20 April 2012

Watching Agile Batak Dancers

The Toba people (also referred to as Batak Toba people or often simply Batak) are the most numerous of the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia. They speak the Toba Batak language and are centred on Lake Toba and Samosir Island within the lake. Ritual cannibalism is well documented among Batak people, performed in order to strengthen the eater's tendi. In particular, the blood, heart, palms and soles of the feet were seen as rich in tendi. In 1890 the Dutch colonial government banned cannibalism in the regions under their control; rumours of Batak cannibalism survived into the 20th century.

people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Indonesia, Sumatra, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Batak women, folk dancer, traditional Batak dance, simanindo

people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Indonesia, Sumatra, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Batak women, folk dancer, traditional Batak dance, simanindo

people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Indonesia, Sumatra, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Batak women, folk dancer, traditional Batak dance, simanindo


Ulos is the traditional cloth of the Batak people of North Sumatra. Different kinds of ulos have different ceremonial significance. The ulos is normally worn draped over the shoulder or shoulders, or in weddings to ceremonially bind the bride and groom together. Ulos are traditionally hand woven and in the case of higher-quality examples are significant family heirlooms, to be worn at important events, such as funerals and weddings.

people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Indonesia, Sumatra, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Batak women, folk dancer, traditional Batak dance, simanindo

people, portrait, street portrait, headshot, Indonesia, Sumatra, Lake Toba, Samosir Island, Batak women, folk dancer, traditional Batak dance, simanindo


For sharp street portraits, remember the "rule of thumb" for handheld shutter speeds:

Select a shutter speed with a denominator
that is larger than the focal length of the lens!

So, (i) if you have a prime lens that is 50 mm in length (e.g. the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor lens) don’t shoot any slower than 1/60 sec, (ii) if you have a lens with a 85 mm focal length (e.g. the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM  medium telephoto lens) shoot at 1/100 sec or faster, or (iii) if you are shooting with a lens of 200 mm (e.g. with the Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG APO macro motorized telephoto zoom lens) shoot at 1/250 sec or faster. It's that simple.

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