Land Before Time

Feeling the itch to explore more on my relaxing honeymoon (almost too much relaxation for my insatiable adventurous appetite) I chartered a small boat to Drawaqa Island. Kissing the wife goodbye, I jokingly said see you at 7 pm, which was an hour after sunset. At this latitude near the equator, the sun rises and sets fast, resulting in very short twilight, and darkness descends within an hour of the sun going down. Hence the laughter of my funny joke to my wife, which wasn’t so funny in her mind. Did I mention she worries too much?

I was dropped off at the only resort on the island and found my way to the island track trail. I slipped into meditation mode and began sauntering up the trail looking for shots to take while concentrating on my surroundings…it’s the little things that matter, like the birdsong of the Fiji parrot finch.

Arriving at a promontory, a beautiful view unfolded down to the ocean. Adjacent to the cliff was a wild garden of flowers growing around some dead trees…a beautiful sight to behold life and death together as one. Although the view and subsequent compositions were somewhat compelling, I decided to search for something better but would come back if I found nothing else.

Walking further up the trail I became enraptured by the plethora of ferns growing beside the trail. Standing nearly 10 ft high, they stood like giants beside me. It felt like I was walking through a fern tunnel so overgrown with soft petals that when they caressed my skin as I brushed past, it was as if the plant was saying “come through…we allow your passage”, beckoning me forward. The only interruption from fern to fern was the periodic bushels of flowers replete with colorful butterflies fluttering from stamen to stamen sipping their favorite libation. I was walking through the land before time when dinosaurs roamed free and plants stretched their limbs unabated. I knew right then and there I wanted to capture some kind of landscape with ferns in it.

As I approached the end of the trail, I found the shot I was looking for. There was a long unbroken line of ferns stretching from the left to the middle of the frame, and another solitary patch growing on the right side. I loved the leading line the left side ferns made into the image. I placed the camera very close to the patch of fern on the right, enabling a more intimate relationship with the plant. The added bonus of this composition was the big tree on the left (I attempted to identify it but couldn’t discover it’s name) that was illuminated beautifully by the setting sun.

As the light became more oblique, the many ridges began glowing brightly which created dimension and leading lines. The spectrum of light from left to right was very dynamic, requiring 5 to 7 frames to have everything properly exposed in the image.

I also wanted to emphasize the feeling of being on an island by capturing the ocean around the islands on both sides. Channels of water between the islands provide further separation.

After taking many images the sun began moving over the edge of the horizon and I knew it was getting close to 6 pm when the boat was scheduled to pick me up. It was time to wrap up…I took the camera off the tripod, closed my tripod legs, took the filters off, packed up and began running down the trail to make the boat in time.

I made it to shore at 5:55pm for my 6pm boat pickup. As couples gathered to see the waning sunset, I ruminated on the ecstasy of my experience (I always feel that way after a good photo session). After 30 minutes however, I began to worry a little. Did they forget about me? Will I be stuck here for the night? What will I eat? But Pate, the dive shop guy at my resort, said 6pm Fiji time. No worries…they’ll get me. Suddenly someone from the resort on the island asked if I was being picked up. “Yes of course” I said, “they must be running late”. They phoned my resort to inquire. After much confusion and communication deficiencies, my rescue boat finally came, 45 minutes late.

I arrived back home at the comfortable resort and strolled up the beach to the front door. My wife was sitting on the patio in front with a big smile on her face…she was upset by something, that much I could tell. I looked at the time on my phone and realized her disappointment – 7:02…I was 2 minutes late

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