Archives for the month of: July, 2012

Wikipedia definition:

Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other settings. Street photography uses the techniques of straight photography in that it shows a pure vision of something, like holding up a mirror to society. Street photography often tends to be ironic and can be distanced from its subject matter, and often concentrates on a single human moment, caught at a decisive or poignant moment. On the other hand, much street photography takes the opposite approach and provides a very literal and extremely personal rendering of the subject matter, giving the audience a more visceral experience of walks of life they might only be passingly familiar with.

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos of my travels but have found that recently this has become a little stale, how many photos of temples and markets can one person take after all? I wasn’t taking as many photos as I used to, so when I recently stumbled upon this concept of street photography I felt a thrill of interest and was immediately struck by some of the amazing examples I saw. There is a sense of rawness and spontaneity in the works that grab my interest the most, something that I feel my photos have lacked. I tend to take my time, plan things, and make sure the horizon line is straight, issues that one cannot worry about in this new (for me) method. I’ve also been extremely shy about taking photos of people without their knowledge. I’ve seen so many faces I’ve wanted to photograph but, worried that I might offend or upset someone, I haven’t done so. Now I’ve been inspired, I’ve decided to try it. So far I feel a little sneaky, I haven’t been bold enough to just stand in front of someone and snap a quick shot, I tend to lurk, camera down near my waist, pretending like I’m fiddling with the camera controls as I snap a few photos.

For those of you who like technical stuff, too bad, but I can tell you that I’m shooting with a Canon G12, which I think is a great little camera for traveling and which I am just beginning to learn to use off the “Auto” and Preset”  options. Anyways, without further ado here are a few of my first efforts, please give me your feedback, I want to learn.

Baiturrahman Grand Mosque (Indonesian: Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman) is a large mosque located in the centre of the city of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. It is of great symbolic significance to the Acehnese people as a symbol of Acehnese religion and culture, especially since it survived the devastating 2004 tsunami intact. – Wikipedia.

So I thought I had done everything I could to look respectful, I was wearing long baggy pants, had zipped my hoodie all the way up to my chin and covered all my hair with a scarf. I even asked a woman before I went inside if I looked ok, she said yes so I went for it. But still, within moments of settling myself inconspicuously in the very back I was approached by a man who brusquely asked me, “Are you Muslim?” At first I thought he was asking me where I was from, as that’s one of the things I am asked most often and his accent was undeniably think, but no he repeated it, “Are you a Muslim?” Well, I’m not about to lie, plus I would be found out pretty quickly if questioned about the theology so I said “No.” He said (still barely polite) “You must leave!” Ok, I’m not going to argue with that, though I would certainly like to. In all the churches, mosques, temples etc I have been into I have never been asked to leave. In fact in my very first mosque I was welcomed with open arms. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed for myself, but also for him. How unfortunate that he couldn’t find it in himself to be welcoming, to educate, to encourage acceptance, to be tolerant.

Fortunately, I’m a little sneaky when it comes to photos so I had managed to grab a few before getting the boot. 🙂




July 6 – July 21.

Yes, this is a big gap but much of it was somewhat wasted time as I got sick so there wasn’t much to write about, nor to take pictures of, however I will try to fill you in (briefly) about what I got up to.

From Lake Toba I took a 20 hour overnight bus ride (torturous) to Bukit Lawang. While I was there I visited a very dark cave full of bats, I couldn’t photograph that because it hurts their eyes if you use a flash so I took this instead.

I got a quick look at a shy and very fast moving Gibbon family…

Also I got to hang out with these guys, watch them eat bananas, throw them up, then eat it, and then do it again, and again, and again…banana milkshake.

From Bukit I went up to Medan, I was feeling pretty crappy at this point, a cold, a really bad one, so I treated myself to a stay at the freaking amazing Marriott Hotel, a Deluxe Executive room no less. On the 27th floor, with a view over the tin roofs of the city. I laid in the bathtub watching the sunset over the city through a floor to ceiling window and then I watched tv, all from the tub. I think I was in there about 3 hours, I left quite a filthy ring in that tub. I also neglected to photograph the magnificence to share with you, I blame my sick brain.

