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Hiking up Rotui

"We're on the island Moorea in French Polynesia, hiking up a mountain called Rotui. We wanted to hike to the top, which is only 3,500 feet but it rises steeply from the edge of the ocean, so it's a very dramatic hike. You're going up this ever-steeper set of ridges—like tightrope walking—and as you rise up, you look out and see the ocean.

"It was raining off and on, so it was muddy and you had to sometimes crawl on your hands and knees because if you fell, you'd shoot down one side or the other. Even though the sky was bright at this moment, by the time we arrived at the top, it was cloudy. The weather would go through a complete cycle from pouring rainstorm to cloudy to sunny and then back within an hour."

—Contributing Editor James Vlahos

Photography Notes

  • Camera: Canon Elan 2E
  • Film: Fuji Provia 100 ISO
  • Lens: 35mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/125th
  • Aperture: F8
  • Time of day: 2 PM.

"In this shot, I was trying to capture the steepness and narrowness of this ridge, the idea of this mountain reaching up into the clouds—but it was even steeper than it appears here.

"Over the course of the trip I tried a number of different ways to portray this ridge. At this low angle, looking up, it does give a sense of the climb of the ridge.

"In general, I was pleased with this shot. If I were to do it again, I would have my friend be hiking downhill, as opposed to him going away from me, to avoid the back shot.

"The basic rule that everyone says shoot early in the morning and late in the day certainly has an impact on lighting. Getting a polarizing filter also makes an enormous difference. Your skies aren't blown out and the white is white."

"This shot has an Adventure feel about it. The light's great. The colors are perfect: lush green mountains, a sky so blue with perfect white clouds. You really want to go there. The composition is good, too. I like the fact that the hiker is not dead-on center and that we can see the movement of his arm, so we know he's in motion, instead of just a flat shot of his back. On the other hand, it would be a plus to see his face or part of it; it's always nice to be able to connect with the subject in the photo. Also, you can't really tell where the hiker is going. You can assume he's hiking up a mountain, but this is not your regular rugged mountain. It "reads" exotic island in the Caribbean or South Pacific. The only way to get more information from this picture would be to pull back and capture more of general shot, with more context. But I don't know if that would necessarily make for a better shot."

—Photo Assistant Michelle Nihamin


June/July 2003

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