Creating a Bali Photo Tour, Part 3


We rejoin our story of creating LJ’s Bali photo tour workshop with two locations the tour no longer visits, but you may well wish to at some point. Our photo tours are always evolving to a more refined level. No research trip, as thorough as they might be, includes the client group dynamic and feedback. To read parts 1 and 2 first, please click hither and yon.

Bali photo tour sunrise fishermen

Indonesian master Rarindra Prakarsa knows Bali, having led numerous short duration photo tours on the island. The active Batur Volcano and its lake intrigue him. The lake is one of Batur’s two calderas, and is the largest crater lake on the island. The other of course is the mountain itself, a strato-volcano which last erupted in 1968. What intrigues Rarindra is the mirror like reflection of Mt Batur on the lake’s surface, in combination with fishermen in small dugouts plying their trade. And when the morning mists rise from the surface and veil the reflection, and the fishermen are shrouded and the light hits high on the mountain just right, this is more intriguing still.

We arrived too late for either morning mists or great light, and our schedule would not allow for an overnight. Since RP already had shot here, it wasn’t necessary. We went to the most promising lake locations and RP pointed things out, where the light would be when, etc. We spoke with a lakeside farmer and fisherman, and a few other locals. We got mobile numbers as well. You never know when you might need a fisherman or two in just the right spot and just the right time! (As it has turned out, we went to Batur only on our first Bali photo tour. It was a little out of the way, and the conditions needed, as described above, need to be perfect, which they often were not).

That’s the thing about photo tours. Clients pay good money to get great photo opportunities, not to wait around for something that may never occur naturally. Time is limited. Expectations are high. And so photo shoots, including scenes with “models”, are arranged whenever necessary or desirable. This is indeed the way most pro travel photographers work when on assignment. Time is a luxury not well afforded these days. The trick is knowing how to arrange certain shots w/o them looking arranged. This in itself is a skill not easy to master. These shoots are always a lot of fun, and more challenging than you might think.

We were all excited about the next location, and even our veteran guide Pande Sura had never been. It was said to be one of the great waterfall scenes in all of Indonesia, but because of its relatively remote location & difficulty accessing, it had remained little visited. Which was just the kind of thing were looking for!

Three tourists were sitting in a small open air café attached to a residence when we arrived about 3:00 pm. They were to be the only foreigners we were to see at Sekumpul until we returned from the falls about sunset. Could this really be that good? I mean it wasn’t easy to find as we wound up the mountain, but it wasn’t any great quest either. We parked the rig and headed out – and down – as it turned out, directed by some friendly locals.

In a few minutes we reached the top the main stairway that would zig-zag a couple of thousand steps! through the jungle and down to the river at the bottom of the gorge – but not all the way to the falls. Actually there are six giant falls in this area, each more difficult to reach than the other. But we were heading for the granddaddy. We had to guess which way to go, as the marvelous jungle blocked our view. I say “marvelous”, because Bali really is the closest thing to paradise on earth. Normally in a jungle you are eaten alive by bugs. In Bali, known for its friendly people, even the bugs are kind!

Once we hiked to within earshot of the falls we had to cross a treacherous stream. Young Lazar leapt like a giant frog from dry rock to dry rock, while Rarindra and I removed our shoes, rolled up our pants and did all will could to keep from falling in and losing our gear.
Approaching the falls and taking in their full grandeur from close range is truly an exhilarating experience. 10 separate streams pour from the jungle above in a wide swath, pounding like thunder into large pool at the bottom. Mist is in the air always, and can be heavy when the wind blows in your direction. Keeping our cameras reasonably protected wasn’t difficult, but keeping lenses dry enough to shoot through was, more so as lens cloths got soaked. This is definitely a place where one shooter and one acting assistant should work together for best results, then switch. Tag team photography.

But we are not so forward thinking on our first visit. So we work on our own, not so much working as having fun and feeling the sense of exuberance in just being there in this remarkable setting. A handful of Balinese teens are taking snapshots and goofing around, and soon we are taking shots for them with their cameras. Lazar notices one lad acting like a model, so he recruits him to pose in front of the main section of falls. And somehow he manages to light a cigarette in the breezy mist. The result you can see below. The second shot with the young ladies was taken on the actual first tour the following September.

After about an hour we were wet and cool and still feeling exuberant, but it was time to leave. Prakarsa and Lazar had a number of ideas for how to approach the shooting on return, and they are really looking forward it.

To be continued… Next up in Part 4 – Lake Tamblingan and the glorious heights of the Munduk area, followed by the “forgotten” but still glorious endless rice terraces of Pupuan.

Please check out our next Bali photo tour extravaganza, which runs September 25 – October 6, 2022. Don’t delay, the time to join is now!

Bennett Stevens Written by:

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