I’m resting under the rainforests canopy. A brief summer shower sent me running & now I dodge the large droplets that are hell bent on landing on my head.
I want to put my bag down but wet pavers and a slippery green moss sits underfoot. I guess I will carry this heavy bag a little longer.
As I sit and wait for the shower to pass I consider my options. Where to go & what to do. Will there be enough water spewing into the Batoka Gorge to create something fresh and new?
As the thought bobbles in my head I look out at the view I have stared at many times before. She has not changed. Her moods come & go with the seasons, but still she sits & waits.
Through the dense rainforest I see her eye. She stares back at me.
The clutter of tangled vines and ancient tree trunks just acts like a mass of tangled hair. Which ever way I look, the beauty is still there.
If I step left or right she stares back at me. After all it was I who came to her & now she is happy to grace the scene before me. The passing shower has not deterred her, matter of fact is staring to clear, giving her a platform to shine.
A ray of afternoon sunlight soon beams down through the thunder clouds above lighting up her eye. It is a catch light in her eye, just like in a posing model.
I don’t have to think too hard. My decision is made & I slide out my tripods legs.
No matter how many times I have seen this beauty, or photographed her from this spot, natural beauty will always remain the same.
The sun had not yet risen. I sat in a path in the dark. Bushes to my back and my ears sensitivity turned up high. I was literally in the middle of nowhere.
It was already hot. December is not the smartest time to be in Moremi, but I was here. It was quiet. The birds had not risen & my coffee was the only thing that seemed to breath life into the day.
I sat & watched as its wispy vapour trail danced an moved before an open plain. My eyes were straining to make out the beauty of the landscape before me.
Slowly light began to creep into the day. With it I could see a far off Giraffe browsing on a small stand of trees. His presence made me think again that other things could be lurking nearby. I snuggled closer to the bush behind me.
As the light began to caress the underside of the clouds the giraffe lost interest in the trees, I could only wish he would stroll across the open plain. He only stood looking in hesitation. Did he know something was there?
He looked on for a long time before realising all was clear. His decision had me shuffling away from the bush in anticipation of that dream coming true.
The light continued to filter into the morning & as if it was meant to be the light & giraffe came together in front of me.
I popped up from my position. The giraffe continued his journey towards the rising sun. It pulled at me to follow but I did not want to stray far from camp.
The ground opened up, so did the light & golden hues screamed in the dawning of a new day. I could only shoot rapidly before sitting back, watch & appreciate that my day had gotten off just this way.
The challenge in Deadvlei is to find new angles & ideas. It’s easy to think you have done something new & amazing when you are in the pan, but when you open up an Instagram feed, you see those ideas are already portrayed. That new angle you think you had found has been covered before & that finger of light has been seen by many people before.
Deadvlei is one of the most photographed landscapes in Africa & for good reason, so I see it as a personal challenge to try something new with each visit.
It was this drive to uncover a new angle & composition that has been pushing me these last few years.
I’m a lucky person. In a sense I get to call the beautiful cracked pan an office for certain times of the year while leading Namibian Photographic Experiences.
During these Experiences I am there for the photographers who have signed up to come along for the ride. I bounce from person to person passing on my advice, Ideas & experience. While I am moving from each corner of the pan, I get to study the light. I stare at the trees & think about new ways to convey this very popular scene.
Two years ago I started shooting Deadvlei with a fixed 400 lens. It challenged me to think differently, it made me isolate elements & it gave me a new depth of field I had not seen before in images from Deadvlei. It’s not easy to find a workable composition, but I like the few images I have managed to take.
Knowing when the light would be right would allow me to sit & wait. I could watch & play with other compositions, knowing I was always going to walk away with something special in the bag. It’s not every day I walk away from a shoot with a buzz up my spine & a stupid grin on my face, but I’ve had that feeling a few times when I have been walking back out from Deadvlei. The 400 has pushed me to think a bit differently.
This image really doesn’t make that cut for that buzz but it is an old idea spun with a new twist. The 400mm made it hard to keep the image uncluttered & I like it. I just did not like how dusty my clothes & I were were when I finally finished the shoot from constantly dropping in various spots on the cracked pans floor!
I hear the landscape before me, it rumbles in the dark. Its bark far worse than it's bite, sending sweet spray on an unseen breeze. My night vision does not range that far.
I've nestled myself in the gorge, the belly of the beast. Today it is asleep like those I had left in camp. Cascading water tumbled disturbing the peace.
Sharp jagged cliffs loom large around me showing the details of the perilous climb I had undertaken to get to where I stand waiting for the light.
As I look around I see the beginning of the light that starts to shoo away night.
A grey metal cast looms over head heralding the light to come. A landscape as beautiful as this should only be bathed in golden light.
My eyes no longer strain as warmer hues begin.
Trees appear in the sky clinging on for life. Their existence on a knife edge & I focus on their roots.
Precariously balanced they welcome the dawn under the first fingers of light.
Sitting in Angola they look across the way, their close knit neighbour Namibia is showing a different beginning to the day.
Volumes of water spew forth guided by the oceans call. It's rumbling & grumbling journey gave birth to the landscapes voice as water made its fall.
All is there before me, two countries now showing in the their different ways. I'm struck in awe as there really is no better way to start another African day.