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:
Once again the lure of capturing the beauty of the wilderness landscapes around here has got a hold of me and taken up all the spare moments between my day job and kids. Preserved here are some brief moments of light and time that I have experienced over the last 6 months or so.
Every time I go into the wilderness I wonder how much longer will we be able to gaze into truly dark night skies. I wonder too if the way in which the climate seems to be rapidly changing will have an impact on the way that my kids and their future generations experience these wilderness places and the impact that it might have on this 'epic land'. It's all too easy to forget about those things in our busy lives.
I hope this time lapse show reel helps you experience a little piece of this epic landscape. What I am not able to show is the effort behind every scene and the great challenges that mother nature throws at you when you are trying to do this stuff. Even though every scene was planned in my head I don't think any of them turned out the way I envisaged and often the conditions would get the better of me and my gear. On the flip side sometimes you've just got to be out there because you can't plan when the conditions will present 'a little piece of magic'.
Please leave a comment if you wish, I'd love to hear from you.
All scenes shot in the North Island of New Zealand.
Main equipment used:
Canon 5D Mark II & various Canon Lenses
Dynamic Perception Stage Zero 6ft Dolly
"I Am You" by HECQ, licensed for use through Erased Tapes Music Publishing Ltd.
Thanks to my family for once again putting up with my habit ;)
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This was filmed between 29th April and 10th May 2011 in the Arctic, on
the archipelago Lofoten in Norway.
My favorite natural phenomenon is one I do not even know the name of, even after talking to meteorologists and astrophysicists I am none the wiser.What I am talking about I have decided to call The Arctic Light and it is a natural phenomenon occurring 2-4 weeks before you can see the Midnight Sun.
The Sunset and Sunrise are connected in one magnificent show of color and light lasting from 8 to 12 hours. The sun is barely going below the horizon before coming up again. This is the most colorful light that I know, and the main reason I have been going up there for the last 4 years, at the exact
same time of year, to photograph. Based on previous experience, I knew this was going to be a very
difficult trip. Having lost a couple of cameras and some other equipment up there before, it was crucial to bring an extra set of everything. I also
made sure I had plenty of time in case something went wrong.
If you can imagine roping down mountain cliffs, or jumping around on slippery rocks covered in seaweed with 2 tripods, a rail, a controller,
camera, lenses, filters and rigging for 4-5 hour long sequences at a time, and then
having to calculate the rise and fall of the tides in order to capture the essence - it all proved bit of a challenge.
And almost as if planned, the trip would turn out to become very
difficult indeed. I had numerous setbacks including: airline lost my
luggage, struggling to swim ashore after falling into the Arctic sea: twice, breaking lenses, filters, tripod, computer, losing the whole dolly rig and controller into the sea, and even falling off a rather tall rock and ending
up in the hospital. As much as I wanted to give up, the best way Out is
always “Through”. I am glad I stuck it through though because there were some amazing sunrises waiting. At 1:06 you see a single scene from day to night to day which is from 9pm to 7am. Think about that for a minute.. 10 hours with light like that.
I asked the very talented Marika Takeuchi to specifically compose and
perform a song for this movie, and what she came up with is absolutely remarkable. Thank you very much Marika!