I attended the first Melasti ceremony back in 2008 during my first year in Bali (or second for I was moving here in August 2007). But it was a little bit different from the Melasti this year. 3 years ago I came just a little bit too late, at the closing of the ceremony when sunset was already approaching and there was only happy, happy celebration. This year I witnessed so much more.

I went to Petitenget beach, the closest temple from my place which was about 2 minutes ride by scooter. That was as soon as I read somebody's status on Facebook, saying that the roads were closed almost everywhere due to the parades. I could also hear the continuous Balinese gamelan in the distance. So I just took a quick shower and grabbed my camera and went there.

I couldn't even park near the temple. So I parked next to some hotel and walked to the beach temple. Guess what? There was even a big jam walking. As usual, people wouldn't give way to the others and various vehicles were stuck in the middle of the roads facing all directions. The Pecalang got a bit pissed and started being rude to the street users, including those who walked.

Anyway, the source of the madness was not that far away from there. I could immediately see the beautiful colourful parades consisting of Balinese Hindus, young and old, most of whom were wearing sunglasses due to the bright sun.
The parades
I struggled to get to the beach among the thousands of people there. And when I was finally there, I couldn't get enough of so many photo opportunities. I also felt this strange feeling about the ceremony. A mixture of amazed and scared at the so many people, men and women, being in the state of trance. It is believed that during this purification ceremony (Melasti), the Gods are coming down to earth and possessing some of the bodies of the followers. From what I saw, most that took the girls made them scream and run towards the sea, sometimes dancing or crying. Some of her friends and relatives would follow her bringing holy water for her and then praying for her until she came back to normal.
Girl having trance
Th men were either having the same act like the girls, or more often having Ngurek, the act of stabbing themselves with a keris, traditional knife, as they were taken by the Gods or spirits. It is also believed that since they are in trance and another power is taking over the body, it gives them more power so that the keris stabbed into the body will not hurt them. Like they were immuned from that. I met my next door neighbour, Anders, an hour later and we discussed if it was for real. And I decided that it might be real stabbing since I could see holes in the places they stabbed themselves in their white shirts.
Man in trance stabbing his head with 2 keris.

Man in trance stabbing his chest with a keris.

Man in trance stabbing his chest with a keris.

Man in trance trying to stab himself with a keris.
The others were anticipating this act.
Even though it could sound and look depressing to see this ceremony, the real treat was from the children brought to the ceremony. They seemed to be so smiley and happy (probably due to the day off from school). The younger children would cry as their parents wash their face with the sea water. But the older ones were so eager to participate in the happening. Like these flag boys.
Balinese boys carrying flags that symbolize different Gods
Melasti was really one of the most interesting ceremonies and cultures in Bali that one wouldn't want to miss out. I missed the last 2 Melasti ceremonies because I had to work. So I felt pretty blessed that now I worked for myself and that I could manage my own time.

As an idealist photographer, I'd like to have the final result of my photos as they were originally taken. But it is an unspoken accepted agreement that the post production is as important as the photo shooting technique. Even when it was still the analog/film era, darkroom techniques were used to produce an acceptable end result according to the photographer's taste. Today when things are digitalized, there are more ways to make photos look much more appealing than the original ones, thanks to the photo editing softwares.

Interestingly until yesterday, I only used Adobe Photoshop CS3 and (very rarely) Neat Image. It's not that I am not open to other softwares, but I just think that different softwares have their own pluses and minuses. I've been always using Photoshop since I was working for Excellogix as a graphic designer. I'm familiar with most of its functions, even after it has been upgraded so many times. And there is nothing that Photoshop can't do, really. So rather than following what software is in trend, I kept being faithful to Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 [OLD VERSION]Yesterday, however, I felt that I wanted to try Adobe Lightroom 2. And the result was I was pretty happy with it. In a way, it delivers simpler functions than Photoshop. So if you want to have a minor edit on contrast, brightness, sharpening, exposure and white balance correcting, you can do it in a few clicks with Lightroom. With Adobe Photoshop, exposure and white balance correction is usually applied exclusively for RAW files. But with Lightroom, you can do it for any type of files.

Again, there is nothing Adobe Photoshop can't do. What Lightroom does, Photoshop does, too. It's just that you need to be more closely acquainted with it and it takes longer time and procedure.

However, when post-editing the photos I made of Villa Asri, I used both softwares. I did the initial primary edit in Lightroom as it was faster, then I transfered it to Adobe Photoshop CS3 for the final touch. In the end, I might have taken the same amount of time with when I edited with Photoshop only. But for the first time using Lightroom, the learning process was not that difficult.

One thing, though, I found out that the output from Lightroom could only be in TIFF file or PSD file. At first, I kept using TIFF files. But since I needed to give the final result in JPEG files to the client, I switched the converted image to PSD file for easier saving. 
  1. If you are using Windows, right click the photo you want to transfer, choose Edit in, then choose Edit in Adobe Photoshop 3. If you have another type of Adobe Photoshop, the software will automatically read it as the Adobe Photoshop version that you have in your computer.
  2. Then choose the following details
If you happen to have transfered the photos in TIFF files and you want to convert it to JPEG in Photoshop but can't find the JPEG option in the Save As, don't panic just yet. You can't find it because JPEG is a compressed type of file that normally works with 8 bits while TIFF 32 bits (which explains why TIFF has wider sets of color palettes). In order to save in JPEG file, what you need to do is to click Image/Mode/8 Bits/Channel. It is shown in the picture below.
Now you can try saving in JPEG file. I bet that'll work. :)

However, personally I would do it with the first method (sending the file into PSD file instead of TIFF). When you work with TIFF file and want to change it to JPEG, some colors will be lost in the way. You might end up with a vintage-looking photo if you do it with the second method. 

