Complete Namibia 2022 Tour Report #3 (Podcast 782)

Complete Namibia 2022 Tour Report #3 (Podcast 782)


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After our second night in the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia, we went back to Deadvlei, for a repeat of our first morning here. I generally try to get us at least two days in all important locations on my tours so that guests can learn from the first day, including any mistakes that might be made, and correct them, or maybe just improve on the results from the first day.

Deadvlei Silhouettes 2022
Deadvlei Silhouettes 2022

As with the shot I shared in the previous episode, my main shot from the second day here was again a repeat of one of my previous shots. I love just being here, and sharing this location with my guests, so although I don’t necessarily need any more Deadvlei shots, it is nice to shoot here. I also enjoy updating my own images with shots from the new gear that is released over the years. If you want to hear more about why this scene looks the way it does, listen to the previous episode, which was number 781.

Again, at the end of this day, we went back out and walked to a dune, which I wanted to stress was also not Dune 45. Dune 45 has become the typical tourist trap, which you can drive right up to, and it’s generally covered in people or at best, their scattered footprints, so it’s far from the best dune to visit now, although one couple at our lodge tried to tell a member of my group that we had not visited the best dune. Bless them.

Tree, Dune, and Shadow
Tree, Dune, and Shadow

I particularly like the way the orange fades into the black shadow after the crest of this dune, and the gradation in the face of the dune in the bottom right corner. My settings for this shot were ƒ/14 with ISO 100 and a shutter speed of 1/10 of a second, so you can tell that we were very near to the end of the day, as the sun started to drop behind the smaller dunes on the opposite side of the valley.

After walking back to our vehicle, we had some gin and tonics, and before we’d gotten far into them, the post-sunset warm light once again caught the dune, so many of us couldn’t resist getting our tripod and camera back out to capture this shot, from the road, which showed the tree at the foot of the dune from such a distance that the dune looks massive behind it, and the contrast between the dark and light side of the dune was probably the best I’ve seen.

The following morning we drove further North to Walvis Bay, where we spend our middle two nights of the tour. This is almost like a holiday within a holiday, as we drop the pace of shooting a little and enjoy the wonderful hotel there. There are lots of flamingoes in the bay just across the road though, and a lagoon with other waterbirds in nearby, which we make the most of. Here (above right) is probably my best Flamingo sunset shot from our first night. It’s really hard to capture them actually doing much other than sleeping, so this was the best I got on this attempt.

The following morning we went back out at sunrise, although the sun actually rises behind the houses that line the beachfront road, this gives us some nice warm light to illuminate the flamingoes as they start their day. Here we see one of them as it started to fly. I had to crank my ISO up to 3200 to get a shutter speed of 1/640 of a second at ƒ/10, and a focal length of 700mm, so this was my 100-500mm lens with the 1.4X Extender at full extent.

Flamingo Takes Flight
Flamingo Takes Flight

After breakfast, we drove out to the nearby lagoons, where we found some great white pelicans. The group was often much larger than you see in this next image, but I prefer this as it’s a little less cluttered, and I really like the pattern of the chests of some of these birds.

Great White Pelicans
Great White Pelicans

As with some of the shots in the previous episode, I cropped this slightly, as the foreground required tight framing just under the birds, so the image was top-heavy, with the top not adding much to the image. This next image is an even shorter panorama aspect ratio, but this is actually two images stitched together in Capture One Pro, because this interesting group in good light were slightly wider than I could pull back to without removing my 1.4X Extender. Luckily the birds were very still as I got both frames so the stitch worked perfectly.

Pelicans Facing Right
Pelicans Facing Right

That evening, as the sun neared the horizon again, a couple on paddle-boards paddled their way along the coast a little distance from the flamingoes that we were trying to shoot against the sunset. I didn’t notice the paddle-boarders at first, but I did notice to my excitement that all of the flamingoes all of a sudden had their heads up, and although it’s not a perfect heart shape, I was able to get this shot against the sunset that I was relatively happy with.

The Heart of the Matter
The Heart of the Matter

To get this shot, so close to the water, I actually had the camera resting on its tripod foot sitting in the sand, and I was composing and focussing using the articulated LCD on the back of the camera. I wish the sun was a little higher and the heart shape could have been a little better formed, but this was the best I could get. I feel as though I’m close to getting something really special here now though, so hopefully next year.

