ICONS of BALI
Hardly any place in the world has such a deep reverence towards demons, gods and spirits as Bali.
Which is also the reason why this island has been nicknamed the island of the gods.
All this is deeply rooted in BALI’s prevalent religion: Hinduism.
Hinduism is a multi-theistic faith. Meaning its devotees believe in several gods.
In Bali, though the form of Hinduism practiced is strongly influenced and conflated with ancient beliefs that predate the arrival of Hinduism. In which ancestral worship also plays a prominent role.
And gods, spirits and even one’s ancestors are often represented by figures and statues.
In Bali, especially places of worship feature a wide range of religious figurines. And the usage of such figurines transcends religion to a point where it has become folklore and part of Bali’s cultural identity.
Religious stories and folklore are often enacted in plays with actors wearing masks and costumes.
Consequently, the usage of a wide range of figures, statues and masks is found literally in all aspects of life in Bali.
Lastly, artisans in Bali who are involved in the creation of these figures and statues are also very accommodating towards influences from beyond Bali.
Therefore Buddhist motives are also common even though they play no religious role in Bali.
All this combined has made certain visual representations of Balinese culture to become iconic.
Hence the title of this series: ICONS of BALI.
I have always been fascinated by this manifestation of Balinese culture. And therefore make these Icons often part of my photographic pursuit.
In this series of images, I have attempted to not merely photograph those figures in a documentary style. Many others have done that before me and I do not like to cover or copy the work of other photographers.
I aspire for my photographs to be unique and with my own individual signature style.
Those familiar with my work will know that I practice SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY – a (not so) new approach to the craft of creating images.
In the context of this project, the SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY approach is two-fold.
On the one hand, I try to enhance the subjects of my photographs by adding a visual dimension that goes beyond merely depicting what I photograph.
Which brings me to the second dimension of how I apply a SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY approach.
Namely by using modified photographic equipment in the form of a lens that has been altered from its original design. This yields a certain photographic effect that is prominently visible in all the photos of this series.
This bespoke visual effect renders out-of-focus areas of an image with excessive glow, distortions and other artifacts.
Please note this is not achieved through digital trickery in the computer but by reversing the front glass element of a vintage lens.
You can discover more about this by articles referenced at the end of this article.
In this way, I try to add my artistic vision and to accentuate the beauty of those figures and statues.
The underlying process and the involved photographic equipment
For those interested in the technical aspects of this project. The camera used for this project is a SONY A7 Rii.
The lens used has a 58 mm focal length and a minimum aperture of f2.0. I have altered the lens in such a way whereby the front glass element has been reversed.
This HELIOS 44-2 lens that was among the most popular lenses used in the SOVIET UNION. It can easily be adapted to fit on a modern mirrorless camera like the SONY mirrorless camera or other brands.
All photographs have been predominately edited with ADOBE LIGHTROOM. All colour corrections, partial saturation & desaturation and other alterations of colours have been done exclusively using LIGHTROOM.
On a few selected images, a tad of Photoshop has been used to further enhance the visual appeal.
If you also like to ‘play’ and experiment with your photographic gear you may want to join the SLOW PHOTOGRAPHY movement. A group of like-minded photographers:
SLOW PHOTOGRAPHYBe a member of the movement
Other articles that will interest you
Bali Photos with a Modified Helios 44-2 vintage lens
Typical Balinese motives photographed with a modified Helios 44-2 lens. Very unusual photographs – with no Photoshop tricks involved at all.
Ogoh Ogoh in Bali
In this article, you can some great examples of Balinese Ogoh-Ogoh figures. As well as some background information about the origin and purpose of this wonderful Balinese tradition.
MELASTI – Bali’s most holy ceremony
MELASTI is the most significant day in the calendar of the Balinese people. The purification ceremony is a must for every devout Hindu. See the pictures here.