Namibia Preparation – What’s in the Bag? (Podcast 371)

by | May 4, 2013 | Podcast, Videos, Workshops | 16 comments

I just finished packing for a Namibia Photography Tour with my friend Jeremy Woodhouse, so I figured I’d unpack again, to show you what’s in my bags. There’s an iPhone format video in the iTunes feed, but below is the full High Definition video.

Note too that the audio Podcast may well be off the air until I get back at the end of May, but I will try to post a few David duChemin style Postcards from Namibia. David was posting these when he joined my Snow Monkey and Hokkaido Winter Wonderland Tour this year, and I love that format! So, stay tuned for a few of these as I travel, pockets of Internet access permitting. Note that you can subscribe to receive an email when I release a new post, with the “Subscribe to Blog via Email” form in the right sidebar. If you use RSS, the blog feed is

Note too that I don’t go into the reasons for the camera gear I’m taking in the video, but the tour I’m joining is Landscape and Wildlife, with some cultural richness as we photograph the Himba people, so I decided not to take my 600mm lens. The advice is we just won’t need it. Having said that, my 300mm get’s me out to a still super-sharp 420mm with the 1.4X Extender, and at a push, gives me 600mm with the 2X Extender, so I’m not going to be helpless if we do need some longer glass.

Anyway, here’s the video. I hope it’s of some use. Note that as this is my first trip to Namibia, I will let you know if any of this preparation doesn’t work so well when I get back.


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    • Thanks for watching Darren! I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  1. Looking forward to seeing your photographs when you return Martin, and, as always I’m sure you’ll have a great story to tell. Have a great time.

  2. If you manage to get any of that strong deet, Martin, be careful it will eat the paint and the plastic and the coatings on your cameras. Have a great time.

    • I thought that might be the case, but thanks for the warning David!

    • I was going to point out the same thing, David. DEET will remove the printed labels on your camera’s controls. I even managed to etch a fingerprint into my EOS 3 back in the day — before I realized what it can do. Even if you don’t apply DEET to your hands it seems to find its way onto them once you wipe your brow or touch another part of your body.

      The search for alternatives has been largely unsuccessful until recently — or, put another way, the alternatives haven’t been very good. In the U.S., products are just starting to show up with Picardin as the active ingredient. It’s safer than DEET healthwise and it doesn’t dissolve plastics or remove print. (Picardin has been available much longer in other parts of the world.) I use it exclusively now. Some say it is not quite as effective as DEET with mosquitoes but it is very close and, for me, well worth any slight decrease in effectiveness to know that I won’t be damaging my gear. It is said to be more effective with ticks, if memory serves.

      Picardin based repellants still aren’t easy to find where I live in Oregon. I had to order mine from Florida to get it in a higher concentration formula.

      Another great strategy to protect yourself from insects is to treat your clothes ahead of time with Permethrin. It’s far more effective than spraying your clothes with any repellant, lasts through several washings, is odorless, completely harmless to clothing, and relatively harmless to humans. I found it very effective over the course of five weeks in Alaska; and a couple years ago when I was swarmed by bees in Hawaii they didn’t seem to mind stinging my repellant-covered skin but I didn’t get a single sting through my clothing.

      • I think the health risk and plastic melting is the reason you can’t get more than 12% here in Japan. I’ve always been careful when touching my gear, but never had a problem with the weaker stuff we can get here. I ended up using 12% deet, the strongest I could get here, and I was bitten four times, one night at dinner. After that, I was fine.

        That Picardin sounds like it’s worth keeping an eye out for. Especially as there are ticks here in Japan that carry a lethal virus! There have been a number of fatalities recently.

        Good point about treating clothes too. I actually did buy a spray that I would spray on my clothes the night before, which probably also helped. I believe the active ingredient was deet still though. I’ll keep an eye out for Permethrin too.

        Thanks for all the tips Tim!

  3. Have a great time Martin. Once you get a bit of Africa in your blood, you’ll be counting the minutes until you can return. Great vodcast… looking forward to seeing some of your work from Namibia!

    • Thanks Bruce! I just got back, and was planning a new tour there next year before I’d even finished this tour. I can’t wait to go back!

      • Martin… just checked out your post on G+… I really love the work of the sand-filled structures and beached boat, marvelous! I also think that the flamingo fly-by is amazing, it’s a shot I tried to get during my two visits to East Africa, but never really nailed. I look forward to more and hearing about the upcoming workshop.

        • Thanks for checking out what I posted so far. I’m pleased you like it too. We were only at the flamingos for a very short time. I’d need to check, but it can’t have been more than 30 minutes, so I was happy to get that. There was a lot of action in that 30 minutes mind, so it wasn’t too difficult.

  4. Glad to see you’re finally getting to Africa Martin. Look forward to seeing glorious sand dune, people shots and whatnot.

    • You know exactly what I got Glenn! Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be sharing my photos very soon!

  5. I have a friend who worked up in Katmai National Park. It’s a park in Alaska famous for its massive grizzly bears. You have to enter a lottery to get a chance to visit — and then you have to be fairly well off to pay for it. If you’ve seen photos of salmon leaping into the mouths of grizzly bears, there’s a good chance it was taken at Katmai. But I digress…

    This guy had lots of good stories of almost getting eaten by bears but I think he spent as much time talking about the mosquitoes there. In the U.S. you can get 100% DEET and that’s what he would use to try to fend off the bugs. He would smear it all over himself and onto his clothes. If I recall correctly, he said most of his clothes lasted about a month before they disintegrated into garbage. All things considered, Katmai sounds like an amazing place to visit but a less than ideal place to work. : )

    • Wow. That sounds horrific. I’d do it for the shots, but I’d probably end up bitten from head to toe. 🙂


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