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  • Tom Durden

Nibana Winter Gathering



Some posts before, I wrote about the incredible summer edition of the Nibana festival in 2019. After that summer festival, the exhausted organisers were not sure if they wanted to organise a second festival. I did my best to convince the main organiser, and somehow that seemed to help. :) For the winter edition, I again offered to help.

At the summer edition I did a hit-and-run: I only stayed one night, worked mostly on my droneshoot and did not see and experience much of the festival itself. Although experiencing a festival is great, I also really like to create. A lot. So for this winter edition, again I had a lot of plans. But sometimes things go different than you expect and life catches you when you expect it the least...


My plans were threefold: I would do a droneshoot with willing participants from the festival, I would bring lots of exterior led lights for the festival area, and I would lead a model drawing workshop.


The led lights that I brought were great and added atmosphere. One of the lights was a really bright one: 1000 Watt. And pure red. When the light is aimed at large trees, it is as if the trees are glowing. A red forest. I would love to use this light, or several of them, for a future droneshoot.


The model drawing session was amazing. When I arrived at the workshop location, a beautiful dressed room, it was already filled with people. I was genuinely touched when I realised all of them were there to experience my idea. My idea was not only to learn people to make a good model drawing. My idea was to encourage them to be a model too. And to my surprise, almost everyone of the 15 participants modelled. Sometimes alone, sometimes together, sometimes with people they did not know beforehand. Some of the people were talented, some were not, but we had fun and it felt like magic.


The droneshoot was great too: ten people participated and it resulted in some great photos. Also, an assistent was helping me, she wrote down all contact details of the participants to enable communication after the shoot. The location was not ideal. The festival area was not in a nature area, but next to a field with just grass and the temperature was just above freezing. One terrain feature was interesting for the photo, next to the field was a long hedge with an opening. Another feature was really great for the motivation of the models: at the festival area there was an outdoor hottub. Before the drone shoot I put a sign up, claiming that the hottub was reserved for drone models only. That was a great idea, because after each shoot, models could run to the tub and jump into it to warm up. After the first shoot, most models had the courage to have another one. Models cheerfully running to the hottub was also a beautiful sight.


For some drone photos I did not use the optimal settings (jpg+raw), but HDR instead. That resulted in some over exposed photos. The video that I shot was good and gave quality footage and stills. At home, I used Lightroom to edit the photos, which worked great.


Three kind of photos were the result: snake photos, where the models posed in the form of a chain, starting at the opening in the hedge. Wheel, where te models posed in a circle around a beautiful model in a curled position, and behind-the-scene photos.


But for me the most impressive part of the festival was not something that I planned. The Nibana festival is not just about experiences, it is for a large part about the superego: what do you actually want from life, and how do you live true to yourself? Everyone has some things they feel that need some improvement, and that can be confronting. Especially when someone you have not seen for ten years, and you did not treat well ten years ago, joins the festival.


The Nibana festival encourages you to confront your fears, to confront wat is broken, to try to fix and to share with others what you learn. And so I did. I apoligised, explained, the girl listened, and was not angry or upset. But I was, at myself. And it made me even stronger in my believe that enthousiastic consent is always the best way: ask people around you for feedback and listen carefully, and expect a no once in a while. I think I learned something valueble at this festival, with a tear and a smile.


The summer edition of Nibana is now open for you to join. Just book it, I promise it will be an adventure of an lifetime.


Lessons learned: enthousiastic consent, hottub, Lightroom, double check drone settings, glowing forest. To do: prepare plans for another great droneshoot and other workshops at the Nibana summer shoot, encourage drone models to go to this festival, bring even more lights Idea for future shoots: photograph a single (or a group of) models in a glowing forest

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