The BTS story of "Where We'll Go"
A timelapse film in the making - Jan 2015, on location in the Karoo
Oh wow! Where on earth to begin with the memories from our most recent timelapse venture...
The Karoo in South Africa is such an incredible location! But it's harsh, it's hot and it's dry! At the same time it's so forgiving. It's so peaceful. It's majestic and magical. It's a destination like no other and that surely must be a good enough reason why we can't get enough of this place...
During January and part of February 2015, we set out to hit the road again. We actually planned this trip for 2014 but life took a few turns and we never made it to the Karoo then. Normally there are very good reasons why things don't always work out the way you planned. This also meant that we had much more time to plan a proper story. Like a mini documentary or a short film. This is our very first attempt at creating a little story and not just putting a montage of beautiful timelapse clips together. As we gain more experience, we are learning more and more about things like story telling, continuity etc. We even created our very first story board!
It's unreal how much difference this makes to your shooting approach! At times we felt like we should be shooting as the light or clouds were amazing but then again, we didn't want to rush shots to just "get a shot". We wanted to make sure that the shots are good and when we shoot, we shoot with purposes. So in a sense we probably "missed" some stuff but that also meant that sometimes we could actually just absorb everything around us.
Now, as much as I would like to, and very possibly could, write a daily journal filled with details on the trip, it simply will be too much to read. I'll try my best to summarise some of the highlights of this timelapse journey. If it's a little long, please bare with me as there's a lot to tell :-D
For this timelapse film we mostly worked in the De Aar and Loxton area in the Karoo.
We've never packed so much gear! Thankfully with a neat "drawer-system" it makes working and shooting in the outdoors so much more convenient. We planned carefully to not take any unnecessary items but still have enough back-up equipment. So many things can go wrong, get lost in the field (especially at night), get hooked on a fence or rock... The list is endless. Bottomline is, you wouldn't want to be out there to shoot and then something as simple as a broken cable damper your plans.
We also did a lot of work before the time to prepare and cook food so that we can spend most of our time shooting. We have very little time to fuss around with food although it's crucial to get a good nutritious meal, especially since we are very active during the day. In this extreme heat you lose a lot of body fluids so you need to make sure you drink loads of water and put back the energy you burn. Between the two of us we drank about 12 litres of water per day... And you don't need to go to the loo once as you sweat everything out!
Thankfully the hard work paid off as making food was the least time consuming chore of all, and we still had healthy meals! We never made a fire and never had a braai. We didn't even pack raw meat. Apart from the light from the fire that will spoil the night shots, there just isn't time for this kind of cooking. By the time we get back to the camp it will be well after 9pm and it's way too late to start making a fire too. Something quick and simple is always the way to go ;-)
Weather wise it was quite challenging as things often can be in the Karoo. The day temperatures soared around 35 - 40 degrees Celsius where 35 would be considered a pleasant day. With the heatwave that came through, temperatures rose to 47 degrees!! Yes!! Celsius. On top of this most days would be accompanied by a typical Karoo wind. Karoo wind = strong wind!! And gust winds, powerful gust winds too. Possibly due to the heatwave, the wind was often very hot so it wouldn't even help to cool you down... The night temperatures were generally very pleasant with cooler more comfortable temperatures. Sleeping in a tent doesn't keep you warm, it just keeps the wind out and obviously the rain. Take note that January is peak summer time in the Karoo with plenty of opportunities for thunderstorms! There are more pleasant times to vist the Karoo though. It all depends what you're there for.
Sadly the country has had a pretty dry year throughout and parts of the Karoo were also hit pretty hard by the drought. Because of this it was dry and very, very dusty!! It was almost unbelievable to see how different the area looked compared to 2013 when we were there to shoot Karoo Journey It's incredible how the landscape and scenery can change just because of rainfall. This type of weather also caused a lot of whirlwinds and they can catch you by surprise in seconds! It's a less pleasant experience to get a natural spa scrub treatment from a whirlwind sandblasting your naked body at 45 km p/h gust winds while taking a shower...
Talking about taking a shower; water supply is very limited when camping and traveling in such remote locations. Keep in mind that we don't stay in campsites with communal camping grounds or ablution facilities. We rough it out where there is nothing but nothingness. There are zero facilities and we have to be entirely self-sufficient with everything we need. Therefore water is one of your most precious resources. If you haven't learned to save and be careful with water, just go on a camping trip to such a location. You'll start to count your blessings and luxuries in a whole new way!
Another challenge when camping in these rural conditions is the terrain that you find yourselves in. Chances of finding smooth, level surfaces to set-up camp is far and few apart. In the Karoo it's not too hard to park on a level area but there will still be rocks or bushes (typical Karoo bush or shrubs) that makes it tricky to walk around. Especially at night... Now remember, there's very possibly a camera firing away not too far from where we camp which is why we can not use any light at night. We don't make use of any headlamps or other camping lights whatsoever. Luckily when the moon is up, it's generally so bright you don't feel the need to use a torch at all. Unless it's dark moon. Then those bushes and rocks become bigger and bigger. I'm sure they move around at night too because you constantly trip over one that wasn't there just a second ago...
It's very difficult to pick out one particular highlight of the trip as there were so many! Sipping wine inside our rooftop tent while it's raining outside, preventing us from shooting was definitely one of these moments. Exploring "unknown" locations in search of shots is always an excellent time constraint. Getting caught up in the middle of a thunderstorm, being forced into our Landy and forced to stop shooting was a memorable moment. The greatest blessings are always the breathtaking sunsets that often peak through the clouds after these late afternoon showers. When there is a 360 degree view with one part of the sky more beautiful than the next, ranging from a sunset in the west, to rain falling in the south, dark stormy skies and a rainbow in the east topped with thunder and lightning in the north, it becomes impossible to capture the magnificence around you! It's somewhat frustrating to decide what to shoot as it's totally impossible to predict how things will turn out. Once you've started shooting you just have to trust that you made a good choice ;-)
We got rained on, sunburnt, nearly dehydrated from facing the extreme heat, sleep deprived and even freezing cold!
There is always a few injuries too but luckily nothing too serious. And oh, it was all so totally and utterly worth it...!!
Now with all of this it doesn't mean there's a masterpiece in the making. It simply means that we want to improve with every shoot we do. But we'll have to wait and see how the final edit turns out and I'm sure there still be loads of room for improvement. All the more reason to go on another trip! YEAH!
How blessed are we to be able to see, smell, feel, hear and experience everything that nature has to offer! To be able and abled to walk around, climb up koppies and hills and just take it all in. The presence of the Almighty God is so overwhelming! There is absolutely no way to doubt that He is the Creator of all!
We wish that through our images and timelapses other people who are less fortunate to experience this first hand, will be able to see some of the beauty of nature that we have captured. Thanks for taking the time to read this super long blog.
Now to patiently wait for the final product :-D
Hope you enjoy all the images too!
Be sure to check out Instagram for even more images and scenes not shared here.