Australian Photography goes behind the scenes with Australian travel photographer David Metcalf to see how he creates his remarkable images.


Shooting at night with fire is always a challenge and requires the right positioning: close enough to the action, but not too close to catch on fire! In this instance I opened aperture up to f/1.8 and selected an ISO of 5000 to let in plenty of light. A shutter speed of 1/100s is quick enough to freeze explosion of sparks from the bamboo as it struck the shield during a traditional Kecak dance in Bali. In fast changing light you need to experiment and be adaptable: lots of shots are required. I was happy with this result, especially the look on the man's face, which perfectly captures the moment.

Nikon D800, 85mm f1.8 lens, 1/100s @ f/1.4, ISO 5000.



This is a traditional event held on the island of Sumba in Eastern Indonesia. Two rival clans face off and try to hit each other with spears to draw as much blood as possible.I photographed this fascinating event all day from sunrise to late afternoon, in some cases dodging spears myself! I like the effect of this photo, as I used a slow shutter speed with a panning action. It was not until reviewing the image on my computer that I noticed the spear going past the rider just missing him. The blurred effect was deliberate to get the sense of movement and action.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm lens @ 230mm, 1/50s @ f/25, ISO 250.



There are many amazing sites to photograph on the ancient plains of Bagan, Myanmar, particularly at sunrise as balloons make their way across the early morning sky. For me it was not about the balloons so much as the sky so I framed the balloons at the bottom of the frame but filled the rest with the wonderful shapes and colours of the sky.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm, 1/125s @ f/13, ISO 160.

David Metcalf is a Bali-based travel photographer. He runs photography tours in Bali and Java and to other locations including Myanmar, Borneo and the US, including Alaska. His photo tours support the communities in which he travels and 10% of the tour price supports cultural and education projects in Borneo and Bali. In July last year he opened Taksu Photo Gallery in Ubud, Bali.

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