Bali Photography Workshop – David Metcalf Day Tour – Part 2

Continuing my Bali day tour workshop with David Metcalf Photography.


Our next stop was the family compound of an old guy who raises fighting cocks – the sport is popular in Bali, although technically illegal it still attracts many followers. This man is one of the models that the tour uses, paying him to pose for photographs and giving the photographers time to experiment and practice. He changed into his traditional Balinese clothes for our photo session.


Our group leader Suki specialises in dramatic portraits and gave us some tips. Just watching how he took photos himself was a good learning experience. Adjusting the background, the angle of the shot and directing the man to pose differently all helped to create good shots under the shade of a cover. Then we were let loose ourselves taking turns to photograph the rooster man.


Rooster man then moved inside to a small room with a single light source from the open window. Suki positioned him to get the perfect light and then we went in individually to practice the composition and settings to get a good shot. There was no camera wizardry needed, the light was so good in there that it made it instantly dramatic. Covering the window half-way with cloth also helped. The results were pretty amazing and rooster man patiently waited whilst we snapped away for ages.


Next we were driven down the narrow roads to the family home of the usual group leader Nyman, into a nice garden where his wife served us some delicious lunch with some dishes I’d never experienced. Then a local village girl came out for photographs and to perform a traditional dance for us. Her costume and makeup was amazing and she put on the makeup herself! We experimented with different locations in the garden to shoot her and Suki used a reflector to help with the lighting in darker places. We had more freedom this time to experiment with posing and composition, I moved her to some shadier areas to stop the background being so distracting.


Then she performed her dance for us and she was amazing.The distinctive hand motions and body movement in this dance are brilliant to watch, combined with the intense facial expressions and powerful eyes which are part of the dance. We snapped away and I found the conditions challenging, though getting low helped and using continuous focus and face recognition really helped to catch an in-focus shot whilst she was moving so quickly.



Our last stop was a waterfall in the rice fields. We descended many steps into a steep gully, entering a wood. At the end of a stream was this nice waterfall. There were a few other tourists and some Balinese couples. Waterfalls are popular with the locals for a trip out and there are often little stalls to buy food and drink along the path. Here we played around with the tripods and I experimented with long exposures. Suki went for a swim and I got him to pose for me in front of the waterfall and I’m pretty happy with the results.



It was the end of a long day but it had been brilliant. The locations and models we visited were excellent and it was great to get off the beaten track and see some of the real Bali. Our driver and group leader were also really friendly and helpful. It really inspired me to improve and continue mastering my camera settings too. Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective to get inspiration! If you’re in Bali and want to go on the tour, you can find more information here

Here’s a gallery of some other photos from this part of the day.

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