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New Post on the Website

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From the beginning I tried to build my own website, I’ve been reading tons of references on how to make the website works. What’s a permalink, SEO, etc.

Amongst other important things, I need to carefully think the display, either the matter of the materials being displayed or how to display them to make sure it looks professional. Making sure that the viewers can see my niche.

Argh! So troublesome. But all worth it. Some times, my website connects me to clients or magazines who wants to display my works. Many times, the website gives me some sort of proof of existence.

But while I’ve been too careful on posting stories, I neglect another factor of being a keen photojournalist, that is consistency in working as one. It’s not like am lazy or havent done any stories in a while.. I just — dont put them on the web…

Sad.. Because my first purpose in building a website was to make sure I have a place to display my works. Works which I feel need to be shown and told to many, even when it doesnt make the cut for magazines or some prestigious awards and grants. Works that may not always touch your feelings and make you want to break down and cry to see that side of life, but instead, still can be informative about other parts of the world you’ve never seen.

I’m a photojournalist, I documents stories in life through pix and words. And I’ll show you some, on my very own website. ūüôā


Written by nickmatulhuda

August 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

It Was a Trip I Dont Ever Want to Come Back to

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June 24th ; 9 am : Start packing. 24 hours to the main event. Clothes, check. Shampoo and stuffs, check. Dont need make up this time. Nor heels.

June 24th ; 7 pm¬†: I’ve been here before last week. But this time, I can walk as I enter the empty room.

June 10th ; 2 am : Fuck! What did I eat? Shit.. I think I just drank coffee. Was it espresso in that cappuccino? I should just order ice tea. Damn it!

Keep in mind, Eka.. “Espresso is a small demitasse cup of strong coffee produced on a machine designed just for that purpose. And¬†Cappuccino actually starts out with one espresso brewed in a larger cup, then milk, which is steamed into a thick froth, is poured on top of the espresso. Chocolate is sprinkled on top to give it a finishing touch. So yes.. there was espresso inside that glass of so called frozen cappucino!!” -sighed

June 10th ; 5 am : I’ve been in this situation before. Puke right outside that clinic. Am so embarrassed. I’ve swore I’d never experience this ever again. Yet am here. Like I did couple of years back.

June 10th ; 7 am : The pain killer shot didnt help. I still vomiting like crazy. I cant even swallow a drop of water without throwing it out all over again.

June 10th ; 8 am : I still have my conscience. Yet I couldnt drag my feet to the car. My sisters on my left and right tried to carry me in to the back seat.

June 10th ; 8.15 am : “Tell me if it feels hurt”.. I was so hysterically in pain, that I told the doctor, I felt painful in every surface of my tummy. They gave me another shot. It supposed to ease the pain. It didnt. I was vomiting again and I start crying.

June 10th ; 9.30 am : “You might have stones in your kidney. We gonna do the ultrasound later, okay?”

June 10th ; 10 am : They take me out of the Emergency Room and put me to bed. I recalled another pain killer before I reached my new 4 beds- room. Still not working.

June 10th ; sometime in the afternoon : After another shot of pain killer, I can finally asleep. They did an ultrasound and found something that might be the actual cause of the kidney stone. I reminded the doctor that I was there most likely because I have chronic gastritis. But hey.. Am not the doctor here. Just dont give me a sign that I have other illness that you still cant be sure about, by sending me to an Obsgyn.. -sighed

June 10th ; dinner time¬†: My first dinner after about 24 hours of — digestion disaster. This time, it didnt came out from where it came in. Eww..

June 11th ; 10.00 am : They told me to hold my pee, before I see this nice doctor who do another ultrasound just to let me know that we need to do a surgery.

I was diagnosed for having myoma in the wall of my uterus. She said, its more than 9 cm in diameter, so surgery is the only way. That myoma may also caused the potential stones in my kidney, which is the least I should worry about, right now.¬†This benign that grows inside me needs to be removed immediately. Luckily, I dont have to have a hysterectomy, where all parts of my uterus should be removed. I only need to do laparoscopic myomectomy, and that one day I can still have babies, because I get to keep the baby room inside of me. I was amazingly calm. I always felt that somethings wrong inside of me, I just dont know what that is. Now I know. “Can I stay awake during the surgery?” The doctor smiled, and said, “Yes, you can even pick a song!”

June 25th ; 9.00 am : I was actually thinking of bringing my camera. But I gave it to my mother eventually. I’ve been in and out of the operating room for shooting cataract surgery in Papua, thus the needles and all the masks dont really look scary to me. Also, I’ve actually been dying to be in the operating room handled by an Obsgyn. But certainly not like this.

June 25th ; 9.30 am : 30 minutes passed the operation schedule. They started to take me in. I waved my mom goodbye. Still thinking, should I bring a camera? Maybe my G-9?