The following morning we set off, once again heading North, this time up the Skeleton Coast, heading to Palmwag where we’d visit the Himba people, and hopefully continue to see wildlife as we drive around. Towards the start of our journey, we stopped at the Zeila Shipwreck, and I used a 10-stop and a 3-stop ND filter nested together for 13 stops of extended exposure, giving me a 51-second exposure, making the seat smooth over as you see in this image.

The Zeila Shipwreck
The Zeila Shipwreck

We did see some wildlife as we neared Palmwag, but the light was a little better the following morning, as we drove towards the Himba settlement, and I got this shot of an adult and small zebra on the plane at the side of the road. I like that they are obviously aware of us, but still, seem relaxed, and that the adult zebra has a really nice catchlight in its eye.

Zebra's Awareness
Zebra’s Awareness

OK, so that’s our ten shots for part three of my Complete Namibia trip report. I hope you are enjoying tagging along. We will complete this series in part four, and I then plan on sharing a tutorial on how I’ll put together a slideshow of images just from this trip, along with some video clips that I shot mostly of the wildlife. I continue to be amazed by the Canon EOS R5, and how it gives me the ability to shoot video handheld, even with very long focal lengths.


Show Notes

Check out our tours page: https://mbp.ac/tours

Music by Martin Bailey


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Complete Namibia Tour 2018 Travelogue #4 (Podcast 624)

Complete Namibia Tour 2018 Travelogue #4 (Podcast 624)

We continue our Complete Namibia Tour travelogue this week, as we relax with the Flamingoes in Walvis Bay, then photograph a shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast before spending some time with the incredibly charming Himba People in Northern Namibia.

Having finished our three days in the majestic Sossusvlei area with the sand dunes and Deadvlei, we drove on to Walvis Bay to another beautiful lodge there. Based on feedback from last year, I had changed our itinerary to give us two days in this lodge, and the idea was to basically give the group a bit of a break, as this was the middle of the tour, and we’d already been working full on for more than a week. Because I realize that not everyone would want to just rest though, I arranged an optional drive in the sand dunes over to Sandwich Harbour.

Flamingoes at Walvis Bay

Over breakfast, looking across the road at the bay, we could see that the light catching the flamingoes was nice, so many of the group finished up quickly and grabbed our cameras. The first photograph that we’ll look at today (below) is from this little post-breakfast shoot, as I captured four flamingoes, still resting, although two of them did have their eyes open with nice catchlights from the morning sun.

Flamingo Foursome

Flamingo Foursome

I was using my Canon 100-400mm Mark II lens at its full extent of 400 mm for this shot. As the sun was just coming over the horizon, I increased my ISO to 800 to give me a 1/1000 of a second shutter speed at f/14. You might wonder why I’m shooting wildlife at f/14, but actually, of this group, only the nearest flamingo that I focussed on is fully sharp. The middle two are a little soft, and the one at the very back is even softer. I also still get some nice blur in the background sea at this aperture, so this works for me.

A Drive in the Dunes

As I suspected would be the case, every member of the group opted to join the excursion to drive out into the dunes, and we were picked up by the company that runs those tours in the middle of the morning. I had hoped for some flamingoes down in the lagoon at Sandwich Harbor, but that didn’t work out. Still, it was an amazing drive, mostly along the beach, with our drivers sometimes timing it so that we’d dart across a patch of the beach as the waves receded, but before they washed back in again. I have some video that I’ll put into a slideshow at some point, hopefully soon, but for now, here’s a bit of a documentary shot (below) to show you the dunes that we drove through to get back out after our champaign lunch in Sandwich Harbour.

The Dunes Near Sandwich Harbour

The Dunes Near Sandwich Harbour

The tracks that you can see running through the valley in the dunes here are from our three cars, as we made our way to this point. We had to deflate the tires on the cars to make them spread out, giving us more traction in the sand. There were points where we drove down slopes probably up to 40° inclines, which might sound scary, but it’s actually a lot of fun in the hands of professional drivers, and everyone in the group seemed to have a great time, so it was a nice way to spend our R&R day. Plus, we did get some nice shots of the dunes, the beaches, and some close Black-backed Jackal shots, but they’re a bit too documentary to show here.

The Zeila Shipwreck

The following day, we started our drive north with a stop to photograph a ship called Zeila that ran aground in 2008 just south of Henties Bay. As is often the case on the Skeleton Coast, we were treated with some big waves that looked great in a well-timed long exposure of the wreck, as you can see in this photograph (below).

