As a nature a travel photographer one cannot prevent nature related events all the time. Sure, there are weather forecasts, maps, former images and a wealth of information in the Internet. But when it comes to nature, Mr. Murphy can play at will with the unexpecting photographer.
It is good advice to make your own research, before you head out to a new location specially if you are involved in a project with a deadline.
As light plays a major role in photography,and thus, it has a preponderant role in planning a shoot. So getting to know how light will affect your subject is one of the most important things to plan the logistics of a shoot.
LIGHT AND THE LANSCAPE
Landscape has an important role in how light is perceived in a particular place, and learning about it from the confort of your home is great. I like to recomend Google Earth´s light changing application, which can be found as a SUN icon on the menu bar of this great web page/service. Google Earth is a great tool for many things in planning a shoot.
CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM
I like to start my shoots early in the morning, in many cases just before sunrise. And I try to end my day, at the blue hour, that in the tropics, it takes place between 18:45 and 19:15.
Then, between 10:30 and 15:00, I do interiors when the light outdoors is not as appealing, and at end the day, I go back to the outdoors between 16:30 and 19:15 to take the warm hours shots that make the tropics and the Caribbean famous.
The picture above is a collage of the light changes over the Sietemares Lodge's location in the caribbean coast of northern Venezuela. These where found in the Google Earth's application.
Please note, how light changes as the sun moves over the sky. The view is from the north, therefore, the left part of the image is the east and the right west. Mind you, that this is a gross view of the overall light, since once you get there, the relief changes the light as you move through the landscape. Light changes while you walk from the beach or open spaces to the gallery forest. However, knowing were the light is going to fall makes a huge difference to get the job done.
LIGHT AND CLIMATE
Another big time player in one´s work is climate, and the rainy season in tropics can be a huge challenge.
Here, Internet works wonders to plan ahead. The Satellite image bellow shows a huge tropical storm concentrated over the center of Venezuela. It was traveling south-east to north-west, so its northern most location was right over SieteMares Lodge where I was going to work. West of the storm, over the Caribbean, the cloud cover had a break (Look to the top right of the storm). The great thing in how geography can work in your favor is, that the Serrania del Interior and The Coastal Cordillera mountain ranges (both in northern Venezuela) are great physical barriers to storms, moving from the south up to the coast. So we took the chance to do the shoot in one night and two days, hoping that the weather would help us get the pictures we needed.
In the collage below, you will see how stormy skies (in the pictures above) did not meet the image requierements of a beach lodge destination. No one wants to show cloud cover in a Caribbean beach resort. However, within a few hours the winds moved the storms eastward and we could get the job done. Blue skies, golden sand beaches and great green forests are the signature images, most vacationers have in mind for a tropical adventure.
I had to work with a concept created by Ecoposadas del Mar. Its name is LA COSTA VERDE (The Green Coast). This award wining concept reflects the merger of the mountains and their forest, with the beaches and the sea. Here, the sea, mountains, gallery forest, coffee and cocoa plantations, agriculture, fishing and their related natural and cultural expressions needed to merge in a holistic way, so the values of ecotourism and sustainable development could co-exist in harmony. Now MAKE THAT INTO A PICTURE!
I found, that the small valley, where the delta of the Cañaveral River met the ocean and the lodge, would do just that. So the locals took me to a high point in the mountain, where a single image could put together "the concept".
Lush vegetation bordering the stream and the gardens made a great example of the proyect's attainability.
The lodge's housing, painted in adobe and other earthy colors added to the ambiance. The framing of the cabins with palm trees, sea grapes and the mesquite forest right behind added to the goals of integration that the Green Coast Concept had a a goal.
Without a doubt, water played an important role in the merger between land and sea. Therefore, the infinite pool was designed with that purpose in mind.
It is up to the photographer to find and secure images that can be used to put every thing within context.
Furthermore, many people are shy of the ocean and an oceanic beach may be great to catch some sun, but the pool is a great place to cool off and socialize. Having a children's pool next to the adults, creates a sence of safety and ease of supervision for an audience that may be prospecting a sea side nature vacation. So having the two pools next to each other, is a sign that the owners paid attention to details.
WHERE WILL I STAY?
What do tourists want when they travel to a nature lodge?
The things of utmost importance are peace of mind, security and confort.
Having a beautiful clean and confortable place to sleep and where to have some privacy, is a desition making fact, that no hosting destination can over look. The room with a terrace and hamock, the placement of the wide screen tv, and the shared sofa and bed create conforting feelings for the guest.
So the photographer most place emphasis in these kind of things.
The dining room and the details of its structure are a plus and one should find the best time of the day to photograph the site to include views with the best atmosphere of the place.
Photographing the meeting rooms, spas and other facilities are a plus in the work.
MAKING THE MOST OF THE AFTER HOURS
After the sunset things change, and if the photographer likes to go beyond the needs of the shoot, this is a good time to make "PICTURES FOR MY FILES"
Long exposures, light painting, flash photography are a challenge and if you can find free time to increase your stock, talk to your clients and ask if that is possible. In my case, I was free to take pictures any time I needed.
Been able to enjoy the pool after hours is great, so a few shots to document the possibilities are always a plus. I asked for permition to photograph the lady in the pool side and she had no objection, so adding a person to the image was an asset to the pool pictures.
THE 7 BEACHES PRIVATE ROAD
The name SIETEMARES refers to the seven beaches found within the property limits of this wonderful destination. Each beach has its own access and it takes about 3 hour round trip to get to know all of them. Having a road and a series of beachs to yourself is really great
Sietemares guest can choose really secluded beaches for themselves and the feeling of been all by yourself is fantastic.
So when one has adverse weather and a deadline for a magazine, my advise is to get informed, document yourself well and take a calculated risk, Fortunatly Exclusiva Magazine and Sietemares Lodge were an adventure that came out really well.
See you in the next Digita Camera Adventure.
Leopoldo García Berrizbeitia
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