Landscape Photography - Botched Plans and Time Wasted

Here in Dominica, we've been under a State of Emergency sanctioned curfew for about two weeks now. That means travel is restricted to essential workers or those seeking to buy or access essential goods and services. 

As such, a self-employed creative like myself has a lot of time on his hands, but not much latitude in terms of travel (both locations and times).

A couple days ago, I decided to switch things up from my new book project, and headed to Laudat to shoot some timelapse sequences. 

The result reminded me that landscape photography is not for the faint of heart! Below I will share a few (out of many) experiences that did not go as planned.

Laudat (April 2020)

Back to my Laudat trip...

I got to the lookout along the main road a little after 1:00 pm. This is not not ideal timing for lighting, but it was good enough for a few tests. I set up and completed two sequences. Both seemed to have gone well - the landscape was clear, the images seemed sharp, and the light didn't change too much during the sequence.

After the first two, I drove up to another clearing and completed a three more. In total, I captured approximately 2,400 photos and I thought they were good! 

When I got home, I uploaded the sequences to my computer and soon realized that 4 out of the 5 sequences needed to be dumped. That is... 3 and a half hours in the field. And an additional hour for transferring and [basic] editing of the files. All for nothing.

The reason? I realized that traffic on the main road created excessive camera shake that made the footage move a bit too much. More specifically, excavation works near the Freshwater Lake required large dumper trucks to transport soil and rocks along the road. See the video below. 

The first half of the video is nice. But the second half... you may notice the shaking. This same shaking happens for 4 out of the 5 sequences I shot that day. 

It's very difficult to see this type of error on the small screen at the back of the camera (or phone), so I went through the motions thinking that everything was great... until I reviewed the images on a large screen.

** I also noticed a few dust spots on the footage. These are very difficult to remove during post production. So I must clean my camera before the next trip.

Jacko Falls (December 2019)

One other major factor is weather, and depending on the time of year and where you choose to shoot, weather can be a major 'blocker' in Dominica.

During the dry season (December to May), it's relatively easy to predict the weather and you can rely on data provided by weather apps to be accurate. However, during the wet season (July to November), while weather forecasts are reliable on a broad level, I've experienced several times when the forecasts were not helpful at all.

Case in point, last December I went out to Emerald Pool and Jacko Falls with visiting photographer Robert, and the weather app showed clear skies for the morning. However, halfway during our Jacko Falls visit (around 9:00 am), it started to rain and that lasted for the remainder of our time there. 

The rain directly impacted my ability to fly the drone and the type of footage I was able to capture. Luckily, I came away with enough to put together this video:

To be honest, this trip was not a complete bust, relative to other experiences. I have had to completely trash previous trips due to rain and inclement weather, despite long drives to remote locations.

At least this time I captured a decent video and a few photographs!

Conclusion

I could cite several other experiences, but I will stop here for now. In this blog post I did not mean to complain, but hoped to show you that a lot more goes into getting the image than is commonly known.

Sometimes it takes two or three unsuccessful trips before I'm able to get certain images. However, this is what I signed up for as a landscape photographer and if nothing else, the time in nature always makes the trip worth it!

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