Featured Filmmaker: Jonathan Mitchell

Featured Filmmaker: Jonathan Mitchell

Written by Landscape and Time-lapse photographer Jonathan Mitchell:

At the start of 2015 I began my journey into timelapse photography. It had been on my mind since I picked up the camera a number of years ago. I made a few films throughout the year; a series titled “Discovery,” which were filmed throughout the West Coast. After putting these together, I really wanted to travel internationally- somewhere with unique landscapes that would be a challenging and exciting location for my first timelapse of 2016. With a great deal on airfare to Iceland, my wife and I saw our opportunity and the big trip I had been hoping for was scheduled. I knew Iceland was going to be exactly what I was looking for with it's vast landscapes and constantly changing weather. We pre booked AirBnB's around the island before we arrived, planning on a few days in each area. We also left a few nights open to sleep in our car in case we found something we wanted to spend more time at along the way.

With the trip coming up, I began planning out the gear I would be packing on my back throughout my two weeks in Iceland. I had been using eMotimo for my past timelapses, but Rhino had since come out with their Motion system. With its light weight design, slick interface, and simple “set up and shoot” mentality, I knew it was something I wanted to add to my kit. The guys at Rhino were able to get the Motion and their Rhino Slider EVO Carbon 24" over to me just in time for my flight, and I couldn't be more excited to try them out.

My first experience using the Motion was at a random stop along our drive around the Golden Circle. We were on our way to Bruarfoss and Gullfoss when we saw this beautiful glacier melt lake with snow covered shores and had to pull over. We ventured out and after a bit of exploring I found a unique spot in the lake that showed a glimpse into the frozen water below and reflections of the mountains behind. I got out the Motion and adjusted the rugged feet so that it was level on the snow. Since the entire system weights only 4lbs it was able to distribute the weight evenly across the snow. In just a few minutes I was up and running, shooting the rapidly changing weather.

With my first timelapse shot in the bag, I was excited to keep going. Our next stop was Bruarfoss, and after a very bumpy ride through unpaved residential roads filled with pot holes, our trusty rental car got us to the parking area. I grabbed my bag and headed out for the short hike to the falls. We had the waterfall to ourselves so I scouted it out, trying different locations before settling on a forward moving shot through the beams of a walking bridge that framed Bruarfoss in a very dramatic way. I attached a tripod mount on one end of the slider and placed the other end on the opposite side of the bridge. Since Rhino Motion attaches directly to the slider carriage, the height of the rails is minimal. This means that it was at the perfect height to capture exactly what I had envisioned. It was mounted in a tricky spot but since the controls are not directly on the unit it meant I could stand a a few feet back and set up the shot.

Making our way around the island, Hvitserkur was another location I was really looking forward to. It is on the northwestern part of the island and the beach has a huge basalt formation that some say looks like a dragon drinking out of the water. When we arrived at the beach, the sky was grey and it was sprinkling off and on. We had the whole day ahead of us and nothing else planned on our way to Akureyri so I took my time with stills, waiting out the small waves of people that came down to shoot the unique rock. Waiting paid off in the end- as I was setting up the rails to get a sliding timelapse near the stream, the sky began to clear up, and a full rainbow appeared. The last group of people left, and I hurried over to the spot I had planned to set up the Motion, this time with the added bonus of a rainbow in the background.

Continuing our journey around the island I was able to shoot in various locations, from mossy lava fields to glacier chunks on black sand beach, to the Vestrahorn mountains at Stokksnes. While the Rhino Motion performed as I hoped it would, the fact that it was set up and ready to go in its 24" Carrying Case at all times was what really impressed me. The armor protected it on the plane and in the car with all of our luggage, yet was easy to access and pull out at a moments notice. This was key to capturing whatever caught my eye on my journey around Iceland. As the locals say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes,” but I found that if I did like the weather, I might only have few minutes before it took a turn for the worse. The quick set up and ease of use was something I really appreciated from it- it allowed me to capture the scenery and weather I was experiencing in that very moment, a moment that often didn't last long.

Overall Experience with Rhino Motion

Using the Rhino Motion throughout the trip was extremely positive. I never ran into a situation the slider setup couldn't handle. I was even able to use the rhino motion as an advanced intervalometer without the rails. This made calculating a timelapse a breeze as you input the length of clip and shutter speed. This came in handy for adjusting the exposure settings and seeing the progress of the shoot. Battery life was never an issue even after doing inclined motions; it lasted almost the entire trip on one charge. I look forward to further exploring the limits of what the Rhino Motion can shoot and pairing it with their new Rhino Arc in the future.


This blog post can also be found on Jonathan Mitchell's blog.