This film follows the ancient cycle of sunset, to night, to sunrise. A continuous loop of perpetual movement that has been unbroken since the dawn of time, and the only true constant in our lives.
I shot this film over 12 days around the San Pedro de Atacama region of Northern Chile. San Pedro is an oasis town in the Atacama and sits at an altitude of 2600m. The town is a great base to explore the fascinating landscapes that surround it, and everything just goes up and up.
The Atacama is well-known for what are arguably the cleanest, darkest skies on Earth. The dry air adds an extra transparency and this coupled with the altitude creates a night sky like no other. I visited at a time when Venus was situated quite close to the centre of the Milky Way; an astronomical event that only takes place every 8 years or so. I also timed my visit with the Autumn equinox which is a good time of year to capture Zodiacal light; the celestial phenomenon caused by sunlight scattering interplanetary space dust in the Zodiacal cloud. It stretches across the ecliptic and glows for a short while after sunset like a UFO beam and I was lucky enough to witness this every night I stepped out into the dark.
In my opinion an adventure is not complete unless there are challenges, and this trip was no different. My luggage was lost for the first 6 days I was there so for half of my trip I had no tripods and no motion control equipment. I shot many time-lapses in this film with my cameras on buckets weighted down with rocks! it was far from ideal but I was determined not to miss an opportunity to capture this wonderful sky. I battled through with little food and less sleep, language barriers and I even broke down in the middle of nowhere at one point, but at least the sunset was nice that evening! I found the Atacama to be a very harsh landscape; the dry air makes your skin crack and split, the winds pummel you with every gust and the altitude slows you down and affects your ability to hike with heavy equipment. By the end of this trip me, my kit and my car had taken a real battering but it was all worth it, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
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For motion control I used the Stage One Dolly System by Dynamic Perception:
Sam Stephenson, a writer and director of the Jazz Loft Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, spoke May 11, 2010, at the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State Univeristy about the life and work of photographer and Wichita native W. Eugene Smith. Smith, who worked at the Wichita Eagle and the Wichita Beacon, made his name as a combat photographer in World War II and then went on to become one of LIFE magazine’s celebrated staff photographers at the magazine's mid-century, pre-television pinnacle. Stephenson has been researching Smith's life and work for 13 years, and authored three books on the artist, uncovering two mammoth "lost" parts of Smith's career, the Pittsburgh series and the Jazz Loft Project. Stephenson will focus on the fever and passion of Smith, whom art critic John Berger has called "the most religious of all photographers."