There are only a few regions in the world where the skies meet the Earth with almost no distinction between the two. La Palma in the Canary islands is one of them. ‘Entre Ciel et Terre’ literally means ‘Between the sky and Earth’ and was a perfect fit here. While most of the volcanic island is isolated under a thick layer of clouds, the tip of its crater often punches through it and allows you to be one step closer to the Heavens. At an altitude of about 2300 meters above sea level you feel so far removed from any kind of civilization especially because of the cloud inversion. The air is thin and pristine and the living conditions are harsh but that’s the reason why the ORM (Observatory Roque de Los Muchachos) -operated by the IAC (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias) and part of the European Northern Observatory, was built up there. The summit of La Palma’s caldera benefits from dry and clear skies almost year round with almost no light pollution to disturb it, and only rare Calima (this dusty wind coming from the Sahara desert). It’s safe to say that the ‘Isla Bonita’ is one of the top places in the world to observe the northern hemisphere’s night sky!
The purpose of this short was to capture that special place from a different perspective. I really wanted to give the audience sort of a confusion as to where they are because that’s precisely the feeling you get when you look up at the stars from the mountains. You somehow lose sense of any orientation as if you were lost in the immensity of the universe! One image that I had in my head to describe La Palma’s summit was Asgard or Mount Olympus, where all the elements are united and blend together divinely. Even life found a way to survive in this environment bombarded by high-energy rays during the day and battered by cold winds at night. One highlighted species is the fascinating and mind-boggling Tajinaste flower. Also called Tenerife Bugloss or tower of jewels, this docile and resilient endemic plant can endure extreme drought. I included it in the movie because it looks majestic and prehistoric. It really adds something special to the special atmosphere I wanted to convey, especially when the milky way galaxy and the sea of clouds move in the background! By tracking the night sky or displaying the sequences upside-down I was able to give that impression of the Earth floating and rotating in the void of the cosmos. The unusual but innovative close-up views of some parts of the milky way (including the core, Rho Ophiuchi or Cygnus) moving behind the operating telescopes of the OMC helped me give that only human dimension to the movie. The use of an astro-modified camera also enabled me to almost get the full range of colors a DSLR can pick up on single frames from nebulae.
I already traveled to La Palma island in November 2017 but I really wanted to shoot there again for several reasons. First I really wanted to get more shots of the core region that would be less spoiled by light pollution than the ones I recently took on Tenerife. Secondly I desperately wanted to meet the extremely talented photographer Alyn Wallace (check him out: https://alynwallacephotography.com) and do a collaboration with him on the island. Thirdly I am still on my way of perfecting the novel art of deep-sky time-lapse and I wanted to reshoot some sequences that didn’t give satisfying results in the past. Finally I wanted to personally experience the Spring vibe of the island when all the plants are blooming and give that sweet smell to the air. I am absolutely thrilled to have met all my expectations (and more!), and I really believe the results look stunning!
Everything was recorded with the Canon 6D Baader modified, the Sony a7s, the Sony a7rII and a variety of bright lenses ranging from 14mm to 300mm. I used the Lonely Speck Pure Night and Matt Aust Light pollution filters to reduce light pollution and increase details, and also the Vixen Pola
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