I flew the next morning (still sick) to Banda Aceh, I’d planned to spend 9 days on Pualu Weh, snorkeling and enjoying beach time. However that flight caused my ears to do terrible things and one of them never unplugged, thus I found myself with my very first ear infection ever, and also far away from an English speaking doctor and decent drugs. I made do with what he had on hand but after my second visit and not much improvement he suggested I see a doctor once I got to Singapore ( a flight I had already booked). So that was my plan. However I did get to explore the island by moto a bit, I saw a lovely waterfall and swam in it (head above water of course)…

A very smelly volcano…

Found this lovely old abandoned mosque…

And watched a beautiful sunset from Kilometer Zero…

I also met this guy, we became inseparable (at least while I was eating feeding him)…

I spent a day hanging out in Banda Aceh waiting to take my flight to Singapore. I visited the Tsunami Museum, a very cool building, though unfortunately not that interesting as a museum…

Saw some sights…

And I had a weird experience at a famous mosque, but you’ll have to read about that here instead.

I got that flight to Singapore and went immediately to a doctor. More drugs, a couple visits to an ear, nose and throat specialist and 10 days (and $350 Canadian dollars) later I was deemed well enough to fly onwards into Java.

While I was killing time in Singapore I took lots of pictures and started my serious first efforts at street photography, or candid people shots, what ever you want to call them it was a great way to spend my days while healing and I now have yet another thing that I look for when out walking with my camera!

Whew, almost all caught up now.

June 30- July  5

On the 30th I head back into Bukittinggi by local bus, a crowded affair and smoky with the heavy scent of the clove cigarettes that are smoked here. I hang out at Bedudal café for the day waiting for the bus that will take me overnight to Lake Toba. I get on the bus at 5pm (when it is supposed to leave) and we promptly head out around 5:40. It’s not a comfy journey, terrible seats, bumpy roads and a seatmate that likes to dig her knees into my back. We stop twice in 20 hours, once at a place with the most nasty, putrid bathrooms and appallingly shriveled and old food (why are these types of places the ones that are chosen by bus companies?) and once at a mosque, in the middle of nowhere, with another appalling bathroom, for sunrise prayer.

I arrive in Prapat early in the morning and take a share taxi to the port to get a boat over to Tuk Tuk, the tourist enclave of Samosir Island. The boat takes about half an hour and drops me almost right in front of the guesthouse I’m headed to (you can request your stop). I’m staying at Bagus Bay, recommended to me by someone I met in Bukittinggi. It’s turns out to be a good choice, I get a traditional Batak house all to myself, and it’s huge, I could live in the bathroom. Pretty chuffed.  Also the folks that work there are super friendly and helpful and I settle in quite quickly and end up comfortably doing nothing at all for a few days. I make some plans, booking flights from Medan to Banda Aceh and the return and also from Medan to Singapore. This isn’t easy as Lion Air’s website doesn’t want to accept my credit card and I spend 2 days just working out that mess, but finally succeed and have tickets in hand. Also staying at Bagus is a woman I met briefly when I stayed in Cherating. Her name is Eve and I enjoy hanging out with her and chatting. She’s been traveling for over a year now and it’s good to get her perspective on some of the places she’s been as a solo woman traveler, especially India as it’s likely I’ll be doing that on my own in 2013.

I take one day on a motorbike and drive around the island of Samosir. Tuk Tuk is a small peninsula that is basically dedicated to tourism and is attached to Samosir, an island the size of Singapore and a good 6 -7 hour drive to circumnavigate. Samosir is an authentic slice of Sumatra, a place with people living lives that have nothing to do with tourism, and I get to drive through and observe for a day. I’m riding with 3 German guys I have met and we cruise at a meandering pace stopping and taking photos quite often. There are a plentiful number of photographic opportunities, from amazing landscape shots to cute kids, pigs, water buffalo, Batak houses and the accompanying spirit houses for the dead.