Tag Archives: deadvlei

Namib desert – Sea of Sand

The Namib desert is the oldest desert in the world with the largest sand dunes, more than 400 meters tall. Sand dunes as tall as the Empire State Building, Uluru or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Taller than the Eiffel tower. The Namib desert runs for more than 2000 kilometres up the coast. 2,000 kilometres of sand. These numbers boggles the mind. The tall sand dunes dwarfs you when up close and personal but to truly understand the size of the desert you have to take to the air. From the air the sheer size and grandness is revealed and your brain struggles to take in this sea of sand, a country of sand really!

I have done quite a bit of shooting from planes and helicopters and is great fun but very hard to master. It is hard getting any worthwhile compositions from the air. Especially in a boiling hot plane as the air coming off the warm sand dunes is scorching. Adding to the challenge is the fact that looking through a viewfinder for extended periods of time while bumping along in a hot Cessna is the easiest way to induce motion sickness that I know off. All well worth it though as I doubt many sights in the world can compare to the mighty Namib desert from above!

I have 140 shots from this 2.5 hour flight. From a plane you have to machine gun your camera a bit as there are bound to be some out of focus or motion blurred shots. I am kicking myself for not shooting any video but this was before I really discovered the fun of shooting video on the 5D Mk II. Also I was plenty busy shooting stills and feeling slightly queasy! These are 3 of my favourite images from the flight, more to come.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sossusvlei from above
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is the area of of the classic Sossusvlei and Deadvlei pans. Top third in the middle you can just make out the end of the 60km road that runs from the gate entrance into the National Park. This is the only road into the park.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Dune Snake
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

From the air it works well to zoom in and pick out shapes and patterns. Patterns is something I am attempting to do more of. I have much to learn though as my eyes are attracted to grandscapes, not the details. With no time to switch lenses I should have brought my old 5D on board the plane as well with 70-200mm zoom attached so I could switch back and forth as I was using 5D MkII with 17-40mm zoom . It was the one day where I missed my 24-105mm L lens.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sea of Sand
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

One of my favourite Namib from above photos. Gorgeous ethereal sand dunes stretching into infinity in what really is a large sea of sand, nothing here but glorious sand! The afternoon light brings out the orange colour and creates great definition in the dunes with side lighting picking up every shape and pattern.

I am happy with these images, I do feel I got something worthwhile from the air, if nothing else I got the magical experience of seeing the mighty Namib desert from above. So beautiful, so surreal, so otherworldly that you hardly blink for the duration of the flight!

Sojourner

Perhaps I should have saved the title of my previous blog post for this. ‘What the hell am I doing here’ feels very fitting now that I, very surreal, seem to be back in Copenhagen. 84 mind blowing ‘the best days my life’ photography and adventure in Namibia, Western Australia, Malaysia and Borneo have come to a stop. But it is just a temporary stop to get rid of baggage in my life. Sojourning for ever as a travelling photographer. New horizons, new photographs await.

My to-do list is overwhelming with RAW files to develop, getting new web sites, compressing my life and company into a travelling mobile package, prepare for next take off etc. First up is finishing the project for United Plantations and develop their images, so it may be a little while before I get to my own work and new blog posts with new photos.

In the meantime, enjoy this image I shot at Deadvlei in Namibia. Namibia is the photographic highlight of this trip. It is the most beautiful place I have been. I am dead certain it is the most beautiful place in the world! It is also some of the best images I have created.  I dreamed of a whole country of Wide Open Spaces. I dreamed but it was not a dream, it truly exists!

Namibia, Deadvlei by Flemming Bo Jensen Photography.

“Principal joy of life comes from new experiences” – Christopher McCandless

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list!” – Susan Sontag

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde

Must not fear. Fear is the Mind Killer” – Frank Herbert

Namib Desert. Desert is home.

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:

Namib Desert - Into The Nothing. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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!

Namib Dunes. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes; we were lucky to get clouds

Namib Dunes and Oryx. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A lone oryx walks proudly in front of the dunes

Deadvlei. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

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.

FBJ at Work in Namibia

And lastly, me & my shadow at work in the dunes. No I am not scratching my head!

Randomness

  • 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!

Next stop Namibia

//www.namibiatourism.com.na “Hallou hoe gaan dit?” is Afrikaans for “hello how are you?”. Learning a bit of Afrikaans and dusting off my German language skills are just two of the many things I have on my to-do list before my next photography odyssey which, in exactly two months time from now, sees me embark for the magical deserts of Namibia, as seen in this David Attenborough narrated BBC video.

Namibia is mostly desert and extremely dry. Home to the world’s oldest desert with the world’s largest sand dunes and the least people (least densely populated country in the world). It appears to be the perfect conditions for me and I am seriously concerned already about becoming obsessed with two continents! After Namibia I am jumping across the Indian Ocean to be part of a photo tour (if it runs, if enough people book) in Kimberley, Western Australia, and the route Denmark-Namibia-Australia is not the easiest nor cheapest to fly!

Winter in Denmark means a completely grey, dull and overcast sky, some rain, almost no snow, the sun and all light fighting a loosing battle and the result is Winter depression rules. Every day, every second is like deja-vu all over again (a great Yogi Berra quote).  How different, wonderful and revitalising it will be to touch down in the dry desolate and warm deserts of Namibia:

//www.namibiatourism.com.na

This will be the first serious road test of my Canon 5D Mk II and I look forward to capturing 21 megapixel desert shots day and night! I am fortunate to be staying with a Namibian friend and family in the town of Swakopmund, right on the coast and next to the dunes. My favourite science fiction book is Dune and I will be working on my ‘Fremen’ skills every day as I capture my own version of Dune.
See ya’ in the desert and “totsiens!” (means goodbye). T minus 58 days.

Photos courtesy of Namibia Tourism Board – http://www.namibiatourism.com.na