My irony with maternity room is that I’ve been in and out of maternity wards for years to shoot mothers and babies, mothers in labors, baby born, and all the emotion. Now am in a maternity room, yet without a baby to begin with. And while I’ve been begging to shoot a c-section couple of times times, and without any approvals, I get to do a sort of c-section on me!! Again.. without a baby inside me to begin with. I mean, how sad is that?

I got out of the hospital, on Thursday, June 28th afternoon. It was quite a trip. And now am in recovery state. Took a while to actually sit down and walk. But those nice nurses think my recovery is quite fast. Sure.. I dont need to carry any baby or think about how to breastfeed as I endure this pain. I am very very lucky. I cant imagine the pain, an actual mother should gone through after a c-section and still have to take care of a baby or more. I dont have anything to whine about. Am in a better condition than them.

But still.. I hope this trip that filled with irony, wont be something I’d experience again in the future. Now I know what a surgery like. Hey, I even have a scar for a memento! Maybe I should make a tattoo on that scar.. (and leave with another infection, Ms. Smartypants..)

During 2,5 hours of surgery, they found two myomas, which none was actually 9 cm in diameter. Guess you cant always trust that shadow imagery in ultrasounds. The other myoma was very small, but am glad they found that little monster and take it out. Another surprise was, they also need to remove my appendix. Man.. Talking about damage here.. Am actually had been doing some serious ones in my body!!

Anyhow.. am so lucky. I hope I wont ever go back to this kinds of trip ever again. Where am in my lowest point as human. Disgusting, helpless and troublesome. Am lucky that my family are right there where I need them most. And my dear friends came to make sure that I can actually be helpless and vulnerable for once. Seriously.. Thank you..

My loving frequent visitors. Couldnt ask for a better companion.

PS : Penyebab utama dari mioma uteri masih belum bisa diketahui. Dan saya bukan dokter. Tapi jika ada teman yang perlu sharing tentang penyakit ini, bisa menghubungi saya. Salah satu RS yang bisa dikatakan paling murah untuk operasi jenis ini adalah RS Medika Permata Hijau, dan saya ditangani oleh Dr. Yasmina dan teamnya yang baik hati dan tidak sombong. ūüôā Tapi jangan berharap perlakuan hotel bintang 3, apalagi bintang 5 ya, kalau mau operasi yang murmer. hehe.. Yang penting kondisi tubuh harus fit sebelum operasi, karena amit-amit kalau anda sedang flu atau batuk. Post-op nya itu loooh.. ngebet banget di bekas jahitannya kalau anda sampai bersin atau batuk.

Written by nickmatulhuda

July 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Posted in about her

The Joy in Meeting Strangers

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Got caught up in weird kinds of things so called work lately. I think I’ve helplessly come to the point of realizing, by able to do a little bit of everything, here and there, the only time I could really rest is when I actually die. ;p

I never not enjoy stuffs that I do. Taking pix, research, writes, marketing, build network for my upcoming business, or whatever… Though not all of them instantly give me money, and that some people think of that as not a smart thing to do, I cant resist to the idea that some things would be better if am the one doing it. I guess.. I have a problem in delegating work. Not that I dont think others can do it, just that I dont know how to ask someone to do stuffs running around inside my head.

Youuuu got it! This is the I-section. Where I would blabbering about God Knows What. hehe..

Whenever I get to this point of my life, God will arrange some exciting stuffs to take a break from me. That would be.. Meeting strangers! And this time, I met a wonderful lady in a public transport, who happens to reflect all of my biggest fears in life.

Mbah RR Sri Sulastri.. alias Ibu Ali. eh?!???!!

An almost 80 years old woman, traveled almost 13 km that day by public transport, which can also means doubled the original length of distance. With her wooden stick as a companion, she kept on glancing smiles at me, and ask wether the food from the street vendor i was eating, was delicious. Haha.. I gave her one, which was not really easy for her to chew nor swallow. Ah.. She’s so full of life, yet .. old. Well, aging is not a sin. But it’s one thing I scared the most. Growing old. Afraid that I would be powerless and need all the help I can get. And worse, if I get older and refuse to get help at such age by thinking I still have the power to do just about anything. [whatever Eka.. duh]

So I sat there, in front of her, for 45 minutes and just listen to what she likes to say, or stuffs that she answer from all my silly questions.

Maybe one day, I’ll meet a stranger who’s 50 years younger than me in a futuristic public transport. Cant wait to know what I’d think by then.

Written by nickmatulhuda

May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Where to Fix Your Camera in Jakarta

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Unfortunately, this isnt advertisement.

I still havent reach to the point where all my blog posts can reach to million viewers, that people would pay me to put their ads here.

Thankfully, I dont really care either.

So, where would you go to get your camera fixed if you have some problems with it, when you’re in Jakarta?

