"Selamat Pagi, Jakarta!" Taking shots on the move
Updated: Jul 15, 2020
"Selamat Pagi, Jakarta" or "Good Morning, Jakarta" is a song that I made four years ago, telling a story about the daily morning of Jakartans.
Based on this song, I created a photo project that I've been doing in the past two years: I take shots of my morning commute to the office.... while riding on a motorcycle taxi. Yup, that's right, I did this.
Now let me tell you a bit about my "Selamat Pagi, Jakarta!" project.
SPJ is a photo project of what I see every morning during my commute to the office. Since I commute on a motorcycle taxi, then... yes, I took shots from motorcycle taxi as well.
Because I'm bored. Like. Really. Bored. Every morning I spent 30 minutes on a motorcycle taxi, doing nothing, and can't do anything as well. I can't sleep, can't eat, I can open my mobile phone, but it's dangerous. So why not take a shot as well?
(almost) every weekday when I go to the office, or when I feel like it, or when it's not raining.
Have a camera that has a good strap. Like, really good strap. The reason why I do not take shots with a mobile phone? It's too small and too easy to slip while on the move. And because I'm bad at taking shots with the phone.
Ensure your camera has enough battery. You REALLY don't want to change the battery while on the move (I did that once, nope, never again).
Order a motorcycle taxi. This works only if you become a passenger, not the driver. (duh!)
I receive a lot of questions on this project, so here it is, the FAQ!
1. What camera that I use?
Most of the times, I use my old, slow, trusty Fujifilm X-T10 with Fujinon XF56mm F1.2 lens.
Yup, I took shots while on the move using a significantly slow combination of camera and lens. Why then? Well, because I'm broke and don't have money to buy a new camera yet, and I LOVE the 56mm lens. I think the focal length fit my style and I just oh so fall in love with the colour and the sharpness. Before I had my 56mm, I use Fujinon 35mm F1.4, and sometimes I use Fujifilm X70.
2. But then how can I take such a sharp image while on the move?
I know my gear is pretty slow, so I ensure that while I'm on the move, the camera should "think" as minimum as possible. I put the shutter speed on 1/1000 and the aperture on F5.6-7.1 (depends on the light that morning), and only the iso that's automatic with maximum iso 800 or 1600, again, depends on the light. I also put the AF on spot mode. But to be frank, even when I put it on spot mode, my camera still thinks for a few SECONDS to get the autofocus right. Like 2 seconds at least, and I lost my scene already.
3. Then, if that happens, that your AF doesn't do what it supposed to do, what would you do?
Just let it go. I mean, I do this almost every weekday. I can say from every 10 shots, I only get 1 shot when the AF is working properly, and that one shot is probably not a good shot anyway. But that's life, and that's the risk that I have to take.
But on the other hand, it feels soooo good when the universe is in your side, like this shot. The motorcycle was running fast, I saw the scene from afar, and snap my camera, and when it works, I was ecstatic!
But on the other hand (again), it's also perfectly fine if your shots isn't perfect, as long as you're happy with it, like this shot.
4. What about the scene? If you're on the move then how you adjust the composition?
For the scene, I pass the same road (sometimes different) every morning, so I kinda already got the idea of what kind of scene or shots that I will face and what interests me. As for composition, when the motorcycle is moving, you only have milliseconds to think, and another second for your camera to think the AF, then by default, it's somewhat a take and give condition. On the other hand, taking shots on the move become a training ground for me to frame a scene and compose quickly.
5. Don't you feel afraid that your camera will be stolen? Isn't it dangerous?
I do not afraid because the road that I take every day is a major road that has a lot of traffic. If there is much traffic, there won't be enough way for the thief to escape (my logic XD). And I try to secure my camera tightly in my hand. Balance is one thing that needs to take care of. In sum, I have to be able to analyse when to and when not to take shots on the motorcycle taxi.
6. What kind of shots that you take?
I love taking shots of hands, you'll find lots of interesting hand gesture along on the road.
I also love to take some expression on the move. Sometimes you can see the happiness, the agony, the boredom, the tiredness, and other expressions.
Sometimes you just met people on the road, like this driver and its passenger. We were in a traffic light (so the motorcycle was stopped), I turned my body, and both of them were smiling at me, so I took a shot.
I also take other shots that caught my eyes.
I am a true believer of you can take shots everywhere with whatever gear that you have, and that's why I really enjoy the process of doing this project for the past two years regardless all the limitations. On the other hand, by doing a long term project like this, I kinda have a record on how much my city has changed in the past two years. It also makes me realise how fast time flies and how significant changes can occur in such a short time.