Tomorrow, if the volcanic ash cloud hovering currently Europe allows us, we will be heading towards the south hemisphere, Seychelles islands to be more exact. This will be the second time. First one, quite some years ago, just a tiny Ixus went with me…it was supposed to be holidays, and getting a nice lobster tan was the only purpose. Big mistake. The place is SO photogenic. This time, Ixus stays at home, and we get a third companion along in the form of a 20 kg bag full with all kinds of photographic equipment.
Seychelles islands are not just a dreamy tropical-clichéd destination. They are really interesting…They are the only islands in the world (if I am correct) which sit in the middle of the ocean with a non volcanic origin. Contrary to all other islands in the vicinity (appart from Magadascar), its origin was not magma building up from the seabed. Seychelles are in fact a tiny bit of land that one day decided to go adrift from the African continent. Millions of years ago, they began this drifting journey towards the East, remaining nowadays as a lonely granitic oasis in the middle of the ocean. No volcanic rocks there, just a big batholith of granite. What the hell is a batholit? Imagine a huge inclusion of magma which solidified inside the crust before reaching the surface, and then was exposed after erosion took away the weaker rock layers around and above it. More or less what happened to the Half Dome in Yosemite, but in tropical version and with a few hundreds of meters less…Nowadays, when you wander around the islands of Seychelles you see what water and wind erosion has done with the granite after a few million years…Sensual and organic forms have been created, leading to a visual feast of shapes, form, textures and geometrical configurations. Put in the background a threathening storm drifting over the sea (sorry, no sunny skies wanted!), a focal point in the distance in the form of a neighbouring island, a long exposition and a bit of polarizer effect, and the image is there.
I will be taking both the digital and panoramic large format system…but i think the film processing bill is going to hurt. The panoramic 617 camera loaded with velvia 50 is normally a great tool to depict the surreal of the landscape…and I guess it is going to be specially the case for these islands. With low levels of light, velvia needs lots of seconds, even minutes, to get the proper exposure when you need a decent DOF. Imagine drifting clouds pushed by the oceanic winds being rendered as sensual streaks which mimick the water texture, see those “mercury” seas which embrace the rocks emerging from the water, capture those swaying palm trees soften by the breeze…A real drama…
Of course, these tropical destinations tend to become quite cliché relatively easy. But as always, it will always depend on what does the subject mean for you, how you see it and how you want to render it in your image. In my case, a tropical paradise is a place where big storms form, huge cumulus decorate the skies, strong breezes move the trees and skimm the water and rain falls at the same time the sun shines. That is why you will never see me in a tropical island in the middle of the dry season. The month of May in Seychelles is quite interesting. In this shoulder season the winds are still there, the humid-and-totally-covered-skies-with-no-trace-of-winds period is still to come, sunny skies are rarer than a few months before and dynamic processes take place. The sky is full of surprises and drama. Nice things might happen…if you are lucky.
One of the reasons why we are going back to Seychelles is that we will organize some exclusive phototrips in these islands in the near future. As I will try to explain you with my images, the place is really so photogenic. Put some interesting creole culture in that, giant tortoises and a laid-back environment that pushes all your troubles to the corner of your mind,…and the experience is difficult to forget… I will be coming back with more info about this on the totally new webpage that is in the pipeline, but I warn you already that by the end of summer a lot of new adventures will be displayed for all of you who would like to get bitten by the photographic bug in really incredible destinations. A real curse, I tell you, which has no way back…:)
For a couple of weeks it is going to be hard to get a proper connexion to the Internet, but I will be posting a trip article when we get back, with (I hope) some stunning images from there. Meanwhile, take care and great light to you all!