The first time I held a camera I was 14 years old and I got three clicks during photography class. I remember that moment. I taught myself photography by reading books, asking friends, and practicing, practicing, practicing. When I started out, I was freelancer and a new magazine asked me to cover a funeral ceremony on a Bali resort island. I knew I wouldn’t get paid much, but I took the opportunity and paid half the budget from my own pocket. After the story was done and printed in the magazine, I knew this was the kind of job that I wanted. Then 25 years works as a photojournalist gives me a lot of experience. Covering the Afghanistan war in 2001 with Reuters, left the biggest mark on me. The people I admire the most are the ones who live in conflict zones and disaster areas. Even though they have limited facilities, they survived. They are strong human beings. Aceh tsunami n 2004 was the biggest disaster I had ever covered, and the mass destruction in Banda Aceh made me sick to my soul. There were so many sad stories there, and years later they make me cry when I’m alone. I am excited by almost all my assignments, but most of all by assignments covering disasters, because they’re related to humanity.
Recently human story is my main job and a good camera is very important to create wonderful images.
GFX100S Capture the Wildlife.
I started learning photography at 26 years old. At that time, I worked in an office and sat behind a desk. After three years of working in an air-conditioned room, I felt like it wasn’t my world. Mine was outside of that room, complete with fresh air, pouring rain and hot weather.
As I was getting to know how cameras work, seeing the images produced through the viewfinder makes me happy because the scenes in that viewfinder are what our eyes chose to capture. A scene that tells a story behind it. A fun and beautiful scenery, the lives of many people, faces of joy, and faces of sorrow.
Photography promptly changed the course of my life. I decided to live in the streets and witness many events that hold stories behind them. There were stories of happiness as well as stories of sadness. And I decided to become a photojournalist, a visual storyteller.
A few years ago, I used a full frame camera. There were some disadvantages when the photo is finished, especially when more detail is needed. For example, the photos have to be cropped to different formats due to different needs. In this case, the GFX100S medium format camera, have advantages.
It has the flexibility for me to change the format without compromising the quality. The sensor size is advantageous for obtaining the finest detail, especially when cutting is required.
The photos produced by the medium format sensor freed me to search for a more suitable format, to fulfill the view in another format. For example, a portrait photo can be cut into a landscape photo or a 16:9 format without sacrificing the detail, color saturation, and sharpness.
For me, GFX100S gives me the best quality picture without boundaries.
I used a medium format because I’m amazed by the images it produced. Very detailed. The dimension developed by it is like producing a picture in three dimensions. I brought it with me to capture wildlife so that my stories can be well-conveyed through the perfect visuals.
An analog medium format camera is identified with slow and difficult to use for outdoor shooting. It’s not for fast movements that needs immediate reactions.
But today, GFX100S exists with its compact design that makes for a reliable portability. It can be carried around easily because it feels like carrying any other cameras. The outdated notion that medium formats are slow vanished with the presence of GFX100S.
I brought it with me to take pictures of orangutans in tropical rainforests on the island of Borneo. Orangutans can only be spotted on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra of Indonesia. Forests are rapidly being destroyed due to human activities, leaving only a few ideal places for them to live. And Tanjung Puting National Park is one of them.
In 2004, the population of orangutans across the island of Borneo reached 57.000, but the report in 2020 showed that the numbers have decreased. The island of Borneo still has some wonderful tropical forests, including Tanjung Puting National Park.
During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, only two out of four posts were open, which are Tanjung Harapan and Pondok Tanggui, while the rest- Buluh River and Camp Leaky were still closed.
As we walked into Tanjung Harapan Camp, in the middle of the forest, there were suddenly a few orangutans hanging above the trees that started approaching us. We stopped for a second. A few of them were following us closely behind the trees above us. Suddenly, a younger orangutan came out from behind the trees to approach us.
He blocked my path, and although he showed me a friendly face, his movements were convincing and bold. My guide said that he just wanted to let us know that this was his territory, and told me not to say anything.
And my guide was right, not long after that, he stood on the path we were about to cross, spread his legs open and urinated right then and there. He wanted to show us that this was his territory. After he urinated, he gestured to the others to leave, and they dangle from one tree to another and disappeared into the forest.
Orangutans that urinate to show their territories are courageous and healthy animals, as they freely express their own will. Animals that are stressed and under pressure usually get anxious. As we often see on animal circus at the zoo that are still happening in different parts of the world. They only move when their trainer tell them to.
We walked into the feeding area. Ahead was a large wooden table where the forest ranger dumps corns and yams. Not long after, a few orangutans started to show up. Some of them carried their children with them. There were more than four mothers that came with their children. Our guide Adut thinks that this situation was unusual.
A situation like this doesn’t happen often before.
During the pandemic- which has lasted for 18 months- when not many people come to visit, a lot of orangutans got pregnant and gave birth. This shows that they feel comfortable with the quiet environment they’re in. As of right now, their children are only 3 to 6 months old. Like humans, an orangutan’s gestation period also lasts for 9 months.
And among the many interesting things inside that national park, I decided to observe the movements of orangutans that came with their children. Following them as they dangle from one tree to another as they carry their children. Following them as they feed their children. And as I follow them moving from one tree to another, I saw how close the relationship between the orangutan mother and her child is. Wherever they go, their child is always in their arms or strapped to their bodies. What a magnificent sight. A sight that shows how deep a mother’s love is towards their child.
That’s why I came here, to capture love, to capture the intimacy of a bond shared between a mother and her child. To capture how content they are to live in a forest of a national park, a forest protected by the country.