During the month of June, I was lucky enough to spend 17 days exploring Iceland shooting timelapse and video. The natural, chaotic beauty of the country made it a place that I had wanted to see for a long time. When the opportunity finally arose, I knew that I had to take it. Driving nearly 4000 miles, sleeping in the passenger seat of a small SUV, and eating gas station food, it was all worth it.
Arriving in Reykjavik on the 14th, we picked up our rental car, and hit the road. Luckily, I was able to pick up a SIM card in town, making it possible for me to keep in touch with everyone at home and post iPhone photos of the various locations that we visited. If you follow my Facebook Page, you might have seen some of these shots.
For the next 17 days, we drove constantly from location to location, only stopping for gas, food, and the occasional random campsite. I had an idea of what to expect of the landscape in Iceland, but that idea was nothing compared to what I saw during the trip. The waterfalls around every corner, vibrant green mountains, massive fjords, glacial lagoons, and ever-changing landscape/weather really made for an eye-opening experience.
For gear, I decided to keep things as simple as possible to save room in the SUV, while still being able to get 3 axis movements. Using my Tamrac backpack, I was able to pack 3 camera bodies, 4 lenses, multiple filters, intervalometers, all of my camera batteries, and more smaller accessories all in one pack. For support and motion control, I brought 3 tripods, 2 Manfrotto Carbon sticks, and 1 small Induro tripod, as well as a 5 foot Kessler Crane Cineslider and Kessler 3-Axis CineDrive system. Though this was a decent amount of equipment, I could carry it all at once when I needed to.
The resulting video is a collection of some of my favorite shots from the trip. Because we were there during the midnight sun, we never got a real glimpse of the night sky. I definitely hope to go back again to capture more of this beautiful country and explore it deeper.
I want to also thank the band For a Minor Reflection for letting me use their track Flóð for this piece.
A couple weeks ago, I finally did something that I have thought about doing for a while; I took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
It was about 5:30 pm when I decided to take my first road trip up to Michigan, on a whim. I was sitting at my computer with no plans for the evening, so I jumped in the car and started my six and a half hour drive up north. At the time, I didn’t have many locations that I knew about or planned to photograph, but I knew that I had wanted to explore the place for a while. After getting into astrophotography, the Upper Peninsula was one of the first places I found relatively close to my home where I could get good photos of the stars without much light pollution. With the summer Milky Way season starting, it was time to check it out.
Upon crossing the Mackinac Bridge, I was immediately treated to a beautiful, orange crescent moon setting over the road in front of me. I didn’t have a long lens to capture it properly, but I knew I had to capture the moment to look back on, so I grabbed a shot with my 24-105mm lens from inside my car. Still being pretty solid winter where I was, most of the pull-offs on the northern edge of Lake Michigan were still closed. Driving about 20 minutes, I was luckily able to find one and grab the portrait above with my Subaru and the Milky Way. Continuing down route 2 along the lake, I found a small rest stop where I decided I should attempt to take a nap in the back of my car.
After laying in the back of my car for about 45 minutes, I realized sleep wasn’t going to happen. It was about 5:30 am and the pre-dawn blue light could be seen above the surrounding trees. I decided to push on and continue north to Whitefish Point on the edge of Lake Superior. The sunrise light was a brilliant sight during the drive and finally being able to see the surrounding forest landscape woke me out of my sleepy state. I stopped many times to grab photos with my iPhone, I was really happy I had decided to make the drive the previous evening. Passing through a small town called Newberry, I saw that one location I had put on my map was just up the road and that I would pass it on my way to Whitefish; Tahquamenon Falls. I had to stop here and hike to the falls. Suiting up for the freezing weather, I was relieved to find that the hike to the falls was only like a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. As I got closer to the river, I started to hear the rushing water and began to be more excited. I had forgotten what the place looked like because I had made the marker many months earlier. As I got to the viewing point, my breath was almost taken away. The view was extremely beautiful. This was my first time seeing a waterfall in person, and it was very impressive. Grabbing a few photos with my DSLR, I then walked down a staircase to the edge of the falls and captured my first panoramic photo that I’ve ever taken.
After this awesome stop, I went up to Whitefish Point. When I arrived, the coast was very windy and the loose snow was blowing across the scattered driftwood on the edge of the lake, making for a very cool image, and what would have been a really amazing video clip to grab in slow motion. Seeing the Canadian coast on the other side of the lake was a inspiring sight as well. I had only seen something like this once before on a trip to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, during much warmer weather. After stopping here, I looked at the weather app on my phone and saw that a large snowstorm was coming into the area and would last for a couple days, so I had to call the trip and begin my seven hour trek back home. Even though I didn’t get to sleep for something like 36 hours, I believed the trip was a success because of the locations I was able to see and experience for the first time.
