Sunday, 6 September 2015

Large Format Thinking

In March this year I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country of Namibia with a group of fellow photographers. It has been a while since I had been on a photographic trip and this one was even more special as I was accompanied by my wife. We arrived at the Quivertree Forest  in Keetmanshoop and after a short rest delved straight into the new adventure of night photography. As much as I had tried to prepare by researching the web, the first night was literally a crash course. The sheer brilliance of the magnificent Namibian night sky was overwhelmingly beautiful and after a brief sleep we were off to Sossusvlei.

Quivertree Milky Way - Nikon D610, 16-35mm @f4 panoramic stitch

Sossusvlei was as breathtaking as always however this time we decided not to camp and the Sossus Dune Lodge accommodation, restaurant and pool were a real treat. The Deadvlei experience was surreal and never disappoints and although it has been allegedly photographed to death there is somehow always something new to see.

Our next stop was the Namibrand Family Hideout south of Sossusvlei where the vast plains and silence were manna to the soul. After a few days of hectic and intense photography my wife and I decided to spend our first evening at the house with these amazing vistas on our doorstep. The clouds were building and swirling and the promise of rain was soon realised and although it was a light drizzle, the experience was unforgettable. Everything happened so suddenly and there were incredible scenes all around. I was photographing frantically and was attempting many multiple panoramas to convey this overwhelming space.

Desert Rain - Nikon V1 panoramic stitch

Golden Light and Rain Clouds - Nikon V1 panoramic stitch

Glorious Cloud and Glorious Rain - Nikon D610, 16-35mm panoramic stitch

After a wonderful and relaxing stay at Namibrand we headed for Luderitz where Kolmanskop treated us to many treasures, almost like a large easter egg hunt. The trip was much more than a great photographic opportunity and it was a privilege to meet new and interesting people. A special thank you to Kobus Potgieter from Bethlehem for planning, booking and arranging such a great trip and to the Van Niekerks who transported us in luxury while inspiring us with incredible stories. Once back home the processing began and the Big Stitch.

Kolmanskop Corner - Nikon D610 50mm f1,4 panoramic stitch

The afternoon of rain on the plain yielded some very satisfying images and I excitedly shared them with my wife reliving that special experience. Despite the panoramic landscape the square format seemed to suit the images better. Soon my wife shared some of my images on social media and a friend of hers was keen to print the image of the Glorious Cloud. I happened to know the lady's husband who said he had bought his wife a printer and then provided them with the memory stick and some "tips" on printing. After they had printed the image they were keen to show me the result and arrived with a fairly large tube. I have my own Epson 3800 17inch printer but nothing prepared me for the unveiling of the 44inch canvas print on my dining room table. The print looked fantastic however I was totally humbled by my small minded thinking, wrongly assuming that they just had an average home printer. The sheer size and impact of the print which happens to hang in their home's entrance hall was something to be proud of but there was such a valuable lesson for me in all this. I really felt that I had to upgrade my outlook to "Large Format Thinking" and this event precipitated some far reaching consequences!