I recently received an e-mail from SquareSpace with payment for my account renewal. $192 a year, that's a lot of money! I realized that I don't utilize this service enough. Even close. What do I need to do to have a discount here? Or I should slam more banners around here. :)
I really haven't checked my blog in a while. Been pretty busy with current work and didn't had time for anything else. Actually I am working on two (!) pretty awesome projects that I am quite happy about. Unfortunately as it works in this industry both are going to be live in the second half of the year. So two more posts on SquareSpace, yay!
Anyway. One of the personal projects I am working on right now got me to go "back in time" in my photo library hunting photos of certain locations in New York. And I got sucked into browsing archives and finding awesome shots that I have never retouched.
I keep my photographs on a separate 2TB hard drive. Essentially I have 2 folders there: Photos - where I keep all the original RAW files organized by year, and inside each "year folder" I have a folder with the date photos were taken. In the PSD folder I keep all the retouched files and exported JPGs, but organized by Event or Location with the date.
The scary shit I am realizing right now as I am writing this, is that I don't have a backup of this hard drive anywhere, so if it breaks my entire photo library would be gone :( Seriously I need to stop paying for SquareSpace, so I can get a decent DropBox account ;)
As a photo library I use Lightroom. Basically Lightroom is connected in a way that it reads all the folders with photos from the PHOTO folder on my hard drive. Usually when I copy my photos form the camera, I create a folder with the date (sometimes adding some explanation text what it is) in the folder with the year.
After that I go through all the photos and add rating to them using the star functionality in the Lightroom. 1 star - delete, 2 stars - export but not for sharing (for example if I have friends there and I just want to send the photo to them), 3 stars - maybe retouch, 4 stars - still maybe, but better, 5 stas - oh yes! No stars - don't want to delete and retouch either. So I basically end up with most of the photos without a star.
You see, the earliest folder is dated as of 2006. Everything before was on a similar drive that broke and I lost all of it.
If the photo is really good and I know how to improve it further on, I make light adjustments in Lightroom such as temperature, tint, exposure, contrast etc and then export it as a PSD. After that I complete working on the photograph in Photoshop. I still prefer PS over LR as it gives more precision and freedom in retouching as well as it is much faster to make changes there. Photos that I retouched in Photoshop I mark as RED in Lightroom.
Some photos are not worth bringing into Photoshop, then I retouch them directly in Lightroom and export as JPGs right from there. Those photos I mark with GREEN label.
In reality I would only retouch and share 20% of photos that I marked with 4 and 5 stars. The rest would just be sitting on the drive forever.
Now ... back to the beginning. I spent the whole night going back in old folders searching specific locations in New York for a project. Obviously I ended up looking into every single folder. I am not nostalgic, but few tears almost dropped on my Wacom remembering some really good times.
As I mentioned above I only retouch few pictures from the event and usually have no time to look into the other photos that I marked to retouch, or I just simply forget about them, or they just get old and irrelevant. So while going through the archives I was picking some random shots from here and there that I actually liked. Some of them were marked to be retouched, some of them I skipped completely without any rating as I was focusing on something else.
In the "One Month Off — INDONESIA" mag that I posted a while ago and wrote about the process of making it in one of the blog posts, I used only 2-3 photos from each location I visited. Overall I took over 3000 photos during the trip and have been looking into them and retouching when I had a free moment. In the next couple of posts I'll be sharing more photos from each location.
The first one we visited arriving from Hong Kong was the capital of Indonesia — Jakarta. Can't say much about it, except that I have experienced the worst traffic in terms of traffic jams in my life. Even India was not that bad. The city is not walkable, it's massive as well as there are no sidewalks, so the only way to move around is to take a cab and spend 3 hours sitting in traffic going from one spot to another.
One of the very few places that I visited in Jakarta, was Kota — "Old Jakarta" or "Old Batavia" which was a Dutch colonial settlement in the 16th century.
Lots of kids come by to say hi and ask what is your name and where you're coming from. They love chatting and practicing their english and of course taking a picture with you at the end with their cell phone. During one hour spent in Kota, central Jakarta, over ten conversations like that took place.
One of the coolest things in Kota was to get inside and walk around one of the old colonial abandoned buildings.
From Jakarta we headed to Yogyakarta. More photos to come.
I've never been to South-East part of Asia and wanted to go there for a very long time. Of-course there are many great locations in this part of the world, but I was always dreaming of going to Indonesia. I've seen a lot of photographs from other people and to me it felt very mysterious and interesting. It is such a huge and such a diverse country with so many different islands, I just wanted to see all of that myself.
I have been taking a lot of photographs during the trip and I ended up with nearly 3000 photos after I got back to New York. I started to look into them and I will definitely be sharing more photos and telling more details about each place I visited. But for now I have decided to select TOP 30 photos that represent the trip the best and put together a short story highlighting the best moments and share it in a simple magazine format.