The Zeila Shipwreck

The Zeila Shipwreck

It was quite windy as we photographed Zeila, so there was some risk doing long exposures, and a few of my shots were indeed a bit shaky, but many of them worked out, thanks to my sturdy Really Right Stuff tripod and ball head. I used a neutral density filter from Breakthrough Photography for a five-second exposure at f/16, ISO 100.

I usually use a two-second timer when doing landscape work, so that I can move my hands away from the camera to avoid introducing camera shake, but for shots like this, when I need to time my exposure perfectly for the waves, I use a cable release instead, with no timer. That enabled me to time this shot for when there were two waves, one main one across the entire frame, and a second breaking on the right of the frame. I also time this so that the sea was washing fully up the beach too, as I prefer to see that as opposed to the darker sand.

The Himba People

As spectacular as the landscape and wildlife of Namibia is, one of the highlights of the trip is our visit to a Himba Settlement, and that’s what we had in store for day 11. We started out in the dark and shot a little wildlife along the way, and then arrived at the Himba Settlement mid-morning, as they started to warm up after the chilly night. As usual, we arranged a few shoots inside the huts, so that we could capture these wonderful people out of the harsh sunlight. I have a number of images that I like, but one of my main goals was to find and photograph the young girl that I’ve been photographing for a number of years now, as you can see in this image (below).

Himba Young Girl Portraits

Himba Young Girl Portraits

The first of the two shots of the girl that I want to share was from a hut close to the fire where she was cooking some broth for the village breakfast when we arrived. Sitting out working as the sun came up, she had initially been wearing a beautifully patterned shawl, and the light coming through the door in this first hut was much strong than the hut that I’ve shot her in before because it was facing the sun more. 

My settings for the first image were ISO 5000 for an 1/80 of a second at f/5, with the new Canon 85mm f/1.4 L lens now with Image Stabilization. I’ll talk more about this lens in a review that I’ll work on now that I have a few images with it, but I was very impressed with it. It’s smaller and lighter than the f/1.2 version that I have been using for years, and it is nice to have that image stabilization now. The focus mechanism is much faster now too, and the image quality is amazing. I need to do some more tests first, but I hope to release more on this lens in the coming weeks.

The second image (above right) of the young Himba girl is from the same hut that I’ve photographed her in before. Although we try not to each spend too much time with the subjects, I do have a number of nice shots of this girl again. In this image I had her look towards the doorway so that we get a nice view of her beautiful hair, as well as nice highlights across her face. With both images, I’ve actually darkened them down a little around the edges to create a bit of a vignette and draw our attention to her face more. My settings for the second image were the same as the first, except I’d opened up the aperture a little more to f/4.

Himba Dancing

Himba Dancing

Himba Dancing

After photographing them in the huts for a while, the Himba people sat in a circle and set up their shop, so that we could buy some trinkets from them, which is part of how we thank them for letting us invade their privacy. We also take them provisions, which our guides give them discretely. Usually, after the shop, we leave, but this year, they also treated us by dancing. They started off a little bit apprehensive, but once they got started, they danced for what was probably well over thirty minutes, so it was a wonderful experience.

I like this particular shot because I was able to capture the motion of the Himba lady as she threw herself around causing her hair and leather tassels on her dress to fly outwards from the centrifugal force. 

I also like how the lady to the left has a baby on her back. Some of them actually danced around like this with babies on their backs, which is a tribute to how hardy these people are.

Because I wanted to freeze this motion, I selected ISO 1000 and a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second, at f/8. I was shooting now with my Canon 24-105mm lens, so that I could zoom in and out as necessary to frame the shots how I wanted, and my focal length for this was 105 mm, so zoomed in as far as possible.

There were three young men that joined the group to dance, only one at a time mind, and in this next image (below) we see one of them strutting his stuff with one of the ladies and the rest of the group looking on. I’ve also left a little space to the right of the group in this shot, so that you can see the entrance to the hut. That’s the hut that we mostly use to photograph people in during our visits, so this photo should give you an idea of the size of the light source and show you the direction of the sun that we’re working with.

Himba Dancing in Group

Himba Dancing in Group

I also have lots of iPhone video of the group dancing like this, and I’ll play a bit of the audio at this point in the audio which you can listen to with the player at the top of this post. Again, I’ll drop some of the video into a slideshow at some point, so I hope you’ll check that out later. My settings for this image were the same as the previous image except that I’d zoomed out to 56 mm to show the entire group.

