Star Mountain Media
Lost in Catalonia: Montserrat to Tamarit

please watch this in HD + fullscreen
available for festival screenings or as stock footage up to 4K

Star Mountain Media on:
August, 2014 written by Daniel Lowe

For years I've wanted to travel to Barcelona and the Catalan region of Spain. In the summer of 2014, the opportunity presented itself in the form of an artist-in-residence opportunity with CeRCCa,( the Center for Research and Creativity de Casamarles.

We arrived at the residency in Llorenc del Penedes, near El Vendrell, in the Catalonia region of Spain in late May 2014. I immediately began scouting the area for potentially beautiful landscape shooting locations. A true "dark sky" night shoot was not a possibility; as this area of Spain has very few areas where a photographer would be able to get a strong Milky Way timelapse. This meant that I was going to have to get more creative and open up to new possibilities.

I Just Broke My Favorite Lens.. Now What?
On the very first trip out to take photographs, we went to an old castle near Vilademager, and I set up my camera taking a timelapse of this photo. Due to luggage weight constraints, I did not bring along my usual gear: a 5 pound ankle weight to make the tripod stable during windy conditions. This turned out to be a mistake; I was setting up the Black Magic Pocket camera, and turned my back on the Canon 5dmkII for 10 minutes. When I came back, the Canon 5DmkII was on the ground, the wind had blown over the entire setup and snapped my Samyang 24mm f/1.4 lens in half near the lens mount.
We took the broken lens to Casanova Foto ( in Barcelona. They attemped to fix it, but after two weeks they contacted me and said they couldn't get the proper parts shipped from Samyang. While at their store, I bought a used Canon 28mm f/2.8 lens as a temporary stop-gap replacement.

Breaking my favorite lens forced me to use my Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens, as well as the used Canon 28mm f/2.8 lens. I have since learned to appreciate 28mm as a useful focal length, and it's forced me to learn how to use the 14mm Rokinon, which was being under-utilized in my camera bag. However, I've already bought a replacement Samyang 24mm f/1.4.. it's just that good for landscapes and night photography.
Waiting on the Weather
When we first arrived, there was a week of overcast weather and rain; followed by two weeks of absolutely cloudless skies. Neither of these is ideal for good photography. There is one shot of a cloudy sky at Tamarit in the film, this was done at sunset in the hopes of catching some color, but the skies stayed overcast on this day.

I'd packed thinking it was going to be a balmy, warm Mediterranean climate; instead I ended up wearing the same heavy fleece for five days running.

After a few weeks in Llorenc del Penedes, we spent almost a week in Barcelona. Old friends, that I hadn't seen in ten years, came to visit. We went out around the town and had a great time. Still, I wasn't satisfied with the photographs I had gotten to this point; and made plans for more outdoor photography.
Black Magic Camera: just along for the ride?
On the trip I'd brought along a Black Magic Pocket Camera, thinking I'd be able to capture real-time landscape scenes of high dynamic range and then mix this with outdoor timelapse footage. This was my first extended experience working with a "pro" style video camera that captures a ProRes codec and a 10-bit color space.

The Black Magic Pocket camera is an incredible camera, but it's challenging to capture truly wide landscapes even with a SLR Magic 12mm f/2 lens (35mm equivalent). It's also a challenge if you don't have a variable ND filter, as the camera has a limited range of ISO options and shutter speeds. I didn't have a variable ND filter at this time; I've since purchased one as I consider it a mandatory piece of gear for this style of camera.

When compared side-by-side with 5k still images from a full frame SLR, I couldn't bring myself to include the 1920x1080 Black Magic footage in the film. The Black Magic is a truly impressive digital film camera, but it takes considerable skill; as well as a bit of extra gear, to realize its full potential.
Discovering Montserrat
Near the end of the residency, I scheduled a week's stay near the natural park and monastery of Montserrat. Monserrat translates to "serrated mountain" and it did not disappoint. The vast majority of the scenes in "Lost in Catalonia" were filmed during an eight day period while staying in a residence in Montserrat Park.

There are trails leading all over the mountain of Montserrat; we saw hikers at night climbing up and down in the hills, at all hours of the night. With every visit, we stayed longer and pushed further, until the last two nights, we arrived after midnight and stayed until sunrise.

The reason we spent 8 days (and nights) at Montserrat should be obvious to anyone who watches "Lost in Catalonia" – it's a world-class site for amazing photography, especially at sunrise.

I highly recommend visiting this place, for anyone who enjoys hiking or photography.
Night-to-Day Timelapses
During this time I tried several techniques to capture a timelapse of the sunrise from night to day. After a night of trial and error, I was able to capture this on the second attempt by manually changing settings. The 20 second night-to-day timelapse used in the film was captured over 110 minutes and required 80 manual changes to camera settings during capture. LRTimelapse ( software was used to equalize exposure levels during timelapse processing.
the Music: thank you, Moby
I'd like to take a moment to thank Moby, the musician, and his website, a great resource for independent filmmakers. The song in the film is called "Lie Down in Darkness" and was composed in memory, when a friend of Moby's passed away.

My nephew recently died too young, at the age of 28. I felt like this film had a spiritual feeling, and that my nephew would have truly appreciated it. He was a natural musician and loved all kinds of music; he could play piano like a virtuoso and also played both types of guitars, lead and bass. He formed more bands than I could remember; he never knew a stranger; and he loved and played music his entire life. This is why I dedicated this film to my nephew, Zachary Taylor.

Here's a set of photos on Flickr for "Lost in Catalonia: Montserrat to Tamarit".

Equipment used on "Lost in Catalonia":
Canon 5dmkIII
Canon 5dmkII
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Canon 28mm f/2.8
Dynamic Perception Stage Zero motion-control dolly, with 48 inch rail
Two remote timers (intervalometers)
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Copyright 2011-2014 by Daniel Lowe