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The Namib Desert (with Only a 25mm)

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by ddekadt, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. ddekadt

    ddekadt Mu-43 Regular

    129
    Aug 30, 2013
    Cambridge, MA
    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:

    19408868173_acbd9fe672_b. 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:

    20028267572_1daa914080_b. Dunescape II: Contrasts by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

    19843312269_2687787709_b. 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.

    20036113235_71d3a2a150_b. 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.

    19407344204_42af68d8ac_b. 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.

    19866862730_e986af3da9_b. 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.

    19867431398_3b515fd062_b. Dead Vlei Portrait IV by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

    20047622862_c8f02bb7a3_b. 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.

    19866383368_318d0d0bed_b. Desert Floor Trees: Back by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

    19431730364_87b152241a_b. 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.

    19432029974_09506da4f3_b. Desert Sunset: Mountains by Dan de Kadt, on Flickr

    20059977601_4358b99400_b. 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: Jul 27, 2015
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  2. Harvey Melvin Richards

    Harvey Melvin Richards Photo Posting Junkie

    Feb 15, 2014
    Southwest Utah
    A beautiful place and excellent photos.
     
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  3. maritan

    maritan Mu-43 Veteran

    388
    Oct 30, 2014
    Love this! What a wonderful set of pictures of a unique location. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  4. plaatje

    plaatje Mu-43 Regular

    121
    Jul 15, 2012
    Nice photo's and of course you might miss sometimes a longer lens, but what a great little lens the 25mm PanaLeica is . . . .
     
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  5. DolbyDan

    DolbyDan Mu-43 Regular

    30
    Nov 16, 2011
    Amazing set!
     
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  6. joma416

    joma416 Mu-43 Regular

    57
    Aug 31, 2014
    Toronto, ON Canada
    John
    Tremendous photos. Makes me rethink the "what lenses should I bring on my trip" question.
     
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  7. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Chrome
    Absolutely stunning. How brave of you to select such a lens. It would never been my choice for such an expanse, but WOW! Intimate easily overwhelms expansive.

    Chrome
     
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  8. marlof

    marlof Mu-43 Regular

    146
    Jun 18, 2010
    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.
     
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  9. Jermonic

    Jermonic Mu-43 Veteran

    228
    Jan 14, 2012
    Denmark
    The fourth image really deserves that the viewer sees it at 100% res at flickr. I can recommended it :)
     
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  10. jrsilva

    jrsilva Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 1, 2012
    Portugal
    Jaime
    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.
     
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  11. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Australia
    Great work!
     
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  12. laser8

    laser8 Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 29, 2013
    Mare nostrum, Istria
    Well done!
     
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  13. 少林chris

    少林chris Mu-43 Regular

    119
    Jun 28, 2013
    Los Angeles / Copenhagen
    Chris
    Very brave for only bringing one prime! Great story!
     
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  14. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Very nice.
     
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  15. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    ㅇtㅈyㅅr
    Looks like a great place for photography. However, that 300m trek up a sandy desert hill in heat would kill me. :biggrin:
     
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  16. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Namibia is one of those places that I long to visit. Thanks for your post!
     
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  17. ddekadt

    ddekadt Mu-43 Regular

    129
    Aug 30, 2013
    Cambridge, MA
    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 :):):)
     
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  18. Joe3zz

    Joe3zz New to Mu-43

    4
    Aug 31, 2012
    Cary, NC
    Great work. The 25 always seems to give photos a three dimensional look.
     
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  19. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    313
    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    Wonderful photos.

    Another ode to the 25mm!!!!
     
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  20. wonglp

    wonglp Mu-43 Veteran

    395
    Feb 28, 2011
    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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