Goat Herding

After our morning session with the Himba, we ate lunch in the mountains nearby, and then drove to town and had a coffee and piece of cake, before heading back to the Himba Settlement later in the afternoon as I’d arranged for us to go back and photograph them herding their goats back into the corral. This next image (below) is one of my favorites, with the goats all marching towards their goal, with just one looking over at the crazy photographers wondering what we’re doing, and the Himba ladies in the background, almost, but not quite, in silhouette, with the shafts of sunlight catching the dust kicked up by the goats.

Himba Goat Herding

Himba Goat Herding

I’ve actually drawn an Adjustment mask over all of the dirt in the foreground on this image in Capture One Pro, and darkened it down a little, to better ground the image, but I also selectively desaturated a patch of orange that was caused by flare from the sun hitting the front of the lens as I shot this. With selective coloring, I was able to just use the same mask for both adjustments, without one really affecting the other very much, so it was a quick adjustment, exactly how I like them. My settings for this image were ISO 800 for a 1/1000 of a second at f/11, and a focal length of 35 mm. 

Hardy People

Another shot that I like from the Himba settlement is this last one that we’ll look at (below) again from the goat herding session. The goats are all walking back out, as we actually ask them to drive the herd a second time to give us more opportunities, and this shot just does something for me. I love how the hardy babies are strapped to their mothers’ backs, but with both seem totally alert, looking around to take in what they can of the activity. It almost feels to me as though they are already checking out the work that they’ll do as part of the community in later life. In reality, it won’t be too many years until they really do start driving the goats and playing their part in the daily routines of the settlement.

Himba with Babies

Himba with Babies

I also like how this image gives us a bit of context, with the road that runs by the settlement visible, as is the small mountain further in the distance. Most Himba settlements that I’ve visited are at the foot of mountains, and I’m guessing that this is because they provide a slightly earlier respite from the heat of the sun in the summer months. My settings for this photograph were the same as the previous image but at 95 mm this time.

I really do enjoy these visits to the Himba people. It’s incredible to see how they live, and even just for the few hours that we get to spend with them, it’s really nice to get some insight into both the hardships and the beauty that I feel lies within their way of life. Again, it’s a humbling experience for both me and my guests to be able to interact so closely with these wonderful people.

3D Lioness

To finish today, I want to have a bit of fun with a photo that I shot purely by chance. The day after we visited the Himba settlement, we drove through the morning to the first lodge that we would stay in for the first two of our four nights at the Etosha National Park. After lunch, we went for a game drive in the private reserve owned by the people that run the lodge and were presented with some amazing wildlife opportunities to kick off our Etosha experience.

I’ll share more images next week as we finish with a wildlife extravaganza, but I really want to share this image that I shot as we came across a pride of lions, with one lioness standing proudly on a dirt mound. I shot a few frames as our safari vehicle drew to a halt, and because we were still moving, I quite by luck captured two frames that had enough parallax shift in them to create a three-dimensional image, as if I’d shot it with two cameras slightly apart, simulating our two eyes.

I took the two images into Photoshop and aligned the layers perfectly, and cropped them slightly, then moved the two images so that they are side-by-side, as you can see in this photograph (below). I’ve uploaded this really large, so click on the image and open up your browser window as wide as it will go, or even go full-screen, then look at the images while going cross-eyed. It takes some people more time than others to see it, but you should see two images moving closer together as you go cross-eyed, and if you can adjust the amount that your eyes are crossed to match the parallax, you will see the two images perfectly align. Once they align, you’ll see an incredible three-dimensional image.

Proud Lioness in 3D

Proud Lioness in 3D

Once it clicks, you should not only be able to see the lioness standing in front of the background, but the mound and the trees at various depths all have their own layer in the photograph. I also drew a line from the background to the foreground, to get the positioning for my company logo, so that it sits on its own layer too in the closest foreground. That’s really just a watermark, as I’m putting this out there pretty large. 

Anyway, I hope you can adjust your eyes to see it. If like me your eyes are set at a slightly different height you might also have to just tilt your neck to one side a little as well, but once you get used to it, you can snap your eyes in pretty quickly. The photo itself was shot at ISO 1000 for a 1/1000 of a second at f/11, and a focal length of 400 mm.

