The Skeleton Coast of Namibia

Back in June of this year, Adriana and I spent over a week cruising around Namibia.  One of the stops on our journey was the town of Swakopmund, where we spent two days to enjoy the scenery, eat at some nice restaurants, and of course taking pictures! Swakopmund is on the western coast of the country, part of what is known as the Skeleton Coast.

The area is named the Skeleton Coast due to the large number of shipwrecks in the region.  The coast is apparently very difficult to navigate, and when a ship does wreck it certainly doesn’t last very long.  Here’s a picture of one of the boats that we saw, an old fishing vessel that apparently wrecked in the 70′s.

But the Skeleton Coast is interesting for another reason; the Namib desert extends straight to the Atlantic in this area of Africa.  This creates some beautiful vistas and images, but is a living nightmare for sailors unfortunate enough to get stranded here.  Imagine swimming for the coast, overjoyed to be out of the water only to realize you now have desert stretching in front of you for over 100 miles!  Not a situation I’d want to be in….and we found the remnants of this guy amidst the sand (this is not a joke).

One afternoon, Adriana and I hired a jeep tour that took us further south past Walvis Bay to an area called Sandwich Harbour.  We basically went four wheel driving across the dunes, taking pictures of the incredibly beautiful formations that the sand makes and admiring how the ocean meets the desert.   On our way out to the area we passed a seal, the only one we saw on the whole trip.  I was only able to snap this one picture before he waddled away to the ocean.

Eventually we got closer to the sand dunes and the beauty was just incredible.  I hope the photos do a good job of capturing what it was like to glide across the sand, and have this incredible sense of timelessness as you see the wind constantly working and molding the sand into these flowing shapes.

Needless to say the area is barren; anytime you can get something other than sand in the frame it tends to give a nice sense of scale.  I took the picture below of this sign that sort of made me chuckle – “No Entry” – which begs the question who would want to enter a desert like this and run the risk of walking past this sign?

An even better sense of scale is provided by this picture of the 4×4 that accompanied us on the trip.  You can really get a sense of how small these vehicles are compared to the shifting sands of the dunes.

I also included a few pictures of … you guessed it … us!  It was pretty windy while we were there, but aside from some crazy looking hair it didn’t stop us from getting some good pictures.  Here’s the two of us together posing for the camera and then a lovely picture of Adriana with her out of control hair!

The other thing that I spent some time focusing on was the shadows.  As it got later in the day the shadows became very pronounced.  Our shadows certainly became longer, but it also worked wonders in changing the look and colors of the dunes themselves.  I tried to capture this in the images below.  

In the following two pictures I tried to take a picture of the wind; you can vaguely make out the sand blowing in the first picture, but you can definitely see the intimate shapes that the wind has created in these ridges.

The picture below I kept at an angle.  Usually I’m pretty meticulous in making sure that my horizon is straight, but in this one I liked the leading line that the coastline made going off into the picture so I decided to keep it at the harsh angle in which it was taken.

A black and white version of the sand draws out the shadows in a way only B&W can do.

Before we went on our jeep journey across the sand I was sweating bullets about whether or not I should change lenses in the desert.  This was a brand new camera and every book in the world says that sand and sea air are the two worst things to expose your camera to.  But you know what?  I changed lenses anyway and I don’t regret it one bit.  To be clear, I was very careful about it – I only changed lenses while I was in the car with the windows closed and my bag ready to accept the lens I was taking off.  I know people have different opinions on this but mine is relatively strong.  If I spend all this money on a good camera and good lenses, only to be too afraid to use them when I’m out taking pictures, then what’s the point?  This is also why I tend to bring my DSLR with me rather than carrying a smaller portable camera.

Hope you enjoyed these pictures; below I have a few of them that I think are worth hanging on a wall.  If you agree with me, feel free to click on the thumbnail which will take you to my portfolio and you can print a copy for yourself!

Until next time, hope you take some great pictures!

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About Aaron

A love of photography and travel have led to me creating this blog. I'm also interested in science, technology and the outdoors. I currently live in London with my beautiful wife and work in the telecommunications industry.
This entry was posted in Africa, How To, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Skeleton Coast of Namibia

  1. Spectacular!!! I’m with you – why own it if you won’t use it??? I LOVE your photographs and aspire to be as talented as you some day. I eat up every tip! :-) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Fascinating photography and narrative. Thank you

  3. Pingback: The Skeleton Coast of Namibia | Home Far Away From Home

  4. Leanne Cole says:

    I am so jealous, I really want to photograph some sand dunes.

    • Aaron says:

      Thanks Leanne – it’s pretty awesome. Soon I’ll be posting the pictures from the red dunes, unfortunately the weather wasn’t as great that day but they were really amazing. The Namib desert is truly mind-blowing.

  5. nidia says:

    Beautiful pictures and nice trip. Í never imagined a place so beautiful in Africa. Thans for sharing.

  6. Kely says:

    Aaron I never thought go to Namibia but when I saw the post on Adriana’s blog, and these incredible amazing photos I added the country in my list. Thanks for sharing your techniques. And I agree with you if you have a good equipment you have to use it. Congratulations for these photos, they are really amazing!

    • Aaron says:

      Thanks very much Kely, I also didn’t know much about Namibia but it was on Adriana’s list and after looking at some pictures I couldn’t wait to go! It’s really a beautiful country and we could have spent a lot more time visiting some of the sites – hopefully we’ll get a chance to go again in teh future!

  7. Jontacular says:

    Some lovely shots here!

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