This is the only place I’d go to. Harpa Camera Service & Repair :

As you can see on their board, it’s located at Pasar Baru. Apparently it’s a commonly known place for photographers in Jakarta. Antara Foto School of Photojournalism and its gallery also located in Pasar Baru area.

Have no idea why they named it after a music instrument, harpa –for harp.

To go to this repair shop, from the entrance of Pasar Baru, with its gigantic welcoming gate written “Passer Baroe”, right after you crossed one of the stinkiest big gutter in central Jakarta, just go straight and enjoy the scenery of many many many textiles shops and shoes shops. Sometimes you can even spot one or two department stores displaying racks of bras. How could they actually planning to make us girls feel comfortable for lingerie shopping when they display them on the doorstep at the sidewalk?

Anyway.. after you wiggle on the sound of Hindi music or house music on the highest volume, you will reach to almost the end of the -sort of- tunnel. On your left, you’ll see shops selling hair and make up equipment. Thats where my twin sisters will go to, because they are make up artists (

While on your right, you’ll see a God Knows What shops. hehe.. Sorry.. I cant really explain, for that place can be extremely messy. Just make sure that you are in Metro Atom Plaza. —–Wait, both buildings left and right are actually connected.

Errr… okay, just go to the building on your right (if you are following my previous lead). Then use that escalator (hope it’s working by the time you get there.. if not.. just pretend they are stairs..). And on the 2nd floor, go find Aneka Foto shop. I would suggest you to not immediately ask Harpa Camera, because most likely the people who sits there like they do nothing, would only think you’re going to Harpa to sell some of your shooting equipment. They can be a real pain..

So, just go to the opposite direction after you reach the 2nd floor, and you’ll find Aneka Foto on your right. Thats one of a place to go to if you want to buy batteries, cameras, lenses, lighting equipment and so on. Most of the times, they actually give good price. But make sure you know the price tag on the market for the items you planning to buy.

Hendra, the nurse

Hendra, the camera nurse

After you passed the busy camera shop called Aneka Foto, VOILA! Thats where Harpa Camera is.

If you’re lucky, you will meet Hendra ;

His face would look like this, more or less. He’s a very nice and polite guy, and extremely talkative! And no.. am not describing myself here.

Hendra will ask whats your problem is. The camera’s, of course. He’s like a nurse. He will determine if they can actually fix the problem in your camera, or just send you back home and say, “Sorry.. we cant..”.

The real doctor, would be this guy ;

His name is TITO! And he’s a super magician!

Unlike Hendra, Tito barely say a word. He’s like an autism who prefers to sit in his corner and play with his toys. In this case, they are lenses, flashes, cameras, and so on. And he doesnt treat them like toys. He treat them with respects. He cleans them with his mop by heart, gently. He always amazes me, everytime I get the chance to see him work. For me, he’s an artist.

It took years of experience, tons of patience, and a real passion to fix camera equipment. And he has it all. He is so focused, you should be prepared if he’s somehow just ignore you when he’s working.

I think… Wait, I KNOW.. that Tito isnt a professional photographer. Maybe he was. I dont know. We’d tangled in jokes if we ever actually involved in a conversation. But he doesnt always joke. It took me a while to get him to make jokes. And sadly, they’re not always funny.

Tito has been fixing cameras for — I dont know, I never asked.. But I’m guessing from the early years of camera invasion to Indonesia. And he barely have a day off!! Yes.. You can come anytime, from 11 am to 6 pm, everyday! And you’ll find them there.

“I am paid per day work. So if I dont come, I wont get paid,” said Hendra once. And since Hendra is only the nurse, he wont open the shop without the doctor. So, they’ll definitely there.

Even after Eidul Fitri!!!! Seems like, Tito always has a thing to do. A camera to fix. Piles of what I would think of junks, just sit infront of him on his desk, and he would drowned in full concentration to fix them, one by one.


The reasons why I always go to them ;

  1. Sometimes, I can be clumsy, that everytime I borrowed someone’s equipment, I either drop it, bang it, or spill ice tea on it. Yes.. I do that.
  2. When I still work for a daily newspaper, some of my lenses can be very dirty, and I like them to be sharp clean for out of town or abroad assignment.
  3. They ask for reasonable price.
  4. They’re not a snob or a smartypants who would act like they know everything and make you feel stupid just because you dont know what the heck happen to your camera.
  5. They would first examine your equipment, trying to figure out what seems to be the problem, and give you a rough estimation on the repair cost. You can always have your camera back, if you think they ask for a lot of money.
  6. They would say no to some camera equipment, if they think the cost for fixing it is higher than a brand new items of the similar product.
  7. I respect them and they respect me as a customer and a photographer. They know my work demands for high speed, even when it comes to repairs. So they’ll immediately tell me if they think I should wait for a little longer, whenever they think there’s a serious damage.
  8. Even though they cant afford to give me a back-up equipment when they are fixing the damaged ones (for they dont have the responsibility to do that), they will not charge me for more, if I return in a day or two, when I found out something still went terribly wrong with the equipment they’ve repaired. It’s like a post-service thing. And since Tito is the only one who fix things, he’ll still remember the items and what he has done with it to fixed it. He even still remember most of my shooting kit that I’ve brought to him, either to be fixed or just cleaned.
  9. They are funny, honest, polite and sincere. Thats the true service that I would expect from anyone I have business with.

