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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An Interview With Aveline Gunawan: The Clumsy Girl With Secret Obsession Towards Greenday.

I’ve known Aveline Gunawan (Ave), a photographer for Baby Axioo, since her first days in Baby Axioo. We share mutual best friends, and got involved in preparing for their proposal, birthday surprises, bachelor parties, pre-wedding photoshoot and even became one of their groomsmen and bridesmaids.

Although she might look like a high-maintenance princess on her Instagram feeds, Ave is a complete opposite in person. She is very down to earth and far from princess-sy attitude. She is a clown who is not afraid to make fun of herself in front of other people. Her talent in photography is undeniably and inarguably a God’s gift. I remember during our trip to Bromo, she took photos using a Samsung phone, iPhone, DSLR, Mirrorless camera, and Analog camera, and every single shot she took was beautiful! Because of her I believe the idioms that says, “It’s not about the gear, it’s about the eyes and the taste behind the lens.” A real photographer could take the most beautiful photo using any gear, and she has proven it.

Working in Axioo has been her one and only dream since she graduated from University. The journey to become where she is right now was not easy at all and that is why I decided to feature her in this month’s “Get To Know” section. We met at a restaurant after church, and started to the interview over a plate of pizza and desserts. One funny similarity that we share is that we are both an unstoppable munching machine. When we see foods on the table, we don’t even care to ask who owns it, we’re just gonna grab it and start munching!

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TPOB20: Who is Aveline Gunawan in your own eyes?
Ave: Aveline Gunawan is a clumsy girl from Surabaya. A girl who looks very elegant on Instagram, but actually a clown who can’t stop munching, and loves to listen to Greenday.

TPOB20: What do you do?
Ave: I’m a photographer in Baby Axioo, so I’m mostly busy doing photoshoot probably about seven different clients in a week, while at the same time juggling my wedding preparation.

TPOB20: How did you get into this industry?
Ave: I’ve been introduced to photography since I was a kid. Probably because my Dad was also quite passionate in photography. I remember him taking photos of me and my two sisters with his vintage camera, and also recorded our silly actions with a handy cam.

But, it was not until senior high that I finally considered to explore photography. When I was still a little girl, I wanted to be a bank teller because I thought I’d have a lot of money, not knowing that it’s actually other people’s money hahaha… And then I also wanted to be a comic illustrator because I like drawing. When I was in Middle High I wanted to be a part of Emo Band, mainly because of Greenday.

Until one day, I had this Motorolla phone that came with a camera. It became my first camera, and that’s how it all began. I moved to Melbourne for my bachelor degree in Communication Design. One day, a friend of mine asked me to take photos of their kid. That’s when I had the opportunity to build my portfolio.

After college, I went back for good to Surabaya and decided to focus more on photography. I wanted to apply to Axioo but then I didn’t have that much confident in me to actually send out my portfolios. At that moment, it just felt impossible. So I tried applying to other photography services in Surabaya instead, and none of them called me back. I was so devastated, feeling so incompetent. How could I apply for the big giant like Axioo, if no one in Surabaya wanted to hire me.

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

One day, my ex’s sister was having a pre-wedding photo shoot in Bogor with Axioo. Usually, there will be one photographer with one stylist handling the photo shoot. But, that day, I believe it’s not a coincidence, the stylist wasn’t available to come so the owner herself (which happens to be my current boss) came all the way from Jakarta to handle the photoshoot. It’s a very rare situation, probably even the first and the last time ever. Anyway, that’s when I first met Fen Soong. The owner of my dream company. Of course, she knew nothing about me. We rarely even speak during the photo shoot I guess.

Fast forward two weeks later, Fen left a comment on my Instagram’s post, saying that she would love to meet and have a talk with me. Apparently, she found my Instagram through some sort of Instagram baby account, which featured my portfolio.

One month later, in September 2013, I went to Jakarta and arranged a meeting with Fen. She asked me to be a photographer for Baby Axioo. That was really mind blowing, because I’m fine being a photographer’s assistant as a starter. I was so flattered yet quite nervous at that time. She asked me to think about the offer. And so I moved to Jakarta and started to work for Baby Axioo since October 2013.

I realized that it’s totally God’s grace. Fen and I were a complete stranger, yet somehow we crossed paths. I crossed path not with some random business owner, but with the one particular business owner that I’ve been adoring.

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

TPOB20: Why Axioo? And, why Baby Axioo?
Ave:
Apart from the fact that Axioo has such great name and portfolio, it just seems fun to work in Axioo. The team looks very solid. Apparently, when I joined, everything that I could imagine about working in Axioo is true! I got paid for having fun doing what I love to do, I gained not only good friends, but also a new family.

Why Baby Axioo? Hmmm.. I just love kids. When my sisters and I were kids, the two of them preferred to go to our cousins’ house to play saloon and other girly toys. Me? I preferred to go to my other cousin who was still a baby and play with her.

TPOB20: What are your work values that brought you to where you are right now?
Ave: 
Integrity. I believe that every client has to get the same treatment, the best of me. I can’t play favorites because they pay the same price. Second to integrity would be innovative I guess. I always come up with new ideas for photoshoot, thanks to Pinterest and a lot of brainstorming session with the fashion stylist. Or, sometimes I could get ideas simply by reading magazines, traveling, or looking at a window display.