Complete Namibia Tour 2019

OK, so we’ll wrap up there for this episode, and conclude our journey in part five next week, as I pack the last three days of shooting in the Etosha National park into one last episode. If you might be interested in joining the 2019 tour from June 2 to 18, please check out the tour page at mbp.ac/namibia. Note that I’ve also updated the tour page over the last week, so it now contains some lovely comments from this year’s guests. It really is an amazing tour, so give it some thought. I’d love to travel with you in this beautiful land.

Complete Namibia Tour 2019

Show Notes

Check out the 2019 (or future) Namibia tour here: https://mbp.ac/namibia

Music by Martin Bailey


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Namibia Full Circle Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 488)

Namibia Full Circle Tour 2015 Travelogue Part 3 (Podcast 488)

This is part three of a series of travelogue-style episodes to walk you through my recent visit to Namibia, co-hosting an amazing photography tour with my friend Jeremy Woodhouse. We pick up the trail on August 14, after a long drive from Luderitz, where we visited Kolmanskop and Elizabeth Bay, to the Sossusvlei area, with the magnificent red dunes.

Sossusvlei

We only had time to visit one dune after our drive, and we made that Dune 45, which is one of the most well know dunes in the area. We noticed what was probably an oryx skull on the west side of the dune, and although this is quite far away and small in this first photo for today (below), with the resolution of the 5Ds R, I was actually able to capture a lot of detail, and shot this, as it would make a wonderful feature in a large print.

Skull on Dune
Skull on Dune

I was also attracted to the patterns made by the wind in the surface of the sand, and as the sun was already below to horizon on the other side of the plane, the color of the sand was a little muted, but in my opinion looks stunning without the bright contrast that direct sunlight would have added. Click on the image to view it as large as possible, although I think this is really going to have to be seen on a big screen or in print to be fully appreciated. This was actually a 2 second exposure at f/10, ISO 400.

You may recall me mentioning last week that one of my goals at some of the locations that I was revisiting after my 2013 trip, was to recapture some of my old 5D Mark III images at the higher 50 megapixel resolution of the 5Ds R. This was most apparent as I visited the beautiful Deadvlei on August 15, the following morning. I decided that my highest priority for this morning was to repeat my 2013 Deadvlei Silhouettes image, almost identically, but fixing a couple of issues that I wish I’d done in the original.

Deadvlei Camel Thorn Trees
Deadvlei Camel Thorn Trees

Here, for your reference, is the old version too, so that I can point out what I did. The main thing that I wanted to fix was to remove the clump of vegetation on the right side, in the clay basin of Deadvlei, and remove that clump of lighter vegetation in the sunlight on the bottom right corner of the dune. To do this, I moved further back and zoomed in, to create a narrower field of view. I shot my 2013 photo (below) at 145mm, whereas I shot my 2015 version at 200mm.

Deadvlei Silhouettes
Deadvlei Silhouettes

You’ll also notice that the clay basin is darker in my old version, which I actually prefer. I think the light was perhaps a little harsher in May, in 2013, giving a greater contrast between the brightly lit dune and the clay basin that was still in shade, which is of course what causes the contrast in both images. This lasts just a minute or so each morning, so there is only really time to get one or two good photographs each day, before a line of white clay starts to appear along the back edge, and the scene is gone.

I should also mention that I did not compare what I was framing up this year with my 2013 version. I was actually surprised how similarly framed these both were, but I get that’s what comes from looking at a photo so many times over the last two years. I was also surprised by how little the trees have changed. In fact, they seem identical in every way still. The original was shot at f/11, ISO 100 for 1/30 of a second, and this years image was shot at f/14, ISO 100 for 1/15 of a second.

Once that magical yet frantic minute has passed, the pace of shooting gets more relaxed, and we start to look for other opportunities before heading back to our vehicles for breakfast. One other shot I’d like to share from this time is of these two people up on the dune on the East side of Deadvlei. Here we see the sun just coming over the top of the dune, so you can see what it is that caused the basin of Deadvlei to remain in shadow.

Sunburst Dune
Sunburst Dune

I of course shot this because of the people though, and didn’t realize until I looked at the image on the computer, but as the sun is shining through both legs of the person to the left, I’ve got this funky shaped star burst, with parallel lines running through each point of the star, which I thought was fun. To give you an idea of how far away these people were, this was shot at 400mm, at the long end of my 100-400mm lens. Still at f/14, with a shutter speed of 1/320 of a second, at ISO 100.