The reason why I would be grumpy at them ;

They cant always keep their promise. So, ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure they are on schedule and ask if they already even try to fix your camera. Because Tito is like a one man show. He can be drown in fixing lens A, thus make flash B and camera C to wait until he finished. It’s a good thing for repairing quality, but not good when you are in a hurry. I always checking on the phone everytime my equipment is in their hands. They’ll let you know when it’s ready for you to take it.

The reason why they would be grumpy at me ;

I ALWAYS ALWAYS forget to bring the receipt. So they need to ask for my ID everytime I want to take my stuffs back. It’s a good thing, really. They wont give your equipment to a stranger. Once, I asked a friend to get me my flash, and they called me up first just to make sure, and still ask my friend some questions. My friend found them irritating and went grumpy on me. So that makes three people who were grumpy at me all at once.

O well.. ūüôā

Written by nickmatulhuda

April 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Travel-photographer And The So Called Vacation

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Sharing is caring.. unless you have STD. ūüėÄ

Anyway, people… meet Fadli and Hafidz. Both are –currently- young and –hopefully in long term– promising Indonesian photographers, specialized in travel photography.

Me, Fadli, Hafidz and Safir Makki from Jakarta Globe, decided to meet up for a coffee at one afternoon, and wind up discussing about their expertise. Errr… actually, Safir and I were nothing but a listener, since we were mostly just awed by their intense conversation.

I recorded it in a video, but since they’re not really pretty, I dont think watching them talking actually have any use. hehe.. You can, however, just read the transcript of their conversation. I wont be bother to translate everything in english, since google translate has already been invented. So, if you really want to know what they were talking about.. you need to figure it out yourself. But trust me, it all worth it.

Who are they?

Fadli is both Padang and Jakarta based photographer. He was a photographer for Tempo magazine (creating awesome portraits), before a magazine sponsored by the biggest airlines here, Garuda Indonesia, hire him to cover 12 travel destinations for them. His latest project was Taipei.

Hafidz¬†is a National Geographic Indonesia / National Geographic Traveler photographer based in Jakarta. And for a brand like National Geographic to actually want to make him their photographer, it must be of course, for a very damn good reason. From how I see it, he’s a hardworking photographer who’s very keen to learn!

[All photos courtesy of Muhammad Fadli. Check his website to see more of his work. And enjoy this Taipei coverage in April edition Garuda Indonesia in-fligt magazine]

**What is the first thing you do before you go on assignment like Taipei, one of your twelve destinations?

Pertama riset. Biasanya lihat di koleksi Getty Images karena mereka yang paling banyak database fotonya dan variatif.
Setuju! Sepertinya Getty memang yang paling pas. Dalam artian, stylenya tidak terlalu kaku kantor berita, walaupun mereka news-stock agency.
Selain Getty, saya juga lihat foto-foto di Flickr. Menggunakan search engine di Google Images juga bisa, bedanya, di Flickr kita bisa lihat karya-karya foto yang diupload oleh fotografer profesional juga. 
Tapi yang perlu diperhatikan saat meriset, jangan menggunakan kata kunci yang terlalu umum, seperti “Taipei-Flickr”, dimana hasilnya bisa terlalu acak, karena ada terlalu banyak foto yang bisa masuk dalam kategori ini.
Coba cari dengan¬†kata kunci “nama lokasi” dan “fiveprime”, yaitu situs yang mendata foto-foto terbaik di Flickr.
Foto-foto yang menjadi hasil riset tersebut, gunanya untuk jadi panduan kita, untuk tidak lagi hanya memotret seperti itu di tempat tujuan kita nanti, tapi justru nanti pada saat memotret harus bisa berbeda dari yang sudah ada di database situs itu. Nanti kita coba terapkan pendekatan memotret detail, atau mencari sudut-sudut pemotretan yang berbeda. 
Tapi perlu diingat, dalam memotret sejumlah obyek foto iconic, ada yang sifatnya mandatory shot. Tidak banyak variasi yang bisa dilakukan pada obyek iconic tersebut. Contohnya, Candi Borobudur.
Sulit untuk mendapatkan variasi angle yang berbeda sama sekali dengan yang pernah diambil oleh fotografer lain, apalagi dari ke-empat sudutnya, yang kira-kira begitu-begitu saja. Kecuali mungkin, bila kita memotret Candi Borobudur dari atas bukit. 

