Nature Photography of Dominica’s Yuri Jones
By Tim Cotroneo
Photographer Yuri Jones was born into a landscape photographer’s dream environment. Jones’ native Dominica is an island wonderland of mountains, rainforests, waterfalls, volcanos, hot springs, rare plants and surrounding Caribbean Sea.
This former financial industry professional lives and works in a photographic playground offering extreme elevations, a history dating back to the 15th century, and ever changing light. If that’s not enough, the 29-mile long island of Dominica is home to wildlife ranging from sperm whales, spinner dolphins, and Sisserou parrots.
Travel Dreams Magazine caught up with Jones and asked him to share his story, as well as some of his favorite photos. Let’s take a deep dive into Jones photography and see why Dominica is known as the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean.
Q: Yuri, what are your memories of this photograph titled, “Enchanted Cabana Beach?”
This was tricky to create because I used 24 individual shots to complete the image. My eye was drawn to what felt like a tunnel of green that starts off rich and dark, and eventually merges into a mix of bright yellow and the coconut trees in the background. (https://yuriajones.com/blogs/journal/new-portfolio-images-of-cabana-beach)
Where are you based?
I am based in Dominica but free to work in and around the Caribbean, or even internationally.
How did you get started in photography
I actually got started in photography because of my interest in music.
As a music producer, I wanted to create music videos as a means of promotion and so I bought a cheap camera. However, it was a very poor video camera and I ended up using it to shoot still photos around the house. That was my first introduction to photography. A couple years later, as a co-manager of a local cupcake business, I bought my first “real” camera (a Nikon D3100) and used it to create photos for our social media advertising efforts. On the weekends, I would take the camera out on nature walks… and I eventually fell in love with nature photography.
What is your favorite camera or “go to” camera?
I wouldn’t say that I have a “favorite” camera, but I do have a relatively new camera, and it is a Nikon Z6. It’s a great professional camera and I chose it primarily because it shoots both still photos and video very well. Right now I need a video-cable camera since a lot of my commercial work requires video shooting.
Jones on his black and white photograph titled Raging Mother Falls: After several hours of non-stop rainfall, I captured this epic image of the “mama” waterfall of Dominica’s twin giants, the Trafalgar Falls. I’ve never seen her as powerful as she was on that day.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Over the years I’ve observed that I respond well to video tutorials, so I invest money in acquiring these and lots of time watching them, as the tons of free tutorials available on YouTube. I’ve also purchased several e-books over the years. That said, practice makes perfect, so my education always involved practice in the field or in a studio.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I wish I knew more about storytelling and previsualization.
Jones describes the preparation that went into the above photograph titled, “Fire Beyond the Mountains.”
It took me a couple trips to capture this image of the sun rising behind this mountain. My timing and the conditions had to be perfect in order to get the orange glow in the morning mist. (https://yuriajones.com/blogs/journal/fire-beyond-the-mountain
What is your photographic niche and what is it about this niche that appeals, inspires, or satisfies you?
Nature photography is still my primary niche. I feel like some photos can actually bring you back to that place, and so that’s what I try to do with my nature photographs. I also enjoy capturing creative portraits (of people) and using them to tell a story. I think I will be doing much more of that type of work in the years to come.
Jones on the composition highlights for his photograph titled “Down Coast.”
The rugged cliffs and the continuous line of white foam really caught my eye in this scene.
What are the typical preparations that go into your photographic shoots?
This is a great question. At the stage I’m at in my photographic journey, a big part of preparing for any shoot is previsualization of the finished photograph(s). It’s important for me to know what I’d like the outcome to look like. Depending on the type of photography, previsualization requires different things. If I’m preparing to create a portrait of someone, I will think about the theme, the model and possibly their costume as well. I consider the different types of lighting, backdrops, and even post-production (editing) as well. For nature photographs, I may need to visit the location a few times in order to scout for the best vantage point or the most appropriate time of day.
What is special or unique about shooting photographs in Dominica?
Dominica is tremendously lush and the island has been blessed with several rivers and waterfalls. This is somewhat unique when compared with some of our sister islands. It’s quite easy to create a ‘jungle’ experience when shooting in Dominica.
Jones opened his eyes and his camera to a sight he sees nearly every day in the photograph titled, “A Few Seconds of Light.”
This is a view I see every day from my backyard, but on that morning I was intrigued by the sunlight moving along the mountainside. A few seconds after this shot, the scene was completely different. (https://yuriajones.com/blogs/journal/a-few-seconds-of-light)
What do you try to say in your photographs?
Generally, I don’t try to say anything specific with my photographs. However, with my landscape photographs I try to convey a feeling of familiarity or wonder. I hope that whoever sees my photos feels like Dominica should be added to their bucket list.
Anything I haven’t asked that you’d like readers to know about you or your photography?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and Travel Dreams Magazine for this feature. I hope your readers enjoy my work and I invite them to learn more about me on my website yuriajones.com.