About a week and a half later, I decided to take another trip back up to the Upper Peninsula. This time, I sort of had a game plan with the places I wanted to shoot in timelapse. With recent aurora activity, I also hoped I would be able to capture them in the sequences as well. Again, I entered the peninsula after night had fallen, and this time the moon was rising instead of setting. I was happy about this because I wanted to capture the movement of the shadows of the forests that pretty much cover the entire area. My first stop was Muskallonge State Park. I thought this area might be a good start to look for aurora because it is directly on the edge of Lake Superior and has a mostly open horizon view looking north. I received a text on my phone about Storm Level aurora and hurried to the park. Almost at Newberry once again, I began to see the lights in the sky above me, another first. I had never seen the northern lights with the naked eye, only once with my camera. Of course I had to stop and grab a portrait with them along the highway.
When I finally arrived on the edge of the lake, the aurora had died down quite a bit. Luckily, there was still a little bit going in the sky; so I set my timelapses up and let them shoot. With the moon in the sky, I was able to do relatively short exposures at five seconds a piece and complete my shots within an hour and a half. After these were done, the aurora was pretty much gone, so I moved on to my next spot; a moonlit Tahquamenon Falls.
Walking through the woods alone at night is always unnerving, even is such a remote place, but after arriving at the falls I walked through the dark to the viewing spot and set up my timelapse camera for a two hour shot. My goal with the falls was to capture the shadows of the surrounding forest and the sequence came out very nice. With the sunrise coming soon, my next goal was to get to Grand Marais and capture it. Luckily, I arrived just in time and set up my shot. The sunrise over the ice and lake was brilliant. The pink colors in the sky made for a great timelapse sequence.
With sunrise complete at Grand Marais, I jumped back into the car and headed for Munising to capture a couple more smaller waterfalls in that area. Still being winter, the first waterfall I arrived at was closed off for the season. At this point I got slightly discouraged but realized there were still two more near me and was able to get to them in a few minutes. The second waterfall was right off the road, Alger Falls. I climbed over to the edge of it, set my tripod down in the water and began shooting another sequence there. With the sun just coming over the falls, I was able to grab and awesome shot of the sun bursting through the trees above. With these sequence complete, I headed to the next spot, Wagner Falls. These falls had multiple drops and were very interesting. Getting into the water and planning out my shot, I grabbed my Kessler Shuttle Pod and began shooting there. During the shot, it began to snow heavily, drenching my camera and equipment. Fortunately, the weather sealed Canon gear held up and wasn’t damaged in any way. Even after leaving it out in the snow for around 45 minutes. Again, my trip was cut short by the weather. The outlook was another snow storm that was supposed to last 2 days. I decided to head back home.
Even though I didn’t get to sleep again, the trip was well worth it. I got to see some amazing things and fell even more in love with the place. I am definitely looking forward to exploring more of the Upper Peninsula and seeing it in all of the seasons, especially fall.
Hello everyone and welcome! Very happy to say that I have a website up and running. As a first post I thought I would give a little background on myself as well as introduce my newest project, “Cityscape Chicago”.
My name is Eric Hines and I am a Photographer, Timelapse Cinematographer, and aspiring Filmmaker from Northwest Indiana. I have been exploring the photographic arts for almost 3 years now. Experimenting with different genres, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of landscape and cityscape photography.
In late 2010, I discovered timelapse photography and became fascinated with its simple, yet complex nature, as well as the things you could capture using it. Using a relatively inexpensive digital camera, I could capture timelapse sequences with video quality comparable to professional cinema cameras. Starting small with my camera, a tripod, and a shutter remote, I began to teach myself the basics, and learned techniques to improve upon it.
In the summer of 2011, I took my timelapses one step further by ordering my first motion-control dolly and began travelling solo around Eastern Wyoming for two months capturing sequences of it’s beautiful night sky and sunsets, resulting in my first project, “Wild Wyoming“. After the release of “Wild Wyoming”, I received the opportunity to work with some great people that I had been fans of for a while and was able to travel to some amazing places all over the west and pacific coast from mid-winter until summer 2012.
Arriving back to my hometown in Indiana, I already had my next project in mind. At the time, it was simply “The Chicago Project”, but eventually evolved over the course of creating it into “Cityscape Chicago”. The goal from the very beginning was to go as big as possible with the very limited budget that was provided by myself. I knew that getting access to buildings with interesting views of the city from above would be one of the most difficult parts. Using the internet as my tool, I was able to get in touch with contacts who proved to be very valuable in getting these special shots. Over the course of four months, I drove into the city from Indiana and met with my friend Matt Young, who assisted me with the project. Because timelapse is such a hit or miss process, there were many times we would meet up and only be able to get one or two shots, sometimes none, because of the varying conditions. Most of the time though, I would leave with sequences I couldn’t wait to process when I got home. Throughout the project I was able to see some places around the city of Chicago I never thought I would and continued to be inspired by it every night I was out there. With the release of “Cityscape Chicago”, I feel it is just the beginning in the exploration of the city and plan to continue shooting it in as many unique ways as possible as I mature as an aspiring filmmaker and photographer.
To read my interview with Preston Kanak about “Cityscape Chicago”, head over to the Kessler University page.