**When you do your research, do you have other reference besides Getty Images?

Saya banyak melihat foto-foto Destinations, Travel and Leisure, National Geographic Traveler.
NYTimes Travel juga bagus, karena perpaduan yang apik dari foto travel dan foto jurnalistik.

**Technically speaking, what exactly that makes a good travel photography?

Foto-foto travel yang bagus, bisa terlihat sekali stylenya, dari karakter Depth of Field foto-fotonya, dan warna black di foto-foto mereka yang tidak terlalu pekat. Hal ini bisa dilihat di histogramnya, dimana black pointnya tidak boleh 0, jadi bagus kalau nanti dicetak di majalah yang background nya hitam juga.¬†(see reference “professional digital compositing : essential tools and techniques“).¬†
Ya, saya juga tahu prinsip itu dari Getty Images. Mereka punya aturan bagi kontributor stock photo, black point foto-fotonya tidak boleh 0, sedangkan highlightnya (white) tidak boleh di 255. Jadi saat edit, dibuat satu layer di atasnya, dimana black pointnya di taruh di 3, dan whitenya di 252. 

The whites are not too white.. The black isnt pitch black.

Untuk urusan teknis fotografi dalam memotret travel, kita bisa mempertimbangkan untuk mengaplikasikan teknik HDR (High Dynamic Range imaging). Asal foto yang dihasilkan dengan menggunakan teknik HDR itu, hasilnya mendekati pencahayaan aslinya. Bukan semata-mata menerangi yang bagian gelap dalam foto atau sebaliknya.
Jangan sampai, misalnya, menggelapkan langit dengan HDR malah hasilnya jadi ke-ungu-an. Beda dengan warna aslinya.
Kami di NG juga menggunakan HDR, tapi disesuaikan dengan warna-warna aslinya. Karena HDR digunakan untuk mengatasi keterbatasan kamera, dimana dalam satu frame foto tidak selalu bisa mendapatkan hasil foto yang sempurna pencahayaannya bila kontras pada shadow dan bagian terangnya terlalu tinggi. 
Kecuali bila anda seorang fotografer yang kaya dan mampu memiliki filter mahal dan bagus untuk mengatasi kondisi pencahayaan tertentu saat memotret. Tapi kan tidak semua orang mampu untuk itu. Jadi salah satu caranya ya menerapkan teknik HDR dalam memotret. 
Tapi menurut saya, ada keuntungannya juga kita tidak bergantung pada filter mahal.
Seperti NG yang sangat memperhitungkan logika cahaya, tidak akan membuat kesalahan kecil yang bisa dilakukan fotografer manapun dengan filternya itu. Contoh, pada foto yang langitnya gelap, tapi di refleksinya, justru langitnya terang. Yang namanya refleksi kan selalu lebih gelap.
Detail seperti itu yang NG selalu perhatikan dalam menerapkan HDR di foto-fotonya.

**So tell us about your shooting process in Taipei

Seperti yang tadi saya katakan, pertama-tama saya melakukan riset, dan memberikan ke klien, daftar obyek-obyek foto yang akan saya ambil selama saya di sana. Misalnya, Taipei 101 di pagi hari dan sebagainya.
Sementara untuk saya sendiri, saya pegang yang namanya shoot list. Daftar detail eksekusi foto tentang obyek apa-apa saja yang akan saya foto, kapan dan bagaimana saya menuju ke tempat obyek foto tersebut, akan difoto dari angle mana, dan siapa contact person yang harus saya hubungi. 
Lalu tahap selanjutnya menentukan icon yg akan difoto. Biasanya arsitektur. Kalau di kota-kota besar, iconnya gedung tinggi, seperti Taipei 101.
Kalau tidak salah, menurut Barry Kusuma, ada tiga rumus “tur” penting dalam travel photography, culture (daily life), arsitektur dan nature (landscape). Rumus ini juga sangat berlaku di stock-photography. Foto yang diserahkan ke klien, akan dianggap komplit, kalau sudah memenuhi tiga rumus itu.¬†
Salah satu foto Taipei 101 yang berhasil saya foto dan rasanya belum saya temukan di stok foto gedung ini, adalah ;

When you look around carefully from where you standing, you can get nice image as well.

