“Dèyè mòn gen mòn” (beyond the mountains, more mountains) – Haitian Proverb
I would be lying if I said I was good at taking photographs in motion. Learning how to operate my camera off the auto feature has been something I’ve just begun learning. In fact, I went to my first ever photography class just this past weekend SLR I where I finally learned the mysteries behind the terms f-stop, shutter speed and ISO. I have yet to play around with these features in real life but I’ve made a promise to myself that I will learn how to operate my camera off the auto setting. Why? Simply because it is the only way I can truly discover the real art of photography while simultaneously making my pictures better.
Learning how to use shutter speed effectively is high on my list because I love to take pictures from a moving car. Whether I am in a big urban city like Delhi or in the countryside of Ethiopia and most recently Haiti, my favorite thing to do is to document the trip on film. Sadly, many of my pictures do not turn out. The ones that do turn out are due to pure luck which is why I’ve decided to invest my time in learning how to correctly use my camera.
A few months ago, I was in Haiti to see the work of Heart of Haiti’s artisans. We spent the first two days in the country’s capital Port-au-Prince, and then headed south to a small seaside town of Jacmel. We rose early since we would most likely have a 3-4 hour drive depending on traffic. Driving in Haiti can be absolutely crazy and even getting around Port-au-Prince can take hours. There are way too many vehicles for the countries’ narrow, over-crowded streets and way too many broken-down vehicles that can stall traffic for hours.
I knew in order to get pictures in motion along the way, I’d have to be seated up front right next to the driver. I also tend to get rather carsick on bumpy roads. Thankfully none of the other ladies cared and I was rewarded the front seat of the van on the way there and back.
I am a huge map person as I like to see the route and know where I’m going. One thing that truly surprised me about our drive to Jacmel was how mountainous it was. In fact, Haiti is a nation of mountains and its name Hayti (the Indian name for the country) means “land of the mountains.” Some of the mountain peaks reach over 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) and sadly many mountainsides have been denuded and deforested which has caused several disastrous mudslides and flooding, killing many. Haiti is also quite prone to hurricanes and earthquakes given its location, making this small nation a highly vulnerable place to natural disasters.
Topographic Map of Haiti shows the mountainous drive south to Jacmel. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Free Commons
As we left the hustle and bustle of Port-au-Prince and got out into the countryside, I smiled. For this is the place I love to be!