Getting the Shot: A Morning of Photography on Ometepe Island

My feet, wrapped uncomfortably in my slippery flip-flops, step awkwardly through the wet rain forest grass. The faint light of my headlamp guides me along the narrow trail which drops faster than the straps on my footwear seem prepared to handle. Around me everything is silent. Even the bats, it seems, have decided to that a reprieve from their night hunts. I look around me at the thick jungle wall that appears black in the pre-dawn light before breaking free and onto the dirt road that loops around Ometepe Island. The moon hangs high in the sky forcing its white light through the clouds and creates a glistening light across this beautiful lake. I step out onto the unfinished cement pier and set up my tripod and camera in the pre-morning dark.

Ometepe Island

Pre-dawn Ometepe Island

As I wait for the morning light to arrive I pace back and forth on the pier in boredom searching for a reason as to why I do this. I should be asleep in my warm bed below the protection of a mosquito net and a light blanket. I swat a fly from my ankle before sitting down, my legs dangling freely over the edge of the pier.

Ometepe Island

Waiting for the Light

I begin to reflect on my journey, on love, and on life in general before realizing that I’m so tired my mind wont remember any of these realizations in a couple hours. In a distance I hear howler monkeys beating their morning drums warning those who have gotten too close. Behind me a rooster’s call rings out through the fog of the morning reminding me that the morning light is near.

Like the plot of a good movie beginning to reveal itself, the clouds begin to appear rippling through the iridescent blue sky. In the distance a volcano appears in the light as well smothered by a thick layer of icing or clouds. I set my eye deep into the cavity of my camera’s sight before realizing that my camera has become my greatest companion on this adventure. I adjust and begin to release the camera’s every exploring eye-sight into the morning haze.

Ometepe Island

The coast of Ometepe Island

As the light hardens I pack up my gear, toss it lightly over my shoulders and trot by up the hill to my hotel refuge with the thought of sleep and only sleep on my mind. But as I enter the room and set my gear on the chair that rocks along side my bed my curiosity can’t help but wonder what I’ve captured, if the mood I hoped to portray developed. I flip the LCD screen of my camera on and look down at the image I’ve created. A smile widens across my dry mouth. With satisfaction I can’t help but think “that’s why I forced myself from the comfort of my bed, I’ve captured my own imagination in digital form; I’ve captured my mood in the form of a photo.”

Ometepe Island

Ometepe Island Pier

My eyes begin to wander off to sleep as I realize that the reasons I travel are the same as the reasons I wake up in the morning to photograph. When we force ourselves to climb out of the box of comfort we so often live in, we begin to see the world in a different light. We begin to live out our dreams, and press our imagination to build an exciting reality. When we force ourselves from the comfortable blankets of our morning lives we soon realize that there is a whole wold out there to be discovered and a light so often left uncaptured.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

Share This Post On

18 Comments

  1. Wow – these are some amazing shots! So serene and beautiful. Nice work!

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Melissa

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks Michelle

      Post a Reply
  2. Nicely done – moodiness of the pier/dock shot is great!

    Post a Reply
    • thanks Maria!

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks you two 😀 I actually love getting up early as long as I get to go back to bed for a bit 😀

      Post a Reply
  3. Great shots. I have to agree with you that getting out of bed early to take photos is well worth it. The early morning light is perfect for photography, as well as just before sunset. Also, there’s a certain peacefulness to the early morning.

    Post a Reply
  4. It’s so hard to drag myself out of bed before sunrise to take photos (which is why I rarely do it), but those are usually some of the best experiences… and results. I like your analogy between that and travel — so apt!

    Post a Reply
  5. Just brought ourselves a new camera and definitely going to be getting up early to capture some great shots. Good inspiration! Just as a side note, they are Jandals, not Flip Flips 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • @Cole – There are few words I dislike more than “jandals” one of them is “moist” and the other is “no.” What kind of camera did you get?

      Post a Reply
  6. Amazing pictures! And your last paragraph about why we travel is so true and so inspiring!

    Post a Reply
    • thanks Kelsey

      Post a Reply
  7. Wow! These are great photos Brendan – It feels as if I’m sitting right there. Your comment, “my camera has become my greatest companion on this adventure,” is something I often think about as I walk along my own photographic journey. It’s amazing to me how a small piece of equipment can capture and create so much emotion. And your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes – I think it’s time for me to buy a plane ticket 🙂

    Post a Reply
  8. My favorite is the last shot of the pier against the very blue sky. I can so relate to the feeling of dragging myself out in the morning and wondering why I’m out of bed, and also of how happy I am later when I see the shots I get in that light.

    I’m really enjoying the photos on your site. Great work.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Peg… It’s always worth getting up. I think the majority of my landscape/urban shots that I like are from this time of day. It just has such a great mood to it. Also, I love that feeling of being out there all alone, it’s a beautiful feeling.

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *