Cintsa Tides

While staying at Cintsa Bay on the Wild Coast of South Africa during February and March, I was fascinated by the rock formation and erosion of the Table Mountain Sand Stone caused by the wave action  in the tidal zone. I decided to explore the process visually using a combination of time lapse photography and video footage shot with my recently acquired Canon 5D Mark iii. Besides messing with a bit of stop motion animation when I bought my first VHS video camera in the early eighties, it something I hadn’t done before with still images. So it was off to Google to see if there were any tips and pointers. As usual I was overwhelmed by the amount of information and free sharing of experiences in the results. After a few false starts, I figured that I already had all the tools and software necessary to do the job. The first thing was obviously a sturdy tripod as the camera needed to be static for up to four hours during the tidal cycle. My recently acquired and restored Manfrotto ART 055 would be ideal. Next I needed a camera and the Canon 5D mark iii was perfect for the job. Then I needed a shutter release with an interval timer. Got That. On the processing side, it was Adobe Lightroom that was more than up to the project. I was all set. While doing al the research, I also checked out some iPhone apps as this has a full HD camera that produced awesome video quality. After testing a number of free apps, I deiced to purchase TimeLapse which was by far the best, most versatile and easiest to use.

Now it was checking the tide tables and weather and choosing the best time to do the filming. When everything seemed to line up, it was off to the wooden steps that lead to the beach from Rondesvous caravan park and set up on the landing. As I discovered, it’s not actually firming, but rather setting up the camera after guessing what might happen with the light and of course the tidal levels in the near future, setting the timer cycle for 10 second intervals and chilling out for four hours. The rhythmic sound of the camera shutter every ten seconds was all I focused on while I tried to read, bird watch, doze, people watch etc for the next four hours. I had decided to attach the iPhone to side of the stairway with a mini clamp camera support and make a simultaneous time lapse recording with a different angle. This can be seen in the first time lapse sequence.

The detail footage was filmed with the Canon 5D mark iii and the iPhone during a three week period. I would grab my gear bag and head off to the beach whenever possible. I loved the hours spent exploring the rocks from different angles. I started with the traditional “stand up straight” approach and gradually discovered that kneeling down and even lying on the rocks gave some interesting perspectives. I even managed to squirm my way into a tight crevasse and got some hand held incoming tidal action. One of my favorite parts was filming the crab sequence. I discovered that if you plonk yourself down on the beach with a 400mm lens and a low tripod and just wait, the little critters soon get used to your presence and just go about their business. Fun.

The incoming tide time lapse sequence was a challenge. I wanted a different point of view to the first sequence so I scrambled my way up the side of the dunes, not an easy task with a 25kg camera bag on your back and a tripod in tow. I found a likely spot and set up, being careful not to disturb the sand supporting the tripod everytime I moved or checked the camera. What started out as decent perch on a calm, coolish summer afternoon turned into a battle zone. An afternoon breeze turned into howling gale by the time I had completed a four hour stint. Everything was covered in a layer of sand which took several tedious ours to clean.

Selecting the music for the piece was as much of a challenge. My knowledge of classical music is a bit limited so I spent hours listening to tracks on my iPod, trying to visualise the end result, matching passages in the music to the shots that I had taken. I finally selected Mozart’s Symphony #35 In D – 4. Presto beautifully performed by the Mozart Players and conducted by Jane Glover. I did end up doing a final filming session half way through the edit as there were specific visuals that I needed to match some of the music. I think the results speak for them self. As this is my first attempt a documentary work in 25 years, your feedback will be welcome.

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Cintsa Beach Walk

It was another lazy Saturday afternoon in Cintsa. Tina was indulging in a siesta so I decided to take the dogs for a leisurely beach walk. One of the most appealing things about Cintsa is the pristine sandy beach that follows the curve of the bay for miles. Tina and I had noticed an astonishing […]