The Horses - Under Moonlight
This image was captured on Easter Sunday, on Easter Island.
When we think of Easter Island, the first thing that comes to mind are the Moai, but these stunning creatures are ever present during any trip to the Island.
On this day we planned to shoot the sunrise at Ahu Tongariki, a super popular location at 8am as the sun rises directly above the amazing 15 Moai. We accidentally set the alarm for 4.30am and didn't realise how early it was until we were in the car and well down the road. We chose to just keep going, obviously.
As we were driving towards Tongariki, I saw a group of horses eating by the roadside. A pretty normal thing to see, but grabbed a camera and decided to see what I could get. This was April 1, so the moon was ultra bright and heading for the horizon.
There was an incredible gentleness about these horses, they are not used to regular human interaction, so I never thought I would get so close to them. It was pretty dark, but they knew I was there for sure. In this scene, the standing horse is so still, he was just keeping an eye on me, while the others rested. The horse lying down was watching me as well, you can see the sparkle in her eye.
I probably spent about an hour just lying around shooting. I will pop a few pics below so you can see just how close they came to me. So curious, so gentle. My heart was racing as they walked around checking me out.
The mountain in the background is the Volcano Rano Raraku, the quarry where all of the Moai were carved.
The incredible thing is that all the light in this image is moonlight! The photograph was taken hand held - I was taking many of these shots at 3.2 seconds and many at 5 seconds! You can see I was getting a bit too much movement in the horses, but rock solid surrounds. The image above is a 2 second exposure! You can see a few stars dotted around the sky.
Photographing under the moonlight is my passion. For my light painting it is for obvious reasons, I want to illuminate the scene, while adding extra light. But for landscape photography, and in this case, there is a beautiful softness that comes from the moon. It is just gentle and delicate. Add some cloud cover and you get natural softboxes that wrap the scene. The moon is also reflecting sunlight which adds colour to the scene, a nice warm tone which I love. Take the time to go out and try the moonlight, it is so nice.
SOME TECHNICAL STUFF
The 45 F1.2 lens was a revelation to me on the trip. As with the 17 and 25 F1.2, is just eats light. There is a texture and bokeh from this lens that I have fallen in love with, and for this scenario it was perfect! It allowed me to be close enough to get a sense of connection, and for us all to feel like we are there, but also great separation from the background.
The image stabilisation in the body of the camera is simply mind bending. I was capturing 3.2 and 5 second exposures this morning, without hesitation. There is simply no way I could have been remotely as close to these horses if I had been moving with a tripod. Being able to just crawl around with only the camera body made things easier.
The other factor in using a mirrorless camera is how quiet it is. It was so very quiet out there this night. The ocean is just behind us, and was certainly present, but if you add the "clunk" of a mirror to this scenario, the horses would have been spokked, because it is a foreign sound.
FURTHER HORSING AROUND
I came away from Easter Island with a huge array of stills and video of horses. They are gorgeous, and I could go back and do nothing but follow these creatures around. Here are a few extra images form this morning, but there will be a bunch more coming.
This was a night I will never forget, at an inspiring location.