I was traveling together with my good friend and we decided to spend the first part of the trip sightseeing cities and big things and the second part of the trip relaxing in quiet and distant places. That's why the first week we spent seeing Jakarta, I really wanted to see how people live in bigger cities and then Yogyakarta, obviously to see Borobudur and Prambanan. Then we went to Bali, the place everyone is talking about and causing so much buzz :) but it would have been strange to go to Indonesia for a month and not to see it.
We were hit by some heavy on and off rains in Bali and were just looking at the map and weather forecast around Indonesia deciding where to go next. That's how we ended up on Gili Islands near Bali. We loved it so much so we stayed there for almost a week before moving on. Water and snorkeling was great, we met some interesting people there, the view of Lombok island from Gili is just magnificent.
In the beginning of the trip we knew we wanted to go to Banda Islands, as it was described as the best place in Indoensia. And it turned out to be Eldorado that is impossible to get to :) From Gili we went to Lombok and took a flight to Makassar and then from there to Ambon. In Ambon we were trying to figure out how to get to Bandas but it was quite impossible. All the tourists we run into Ambon were in the same situation, they all were coming there and discovering there's no way to "Eldorado" :) Flights to Bandas were stopped, there was a "mysterious" ferry that leaves from Ambon every two or three weeks, but we just missed it for a couple of days and would need to wait for a while to make it there. That's why we decided to get tickets and fly to Kei Islands instead. Kei was great! So different to the rest of Indoensia in terms of nature and even how people look. We met a lot of travelers staying in Kei who were initially planning to go to Banda Islands as well, but like us, could not make it :)
Kei was the last stop of our trip and we started heading back from there.
For each place I visited I wanted to make a small typography illustration that would highlight different elements and details that I associate with it.
For example Gili has a Komodo lizard that I've seen there, sea with flippers for snorkeling and type has a pattern made out of fishes. Borobudur has a type treatment in shape of the actual temple and statues in the middle. Lombok I remembered for it's mountains constantly covered with clouds and of course monkeys everywhere. Ambon was a true small harbor city covered with boats of different caliber all around. Bali I remembered for it's masks/makeup form Balenese dance. Yogyakarta highlights a route from the city going around the hills and mountains to see Borobudur and Prambanan. Jakarta has a cargo stamp for an old colonial harbor and trading city. Kei islands highlight multiple sea and nature textures in each letter and of course small carbs.
I've been writing a lot previously about my retouch process. It took me on average 5 to 15 minutes to retouch each photograph. Here you can see some before and after photos from the mag.
Similar to my previous mag the layout consist of full bleed image with elements on top of it, such as a small map of Indonesia with location where the photograph was taken, description of the photo or a small story and a custom illustration I mentioned above.
I will keep retouching and showing more photographs from each place, but for now, enjoy the "One Month Off — Indonesia"
While in Hong Kong I did a one day trip to Lantau Island, which is the largest Island in Hong Kong located located West from the City at the mouth of Pearl River. I have to say I loved (!) the fishing village on the West side of the island, it's absolutely worth going if you are visiting Hong Kong.
Here's the itinerary:
I took a boat from Hong Kong ferry terminal and it took about an hour to get to Lantau with absolutely stunning scenery of the city in the mist. From the harbor in Lantau I took a bus up to Big Buddha, a large statue of Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) on the top of the mountain. From there there's a bus to Fishing Village with stilt houses (Tai O.), which was the most impressive part of the trip. Then a bus back to Big Buddha where I took a cable car road (Ngong Ping 360) to Tung Chung on the North coast of Lantau Island to head back to Hong Kong city.
Here are some photos from that day. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Tian Tan Buddha is a huge bronze statue of Buddha right at the top of the mountain near Ngong Ping.
Fishing Town - Tai O
The best part of the trip was visiting Fishing Town located on the Western side of Lantau island.
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Road
On the way back with cable car road. Ngong Ping 360, a 5.7 km line, serves to connect Tung Chung, on the north coast of Lantau with the Ngong Ping area in the hills above.
Last December I took a month off to travel in Indonesia. A whole month, that is something I have never done in the past 10 years. I wanted to celebrate Christmas, New Year and my 30th birthday as further away as possible :)
But before I start showing photos from my Indonesia trip I wanted to share some pictures from Hong Kong where I stayed on the way to Jakarta for 3 days. As I was writing before Hong Kong is extremely amazing city and I was really impressed by it when I was there for the first time. Something that happens rarely, I was impressed by it even more when I came back there again. I could definitely live there for some time.
Below are some photos from Hong Kong and Kowloon. Click on the image to enlarge it.
This time I got to see the other part of the city — Kowloon which is across the bay.
The most impressive thing in Hong Hong this time was the trip to Lantau Island and the Fisherman Village. But this is up in the next post.