The Namib Desert (with Only a 25mm)

ddekadt

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Daniel
I recently took a long overdue trip with my wife to see the Sossusvlei in Namibia. For those who don't know it, the Sossusvlei is a famous and unbelievably beautiful location in the Namib desert, on the South-West coast of Africa. For the duration of the trip I used only my EM-5 and PanaLeica 25mm. There were moments where I missed having a longer lens, but all in all it was a fantastic and rewarding challenge to use only the 25. I cannot recommend Namibia enough to photographers.

It takes roughly 6 hours to get to the desert from Windhoek, Namibia's capital. We traveled with a small group, and arrived at the desert as the sun set on the first day. The lodgings were very well appointed semi-permanent tents:

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Desert Camp in the Dusk by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

We woke before dawn on the second day to make the (non-trivial) journey from the desert edge to the Sossusvlei. The dawn light creates the famous "S" curve on the dunes, along with impressive contrasts in the sand:

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Dunescape II: Contrasts by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

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Desert Floor - Sand by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

Making our way through the desert to the Sossusvlei area, we embarked on a climb of the biggest dune in the Namib, "Big Daddy". Rising some 300m (~1000ft) above the desert floor, this was one of the more exhausting climbs I've done. The sand makes way beneath your feet, so every step forward is a half step back.

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Dunescape III: Scale (Colour) by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

Once on the "summit" (as it were), we ran down the side of the dune into a giant clay pan, probably the most famous photographic site in Namibia.

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Desert Floor - Clay by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

This clay pan is known as the "Dead Vlei". It is home to about two dozen dead Acacia trees, which have stood preserved in the dry clay for roughly 700 years. Close-up, one can see the utter dryness of the dead trees -- it is quite striking to behold. There is not a drop of water to be found anywhere around, aside from the bottles in our backpacks. Yet the trees stand where they have always stood, protected from the wind by the massive dunes all around them.

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Dead Vlei Detail III by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

In full, the contrasts between the trees and their surroundings -- the pale clay, the orange dunes, and the stark blue sky -- become even more pronounced.

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Dead Vlei Portrait IV by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

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Dead Vlei Portrait V by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

On our way out of the pan, we stop at another dune, surrounded by dried out trees.

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Desert Floor Trees: Back by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

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Desert Floor Trees: Alive and Dead by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

Finally, my wonderful errant companion and I return to our camp, in the coming dusk.

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Desert Sunset: Mountains by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

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Desert Sunset: Companion by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

Thanks all for looking :). For those interested, everything was shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 4. The full album is available on my flickr feed.
 
Last edited:

maritan

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Oct 30, 2014
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Love this! What a wonderful set of pictures of a unique location. Thanks for sharing.
 

plaatje

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Jul 15, 2012
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Nice photo's and of course you might miss sometimes a longer lens, but what a great little lens the 25mm PanaLeica is . . . .
 

marlof

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Jun 18, 2010
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The Netherlands
Wow, great images Dan! They do take me back to Namibia, a country that left quite the impression on me. I loved spending time in Sossusvlei. This was way back in my analogue days which means I also traveled with just a 50. It is a very versatile focal length, and your images proof just that.
 

Jermonic

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The fourth image really deserves that the viewer sees it at 100% res at flickr. I can recommended it :)
 

jrsilva

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Great set of images!
Very good use of the 25mm lens.
I also find this lens a notable "all terrain" lens. Often I prefer to use the 25mm to shoot landscapes than a wide angle zoom.
 

tyrphoto

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ㅇtㅈyㅅr
Looks like a great place for photography. However, that 300m trek up a sandy desert hill in heat would kill me. :biggrin:
 

ddekadt

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Central California
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Daniel
Thank you all for your truly generous comments!!! As I said in the main post, I cannot recommend Namibia enough to photographers. The only downside is that it is BIG and EMPTY so you have to drive (and sometimes walk) a lot to get to the best spots. But it's an amazing place, and we only saw a tiny slice of it.

A final word to the 25mm panaleica; I've used that lens alone for the past three years (with a brief safari involving a buy-use-sell 50-200 ZD that I posted on here a while back). When I sold up my massive Pentax APS-C collection a few years ago I swore to "downsize", and committed myself to a one-lens portable solution. The 25mm + EM-5 has been utterly revolutionary for me.

And yes, I agree that some of the photos are best seen blown up on flickr! Gives a great deal of truth to the idea that the EM-5 and 25mm is a killer combination. Full size images for all are available there.

Again, thanks guys :):):)
 

wonglp

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
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Location
Singapore
not the gear, not the focal length, but the photographer :) very nice set, i doubt i can ever travel with 1 focal length. more pls?
 

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