Rafael Rojas Photography

Blog of Rafael Rojas Fine Art Photography

Photo of the Month: Timeless Coast

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Hello all. It has been a too long silence, too many projects, assignments and trips have taken me away from the computer. Really hectic times, I have still thousands of images piling up in the hard disks and this does not seem to improve in the short term...Anyway, I am posting this image today, which corresponds to the hundreds I took in Seychelles a few weeks ago. This is one of those images that I did not preconceptualize before I arrived to the place. In fact, I had another kind of preconception before arriving, that almost ruined all possibilities of taking this image and some others of similar character.  One of the reasons we chose Seychelles for our last photographic trip was just the chance of getting images completely different to the typical clichés. Ok, we also took some that correspond better to the idea of tropical paradise we tend to have in more temperate regions of the planet, but it is true something more dynamic and dramatic was the thing I was looking for. However, and here is the strong preconception I had, I thought I needed some low tides to create the images I had in mind. I wanted to capture the beauty of the granite formations from within the water, having the possibility to shoot the boulders as  they rose from the sand and water created texture around them.

As soon as we arrived to La Digue, I realized I had not translated a piece of information I had into its practical consequences photographically speaking: high tide. As the tided was up, all beaches disappeared in the part of the island I was more interested in, and all boulders were totally sunk by surrounding water and furious waves. I could not get inside the water to shoot and the water level literally sunk the base of all boulders. I must reckon I felt a little bit disappointed, because I realized I could not take the images I had brought in my mind, those I had preconceived before hand.

Preconceptions are really one of the biggest foes for the nature photographer, one of the biggest barriers to see, feel and absorbe what Nature has to offer. In fact, nature photography and landscape photography boils down to matching the subject, circumstances and most of all, available light to the emotions, feelings or concepts you want to convey. You might come with some concepts already in store, but more often than not you will find the conditions provide you with the mood or context for a different kind of ideas to capture.  If you are shooting nature, let nature decide part of the equation, and adapt yourself to it. The other way round tends to be quite difficult, unless you are a kind of God or Goddess...

I always tend to think, as Freeman Paterson says, "sideways", and in this occasion it was time to be open to absorbe the real character of what I had in front of me. I got high tide, I got furious waves crashing against the boulders...I had dramatic skies with booming clouds in the background. It was time to change my preconceived idea and let that "emotional flow" as Gallen Rowell said take the turn. I just stayed there, observing, feeling, not thinking and after a while I realized how lucky I was. The emotion I felt and the subject I wanted to convey in my images became quickly clear: the ancient character of this coast.  The conditions, different as expected, have inspired me with a different kind of feeling, revealing a different kind of image to convey them.

Now it was time to "wake up" from this emotional flow and start conceptualizing this feeling into an image. I needed to focus on the dramatic forces which sculpted this coast during millions of years, since these islands got detached from the Gondwana and started its drifting all along the indian ocean. I needed to focus on the carved forms and shapes of the granite, on the furious waves which were mainly the sculpting agent and on the dramatic skies which are the engine of those waves. I looked for a graphical viewpoint, leaving out all vegetation elements, just rock, water and sky. After wading in the water around the boulders I found this place. Perfect convergences, nice rounded shapes, a great focal point in the distance (the Praslin island) and furious waves crashing against the rocks. I wanted the rocks to appear glistening, so I avoided all use of polarizer filter. I waited till a big wave crashed against the rock giving that nice flow in the foreground and isolating the shape of the stuck little boulder which appears in the bottom left part of the image. Some grads made it possible to balance the sky and foreground light levels, and a big towel over the camera and tripod avoided I called the insurance company to report the loss of all my gear.

I will go on posting some images from Seychelles, till I can update the whole webpage with the images from this place and some others...Images are really piling up!!

Thanks for reading and great light to you all.