During my trip around East Java, Indonesia I visited the famous Ijen crater. It’s an active crater, but it’s also the workplace to hundreds of men. They come to mine sulphur, armed with nothing more than their bare hands and metal rods. I befriended one of these men – a miner named Paing. Over about a week I followed Paing around and photographed his life.
This photo was taken early in the morning, well before sunrise. The miners make their way up to the crater at this time to avoid the heat and the scorching sun. It was dark. The flame torches that the miners carried provided the only light.
On this trip I frequently used an off camera flash in a softbox. That’s exactly what I did here to add a bit more light to the scene. The flash allowed me to reveal a bit more detail without increasing the ISO.
Main reason I think it works
In this photo there's certainly a sense of story – the sulphur miners are taking a smoke break amidst some jagged rocks. However, what makes this image work for me is not the story – it’s the ambience, the mood of the scene which I worked hard to capture, even to enhance with the flash.
Most important tips - a PDF Case Study
Today I’d like to try something different. The way to making this scenario work was quite technical. I feel that the tips would be best conveyed via a case study with a diagram and a short explanation of my little lighting setup, as well as my approach to post-processing.
I’m including a PDF case study that you can download. Just enter your email below.
I’d love to know what you think about these kinds of case studies. Would you like to see more of them? If you enjoy this post and the case study, please share it!