I’ve been on a sabbatical of sorts, as it relates to this blog and my newsletter. But that’s not to say that I haven’t been working on new photography projects! In this blog post I’ll introduce you to my newest project – REBIRTH – my third timelapse film.
The First Two Films
Nearing the end of last year, I released two short timelapse videos.
The first film featured footage from both before and after Hurricane Maria (which hit and destroyed Dominica on September 18). It was not my intention to include post-Maria footage in this film, but while I was wrapping up production in early October, I could not – in good faith – release a video depicting Dominica in all its natural glory, knowing full well that life had changed drastically for so many of us.
The second short film contained only images from after the super-storm, and focused on the drastic change to the island’s landscape. I struggled a bit with this one, as I really wanted to compare and contrast the before and after effects of the storm.
I even toyed with the idea of using an extended introduction to do this – I would show before and after photographs, side by side.
In the end there was no neat or efficient way to do this within the film, so I decided against it. What’s left is a documentary showing leafless trees and brown mountainsides, across the once lush Nature Island of the Caribbean.
A Break, Then Inspiration
Months passed before I did any serious shooting after the second release.
I have no real reason for this, except to say that I had convinced myself that I missing an essential piece of gear to significantly improve my timelapse game.
If you’ve ever seen a professionally produced timelapse video, you may have noticed some subtle movements during the various clips throughout the video. These are often slow movements from left to right, back to front, top to bottom or vice versa.
Here’s an example from a young Norwegian filmmaker, Morten Rustad, whose work I follow very closely:
See how the view changes slowly and smoothly? That’s accomplished with a motion control system which includes, a specialized slider supported by two tripods, and a multi-axis control unit. You can achieve a similar effect during post production (and I’ve done it for both films from 2017), but you’re very limited in scope and it’s just not as efficient.
By the time I’d made up my mind to do a third timelapse film (in April), I knew that I wanted to show how far Dominica had come since September. Of course, my emphasis would be nature and its recovery, rather than people and urban areas. But that’s not to say that we haven’t made great strides on a social level as well.
I was inspired by Mother Nature’s comeback.
To my mind, the resurgence of so much green is almost miraculous. A few days after Hurricane Maria touched ground, Dominica was hardly recognizable. Now, even though our main forest reserves are still recovering slowly, other parts of the country are nicely covered in a rich coat of green.
My Weekend Travels
Over the last few weekends, I’ve visited different areas around the country, capturing images for the new film. I thought my experience from the first two would help fast-track this process, allowing me to dedicate more time for post-production. However I have found that I’m still learning on the go.
I have had to return to certain locations numerous times, at different times of the day, because I’ve chosen a specific look for a particular scene in my mind’s eye.
I’m sure that by the time I’m done, I would have visited key locations at least three times each.
It is time-intensive (countless hours in the field and even more hours in post-production), tiring (getting up early enough to be at certain locations before sunrise… and then being out all day) and relatively expensive (gas isn’t cheap and wear and tear on my vehicle), but I would not trade this experience for anything!
I’ve only documented my trips from the last two weekends, but I’ll do the same for the following weekends so that you can see where I have been.
*All photos below were captured with my Motorola Moto X Pure smartphone.
Due to closure of the Antrim Road, I was forced to pass through Warner to get to Dominica’s interior. This was a stroke of good luck, as there are many beautiful views in that area. This is just one of four scenes I shot at along the way.
The Trafalgar Falls is one location I’ve had to return to numerous times. It’s a tricky area, as sunlight blankets the entire cavern quite early in the morning. So it was a bit of trial and error for me, choosing the right time to get there.
On one of my trips to the Falls, it rained so much that I couldn’t move from my station on a rock in between the twin waterfalls. Needless to say, the shots I got were not amazing and I had to return.
Perseverance pays off, every time! I came across this scene once before but the sun was peaking out from behind the clouds, which ruined the sequence. I got there earlier last weekend and got exactly what I needed.
Long before shooting for this film, I’d glimpsed the mountains near this location (along the road to the Emerald Pool) and I knew that I wanted to shoot here one day. I finally got a chance to capture it a few weekends ago, but I wasn’t satisfied with what I got. The weather last weekend was perfect though.
Laudat is one of my favorite areas to shoot. Mountains, moving clouds, mist and rolling hills make for lovely subjects.
I only learned about this beautiful location a few weeks back, but I’ve been here twice already. The views are amazing, especially in the right light.
One thing that’s always said in landscape photography circles is, “don’t forget the picture behind you” (this is a very loose paraphrased version). But it simply means that we can get so caught up working the scene in front of us, that we may miss an equally or even more amazing event behind us. The image above shows me capturing a scene that was literally 180 degrees behind the previous image of Horseback Ridge. It doesn’t look like much now, but the light was absolutely beautiful!
The weather forecast for last Saturday showed lots of rain and the Boeri Lake Trail did not disappoint. Torrents of rain poured down on me as I slowly made my way to Dominica’s highest fresh water lake. I didn’t capture any timelapse sequences of the lake, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
This was the scene for most of my hike to Boeri Lake – lots of mist. Other times it rained heavily, and off and on, there was none of the above. The weather on that day was not favorable for kind of photographs I had in mind. I will return soon!
You can’t see it here, but I’m actually holding an umbrella while sitting on a rock, waiting for a brief timelapse sequence to conclude. Just as I wrapped up the shot, a heavy shower ensued and I was stuck on that rock for 10 or more minutes.
I’m also under the umbrella in this shot, but you’d never guess so because my camera lens is so wet. The wind couldn’t just let the rain fall… it was determined to blow it in every which direction! I watched this crab for approximately 10 minutes under the rain (while waiting for the sequence to end). Unfortunately I won’t be able to use the final sequence in the film.
I’ll be going out again next weekend, so look out for a new blog post. Are there any locations you’d like me to visit? Tell me in the comments or send me an email!