Kebetulan pas di depan penginapan saya, pemandangannya terlihat seperti itu. Malam ketika sampai di Taipei, kita diberitahu oleh orang di sekitar penginapan, yang namanya Taipei 101 yang itu. Lalu saya pikir, pasti paginya keren nih. Tapi karena besok paginya masih mendung, terpaksa saya tunggu sampe pagi lusa nya. 
Tapi perlu diingat, walaupun kita perlu menghindari foto-foto klise, kadang-kadang foto klise itu juga diperlukan dan sayang juga kalau kita tidak punya.
Misalnya, kita ke Taj Mahal, masa sih kita tidak sempatkan foto Taj Mahal dengan refleksinya di kolam?
Lagipula kita juga harus punya foto “aman” karena kita memotret untuk keperluan klien, meski begitu, kita harus selalu berusaha agar sedikit beda.
Ada caranya supaya motret foto-foto yang klise itu agar sedikit beda.
Misalnya bromo, kita foto vertikal yang ada pohonnya, itu satu, lalu geser 5 langkah, foto lagi kali ini dengan langit di frame, lalu di zoom in, pake asap. Jadi, 2011 fotonya bisa dijual ke A, 2012 dijual ke B, 2013 dijual ke C. Begitu caranya motret stock photo..
Ya, contohnya pada foto ini ;

Take a simple image with certain approach.

Menurut saya, foto ini mirip dengan foto promo Taipei, dimana semua orang punya foto seperti itu.
Tapi yang membedakan, saya motret siang-siang dengan filter ND yang sangat gelap, dan memungkinkan saya untuk set up kamera dalam slow speed, meskipun memotret di siang hari. Hasilnya, bisa buat awannya jadi terlihat bergerak. Karena dengan filter itu bisa turun sampai 12 stop, saya pun bisa memotret dalam mode bulb selama 3 menit, menggunakan remote, di siang yang terik. Saya berpikir untuk membuat kesan bergerak pada awannya, karena saat itu, awannya terlihat kurang bagus dan rasanya lebih baik dibuat slow speed, semacam time lapse.
Biasanya, saat riset dan melihat foto-foto Taipei yang sudah ada di Internet, saya berusaha dapat gambaran, dimana-mana saja spot terbaik untuk memotret. 
Bahkan kalau bisa, saat riset kita sudah ada gambaran gedungnya menghadap kemana, bisa pakai GPS untuk itu.
Ya, karena memang sangat berpengaruh. Ketika kita belum mengenal lokasi dan memotret, hasilnya akan beda. 
Perlu juga antispasi waktu dengan datang lebih awal. Misalnya bila kita akan memotret matahari terbit, beberapa jam sebelumnya kita harus sudah di spot memotret.
Saya jarang shoot and kill, datang, memotret dan selesai. Bahkan kalau memungkinkan, saya akan memotret di tempat yang sama, berulang kali sampai dapat foto yang diinginkan.
Untungnya, seperti di Taipei kemarin, sama seperti Singapura. Gampang ke mana-mana jadi bisa balik lagi ke beberapa tempat yang sama untuk memotret lagi.
Biar tidak bosan datang ke tempat yang sama untuk memotret, ganti timing memotretnya.
Satu waktu datang siang, lain waktu datang malam, jadi bervariasi dan keluar warna yang beda.

Fadli came to this place a couple of times to get the shot he wants.

Dan kalau kita ingat bahwa kita motret ini ada uangnya, jadi tidak akan males atau bosan.
Kalau hujan malah tetap mau motret, malah justru mencari spot yang kalau motret hujannya bagus, difoto dengan slow speed misalnya.
Satu hal yang saya hindari dalam memotret travel adalah menyesal belakangan.
Jangan sampe saya tiba-tiba ingat ada hal yang kurang dan menyesal kenapa tidak motret di angle a atau b.
Itulah sebabnya, sebagai pengingat, kita punya shoot list.
Sesampainya kita di tempat, bisa tenang dulu sebentar baru mulai memotret, karena kan sudah punya shoot list dan merencanakan dengan matang akan memotret apa.
Travel photography memang tidak enak kalau diburu-buru.
Tapi meski demikian, unsur surprise walaupun sudah riset, tetap perlu. Jadi walaupun sudah punya gambaran akan tempat itu, karena ada elemen surprise nya jadi merasa, oh ternyata begini ya. 
Expecting the Un-expected. Seperti contoh foto gedung Taipei 101 ini ;

Expecting the unexpected. But luck is only for those who are prepared.

Foto itu adalah salah satu contoh foto yang un-expected.
Dalam perjalanan pulang, kami melewati satu sekolah yang ada anak-anak bermain basket. Ketika saya lihat, rasanya akan bagus kalo jadi foreground untuk framing gedung tersebut. 
Kalau memang tempat yang kita kunjungi tidak ada icon, kita bisa memotret detail dan portrait. Sebagai contoh, saat kita akan memotret perkebunan teh, jangan hanya foto overall perkebunan tehnya, tapi juga detail seperti tangan yang pegang teh.
Kita harus ingat, karakter foto editorial dengan foto penugasan travel ini, beda.
Kita akan perlu memotret beberapa foto yang sepintas terlihat simpel.
Secara fotografi jurnalistik, foto-foto sederhana itu mungkin akan terlewat karena tidak terlalu bernuansa jurnalistik, tapi kalau di layout, hasilnya bisa sangat menarik. Apalagi yang termasuk dalam foto-foto stock. Seperti contohnya dua foto yang sudah di lay out ini ;

Composite images for better lay out, from simple images.