Anyway, it was fun to learn something new again. In the mean time, check the photos of Villa Asri here
I should really be updating my website. The design is so outdated now that it's been there for almost 3 years, and I need to add a new section for my writing work. The photography is also old work, too. I had so many new ones to showcase. Will work on that in the coming next fortnight. (Note to self)
Lately I've been busy editing the photos I made of Villa Asri last weekend. It belongs to a guy named Guy whom I met and was connected by Yani, a new friend who reminds me a lot of my old friend Erni. I've been sort of absorbed in this photo work that most of my time has been consumed on that. In the mean time, there are still blog writings to do for the other clients.
I'm not complaining. It's VERY nice to be busy. But sometimes it hits my head and I'll be down for the whole day because of severe headache. I never had too much headache in the past. But it's coming pretty often in the past 6 months. Anyway, that's why this is going to be a short blog post for now.

The blog you need to check out this week:
  • Sweet Fine Day - lovely stories, lovely photography; if you like design, you might as well want to check Jenna's site here. Nice work there.
There have been small earthquakes in Bali that started to happen a few days before the earthquake/tsunami in Japan. I kind of already guessed that these series of small earthquakes (from 4 - 6 richter scale) were leading to something bigger. One was started in Japan, the next one, I don't know when or where. Some friends were calling me if they should indeed have to worry about this. Before any confusion happens, I am NOT some earthquake expert and I have no idea why these very paranoid friends called me about it, as if I was someone working for BMKG (Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi dan Geofisika) and as if I should have known more than the average people watching CNN should. Anyway, I was not worried, and I told these friends that, as Bali is sort of tucked away from the open waters, where tsunami is likely to happen. Earthquakes, however, is a different matter.

There was another small earthquake last night again, scaling at 4.8 richter. It was not big enough to rattle my windows as it did before that Japan tsunami, but it wasn't small enough to let me sleep undisturbed. Just minutes after midnight, I woke up as the earth shook again. I was so sleepy and tired and my headache still lingered, but I felt like I had to stay awake and just be aware in case another one coming up. Fortunately it didn't happen. So I went back to bed and returned to my nightmare.

In the mean time, I am glad that Shierly and family is in Surabaya now. Yes, they will go back to Japan sooner or later, but in the time being, Surabaya seems to be a safer place for them (despite the scorching heat and its thieves).

I just downloaded these apps from itunes and I think it's a lot of  
fun! Okay, i've seen people upload the same stuff on Facebook since  
years ago. But I was never impressed. To put my own pictures and  
family though is kinda fun. These are some that i came up with.

Visit Photofunia.com for more and to download the Free App from iTunes, click here.
I do realise that I am not that of a super frequent blogger. My interests fluctuate very easily and my focus gets distracted as soon as I find a new toy to play with (such as the Wii Fitness games), to work with (recently being photography and website content copywriting of The Berry Hotel) and to experiment with (food recipes, new photography tricks, etc.). I spent so much time for the latter lately. I've got super cooking kick that I cook and bake almost every day, trying out all the different recipes that my cookbooks and some favourite food blogs share. If I do the cooking during the daytime, I'd take photos of the result and share them + the recipes in my food blog. But most of the time, I cook in the evening and due to the lack of light and the fact that I am always kinda tired and hungry after the whole act of cooking, I don't take photos of the foods, and therefore they never got published in the food blog.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with being busy in all senses; i.e. those that make money and those that don't but sharpen my skills. But one thing that I need to improve is to be more organised with work (freelancing can create such a mess when you have projects all over the place) and to frequently update my blogs. I stumbled upon this blog that gives great tips to overcome those times when you don't feel like blogging. I know some of you have this period once in a while (at least I know Sheila does! LOL. And when she's absent for soooo long, she'd write to her readers on Facebook that she finally updates her blog after decades and please check out the link and leave some comments). Of all my good blogging friends, one that I find update her blog rather frequently is Shierly. Yes, she is lucky and blessed with so many interesting happenings in her life. But then again, I think I am too. Even at the worst moments, they are still things to blog about. But I didn't. Why was that? I think it has something to do with the length of blog post we do. The longer it is, the better mood we need to finally type down here. Often I had this discouragement to blog because I felt that I had to blog long or I felt that I needed to take some pictures first before I blogged. These are unnecessary feelings that we should cut back. And really, more people are actually interested to read your blog if you keep it neat and to the point (which I find hard to do sometimes). Well, now I am going to commit to more frequent blogging - long or short, with pictures or without - so readers won't get disappointed when they click this blog link and there is no actual update.

In the mean time, let me share you some things that highlighted my life in the past month:
happy and proud to have one of my pictures in a street billboard

spoiling Mouche and making her fat with the constant food I put in her bowl

falling in love with these children booklets Vincent bought me from France
So how are you doing?
Trust is the most precious and beautiful gift ever given to someone. It is THAT precious that you only get it once. You lose it and it will never be the same.