I’ve always been enamored by the animistic Hindu culture of the Balinese and I try to observe, if not imbibe, the strong mystical connection that they have with nature. Water, in particular, is particularly central to the Balinese culture, not just for nourishment, but for spiritual cleansing.
Pura Tirta Empul in Tampaksiring Village, Gianyar is one such temple which features sacred pools. Established in the 10th century, it is one of the major tourism draws in Bali. Overseas visitors come to the place by busloads to gaze at its architectural beauty. The temple is never bereft either of Balinese to heal both body, mind and soul.
Fifteen years have gone by since I last visited the temple and this was before I had photography as a hobby. So last Thursday afternoon, after some craft shopping in the Sukawati Art Market, I and my Balinese friends decided that Tirta Empul would be a good stop. I was ready with my camera.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/5s, f/22, 18mm, ISO 100, -1/3EV
the Mata air or “eye of the water”, the pool where water from underground stream is collected, Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Water reflections are best captured in the absence of glare. I waited for the sun to disappear behind the clouds to eliminate possible solar flares on the pool. Alternatively, a circular polarizer may also be used.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/160s, f/1.8, 50mm, ISO 100
Statuary guarding the gateway to Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Attractive compression “DOF” spots are a function of the distance between the subject in focus and the background, with the lens set at its widest aperture. There is a mathematical formula for this but as an alternative, just experiment and chimp the results.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/100s, f/6.3, 28mm, ISO 400, -1/3EV
a worshipper laying offerings at an altar between two sacred pools of Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: The temple’s two bathing pools are confined in a narrow space and a panoramic view is not possible (climbing temple walls would be rude). I used the walls to show the tightness of the bathing space and visually compartmentalize the scenes.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 13s, f/32, 41mm, ISO 100, with two ND 0.9 filters
a bather praying in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Use ND filters to achieve long exposures even during the day. Use a tripod.
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1.30s, f/5.0, 28mm, ISO 100, with two ND 0.9 filters
Adults pray while children frolic in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia
phototip: Location, location, location. I claimed a stake at the narrow ledge of the pool just beside the first spout (the one at the right of the picture). I literally sat on my haunches as I mounted the tripod quite low. The worshippers who bathe a few feet in front of me then became fair game.
more in part 2
Wednesday, April 16, 2008