Karena dalam memotret travel itu, kita sudah harus berpikir secara desain.
Misalnya kita diberi tahu oleh editor, nanti akan ada foto yang dibuat spread horizontal. Tips nya : saat kita cari foto yang akan disesuaikan dengan desain, obyek yang menjadi point of interest jangan ditaruh pas di tengah foto, karena kalau spread, nanti bisa terpotong di tengah halaman.
Tidak perlu langsung terapkan rule of third juga sih, cukup geser point of interest nya agak di luar area tengah foto.
Lalu untuk motret detail, misalnya tangan yang memegang teh di perkebunan teh, jangan difoto benar-benar tight hanya tangannya saja, tapi kasih space juga, sehingga nanti ketika di layout oleh orang desain bisa dikasih tulisan.
Jangan lupa buat foto yang vertikal dan horisontal.
Makanan juga masuk ke dalam shoot list, selain icon itu.
Khusus untuk Taipei ini, saya juga harus buat foto untuk review resto. Untungnya bisa motret di dapur restorannya, jadi tidak hanya dapat suasana pengunjung restoran.

"Behind the scene" of food photos.

Sebenarnya sekarang saya sedang belajar buat foto makanan yang menarik dengan available light yang hanya mengandalkan penataan makanan dan angle pengambilan foto.
Biasanya fotografer yang memotret seperti itu, gunakan tenaga food stylist, dan tidak pake lighting lagi.
Lalu misalnya, sebagian makanan juga sudah ada yang dimakan, biar terlihat real.
Saya juga sedang belajar itu, tapi tetap gunakan additional lighting walaupun minimal, jadi masih terkesan natural.
Hal ini supaya ada sensasi bagi pembaca, dengan melihat foto yang terlihat natural di tempat makan yang di foto, bahwa mereka juga bisa makan di situ. Sedangkan kalau difoto terlalu apik dan sangat bernuansa studio, makanan itu jadi seperti makanan brosur saja.
Meski begitu, motretnya harus tetap dengan kualitas motret foto makanan brosur lah. Yang bagus, bersih dan tidak berantakan.
Jadi intinya, tetap di foto di tempat aslinya makanan itu berasal, tapi tetap ditata yang apik.
Sebenarnya kalau mau bikin foto makanan dengan background putih, gampang. Foto saja makanannya dengan settingan over setengah sampai satu stop dengan background yang terang, jadi backlight. Apalagi kalo makanannya warnanya gelap, jadi lebih oke.
Sedangkan kalau warna makanannya terang agak sulit kalau difoto dengan background terang karena akan berbaur dengan foregroundnya.
Jadi, sebaiknya motret makanan yang warnanya terang dengan background yang gelap, karena akan pas dengan sendirinya.
Lalu pake bukaan besar, supaya banyak blurnya.  

**What else should we remember if we want to be a travel-photographer ?

Pokoknya hal terpenting setelah riset adalah kita harus bertanya ke orang lokal, karena mereka lebih tahu dan biasanya mereka punya cerita-cerita unik.
Apalagi untuk 12 destinasi ini, saya juga harus menulis. Biasanya tulisan yang tidak ada obrolan dengan orang lokalnya akan terasa hambar, makanya saya coba masukkan percakapan saya dengan orang lokal itu dalam tulisan.
Enaknya sih, hanya memotret, karena terkadang konsentrasi memotret jadi terpecah karena saya juga harus menulis.
Pengalaman di Taipei, ada satu hari dimana cuaca begitu bagusnya, tapi dihabiskan justru untuk wawancara.
Narasumber mengajak saya naik motor seharian keliling Taipei. Tapi karena dia bukan fotografer, agak sulit. Misalnya ketika saya memotret terlalu dekat, dia merasa kurang nyaman. Jadi saya hanya sedikit memotret. Tapi ada beberapa foto yang sifatnya detail, justru baru bisa ketemu karena saya banyak ngobrol dengan orang lokal.
Untungnya lagi, banyak cerita dari dia yang bisa dijadiin bahan tulisan. Tulisan pun bisa jadi hidup, seperti yang dilakukan Paul Theroux di the Tao of Travel. Agustinus Wibowo sepertinya terpengaruh dari Paul Theroux itu dalam bukunya, karena gaya bertuturnya yang kental.
Selain itu, saya bisa tahu lokasi-lokasi yang tidak terlalu turistik.
Seperti di Taipei kan ada pasar malam Shilin, yang ternyata isinya turis semua karena sudah masuk Lonely Planet.
Segala sesuatu tentang Shilin night market sudah ditulis semua di mana-mana, padahal masih ada pasar malam yang lebih bagus dan lebih berwarna yang didatangi orang lokal dan terasa lebih hidup, walaupun mungkin agak lebih kotor.
Akhirnya, saya menulis tentang night market lain dan bukan tentang Shilin lagi. 
Lalu sekarang, saya punya kebiasaan baru, yaitu membuat foto panorama, terutama untuk foto-foto icon. 
Dan satu lagi, saya sedang mencoba membiasakan memotret dengan angle foto yang lebih banyak. 
Menurut saya, memotret dengan banyak angle itu sudah menjadi kewajiban. Misalnya ketika memotret di pantai, ada angle-angle yang sudah wajib dalam stock photography. Satu shot yang suasana pantai, shot selanjutnya dengan memasukkan pohon ke dalam frame, shot selanjutnya yang orang lewat, belum lagi struktur pasirnya yang rata dan miring. 
Metode memotret yang saya terangkan sebelumnya, selalu saya terapkan walaupun bukan dalam assignment. Karena sejak setahun belakangan ini, mind set saya sekarang sudah berusaha membangun stock photography.

