A Nikon D600, Fuji X-E2 and iPhone5 Walk Into a Bar

04.01.2014 - by wanderlustaddiction

Bali, Indonesia – Legian, Ubud, Jimbaran

“Touring Bali, I found I was shooting with the D600, new XE-2, and iPhone 5 interchangeably.”

The images below were shot with the FUJI X-E2.   While these were processed in Lightroom, what I like most about the discreet, small FUJI X-E2… is the ease of going straight from capture to sharing by wireless sync to my iPhone.  Note that there is plenty of capability to edit in camera (when shooting raw) as well as opportunities to edit using phone apps (Snapseed, VSCOcam, FilterStorm, etc).

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We spent six days exploring Bali, eating Nasi Goreng, drinking Bintang beer, enjoying a daily Traditional Balinese Massage, and lounging by beaches and pools. This trip was as close to a “holiday” as I plan… but it still had plenty of exploration to balance the relaxation.

The images below were all shot with the Nikon D600. 

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To really get to know Bali, I booked hotels one week before arrival.  Our tour operator, Bali Excursion Tours, took care of the rest.  Our driver, Dewa, showed us the countryside villages, a Baktur mountainview sunrise, Ubud wholesale shopping, countless temples (including our favorite Pura Tirta Empul – Holy Water Temple), the famous postcard-esque Tegalalang Rice Terraces, and some excellent markets and restaurants along the way.

Our itinerary included two days in each of the following hotels booked based on availability and highest TripAdvisor rating – the Magani Hotel and Spa in Legian, Puri Sunia in Ubud, and the Intercontinental Resort in Jimbaran.  These five star properties each have their strong points but all deliver something very different.

On arrival at the airport, you’ll need to offer up $25 USD per person for visitor visa’s, and maybe a little extra if you want to skip the immigration line.  You can then catch a taxi or meet your pre-arranged transportation – if you arranged in a advance with your hotel.

We started the adventure at the Magani in Legian, in one of their luxury rooms with a private pool. This place really rolled out the true Balinese hospitality, as you might expect the #1 of 50 TripAdvisor rated hotels in Legian to do. The hotel is set a short distance drive from the airport, time depending on traffic (can be up to an hour). It’s across the road from a beach offering more cheap beer than white sand… So we spent most of our time on the property.  Just down the street though are a number of small markets, restaurants and local temples worth exploring.  On the drive in, I couldn’t help but wonder how the area transformed into the tourist hub it is now – surf shops, clothing dealers, high end international restaurant chains, etc.

Tip:  the 150,000 RP ($12) Balinese massage here is definitely worth the extra 100,000 RP ($8) that you would spend down the street. Think soft lighting, quiet, and relaxing vs. bright lights, static radio and street noise.

Next we moved to Ubud, about an hour or so journey inland and away from the beach party scene. You can instantly feel things slow down as you round corners along the rice paddies. One very interesting characteristic you may begin to notice along the way are the “Warung,” (shops) that sell snacks, drinks, and repackaged petrol in glass bottles on the roadside.  I captured a couple of these when the light cooperated.

Not many of these Warung carry Bintang on account of not being frequented by tourists… but I was determined to find one for a stop anyway.

On arrival in Ubud, we checked into the Puri Sunia Resort. The property was beautiful and the villa was extravagant… outdoor bath and shower to top off the private pool and deck. From here you could hear all the sounds of the jungle and see the stars through the trees. Given its remote location, it wasn’t a surprise that the friendly staff had a bit of a time understanding our requests – a language barrier. That said, they did a good job, and we were very happy.

Quite a bit of iPhone 5 memory was used shooting panoramas along the way… like the one below shot from our table at lunch and processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.


The next morning I woke at 4:00 AM (11:00 PM on my internal clock given the time change) to meet Pak Dewa for an early morning drive up to see sunrise.  First we spent a couple of hours taking in the cool, clean morning air as the first light spilled onto the mountains and low clouds push passed us at our look out point.

Afterwards we made our way back to the hotel, stopping at local coffee plantations (where I tried Kopi Luwak a very interesting, expensive coffee – up to $700US per kilo – made from beans gathered, ingested, and recovered from droppings of the civet – a small cat-like mammal) and the local Kayuamba Market (where I was the only Bule or Kulit Putih or white person present).  Also, I had the fortunate opportunity to tour the Holy Water Temple – though I wasn’t prepared with a change of clothing, so I didn’t fully partake in the cleansing.  I was told that local folks make a couple of expeditions a year to visit, which can be very useful following bad dreams.

Another couple of images shot with the NIKON D600

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Finally, we took a drive back south to our final destination in Jimbaran to spend some time on the beach at the Intercontinental Bali Resort. Before we retreated to the Balinese style set up inside the gates of the resort, we stopped in Seminyak to grab a bite at La Lucciola, what I’m told is the best Italian restaurant around. We grabbed a table upstairs to enjoy the breeze and watch the sunset over the water. The Intercontinental Bali Resort was a huge property that seemed to have taken all the classic deco, gardens, temples, etc from around Bali and incorporated them within the guarded gates on the beach. This place is a nice for slowing down, having some very expensive meals and more expensive drinks, and taking in panoramic beach or pool views.  But be aware, you might feel like visited Bali without really seeing Bali if this is your only stop. I recommend taking a walk down the road to explore some untouched real local life: street stalls, shops, temples, and houses.  A chance to get a more authentic feel…

Photographically speaking, this trip marked a significant milestone in my photographic journey. After a couple of years of being concerned with bigger DSLRs (larger sensors, higher ISO, faster frame rates, etc) and super fast lenses, my recent addition to the bag, the FUJI XE-2 and 35mm 1.4 forced me to get comfortable shooting with different equipment. As we toured Bali, I found more than ever I was shooting with the D600, XE-2, and iPhone 5 interchangeably.

It seems I finally embraced the notion that good photos are not taken by good cameras, but by talented photographers.

Of course I have plenty of photographic learning to do to earn that title, but at least I was more readily exploring the freedom of shooting with different “tools.” I was pleasantly surprised with the results and hope the mix of images here represents the fact the choice of camera is not important.

A final image shot with the NIKON D600 of a local temple along the road…


Bali… its hard to forget the beautiful landscapes, abundance of temples, and kind people.


Category : Indonesia, Travel