TPOB20: What kind of thing disturbs or angers you the most?
Ave: I cannot tolerate a fake and sneaky person who always has a hidden agenda for his/her own benefit. I really despise people who act nicely in front of people yet talk bad about them behind their back. I value people who are sincere and kind-hearted.

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TPOB20: What kind of activity do you do to refuel your creative tanks?
Ave: Mostly traveling. Or, taking a time off for a while.

TPOB20: What is the most interesting thing about being a baby photographer?
Ave: 
I got to meet new people everytime I have a photoshoot. Mostly are Instagram mommies with very cute and adorable babies or toddlers. I love hearing their stories and their insights about being a Mom.

TPOB20: What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Ave: When the baby doesn’t cooperate. But, what would be like the MOST challenging is when both the baby and the parents don’t cooperate.

TPOB20: What was the biggest struggle in your 20s? What made you kept going?
Ave: 
I’m a sucker for lover. Thank God I now have a fiance. But few years ago, I could overthink and worry a lot about my love life. As a competitive person, I often compare my life with other and the seeds of jealousy could cripple me. I always want to be better than others and completely forget that the real battle is not against others but against my own self. I learned over time to put aside all the negative thoughts and choose to focus on being the best in what I do. The blessing that is meant for you will always be meant for you. God has designed everything and put each person’s blessing according to their capacity. That thought somehow managed to keep me going everytime I stumble.

At this point I got so distracted by some pizza crumbles that got stuck on her hair. That’s how much she fancies eating. (Don’t worry Ave, you still have time to diet and you’ll fit well in your wedding dress!)

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Photo courtesy of Aveline Gunawan and Baby Axioo

TPOB20: What is your biggest dream that you haven’t achieved until today?
Ave: Uhm.. probably being a vessel of blessing to others, like creating a job opportunity for other people so they can support their family, pay the bills, etc. I strongly believe that’s what God wants me to do next.

TPOB20: Who is your inspiration?
Ave: 
My boss, Fen. She is very genuine and caring towards people. She would go the extra mile to make her ideas come to life. She values and appreciates relationship and really take a good care of her employees.

TPOB20: Lastly, what are the perks of being 20 to you?
Ave: 
It’s the season where you can explore a lot of things, or should I say every thing that your heart desires, without being worried because you still don’t have any responsibility towards your own family. You are not yet married and still don’t have kids. Your old days seem far away. You are all fresh and healthy to do the things that you love to do.

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Hopefully her story would inspire you to never give up praying on what you want and pursue your dream until it comes to life.

Write to you later,

HG. (@gersonhenry)

Postcard from Rinjani: 4 Days With No Shower

You read that right. There was no privilege of shower, moreover the facility to poop without having to dig holes before it.

With that said, the summit view is only for those who are willing to pay the price. The price in this context also means becoming a 4 days shabby. Physical pain was not the only price we had to pay. Still, with that kind of situation, our curiosity to explore was unstoppable. We were always taking photos and posing whenever possible.

Why?

Because, we paid so much price to get to the summit. Personally, I would never walk back up the same mountain again. Might as well take some time to capture everything I could before leaving Rinjani for good. Anyways, here is a collection of photos from our cameras we think worth showing to you. In the short run, we hope that you will so intrigued by these images that you will climb the Rinjani yourself. Even when physical hygiene is one of the prices you need to pay.

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A group of foreigners having a picnic in the middle of the hike. They were always using improper hiking outfit. I wonder why.

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Climbing Rinjani on a national holiday is like queuing for a ride in Disneyland.

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The hills.

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More foreigner spotted.

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Capturing the fluffy white cotton candy.

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Ignore that pimple.

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The rocks we had to climb on to the summit. 2 steps up will bring us 1 step down. The key lies in perseverance.

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Summit view. Hey, we’ll post more photos from the summit soon! We’re kinda keeping it for another post.

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I look like a Mongolian.

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Woke up to this view.

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Woke up to this sun. It’s the same sun everywhere in the world, but it felt different when you’re in Rinjani. No kidding.

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HG was staying fashionable even without shower.

 

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Our porters who were on their flip flops, hiking here and there faster than a roadrunner. They have got to be on steroids!

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Preparing fish for lunch. Segara Anak Lake is where you can fish after going down from the summit. Be prepared for the devastatingly long walk!

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Last glimpse of Segara Anak Lake before we head back to the base-camp.

You can look at more photos on http://www.demasryan.com, or simply head to our previous post about Rinjani. Easy, you can even find those photos in our Instagram accounts.

If you ever see me, please don’t ask me: “When is your next travel?” That question really ticks me off because I won’t be traveling for a while until I graduate from my masters program. I wish I can explore again soon, preferably another mountain. As much as I love showering and pooping, I’d probably prefer being outdoor even without all those hygienic facilities. That’s the sacrifice I am willing to do.

With that kind of sacrifice, most probably, I won’t be getting a girlfriend anytime soon.

Keep exploring,

DR. (@demasryan)