The scenery in Ubud is just begging to be photographed. This Balinese city is famous for its rice terraces and local art scene. The markets are colourful and the people are friendly, and I couldn’t wait to start exploring. Since Paul and I wanted to further improve our photography skills we called on David Metcalf Photography to sign up for one of his Ubud photography tours!
The tour started at 5:30am when our guide and driver picked us up. It was an early morning for sure, but the excitement of seeing the sunrise in Ubud was more than enough to get me out of bed. After a few minutes of driving we arrived at our first stop, Subak Pulagan.
Subak Pulagan is a UNESCO world heritage site with beautiful rice terraces and a mountain in the distance. It was the perfect spot to watch the sun rise! Our guide Nyoman was hands-on from the very beginning. He helped us with camera settings and explained everything so clearly. It wasn’t long before the sun was coming up and we were snapping some pretty amazing shots with Nyoman’s guidance!
We played with focus and took advantage of the soft lighting until the sun was high in the sky. From here we drove to a nearby market. This wasn’t a tourist market, in fact it was quite a distance from any of Ubud’s hotels and popular spots. It was filled with locals – with the exception of our group.
It was clear our guide was well-known at this market because people were happy to see him and many people were saying hello to us as well. What blew me away about this market was how friendly everyone was. The locals were happy to have their pictures taken while they worked or shopped – even when it took us a few tries to get the shot right!
The low lighting inside the covered market was drastically different from the sunlight we were previously working with, but Nyoman was there to guide us through our camera settings once again. This was my favourite part of the tour, and I really appreciated that the tour included such a wide variety of settings!
We also took advantage of the low lighting to experiment with different styles of portraits. I have to applaud Nyoman for his level of patience! He was so helpful in reviewing each one of our pictures as we fiddled with settings to get our desired shots.
He knew the answer to everything, but always allowed us to plenty of time for trial and error. His style of teaching was much more effective than him simply setting our camera up for us. Because of this, we both learned more than I ever have from any books or online reading I’ve done in the past.
Our third stop was an old Balinese house with a beautiful yard. We used this home to work on more portrait shots, including group pictures. This was another great chance for us to get some one-on-one coaching from Nyoman as well as compare what we learned with the other people in our tour.
Our fourth and final stop was Nyoman’s house in a beautiful Ubud village. We sat outside and enjoyed coffee, tea, fruit and mie goreng cooked by his wife. It was a great chance to talk about what we had learned that day, as well as a chance to see some of Nyoman’s best pictures too. We sipped our hot drinks and flipped through David’s photography book while chatting with his family.
It was a fantastic end to our tour and much more personal than visiting a cafe. Overall Paul and I learned a ton of new photography skills and we also left with some stunning images. Photography aside we met some beautiful locals and visited areas of Ubud we never would have known about without the tour.
To book your own tour visit the David Metcalf Photography website. I’d highly recommend scheduling your tour for one of your first days in Ubud as it gave us a really good overview of Ubud and also helped us decide what to visit next!
We participated in the half day tour but full day tours are also available. More pictures can be seen on our Facebook page.