Before you start reading: please click on the image above to see it on black. I spend about a month in Namibia every year, and I have been doing so for some 14 years now. In the beginning, people were amazed when I showed them my first pictures from Namibia – most people had never heard of the country, let alone that they’d seen any images from it; ‘Wow, that must have been photoshopped!’ Soon after our first visit, my wife and I set up the first photography tour to Nambia in the world. It was an instant success, and the past years we’ve been doing two to three tours to this amazing country every year. Needless to say I have quite a few Namibia shots. One of the creative challenges for any photographer, and that includes me, is to try not to duplicate what you’ve already done before. The first few years that was not very difficult, but after five years or so it started to get more challenging. There were times that I thought I had tried all the lenses, all the viewpoints, different lighting conditions, different seasons. An additional ‘problem’ in my case was that my Namibia images were pretty well known fairly quickly, which resulted in Namibia being high on most landscape photographers To Visit lists. The moment you get thank you letters from the Namibian Tourism Board for promoting their country, you know enough. So the more photographers started visiting Namibia, the bigger that creative challenge got – not only did I have to make sure to not duplicate what I had shot there myself, but also what other people had been shooting there. The fact that I was bringing groups of serious photographers there myself every year obviously didn’t help, not to mention the fact that suddenly many other landscape photographers from all over the world started to set up tours to Namibia as well. But as they say: competition is good, it pushes you harder. And so it did. I was the first photographer to create an extensive night photography portfolio from Namibia many years ago, and many have followed since. Then I was the first to create a time-lapse video in Namibia that was shot entirely at night, and pretty soon many followed. Am I complaining? No, that’s just how things work. Especially with the amount of exposure you can get on the internet in general and this site in particular. It just makes it harder and harder to come up with something original. Another complicating factor is the fact that with landscape photography it is very easy to copy someone’s composition, especially if you know how to find the location. With Deadvlei that’s not very difficult. On multiple occasions I’ve run into photographers in Deadvlei who had my images on their phone and were trying to find the compositions that I had used in those shots. And on last year’s trip, I saw a photo tour leader there who found the exact spot from where Frans Lanting had taken a photograph that was published in Nat Geo the year before. His participants were all lining up behind him to copy the shot. So what can you do? Keep thinking about new possibilities. It’s hard, and it’s getting harder every year, but there will always be creative possibilities that have not yet been explored – or at least: not at your specific location. Whenever I see a photograph from another photographer from this place, I can point out exactly on Google Maps which tree it is and in what direction it was shot. It’s sick, I now – I’ve been there too many times. But I’m leaving for Namibia in a few weeks again, and I have already thought about what I will try to shoot there this time. That’s how the panorama you see here from three years ago was born as well. Sure, people had shot panos in Deadvlei before, but I decided to shoot one with a 200mm lens in rare foggy conditions. It’s the combination of those two creative decisions that have resulted in a unique image – for me, that’s what it’s all about. The pano above was shot with a 70-200/2.8 lens and it consists of 21 stitched images. The original size is 21,000 pixels on the longest side, hence the ridiculous aspect ratio. I apologize for the verbal diarrhea – too much caffeine this afternoon. But before I forget: If you would like to join me in a few weeks on this year’s Namibia Untamed tour and learn more about landscape and night photography, then you’re in luck: due to a cancellation we have one opening again, and we offer a 500 Euro Last Minute discount as an extra incentive. If you’re interested, and of course you are, please check out our website for more information: Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops Hope to see you there! Marsel ©2014 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.
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