After a 40-hour long trip, we finally arrived in Indonesia. We found ourselves on one of the country’s most famous peaks, Mount Bromo, at an altitude of 2,200 metres. Flip-flops were no longer suitable attire; instead, we reached for our hats and warmest down jackets. The temperature at this altitude hovers around 10 degrees rather than 35. As for the sun, it is scarce, only gracing us with its presence briefly, primarily between five and seven in the morning.
Mount Bromo is an exceptionally active volcano, continually emitting dense, sulfurous smoke that saturates the entire caldera (the outer crater encircling the volcano) and the adjacent surroundings.
We arrived at the end of the rainy season, when there are still frequent thunderstorms. Settling for a beautiful beach on the coast could have been a solution but where would the fun be in that? Instead, here we were in a misty, sulfur-filled environment, living with the looming risk of volcanic eruption.
For this journey, I aimed to have portable and convenient gear since we would be capturing pictures in a variety of locations, including muddy and steep plantations, the summit of the volcano, and beyond.
Thus, I needed something that enabled me to be both mobile and efficient.
I opted for the Elinchrom FIVE due to its versatility. Its powerful output enabled me to capture portraits in challenging backlit conditions during sunrise, especially when the sun was obscured. Furthermore, the FIVE provided the capability to illuminate broader scenes, providing a contextual backdrop for the subjects and their surroundings.
Regarding the modifier, I chose the Rotalux Square Softbox 70cm (27″). This small softbox simplifies transportation, particularly when navigating challenging terrain during hikes. Additionally, it enables me to accentuate the primary subject while also providing illumination to its surroundings. This versatility proves invaluable when capturing travel portraits and adding context to the pictures.
My photographs are a blend of natural and artificial light. With the ever-changing weather on Mount Bromo, there were many elements beyond our control. The silver lining is that I could rely on my Elinchrom FIVE, along with its battery, to handle the exceptionally high humidity levels without hesitation.
Additionally, capturing images of individuals with whom you do not share a common language presents an additional challenge. In such situations, non-verbal communication and improvisation play crucial roles, as the language barrier combined with cultural differences frequently leads to unexpected moments. In this context, we do not rely on a specific, pre-established plan. We quickly find a place to take a portrait and let the moment guide us.
While it may be stressful for some, I personally find it remarkably fulfilling. In my view, it is during these instances of uncertainty that art truly comes into its own. However, it is essential to acknowledge that failures are also a significant aspect of adventures like this, particularly when operating outside the limits of a studio and embracing the challenges they entail.
Beyond the trials and uncertainties, this Indonesian journey has proven to be a genuinely enriching adventure.
When you come across portraits or projections online, it is easy to overlook the amount of effort invested in creating them. It is important to keep this in mind. However, it is an effort that is well worth the reward! We are now ready to take on new challenges, explore new horizons and continue telling stories through our art.
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The FIVE is a battery monolight with 522Ws of power, allowing you to work on location with up to 450 full-power flashes. The Elinchrom FIVE features TTL, HSS, a bi-color LED modeling light, and a removable battery.
Available in 12 different shapes and sizes, the Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox will quickly become your main light shaper whether you’re in a studio or on location.
Let’s have an in-depth look at how big of an impact lighting has on your RAW files and how you can achieve the final look you are going for.
“With flash, I can easily turn a poor place into an epic scene” – Photographer Bram Berkien captures cinematic images in a gym environment.