Desert. Snake. Lizard. Fremen. Me

Besides the odd strange visitor like yours truly, the desert is home to some fascinating creatures. Creatures highly skilled in desert survival. Snakes. Lizards. Spiders. Scorpions. Chameleons. And I am sure I caught a glimpse of a Fremen from Frank Herbert’s masterpiece Dune.

Surviving in the deadly inhospitable desert requires centuries of finely honed skills. As much as I like to call desert home, reality is I would not last long! At dawn and dusk the desert is the most magical place on this planet. At noon it is a harsh hot deadly inhospitable place where sand temperatures can easily reach 75 degrees and the sun kills you by dehydration. You do not notice at first because you do not sweat much, there is no moisture and the warm wind and sun evaporates the sweat from your skin. You do not realise you are loosing precious water, you just taste the dry desert in your mouth. You are getting killed by the desert! I can pretend I am a Fremen, call desert home all day long but I would die in an instant compared to the experts of the desert! Experts that fortunately I managed to get a few photos of:

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Classic windswept dunescape, just outside Swakopmund. I am sure there is a Fremen here!

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Sidewinder snake. Small highly venomous 30cm long desert adapted snake. Buries itself in the sand and waits for prey. Sidewinding movement not only means it can climb sand dunes it also means the least amount of skin touch the warm sand during forward movement.

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Web footed gecko. Practically transparent as it has no pigment in the skin, rather unpractical for a desert creature. 20 seconds of sun kills it right away. So it adapts and buries itself in the sand using webby feet and only comes out at night.

Photographer (me), pretending to be a Fremen at the ‘Moon Landscape’ outside Swakopmund, now to be renamed Flemming’s Mars Landscape as this looks much more like Mars!

I shot the snake and gecko images on a trip with a wildlife expert who spots the tracks and finds the animals in the dunes. You have little chance of spotting these yourself unless you step on a buried sidewinder. We found 4 sidewinder in one morning, as I am a big snake lover I was very thrilled and very happy to get some snakes in the wild shots! I am impressed by their speed, I was running up a dune next to it trying to keep up, focus, compose and shoot while not tripping over my own legs. Great fun!

Same wildlife expert told me that once the sun in Namibia has burned your skin, you are hooked. Addicted. Gotta come back. Soon. I believe it. Happened to me. Addicted. Hooked. Gotta come back! Soon! Magic of the Namib. Namib Dreaming. And I still have hundreds of desert images to develop and show you from this first trip! Capturing the African desert is my new project!

Randomness

  • Africa is not for sissies! Neither is African Rugby. Was watching a rugby game at Jo’burg airport and 9:54 minutes into the rugby game (a game where players larger than Hulk crash into each other at full speed protected only by much-too-small T-shirts and shorts) two players have already been seriously injured.
  • Africa is not for sissies! You can only really rely on your family and friends so there is a very tight bond and people really help each other. In many ways it’s good, you have to really take control of your own life. No expecting society to do everything for you. There are downsides of course.  Government and Police can be an up and down experience. Public transport is your feet. Another police story I heard is a person calling in a crime and the officer on the phone says “Can’t help, I don’t know that street”. The person has to explain that “it is the same street your police station is on, you’re in the street already!!!!”
  • My escape from the next Danish Winter may very well be to a Namibian farm, family of my friend, where I have been offered work. Something I may seriously do! Stay tuned as this blog switches from landscape photography to tutorials on farming and feeding farm animals!

22 responses to “Desert. Snake. Lizard. Fremen. Me

  1. I’ve always wanted to see a sidewinder. Lucky bugger! Really interesting shots.

  2. Good to hear your getting some good shots over there mate!

  3. Looks like a great experience you have had.
    The gecko is gorgeous, I found a marbled gecko in our firewood heap last week, an awesome creature, love them.

    • Thanks Thomas! This gecko is obviously kept in the shade of the car while we shoot the photos, it would fry in the sun. It just sat there quietly while we shot photos, he got a little water sprinkled on to him to keep him cool. We saw quite a few other geckos that live above ground but they are so blindingly fast and would not sit still that I managed no photos 🙂

  4. You’re game! I love that in a photographer, sometimes it’s about taking risks and being uncomfortable (whether it be in the midst of a storm or in this case, middle of the desert!)

    The first photo is brilliant, the colour of the sand is stunning. Such a postcard shot (that’s a compliment!)

    🙂

  5. Sounds like you’re having a blast with some good photography thrown in.

  6. good to see you got some snakes!!
    you don’t need me after all 🙂

    man i just love the first dune shot.
    really is something special.

    the gecko is fantastic too.
    so lucky getting close like that and having him stationary for a shot!

    • Thanks Stephen 😀 I love the dunes as well, for Namibians in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay they’re an everyday feature for me it’s just total magic.

      The gecko sat still the whole time, keeping to the shadow so he was easy. The snake was a lot harder, many out of focus shots.

  7. Hey Flemming, great following your adventures – wish it was me! Fantastic photos as always.

    Have been stitching some panos myself, but finding anything that moves a challenge.

    Have fun!

    • Hey Sam, thanks so much and glad you like the photos!!! I agree, anything that moves in a stitched pano can be a challenge, I find stitching waves fairly impossible. Feel free to email me any questions, are you using PTgui?

  8. Yes, Flemming, I’m using PTGui, but so-far only using steps 1,2,3. I’ve tried slowing the water down which helps, but still not perfect. Also had trouble with a tree about 3 meters away, so maybe the Nodal Point isn’t set up properly. Distant subjects are fine.The NN5 pano head doesn’t like the wind either which is an issue – it almost always blows in Albany!!

    • Christian Fletcher and also Neal from Spool Photography seem to have the trick for stitching water and waves, I am not good at it unless I do 10 second long exposures so the water is totally smoothed out – that way it’s easy.

      Trouble with close objects, yes, could be nodal point I think. Or if you’re me you have trouble with walking into close objects because my head is in the clouds! (nearly broke my foot the other day). Btw I am not even using a pano head, don’t find I need it. I know Christian Fletcher doesn’t use his anymore either.

  9. Hi Flemming, did some tests with a friend yesterday, and it turns out that the Nodal Point was fine, but dare I say it, I had my camera mounted the wrong way on the head. Must have had my head in ‘those’ clouds too!!
    Anyway, where are you at the moment? Can’t wait for my African trip later in the year!

    • It is because we are artists 😀 Don’t worry about it, I always have my head in the clouds! Walked into a detour sign the other day, nearly broke two toes! Am now limping around on one foot and one tripod in Broome!

  10. I love the gecko (?) image Flemming – ‘he’ is just unreal ! I also enjoy reading the ‘randomness’ points of your experiences – it’s pretty funny what you see whilst travelling hey !

  11. hehe, what is in the desert? Fremen = Free Men

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