Towards the end of the day, we visited Dune 45 again, as the sun dropped down close to the horizon, as this enables us to capture the beautiful contrast between the east and west sides of the dune, as you can see in this photograph (below). Although I like the lack of strong contrast in the first image we looked at today, the red late afternoon sun does enhance the color of the orange/red sand of the dunes, giving it this almost fiery appearance.

Dune 45
Dune 45

Believe it or not, I have not increased the saturation in the sand at all in this photo. I exposed the image to the right, for the best quality image, then reduced the Exposure slider in Lightroom to -0.35, and reduced the Blacks slider to -72, and increased the Clarity to +30. Under the HSL Saturation panel, I also increased the Saturation of of Aqua to +13 and Blue to +100, to give the sky a bit of a boost, as it was very pale, but otherwise, the saturation hasn’t been touched. This was shot at f/14, ISO 400 for a 1/50 of a second, at 100mm.

I shot this next image, a closer view of the tree at the base of Dune 45, after the sun had gone below the horizon, so I did boost the saturation a little on this one to make it match the last photo a little more. I increased the Red slider to +19 and Orange to +71.

Tree at Dune 45
Tree at Dune 45

Note that I’m not choosing the sliders and adjusting them. I’m clicking on that little round button at the top left of the Saturation panel, then clicking on the orange of the dune and dragging my mouse upwards, to increase the saturation of the colors I’ve clicked on. This was shot at f/14 for 1/25 of a second at ISO 800. I was using a tripod, but it was quite windy, so I decided to increase the ISO rather than using a longer exposure, to avoid the wind shaking my camera during the exposure.

The following morning, on August 16, we went back into Deadvlei at dawn, to make this next image, my new photograph of the dead camel thorn trees for this trip (below). I found these two similar trees that I could line up in this way, with the more distant tree kind of under the branch of the nearer tree. I like the interplay between the two trees more in this shot, compared to my original image, as there seems more of a relationship between the two here. I think I still prefer my original image from here, but this is still a nice addition to my Namibia library I think.

Deadvlei Camel Thorn Tree Silhouettes
Deadvlei Camel Thorn Tree Silhouettes

I have actually made this image available as high-resolution desktop wallpaper, and it will be the October 2015 monthly wallpaper that I send to subscribers, so if you’d like a copy for your desktop background, you can either buy it for $3 or get it for just $2 as part of our yearly subscription, which is just $24 per year.

This was shot at f/16 for 1/15 of a second at ISO 100, with a focal length of 349mm, so almost at the full extent of my 100-400mm lens. That reminds me, I should mention that although I took the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens with me to Namibia, I almost always reached for the 100-400mm instead. Although I found that the 70-200mm f/2.8 is sharp and works well with the 5Ds R, I’m really enjoying being able to zoom past 200mm, in return for losing that 30mm between 70 and 100mm.

I’ve decided to only take the 100-400mm with me to Iceland next week, and I’ll leave the 70-200mm at home. I’m actually now thinking that I’d love it if Canon would release an update to the 24-105mm f/4 lens, as this would enable me to travel with just three lenses, the 11-24mm, a 24-105mm and the 100-400mm, giving me a huge range of focal length without any areas missing. Of course, I’ll still travel with my 200-400mm 1.4X Extender lens when wildlife is the focus, but for mainly landscape trips, 11-400mm in three lenses is a nice combination.

Towards the end of August 16, we went to a dune that I believe is number 35, although I seem to recall us referring to it as dune 43. Maybe it has both names, as the numbering seems to be all over the place. 43 would be the number of kilometers from the entrance gate to the area, and it is about 2km down the road from 45, but one of our guides referred to this as 35, so I’m going to use that for now.

Dune 35
Dune 35

You have to leave the park before sunset, and the location from which we shot this photo is a good kilometer from the road, so we had to time this to give us enough time to get back to our vehicle, and wait as long as we could to get as much of the east side of the dune in shadow as possible before we had to leave. I shot this at f/14 for 1/50 of a second at ISO 200, with a focal length of 135mm.

The following day, we drove most of the day again, to Walvis Bay, and had a few hours of photography as the sun neared the horizon. Being on the coast, Walvis Bay is cloudy a lot of the time, so I timed, this shot for when there was a bit of sun shining through, creating almost a silhouette of the flamingoes resting at the end of the day (below).

Flamingo Sunset
Flamingo Sunset

Shots like this may appear random, but I think it’s still important to select your moment for any shot, so in addition to the lighting, I chose this moment because of the flamingo on the far left on the front row. He raised his head, making that beautiful reverse S shape, and put his right leg forward as he started to walk, so that was my moment.

