There's a quality to the light in southern Asia, particularly in Bali, that I haven't seen anywhere else. I don't know what causes it. The tropics? The pervasive watery green of rice paddies? The smoke from cooking fires, and sometimes burning paddies?
But this light pervades all images of Bali, whether physically or philosophically. When you are making pictures of Bali, keep that in mind at all times.
In a way, photography of Bali is easy, because the island is so picturesque, but the first advice I would give for Bali photography is just shoot a lot, because there is so much to see.
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Need to get back to this light. Perhaps this year.
Here are several more images of Bali I made while we were there.
While waiting for the cremation ceremony to begin in Ubud, I wandered through the nearby temple. I asked these men if I could take their picture. The one on the right said, “Two dollars.” I gave them each one, which they shoved somewhere under their sarongs.
We were lucky enough to be in Ubud, Bali for the cremation ceremony of the mother of a king. This is a facade detail of the float constructed to carry the body to an empty field on the edge of town where the float, with the body in a compartment near the top, is burned. This is what the men were waiting for.
You can read more about a Bali cremation ceremony here.
Part of the ancient art of Bali rice field cultivation includes a flock of ducks who live in each paddy. Besides providing the daily eggs which a farmer can sell for extra money, they eat the pestilential bugs and eat the fallen rice. Having a black duck among the flock is considered good luck.
At the Mother Temple in Bali, women waited patiently in the drizzle for the buses full of tourists to unload before offering the tourists their wares.
Our hosts in Bali took us to a fire dance our first night on the island. While the dance was commencing, most of the spectators turned around to look at this. When people ask me about Bali, the first thing I usually say is that it really is paradise.
When you walk through the monkey forest at the end of Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, Bali, hang on to your belongings or you may find yourself negotiating with a simian for the return of your sunglasses. That's why it's a good idea to always carry fruit to trade.
Every day, Balinese children carry the offerings to the spirits to their school.
Getting up at dawn to take a tour of the area around Ubud, Bali, yields some views you won't get later in the day. If I had to sum up the one overarching metaphor for the look of Bali, it would be “water.” It's everywhere, and it's the ever present lifeblood of the island. Dew on the new rice.
More water and rice in the early morning Bali light.
A Balinese rice farmer heads out to his field.
The preferred mode of transport in Bali is the motor scooter, even if that means taking your entire shop with you on the road. Luckily, this fellow's business was not hardware or he would have needed a much bigger scooter.
The best way to really see Bali is on a tour with Agung Rai, the curator of the a fantastic museum and all-around promotor and conservationist of all thing Balinese. The tour with him is when I made many of these images.
Also read about the Subak system of rice cultivation in Bali, which has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site.