Dead camel thorn trees

NPhoto - - Into Africa -

Skele­tal trees framed against the fiery dunes of the Namib desert. Frans re­ally put the place on the map when this im­age, taken at Dead­vlei, Sos­susvlei in the Namib-Nauk­luft Na­tional Park, ap­peared in Na­tional Ge­o­graphic.

“It’s quite a well-known site, and lots of pho­tog­ra­phers have been there,” he points out, “but I wanted to do some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. I al­ways look for a per­sonal point of view. The light changes quite

quickly early in the morn­ing, so I like to put time and ef­fort into scout­ing lo­ca­tions and I do vis­ual sketches. Then I take some time to re­flect on things and usu­ally come up with a more de­fin­i­tive con­cept.

“I call the im­age Ghost Trees, be­cause they’re ghosts of their for­mer selves. What makes that im­age spe­cial is that you have that sur­real ef­fect that comes from two very dif­fer­ent kinds of light; one is very warm morn­ing light, and then you have the pre-dawn light on the white clay pan that is re­flect­ing the blue sky.

“Then there’s an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion that comes from the way I used a long tele­photo lens, stopped down to a very small aper­ture, which helped me to com­press the per­spec­tive, cre­at­ing a sit­u­a­tion that looks un­real. When the im­age was first pub­lished in Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, it went vi­ral, and mil­lions of peo­ple asked, ‘Is this a pho­to­graph or is this a paint­ing?’”

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