On a recent trip to Bali my varsity roommate, surf and travel photographer Anton Joubert had the privilege to witness and photograph a Balinese Cockfight. Not something that we see everyday, or might ever wish to see in South Africa. The photos as captured through the lens of Anton Joubert however opens a door to our understanding of foreign cultures and traditions and are worth sharing with our fellow South Africans. Here is his story:
Balinese cockfight: The 50mm f1.4 lens test.
Decisions…..should I buy the recently released (and cheaper) 50mm f1.8 or the 50mm f1.4? After wasting hours on the Internet checking test results and reading user reports, I was even more confused. I decided to follow the philosophy of Winnie the Pooh (The Taoh of Pooh)
A Bird can fly
But a Fly can’t bird
and bought the 50mm f1.4.
A f1.4 can f1.8
But a f1.8 can’t f1.4
Driving past a small mountain village in Bali I noticed a big gathering – a cockfight – said the driver. Illegal since 1981. Perfect testing ground for the 50mm, I thought. But it was not that easy, getting close to the action was impossible. The “inner ring” was reserved for the guys who placed bets, the more money you spent the closer you were alloyed to the action. It took me a while to figure this out, not understanding the language; the “bookies” kept pushing me backwards, shoving these huge wads of money in my face. Not having any cash with me, I had to resort to plan “B” – screwed in the monopod – spot checked the light. I did not want to freeze the action completely, so, to obtain shutter speeds of 1/100 to 1/350 I set the camera on aperture priority (f4) and ISO 1000. Using the timer/shutter release, I extended my arm with the monopod over the crowds and hoped to capture some of the action.
The owners start by tying a razor sharp blade/spur to one of the legs, then parading the cocks around for the betting to start. Absolute chaos. It amazes me how the bookies can keep track of the odds, who paid and who to pay without any paperwork. The fight was intense, crowd went nuts, and fortunately did not last long (~2 minutes). I am not too sure how they decided that the white cock was the winner – but after a lot of money changed hands, everybody left in high spirits – and fortunately both cocks still alive and in one piece.
I was very happy with the lens – small unobtrusive – probably an ideal “street” lens. Maybe not as sharp as the 85mm lens at f1.4, but definitely worth the buy.
Also view for more from Anton Joubert: