Seeing Things From Behind A 40 Year Old Lens

“The camera doesn’t matter – the eye does,” says the anonymous, blurred person who speaks only in my hazy memory. This is a quote heard by millions of photographers, possibly in a million, different, often misquoted ways. They all seem to drive a point, however: that the camera is only a tool that is as good as you are able to project your visual ideas and images with.

To test that ubiquitous theory, I recently purchased a 40-year-old lens, after a convincing demonstration from a friend and coworker. This one cost a fraction of what newer lenses charge, thanks to age and time working in my favor. I immediately bought the lens from a second-hand online store, along with a cheap adapter for my Canon 60D (which in itself, is an aging camera, according to every photographer ever).

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The Setup

I had to admire the lens for a while as it came out the box a few days after. Here was a creation that stood the wear and tear of 40 years, through time and space, that landed on my pale, white desk of mine. I will never know the story it went through, or how many hands have grasped and pulled its aging handles, or how beautiful the pictures that were taken by many eyes and clicks of the shutter. These things, it seems, I can only wonder.

So to stop wondering, I decided to test this gizmo of mine on a trip to Bandung, in West Java.

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A visit to a limestone processing factory in Bandung

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Before lifting heavy rocks

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Empty

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On standby, without workers

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A local-favorite. Kue ape

I immediately noticed a few things: how sharp the images were, how different the colors appeared, and how hard the lens was to operate! Here was a photographer, so used to modern marvels such as auto-focus and exposure compensation, receiving a vintage welcome from his own camera. It was a bare-bones experience, having to manually set the aperture and the focus ring every time I had a subject in frame. But it was eye-opening, as it was unfamiliar

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Visiting the night street market

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Look at all those chickens (y’know, that one vine)

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Famous Martabak Andir

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Coincidentally, the man behind the stall has been making Martabak for 40 years

The lens worked wonders in night time, thanks to its wide 1.4 aperture. The images managed to stay crisp as well. It was hard to focus, though, without the automatic function I was so used to having.

And then there was this certain dreamy character to the bokeh, as the blurred edges of the images never seem to stay symmetrical and perfectly round. Yet the depth of the areas that were in focus almost seemed that they can pop out, like a cutout character from a story book. This lens, and its images, are a trippy piece of work.

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A self-portrait that ‘pops’ out (taken by a good friend of mine, Moses – @moosesronaldo)

I felt responsible to show what an old, jaded lens can do, since this is my first lens I bought with my own savings. And it to see how much it has gone through, it’s an honor, in a strange kind of way, to own something that has its own mysterious story.

So, I do think to dismiss a cheap and aging piece of technology would be a tragic story to tell. I think something like this offers a portal to see the peculiarities of imperfect items of yesteryear; a sort of back-to-your-roots experience. With all the new technology coming to our screens and doors in 2018, it would be nice to step back and recall on older things that we haven’t explored. Here’s me just starting out into that journey, and with good intentions, I ask that you come along too.

Jeloy. (@je.loy)

 

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What to Do If You Could Spend A Day in Bandung.

Having a busy schedule is beneficial to keep your mind occupied with positive things, but at the same time if you don’t know how to pause, you’re putting your soul – or probably your insanity – at risk. So, balance is the key.

A recharging weekend is what most big city people often need to balance their life. What’s your ideal “recharging weekend”? If you ask me, sometimes a day of hanging out with friends is all I need. But there are also times when I just can’t resist the urge to have a spontaneous trip out of the city. Just like what I did last week: a spontaneous solo trip to some of the cities in East Java. But, that’s for another post.

As of this week, I’ll share with you one of the similar experiences I had few months ago. Busy schedules and never ending meetings came rapidly into my calendar, I panicked and spontaneously decided to have a short getaway out of the city. In the name of finding new inspiration to keep my creative brain sharp, I booked a train ticket to Bandung and spent a day in that city, bringing only my camera and laptop.

First destination was one of my favorite breakfast spots in Bandung, Bakmi Rica Jl. Kejaksaan. Sometimes I pray that they would open an outlet here in Jakarta. My favorite is their Yamin Noodle with boiled dumplings, meatballs, and fried meatballs! Right in front of this tiny restaurant, there has always been a Durian Ice Cream truck ready to give you a sinful dessert.

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Totally one of the reasons to always go back to Bandung.

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Jl. Kejaksaan No.7 Braga, Sumur Bandung.

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One of the desserts that I could never say no to.

Since this restaurant is located right at the heart of Braga, you can loosen up the bloated tummy (as a result of a bowl of mouthwatering noodle) by strolling around Braga on foot  and capture some of Bandung’s interesting faces and activities.

Unfortunately, Bandung was in a bit of a cloudy mood when I visited her. In order to avoid the heavy rain, which was about to come, I immediately ordered an Uber ride to get me to my next destination, Eugene The Goat.

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It’s an al fresco type coffee shop that offers a romantic view of Bandung, particularly during the cloudy days. I got what I came for, a complete solitude, accompanied only by a cup of Flat White. Several strangers with Bandung typical street-style outfit  were busy with their own stuff. A comforting breeze greeted my cheeks, reminded me to be grateful to have a precious time such as this. It was only a half day in Bandung, and I already got what I came for.

During the much needed me-time at Eugene, one of my Instagram buddy, Rainoswald, texted me saying that he’s coming. Friendship is easily built through social media right now, although the two people might have never even met. Hail to the millennial generation! Check out his instagram feeds, as he is famous for some of his eclectic and aesthetic feeds.

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Rainoswald with his signature quirky pose.

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The perks of having a friend around is of course the opportunity to have some ootd shots.

Mimiti Coffee was next. After waving goodbye to Rainoswald, I moved to this new coffee shop that has been quite a talk in Instagram. A very urban hypebeat-ish ambience lingers around this particular coffee shops as it is dominated with black window frames, concrete grey walls, large al fresco area, plus a display of premium street brands for sale.

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Jalan Karangsari Nomor 1 Pasteur, Sukajadi ,Bandung.

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I didn’t use my camera and cell phone (except to order Uber and Gojek lol) that much as I was really in a dire need of detoxing all the hustles I gained in Jakarta. An authentic moment of living without the urge to capture everything I stumble upon was what I aimed to have. Those three places were the only ones I explored from behind the lens. However, there are also some other places that I visited in Bandung that you can surely put in your list.

  1. Po Ka Tiam -at Jalan Pasir Kaliki No. 64, a breakfast/brunch spot that serves dim sum (try their Salted Egg Yolk Bun).
  2. Two Cents – Jalan Cimanuk No. 2, their maincourses and desserts are also to die for!
  3. Martabak Asan – Jalan Kebon Kawung No. 8, it’s seriously the KILLER Martabak Tipker that I’ve ever tasted. You can order this one by Gojek. I was guilty of finishing a whole box of their chococheese and peanut butter flavors.
  4. Nasi Goreng Babi Cuka at Rumah Makan Legoh – Jalan Sultan Agung No.9, this one is also “Gojek-able”.
  5. Bola Ubi near Jalan Sudirman Bandung, it’s only a walking distance from the hip culinary spot that offers you plenty of tasty food trucks and street sides kinda meals.
  6. NuArt Sculpture Park. It’s a great place to unwind and recharge your creativity as this place offers a three-storeys gallery, a huge backyard displaying some even more huge installations, and a nice al fresco-type coffee shop to sit and relax.

Hopefully this list come as great suggestion for you who are about to visit Bandung anytime soon. Please do share your favorite culinary spots in Bandung by leaving a comment below.

 

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)