The Magic of the Namib Desert

Compress landscape images with long lenses

I have been to the Namib Desert around Sossusvlei on numerous occasions during the past two decades. I vividly remember my great excitement when I saw the gigantic red sand dunes for the first time in the mid 90s. The desert hadn’t experienced rains for years. The dunes were bar of all vegetation. Over the 3 days I stayed amongst these monster dunes it became a fascination to photograph the undulating dune shapes in high contrast early morning and before sunset when shadows were longest. I became obsessed with abstracts. There are few places and landscapes that offer so many excellent opportunities to play with abstract photography. The dead desert became alive through the play of light and shadows, constantly changing during the course of a day. Only around midday were the dunes basked in a monotone pale red without any contrast at all. A good time for a relaxing siesta!

During my following visits I found it harder and harder to photograph anything new. I thought I had seen and photographed it all, from every angle and every interesting place Sossusvlei and its dunes had to offer. On my last trip there I hardly took out my camera. The previous rains had transformed my beloved pure sand dune landscape into an “unclean” mix between desert and meadows. I was disappointed. Green grass on these once pure red sand dunes was something I had not expected nor wanted. What I desired was what I knew and had appreciated so much before.


While I was driving the paved road along the dry Tsauchab River bed framed by huge partly with green grass covered dunes in the distance and the dry golden savannah stretching along the vast valley a single leafless acacia caught my eye. From the tree my eyes wandered to the large dune behind it and then to golden savannah in the foreground. I stopped the vehicle and mounted my camera and a 600mm lens on the tripod to capture a scene that has became my favorite of all my trips to Sossusvlei. I since then have learned to appreciate nature in all its forms under all conditions and free myself from expectations.

copyright©Theo Allofs

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