Papeete, Tahiti, was just as I had been told, crowded and expensive. Completing an exploratory circle of the island on our first day there, we found ourselves in a rush hour traffic jam in Papeete that rivaled LA or Washington, DC. Papeete was not my idea of how to spend quality time in the tropics.
Moorea, however, has been much different. Is is much like comparing the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Molokai. They are two very different locations in terms of culture and development. I've kept my cameras, still and video, close at hand looking for unexpected opportunities while searching out known locations. On the morning of our first full day on Moorea I ventured up to Belvedere Point, arguably offering the best panoramic view of Cook's and Opunohu Bays. My goal was to create a panorama image that revealed what Moorea is all about: water, lush greenery, rugged peaks and dramatic light and clouds. The number of shades and intensity of green is amazing. Throw sand and the blue Pacific into the mix and it is almost visual overload.
Dawn was just breaking as I arrived after a steep, narrow climb in my rental car of about two miles or so. I was greeted by flickering lights in the trees and my first reaction was fireflies but then I stopped, heard very loud disco and hip hop music and discovered I had arrived at the wind down of an all night party of local younger types. The music and laser show was provided by a local sound company from a van that with an in-your-face logo exclaiming 'AMERICAN BASS', along with the brand names of recognizable audio manufacturers. Later when daylight arrived and I saw all of the debri left by regular Belvedere partiers, it became obvious this was a regularly occurring event.
Shortly after arriving the rain began and quickly became tropical torrential levels. This ended the party and soon I was left sitting in my car in the rain, waiting for the down pour to end. But it didn't, it went on for almost two hours well past sunrise hour. By the time daylight had arrived, the lush hillsides were alive with waterfalls. The lingering fog and mist never cleared that morning. I returned to the Intercontinental Hotel where the guests were lounging in the sun, playing with porpoises and generally doing the typical tourist thing. Later in the day I decided to venture back to Belvedere Point to attempt a late afternoon/sunset shoot. Arriving back in the area I discovered light rain and heavy cloud over. I was amazed that such heavy, ongoing rain could remain so localized for such a long period of time. So much for day one.
The morning of day two was a complete change stars evident in the early morning sky as I left the hotel to again head up to Belvedere Point. Cloud cover was broken and dramatically heavy but not enough to spoil the sunrise. The frames from that morning will become the panorama I was hoping to capture. Look for it when I post my Tahiti gallery on this site within the next week or so.
I really enjoy creating large, detailed panoramas that project an image of a large, open window, allowing you to almost walk into the scene. When shooting film I used large format cameras to create such scenes. With digital, even medium format digital, multiple frames are required to create a composite, stitched image with the same, or more, level of detail film systems offered. More about panorama stitching techniques in a future blog post. I leave for home later today and close this with a few obligatory cliche shots of beaches, the blue Pacific and palm trees.