"L'escalier Tete Chien" - How I got the shot

"L'escalier Tete Chien" - How I got the shot

Named for an ancient Kalinago myth, this land formation has an epic story to tell. L'escalier Tete Chien translates to ‘stairs of the great serpent’ and is located in the Kalinago Territory on Dominica’s east coast.


Ancestors of Dominica’s indigenous people came to the Caribbean islands thousands of years ago. Those who eventually settled here are known as the Kalinago and came here as early as 1000 AD.

The Kalinago hail from South America and brought with them casava and corn. They also brought their folklore and legends. One such legend surrounds what is now known as L’escalier Tete Chien (‘stairs of the serpent's head’).

The natives believe that a huge mystical boa constrictor named Bakwa traveled from the Minoco River in South America to Dominica millions of years ago. He was searching for a new home and chose this island, establishing the first Kalinago Village (Sineku.)

The dark rock formation that is L’escalier Tete Chien is said to be exactly where Bakwa came ashore. Looking at the image below, you probably can’t tell, but the formation (center of the photo) goes out for approximately 200 feet under the Atlantic Ocean.

Stairs of the Great Serpent

© 2019 Yuri A Jones | Stairs of the Great Serpent, captured at Kalinago Territory, Dominica (available as a canvas print here.)

The vision

To be honest, I did not have a vision for this photoshoot. That’s because I had never been to the location before. Like you, I had seen several photographs from the area, and I even read a few blog posts about it. However, that wasn’t enough to find the correct turnoff from the main road!

So that you don’t get lost as well, here’s a map.

What I was sure of though, is that I wanted to use long exposures to capture the scene. I hoped to capture the rough waves of the Atlantic Ocean beating against the rugged east coast. I know this is subjective, but the ‘milky’ water effect is something that I love to see and in my opinion, separates taking a snapshot from creating an image.

Getting the shot

To achieve this result in-camera, I used various filters for both my drone and regular DSLR camera. In the end, I was able to accomplish the vision. Here's another image from the series:

Walk with the Serpent

© 2019 Yuri A Jones | Walk With the Serpent, captured Kalinago Territory, Dominica (available as a canvas print here.)

Thank you for reading my blog post. Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

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