital of Bali, an artist's town set amongst the rice fields and hills of central Bali. It's a place we planned to unwind and catch some culture like Balinese dancing, and although I had a couple of locations researched I wasn't really planning on much photography here.

One of the things that Ubud has is a wide range of incredibly stylish, sophisticated, but affordable accommodation. We'd booked 5 nights in a place called Alam Indah, on the outskirts of Ubud next to the famous monkey forest. It didn't disappoint, the room was beautiful with great views out over the forest and proved to be a fantastic place to relax (and write this blog). 

INDONESIA PART 5: MUNDUK

INDONESIA PART 5: MUNDUK

We were sad to leave Pemuteran. It had been a relaxing four days, but it was time to move on to our next location, Munduk, high in the central mountains of Bali. It's a tiny village surrounded by clove and coffee plantations with rice terraces cut into the side of the hills.  The journey from Pemuteran took a little less than an hour and a half, and after we left the town of Seririt we seemed to be constantly rising in twisting roads.  The landscape is so green and there is so much water. It's incredibly fertile land and so much grows here.

INDONESIA PART 4: PEMUTERAN

INDONESIA PART 4: PEMUTERAN

The train journey from Probolinggo to Banuwango takes about four and a half hours through verdant green fields of rice, then it's a few hundred meters to the ferry port and about a dollar to make the crossing to Bali. 

The island sits there in the blue of the sea with volcanic peaks covered in green vegetation reaching high into the sky. It's a very short crossing, and in no time we were there and being picked up at the exit. It's a short drive to the hotel but we were fascinated by the small villages we past through. Unlike Java, which is mostly Muslim, Bali is predominantly Hindu and right away we could see subtle differences in the architecture. We could feel ourselves starting to unwind and the stress of the busy last 5 days leaving our bodies, which had been the plan when we'd organized this part of the trip months earlier. There was nothing in particular I wanted to photograph in Pemuteran, it was just 4 days in a beautiful place where we could snorkel and recharge our batteries. 

INDONESIA PART 3: BROMO

INDONESIA PART 3: BROMO

We were up at 4am the next day again, but this time it was to get us to the early train in to Surabaya from Yogyakarta. Where the journey to Borobudur had taken almost 2 hours with the holiday traffic, the journey back to the station only took 45 minutes and we were there in plenty of time to get some breakfast and find our seats.

The journey took 5 hours and despite dozing a little on the train, I saw lots of the countryside through the window. Lush rice fields with people wearing conical hats, it was a typical rural south East Asian scene that made me wish, as ever, that we'd had more time to explore the area. At Surabaya station we met the driver we'd arranged with the Bromo hotel a few weeks previously. After about 2 hours we turned off the main road and started to head up into the mountains, the air got cooler and our ears started to pop.

INDONESIA PART 2: BOROBUDOR

INDONESIA PART 2: BOROBUDOR

Leaving behind Yogyakarta we headed towards nearby Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument on the world.  It's the kind of place like Angkor Wat or Bagan, when you first see photos of it, it seems like it's the set for some movie about a lost world. It's a vast stone mandala-like structure built around the hill in a jungle over a thousand years ago. 

By now though it's firmly established on the tourist trail and thousands of Indonesians travel from all over the country to visit it. I wanted to photograph it at sunrise, which I knew would mean a very early morning and difficulties in getting a clean shot as I expected the place to be very busy for first light in the way that Shwedagon Pagoda in Bagan was. Indeed both of these things were firmly on my mind as we arrived at Borobudur as I knew that it marked the beginning of four mornings where we would get up at 4am or earlier in both Borobudur and then Mount Bromo, and that both places would be incredibly busy with tourists making photography with a tripod sometimes a little challenging.  When we'd planned the trip I'd tried to ensure that we visited Bromo away from the weekend hoping that would mean slightly smaller crowds, but also because we also wanted our time in Ubud, Bali, to coincide with a full moon festival.  However, we hadn't realised that this would mean this part of the trip taking place in a week that began with a bank holiday to celebrate Indonesia's independence. The traffic as we left Yogyakarta to get to the temple was incredible and I started to realize how busy Borobudur was actually going to be.

INDONESIA PART 1: JAKARTA & YOGYAKARTA

INDONESIA PART 1: JAKARTA & YOGYAKARTA

Java, Bali, Indonesia, Jakarta are all magical names that conjure images of far away exotic lands to me.   After loving our trip to Burma we really wanted to return to Asia and spent a while looking at different possibilities.  Indonesia was the place we kept coming back to and about a year ago we decided that that's where we'd go.

Planning the trip proved a nightmare as it's a vast country spread out over thousands of islands with so much to see. At first we had quite an adventurous plan to see about 4 islands, but with this trip we thought it would be nice to have a smaller focus and spend more time in different places. For me, the huge Buddhist temple of Borobudur and the amazing volcano at Bromo, both on Java, were the big draws.  For Teresa it was the cultural city of Yogyakarta, also on Java, as well as Bali that she really wanted to see.  So after poring through guide books, GoogleEarth and various sites on the web, we decided to focus on Java and Bali and limit the locations we stayed in so weren't constantly on the move.

HEADING TO INDONESIA

HEADING TO INDONESIA

After months of research and planning, Teresa and I are finally heading off to Indonesia for a around a month on Monday.  It's a trip we've wanted to make for a long time and we'll be taking in a really wide range of places and locations, so it should provide lots of opportunities for photography.

We'll fly to Jakarta, before heading by train to Yogyakarta, the cultural centre, for a couple of days.  Then we'll spend a couple of days at the huge Buddhist temple of Borobudur, before heading by train again to Surabaya and then on to Mount Bromo, the iconic volcano in the Tengger Semeru National Park.  After that we head over to Bali for a few days diving and snorkelling in Permuteran on the north coast, then up to the mountains and rice fields in Munduk, before relaxing at the end of the trip in Ubud.