For our 5th birthday, 500px hosted a massive contest where we asked you to tell us, “all about the memories you’ve made over the years as a photographer and 500px community member!”

The grand-prize winner and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd runners up all won awesome prizes and, as a bonus, each gets a feature on 500px ISO.

We already introduced you to the Grand Prize Winner of our birthday contest, Pauly Pholwises. Next up, meet Indonesia-based Ayie Permata Sari: the third runner up, a mother of 3, and a passionate Landscape, Macro, Wildlife and People photographer.

Ayie’s start in photography was the result of a love of traveling and nature. “I’m obsessed with nature and love traveling, so I want to share what I see in my journey to other people,” she told us when we sat down to interview her.

“I started my career in photography just recently in 2009. At first it was just a hobby, then it became my profession. I was inspired by a lot of people, but my 3 children the most. I want them to remember me through my photos, through my works in photography.”

This is how Ayie’s Q&A began, and she had us hooked. Scroll down to read the rest of our questions and her answers while we tour you through some of her best work.

500PX: What are your favorite subjects to shoot?

AYIE: I love all genres in photography, I’d ever try all, but currently I’m focusing on four of them: Landscape, Macro, Wildlife, and People. I can feel the majesty and greatness of God in these four genres, how God created many things for us to learn and reflect on life. Learning from nature — learning from small or large animals, and also learning from variety of different human characters.

What can we find in your camera bag?

AYIE: First of all, I always plan ahead for my travel destinations and imagine what I may come across, what I will be photographing, so I can properly prepare the equipment I will bring along.

When I had just started my photography, I used to bring 2 cameras to avoid some of the trouble of changing lenses. They are Canon 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D, with the Canon 16-35mm, Canon 70-200mm, EF 2X extender II, Canon 100mm macro, some filters — graduate ND, ND, and CPL (circular polarizer) — a few CF memory cards, a backup battery, rain slicker (to protect camera & lens from rain and dust), and lens cleaning tools.

AYIE (continued): But the past 2 years, I only carry 1 camera: the Nikon D800 or Nikon D3s. Lenses that I take are the Nikkor 14-24mm, Nikkor 16mm fish-eye, Nikkor 50mm, Nikkor 105mm micro, filter holder, some filters — graduate ND, ND, and CPL (circular polarizer) — a few CF cards, backup batteries, rain slicker, and lens cleaning tools.

Outside the bag, sometimes I also bring a tripod.

In 2-3 sentences, can you walk us through each of the photos in your contest entry? Tell us how you planned and shot each photo in your contest entry, from location scouting to picking the models to getting to the shot to post-processing.

Entry 1: I photographed this moment in my little garden in front of the house. Small butterflies of this kind are frequent visitors to my garden. Post-processing: I changed the color to achieve the results that I’ve posted.

Entry 2 This is the second time I visited this location at Situ Gunung – Sukabumi (West Java – Indonesia). Natural environment and good natural lighting makes this location a favorite of photographers. There is no particular concept in this photo, I just photographed what nature presented.
Post-processing: color correction, dodge & burn.

Entry 3: This location seems to be one of the main location mandatory for photographers who visit Bali, Indonesia. It’s Tamblingan Lake. This picture has no specific concept, because I only “used” what was in front of me, photographing a boater while she took me to explore the lake. Post-processing: a little cropping and saturation.

Entry 4 This is my pet. His name is Ney, and he’s a gecko. I photographed Ney at my small fishpond in my garden, with the concept of getting Ney’s reflection. I let the water turn dark green in a natural way, which is caused by moss that grows on the bottom of the pond. Natural lighting is quite bright in the morning, which meant very little editing was required for this picture. Post-processing: Increase the contrast.

Entry 5: One commentator said that I had to abuse the animal to get this photo. To be honest, not at all. This photo is in the concept of macro photos. At that time, me and other macro photographers had gatherings, workshops, and practice the natural macro shooting and macro concepts.

For macro concept, we chose to use this frog. It’s my friend’s frog. When we weren’t photographing the frog, we put them in a box that is conditioned like a frog’s habitat. We photographed this frog just a few moments, the frog was always sprayed with water to keep him comfortable.

There was no need to use any glue like the criticism suggested. We put the frog on a small twig, and one of us would use a very small branch to raise the hand/foot of the frog. The frog jumped a few times, by its nature, which meant we had to wait to get a photo.

As with any human model, this frog certainly had to rest, and we didn’t force it to keep working. Because we know, if we’re forced, it will affect to the frog’s physical appearance, which will ultimately ruin the photo. Post-processing: Remove/clone stamp out the small twigs used to raise the hand/foot of the frog.

Entry 6 There is no concept to put the boats and the merchants. All snapshots. The merchants sell their items on the river. These boats kept going with the flow. I simply took pictures from the bridge.
The river water is yellowish brown.

Post-processing: I want this picture to be different than the others that I took of the same subject and in the same location, and different than other photos of floating markets in general that were ever taken, so I ‘eliminated’ the ripples.

Entry 7 This is a candid snapshot. Me and some friends traveled to mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia. On the morning in Bromo, a lot of people start going to their fields. With the Canon 70-200mm, I was free to take a snapshot using natural backlight.

There is no editing in Photoshop. The yellowish-red color is the result of my camera’s white ballance settingss: kelvin in the range of 6000-7000.

Entry 8 An interesting moment and delightful result. Several photographers have used this same concept at the same location and the same attractions, but this photo may be the first to use a slow shutter speed without using a tripod/monopod.

The location of this photo in Tukad Unda, Bali, Indonesia. I used dodge & burn tool in post-processing.

Entry 9 I think this is the best photo that I have captured so far in my life, it has received so many positive responses from around the world. I took this on my visit to this location, in Situ Gunung, Sukabumi (West Java, Indonesia). But that was actually the first time I got a moment of extraordinarily beautiful light that could be captured by my camera. Post-processing: auto color, brightness and contrast.

Entry 10 This picture was taken in Situ Gunung, Sukabumi (West Java, Indonesia). The angle is just slightly different from the picture entitled Light of Hope. Post processing: Contrast adjustments.

We just turned 5, and we’ve gone through a lot of pivots and changes over the years. How about you? What were you like as a photographer 5 years ago, and how have you grown in your craft today?

AYIE: Congratulations to 500px for 5 years that have passed, I wish the year ahead will be even more successful for you.

For me, 5 years ago was my early years of the start in this tract, the years of learning. Of course, I keep learning today… I’m forever learning. Through the process of learning we all will be able to produce better works.

Out of all the photos in your 500px profile, which one is your favorite and why?

AYIE: It has to be the photo entitled “Light of Hope.” It was pretty phenomenal. This moment with beautiful rays of light raining down.

The photo was selected as an Editor’s Choice by 500px on Oct 17, 2011. Since then, it has gotten 205K views, 7880 likes, 4851 faves, had been shared by hundred people in various websites, and as top 2 best selling photos in 500px. By uploading it on 500px, I think it helped mark that spot as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Finally, what’s next for you in 2015? Any upcoming projects, exhibitions, workshops, etc?

AYIE: I hope to be able to publish a worthwhile photography book… this has long been my dream. I also want to hold a solo exhibition in 2015. And, of course, I hope to keep learning.

A big thank you goes out to Ayie for taking the time to answer our questions so thoughtfully, and revealing the secrets behind some of her best work.

To see more of her work or follow along as she continues to grow as a photographer, follow her on 500px, check out her portfolio, pay her website a visit, or give her a like on Facebook.