This was shot at f/11 for 1/1000 of a second, at ISO 250. I had my shutter speed this fast so that I was prepared for the flamingoes flying as well, but there was only a few small groups that flew at this location, before we decided to call it quits and head back to our hotel, where we’d spend the next few nights in this area.

The following day, we were met by two local guides that would drive us over dunes and along the beach to Sandwich Harbor, where there is a Ramsar Convention protected lagoon, with a large population of flamingoes that call it home. This is a unique location because you can photograph the flamingoes flying with sand dunes as their backdrop, as you see in this photo (below). I increased my ISO to 1250 to get a fast shutter speed of 1/800 of a second at f/8 for this image.

Flamingoes against Dune
Flamingoes against Dune

We didn’t have long at this location, so I was happy to capture this next image, as a huge number of flamingoes took flight, almost filling the frame, along with a line of flamingoes along the bottom of the frame (below). I shot this at 400mm, the long end of my 100-400mm lens, now with the ISO at 1600, still at f/8 for a 1/800 of a second exposure.

Flamingoes Take Flight
Flamingoes Take Flight

Shortly after this, there was a huge blast off of flamingoes, which I missed because of what might be a compatibility issue between the 5Ds R and the GP-E2, which is a GPS unit that I attach to the flash shoe of my camera to geotag my images as I shoot them. I shot a few frames, then checked my exposure, as I always do, and noticed that they were all over exposed.

I checked my settings and the shutter speed was now at 1/200 of a second, and not 1/800 of a second, where I’d set it. At first I thought I’d caught the dial and changed it by mistake, but when I set it back to 1/800 and half pressed the shutter button, it went straight back to 1/200 of a second. This of course is the fastest sync speed for a flash, so I went into my menu and found that the flash was turned on, so I turned that off, but it came back on again.

It shouldn’t have been on anyway, because there was no flash in the camera, but then I noticed that the batteries in my GP-E2 had died. I took the GP-E2 unit off the camera, and was able to set my shutter speed back to 1/800 of a second, and this time it stayed there. By this time, the flamingoes that had filled the sky for a minute or so were all gone, and I’d missed possibly an even better opportunity than my last shot.

I changed the batteries in my GP-E2 and put it back on the camera, and all was good, except that I’d missed my shots. This has never happened in the past with my 5D Mark III or other bodies, and really should not happen at all. You should be able to put anything into the flash shoe, and unless it electronically reports to the camera that it’s a flash, this should not happen. I’ve reported it to Canon, and they will investigate further, but I thought I’d let you know in case you also use a GP-E2 with the 5Ds, and run across this problem too.

I usually like to keep the number of images that we look at in each episode to a maximum of ten, but here is one last image that I shot on this day, and it makes sense to include it here before we move on to next week’s images. As we drove back over the dunes on our way back to Walvis Bay, we noticed an ostrich, so we stopped the car, and as a few of us got out to photograph him, he ran up the dune and across our paths, enabling me to shoot this photograph (below).

Ostrich on Dune
Ostrich on Dune

He was running at a good pace, so there is a little bit of motion blur, as my shutter speed was at 1/400 of a second, but I like the action of this as he runs, and kicks up the sand behind him. I had my aperture at f/8 and ISO at 1250 for this image.

The following day, August 19, we had another long drive, up the Skeleton Coast, and across from Torra Bay to Sesfontein. We photographed a few Himba people at sunset, but arrived at our hotel for the next few nights after dark, so we’ll skip this day and pick up the trail next week on August 20, with some portraits from the first Himba village that we visited during our tour.

Last 36 Hours of the 5DayDeal!

Before we finish, I’d like to mention that at the time I release this Podcast, there are still 36 hours to get your 5DayDeal Complete photography bundle, if you haven’t already picked it up. The bundle contains more than $3,300 worth of photography tools and training, for just $127, and you get to help charity at the same time. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. There are no catches, just an amazing deal, so go to https://mbp.ac/5dd3 and pick up your Complete Photography Bundle today if you haven’t already. The sale finishes at noon PST on Sept 15, and then it’s gone forever. If you missed this, sign up for my newsletters, and I’ll ensure that you hear about the next one in time.

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Show Notes

Music by the Staff of the Kulala Lodge in Sossusvlei – Thank you!


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