**What equipments that you usually bring during assignment?

Kamera yang saya pakai, 5D MarkII, lensa 24-70mm, lensa 20 mm 1.4 untuk portrait dan makanan.
Saya juga pernah gunakan 50 mm 1.4 untuk landscape, misalnya motret patung dengan background yang ngeblur.
Lalu saya selalu bawa tripod, ballhead dan cable release.
Tapi dalam memilih tripod, juga harus hati-hati, karena walaupun kameranya bagus, tapi kalau tripodnya jelek, baru di set 30 detik saja bisa goyang karena tripodnya tidak steady. Dan tripod yang jelek, kalau jatuh bisa patah.

 **Any favorite picture from your trip to Taipei?

Shoot through glass.

Saya suka foto ini karena dapat sensasi saya memotretnya dari luar. Tidak terlihat kalau saya memotret di kaca dari dalam ruangan.
Tips untuk memotret di kaca, agar terlihat bening sehingga tidak ada refleksi sama sekali ;  lensa jangan pakai hood, lalu tempel lensa di kaca dan pastikan area belakang kita itu warnanya gelap.
Di sekeliling lensa pun kalau perlu di tutup dengan tangan atau jaket, supaya tidak bocor oleh refleksinya.

**Anything else you want to add?

Ya, kadang yang menyebalkan dalam urusan memotret travel itu, karena terlalu konsentrasinya kerja, kita lupa beli oleh-oleh. Bingung juga mau beli apa.
Padahal, membelikan oleh-oleh ke klien itu perlu loh. Jadi semacam pengingat biar klien tidak lupa kita kalau butuh suatu obyek yang kita foto, suatu hari nanti. (*wink wink)

 **How do you feel about your work in Taipei?

Sebenarnya saya menjadwalkan pergi ke Taipei untuk memotret festival lampion di malam pertama saya sampai. Tapi karena ada kesalahpahaman dalam hal visa, saya jadi terlambat sampai di Taipei dan kehilangan kesempatan untuk motret itu. Tapi secara keseluruhan, saya tergolong puas untuk hasil-hasil yang saya dapat dalam liputan Taipei kali ini.

Damn… You know something? After spending an afternoon with them and for once, be a good listener, I could only say one thing to my self. “You think you knew.. But you have no idea..”

You’re a fool, if you ever think being a photographer is just a matter of click click and having fun.

Written by nickmatulhuda

April 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

Colorful Life Around You

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One afternoon in Kota, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Sometimes, you just have to go out there, to realize how colorful is life around you.

Written by nickmatulhuda

April 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

March 2012

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Its a month for money spending. ūüôā

Not just because all my three sisters having their birthday altogether this month (I used to think it like a conspiracy to make me spend more once a year), but also because I’ve been shopping for updating my equipment since I have set my mind to seriously consider a new line of photo business; “Personal Portraits By Request and Pet Photography”.

Recently after bought a new Macbook Pro, I also bought 85 mm 1.8 Nikon Lens, and a blackberry, to support the marketing of this commercial project of mine.

I must say, my favorite purchase was the lens.. Image

It was love at the first click. Bring hopes to unlocking my brain!

Anyway, am so filled with ideas now, with my friends’ supports and — facebook. Yes, I finally have facebook account and facebook page. Because no doubt, Facebook is still one of the most powerful marketing tool, in the world of internet.

COME COME! Visit them!

or add me as a friend on your facebook account : eka.nickmatulhuda

A new beginning is always so exciting.. Hope I can keep this kind of spirit for a very — verrryyyy long time.

Written by nickmatulhuda

March 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

Posted in work in progress