Man was born in the desert. Desert is home. The words are Bruce Chatwin, I heartily agree with him. No landscape could be more alien to a Danish farm boy like yours truly and yet at the same time be so fascinating and possess a strange power. Desert is home.
I have just spent 4 days in the Namib desert. I am lost for words. To say it’s magical does not come close. I have never seen nor experienced anything like this. Even the vast outback of Australia seems a little smaller, a little less empty. The Namib desert is the oldest in the world with the largest sand dunes, up to 400 meters tall and it does truly boggle the mind to see these. But as spectacular as the dunes are, they are just one part of the whole Namib desert experience.
Space. There is so much space. So much it does not really fit in my brain. The sky seems a million kilometres away. Horizon is always at infinity with perhaps the odd tree or mountain in the far far distance. So much space. Composing an image here, even on a 17mm wide angle, is like attempting to fit the universe in a shoebox. So much space. Not Into The Wild but Into The Nothing as seen here:
We drove from Swakopmund to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei for a 3 night bush camp. On the map it does not look like much. In reality it is a 8 hour 360 kilometre road trip on bone rattling corrugated roads through the most incredible ever changing desert country. Sometimes a moon landscape, sometimes ancient mountains, sometimes wide open desert plains with perhaps a herd of springbok. So much space. Namibia is a huge country with a population of only 2 million. So much space. You could easily loose the entire country of Denmark in the desert and never find it again. You could also easily loose yourself. So much space!
Our mode of transport was a Nissan 4WD work pickup truck, no fancy frills, all performance. Our trusty truck had no air con, with the windows open we could truly feel and taste the desert, the dust and the hot wind adding to the experience. If Namibia the country has a flavour it is the warm dry dust of the desert. We named the car Nissi and she runs like a tractor. Bit rough, but tough (‘we breed ‘em tough here, Africa is not for sissies’ – a popular saying) and she never let us down (she did blow a tire and ran hot but not her fault!)
I really am lost for words and also time, so for now I’ll just leave you with a few very quickly developed jpeg previews from Namib Naukluft National Park. Shooting here was a fantastic experience and difficult, will be the topic of many a forthcoming blog post. The Canon 5D Mk II performed perfectly and I seem to just attract good light and interesting clouds at the moment!
Sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes; we were lucky to get clouds
A lone oryx walks proudly in front of the dunes
Dead tree at Deadvlei on a morning with extraordinary cloudscapes. I was so lucky this morning, nice soft light, beautiful clouds where as the norm is boiling hot harsh light from a blue sky.
And lastly, me & my shadow at work in the dunes. No I am not scratching my head!
- Spare batteries for the Canon 5D Mk II are impossible to find, so it’s fortunate that the battery performance is brilliant. Managed over 1000 shots on a single charge!
- In the desert we were stopped by a Namibian police officer. He was lost. An accident had been reported, 150 km out of Swakopmund towards Windhoek (which was not the road we were on). Had we seen the accident he asked (no you’re on the wrong road). Oh and did we have mobile reception because he didn’t (no of course we didn’t either and I can’t believe he doesn’t have a sat phone). And had we seen his mate in another police car because he had lost him as well by outrunning him (no to that as well). My friend had to show him a map and really spell out directions for him. He thanked us and we drove on, a few minutes later we met his mate, the other police car, coming towards us, and a few minutes after that, the ambulance. I hope the people in the car crash were ok or dead or they’d be suffering for a long time. My friend tells me that was an insight into how the government can work here. Oh btw the amount of idiots doing 120 km/h on the corrugated dirt road are staggering. No wonder there are accidents!
- Forgot my torch. I own 2 expensive torches and forgot them both. A torch is the essential item for camping, can’t believe I forgot them. Bloody city boy I am turning out to be!
- Namibian mozzies are stealthy bastards. Don’t hear them. Don’t feel them. Until you wake up with 10 new bites! Promptly installed a mozzie net over my sleeping bag on day 2 but still slept outside under a million stars, the only way to camp!
- Hospitality and friendliness of my Namibian friends, the family Eckleben is overwhelming. I can only offer a million thanks. I am now installed in my own house in Swakopmund and have my own bicycle to get around (incidentally also runs and feels like a tractor!). I truly am Bicycle Repair Man – a select few will know what I mean.
And sorry for lack of responses! I am online very little, so no emails etc. at the moment and few updates. Actually it’s nice to be offline for a while, kick the internet drug for a bit. Concentrate on photos and experiences. See ya!
Great stuff Flem, looks like you're having a ball! I really like the second and third photos you posted.
Thanks Beau and yes it such a mind blowingly beautiful place!
mate that tree shot is amazing!!!! hope your having a blast!!!
Clint, cheers and yes indeed I am having a brilliant time!
I really like the classic tree shot but the one with the lone oryx is fantastic, great stories too.
Cheers Andre, I am really happy you also like the stories! Seeing the oryx and springbok walk in front of the dunes was a fantastic experience.
Damn Flemming, those previews are awesome!
Thanks so much Charlene, glad you love them! Just wait a few months untill I have time to proper develop them and stitch the panos etc 😀 😀
Fantastic shots! I particularly like the way you've used something in the foreground to give a sense of the vastness of the desert in a couple of the pictures. Looking forward to more…
Thanks so much Kate and thanks for your comment! Very happy you like my work.
Really nice images Flem. Dead tree at Deadvlei is absolutely brilliant. I have a friend that is on a work contact for 2 years living in SA and just last week spent a few days 4 wheel driving those very dunes.
Thanks heaps Neal, glad you like it ! Just wait and see the dead vlei images I have when I get home to develop them and stitch the panos in a few months 😀
Great pics – and it sounds like you're having a fantastic time!
Hi Flemming, I love the dead tree shot, an absolute winner, great work my friend.
Cheers Casey !!
I too just love that Tree photo. Can't wait to see how it turns out when you get a chance to process it.
Keep us to date!!! 🙂
Thanks heaps Jamie ! Will try and keep you posted as much as possible!
man i just love that tree!
the hint of a shadow on the ground tops it off.
also the light in the second shot is stunning.
and the Oryx is a nice touch. as Charlene said, looking froward to the full on shots! if these are just previews i can't wait 🙂
and lol at the cop getting lost. haha
Hi Stephen and thanks heaps mate ! I am getting some outstanding desert and dunes shot here I tell ya, it is an incredibly gorgeous country, a landscape photographers paradise really.
So glad you keep on discovering this fabulous country… You can never have enough of it.
Oh, I wish I could live there. Any hints on how the situation is? I have a contact at Walvis Bay you know, 6 months here, 6 months there, that would be my paradise. I would be most interested on a side-by-side Outback to Namib and Damaraland test. Please tell my elephants I miss them.
Keep on looking for the horizon…
All the best 🙂
Cheers my friend! The economic situation here seems to be not very good at the moment. I am also working on getting that half a year on each hemisphere plan working!
great shots..one of my favorite picture is the sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes.. ur lucky to get that beautiful view with that great light..