Dead camel thorn trees
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?’”