IN FOCUS: INDONESIA
The Travel Photog
WELCOME TO INDONESIA!
It seems like every year, a new image from Indonesia wins a major photo contest. Consisting of thousands of islands, each with their own regional subculture and beauty, Indonesia is a photographer’s dream destination. Volcanic blue flames, bull races, ancient Buddhist ruins, unique mosques, sunlit caves, and incredible beaches are just a small sample of the infinite photographic opportunities that are available in Indonesia.
The image above depicts the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur, in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. To date, Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and arguably the most spectacular. Surrounding the central dome is a series of stupas, each with a statue of Buddha within it. Be prepared for large crowds, though, at sunrise and sunset, as this site is well-known to tourists as well as locals as the iconic “must-see” site in Indonesia.
We would suggest bringing every lens you’ve got, from wide angle to telephoto, because the photographic opportunities are so plentiful. Start wide for the ancient ruins, mosques, and volcanoes, and use your mid-range to telephoto lens to zoom in on people and details.
On our trip, we started in Jakarta, passing through West Sumatra and all major regions of Java, and ending in Bali. We feel that this was a very logical approach, going from north to south. Although we spent ample time (approximately 12 days in country) in Indonesia hopping from region to region, we still left so many regions unexplored. Given that it is an island nation, it is difficult to comprehend how much travel time is needed and wasted moving from place to place. Short plane rides, long train rides, and long car rides are typical when moving about the vast, rural areas of Indonesia. Also, be prepared for exceptional, yet physically tiring treks to places such as Mount Bromo, and Mount Ijen, or a scary and heart-pounding descent into the picturesque Jomblang Cave.
*For our most detailed photo guide packed with photos and descriptions, see our Store.
To see more of our photos from Indonesia, see our Gallery.
“NOT TO BE MISSED” SIGHTS:
• Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta
• Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta
• Tanahdatar Bull Races, West Sumatra
• Borobudur, Central Java
• Prambanan, Central Java
• Jomblang Cave, Yogyakarta
• Mount Bromo, East Java
• Blue Flame of Mount Ijen, East Java
• Tampak Siring, Bali
• Tanah Lot, Bali
• Fisherman and Beaches, Bali
FAVORITE PHOTO TOUR GUIDE:
Guide: Iswan Budhi Mulyanto
(Iswan BM), Real Adventure Indonesia Tours (RAI Tours)
Based out of: Bali, Indonesia
Website: rai-tours.com or indonesia-photography.net
Trust is a value that we certainly appreciate when hiring a photo guide that’s halfway across the globe. Iswan BM certainly understands this as he does whatever he can to show that he appreciates your trust in him. Iswan’s tours are certainly well thought out and well organized from a logistical standpoint. He has a lot of contacts throughout the country that are eager to please both him and his photography clients. And most importantly, Iswan is a genuinely friendly and kind guy who has a passion for artistic photography himself.
Iswan started his career as a travel agent and a freelance journalist focusing on tourism. In 2008, after sensing a need for photographic tour guides, he made a career change and has not looked back. Today, he guides tours for amateur and professional photographers alike from all over the world. Iswan speaks several of the local Indonesian dialects, as well as German and English.
To us, Iswan’s specialty lies in his connections throughout the country, and his ability to get you to the right place at the right time. We are very grateful to Iswan for getting us to: 1) Istiqlal Mosque at the perfect time for Friday prayer 2) Bariangan, West Sumatra for the start of local bull racing 3) Mount Bromo for its gorgeous sunrise 4) Mount Ijen at midnight to view the blue flames and 5) Bali for the observance of local village festivals.
With Indonesia’s vast group of islands, it was impossible for us to see all of the photographic gems within a 12 days span. When we return, you can bet that we will call upon Iswan again for his services. Iswan assures us that there is so much more to experience and see. We believe him.
• Landscape and architectural photographers, in particular
Maybe Not For:
• The non-adventurous
• The impatient…there are long stretches of time sitting in trains, planes and automobiles.
Sample photos from our tour with Iswan BM: