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Lighting Up Ibiza

A showcase interview with Ibiza Lights photographer José Antonio Hervas.

As the instant-gratification selfie culture dominates mainstream photography, on a dark and lonely spot in the Balearics José Antonio Hervas prepares and sits for hours through the night to get the perfect shot of the island he loves.

He is the man behind Ibiza Lights, a part time photography project which features, amongst others, the timelapse technique to create stunning still and moving images of Ibiza's natural landscape. To those not yet introduced to this style of photography you've been leading a relatively sad life without it. It's a method of combining many hundreds or thousands of long exposure still images together to create a highly light-sensitive moving image.

The composition of most of his photographs and films dedicates the greatest space to sky. It is this which gives them such majesty - all the tangible elements of the land are dwarfed under a beautiful sky to which we are gratefully in abundance of. Combined with the seemingly never-ending supply of post card worthy views around Ibiza and you've all the makings of a stunning piece of art.

Taking a long exposure photograph allows the photographer to capture all the light that is there, but not quite visible to the naked eye. All the billions of stars in the sky just chilling, unbeknown to the majority, captured by a few and presented in a format that allows the average person to get a little closer to understanding their place in the universe.

Since I first got into photography in my teens I've come across countless styles and techniques that have blown my mind. I've tried my hand at many, tried to invent a few new ones but mostly I just sit in awe at the images some people create. One of these techniques was long exposure photography and time-lapse. Naturally, when spending so much time on Ibiza you take an interest in the skills of the islanders and one of these people was Jose. His constantly evolving and improving work deserves every bit of credit it receives.

Quite apart from being a beautiful piece of art in its own right, films like Ibiza Lights I, II and III are powerful tools in protecting the international image of Ibiza. It's this sort of ‘content', to put it crudely, that can easily go viral, and as it spreads so too, we hope, does a very different image of the party island that is splashed across the tabloids every summer.

I thought now we could sample some of the images and films of Ibiza Lights creation as we find out a little more from the man behind it all.

Where did your interest in photography start?

"It started right here in Ibiza. Already when I was really young I was enchanted by the nature and the colours of the island and when I had my first camera at the age of 13 my photographic adventure began."

Did that quickly develop into long exposure astro-photography or was it something you discovered much later?

"That started when I changed over to digital photography. I observed and learned a lot from amazing photographers such as José Benito Ruiz and with that, the interest in night pictures (astro photography) and long exposure awoke."

Your company - Ibiza Lights - is hugely popular. Is this your main focus now as a career or is the project just a way of spending you spare time, helping you showcase Ibiza to the rest of the world?

"Ibiza Lights was part of a project I started. With my pictures and timelapses I wanted to show the world that there's a very different Ibiza, far away from all the clubs and the reputation that the island is only about parties..."

Did you always want to make a living from your work? Some people prefer to keep their passions and hobbies as exactly that…

"I'm combining it with my work. I work as a freelancer, I couldn't survive just with my photo jobs. I also think that if I did completely focus on photography I might get a bit saturated, but this way it's perfect."

At what point did you start to bring in the time-lapse technique?

"I started with that about seven years ago and then improved bit by bit on both my technique as well as the equipment."

What was it about this technique that appealed to you?

"That I was able to show the hidden beauty of the island, such as the moving blanket of stars and sunrises and sunsets."

I'm a huge fan of this style, taking great influence from the likes of Tom Lowe and his iconic Timescapes film. Who inspires you?

"There are quite a few photographers specialised in timelapses, but the ones that inspire me most are Dustin Farrell and Henry Jun Wah Lee."

Talk us through a typical time-lapse shoot for you, from preparation, to setup, to filming and then the edit.

"The preparation of a timelapse is a task that I need to decide a good few days before the actual shoot. First I need to think about the composition of the timelapse. For that I often use an app called Photopills with which I can plan ahead. Of course the weather forecast is also to be considered. Then I prepare all my equipment with replacement batteries and memory card, pack my Mslider (the rail slider the camera pans on), various tripods and of course enough food and water. Once I'm at the spot and everything is set up, the thing I then need most is patience. A timelapse shoot takes hours!"

I guess Ibiza has plenty of stunning locations for you to work at, do you have any favourites?

"I have several. The Cala Llentrisca area, from where Es Vedra is observable. Then Punta Galera and the stoney arc close to Portinatx."

I'd love to try my hand at some of these techniques, what advice would you offer to someone like me who would like to get involved?

"The main suggestion I can give is to be patient. Doing timelapses is a technique that requires a lot of time. Often you'll be waiting in the cold while you're starving, but the wait is worth it, the result is pure magic!"

View this feature in the Ibiza Spotlight Magazine, Issue 003.

WORDS | James Chapman

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