Deadvlei is a white clay pan located near the salt pan of Sossusvlei, inside the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia. This sounds anything but exciting, except it is a hot spot among photographers. Deadvlei has become one of the prime reasons photographers, including us, visit Namibia. Like its name suggests, there are dead things at Deadvlei. We photographers love dead things. If there is a dilapidated budling, we photograph it. An old decaying car? We photograph it too. A dead tree with interesting limbs? You bet. Add in a remote location that most people can not or will not go? Nirvana.

To get to Deadvlei, one has to work at it and want it:

  • Left our home in Scottsdale for the Phoenix Airport -> 1 hour
  • Waited for our flight -> 2 hours
  • Flew from Phoenix to Atlanta -> 4 hours
  • Waited for our next flight -> 4 hours
  • Flew from Atlanta to Johannesburg -> 15.5 hours
  • Waited for our next flight -> 20 hours (needed to get a negative test)
  • Flew from Johannesburg to Upington -> 1 hour
  • Drove to Namibia/South Africa border -> 1.5 hours
  • Customs processing leaving South Africa -> 45 minutes
  • Customs processing entering Namibia -> 15 minutes
  • Drove to Soussesflei -> 8 hours and 45 minutes
  • Drove from park entrance to Deadvlei entrance -> 1 hour
  • Drove on 4-wheel drive road of deep sand -> 15 minutes
  • Hiked up sandy dunes to Deadvlei -> 45 minutes

52 3/4 hours of travel to take a picture of dead trees. We photographers are odd.

Cresting the final ascent into Deadvlei, it is all downhill from here. At this point I was less than impressed – all that travel for this?

I took a few photos to get myself acclimated when I came across the composition below, the one that best met what I wanted to capture. I spent quite a few moments setting up my camera/tripod to get the optimal photo when Lucas walked into my life. He says, “Hey, you look like a good photographer.” Well, that gets my attention. “Not bad,” I reply. Modesty being one of my strong suits. “Would you mind taking a few photos of me with my iPhone?” “Well, sure, I have  few moments before I need to take my shot.” This all sounds so innocent until Lucas says, “hey, just start taking photos of me as I walk up to and from a tree.” I take a few photos of him as he lingers by the big tree in my composition. He lingers, he walks around, he lingers some more. “Hey Lucas, I really need to take my shot.” “No problem, just a few more.” Now I am getting a bit anxious – 52 3/4 hours of travel only to be thwarted by Lucas. I have calculated that I need to take my shot just prior to sunrise. And, Lucas just won’t leave. “Lucas, how about a tree over there? It looks just like this one!” Lucas doesn’t bite. He is enjoying every minute of my anxiety. I’m wondering if I need to pay him to leave or do I need to send in an enforcer. As I pondered sending in Kathryn to do my dirty work, Lucas took back his iPhone and headed off to another tree, this time to bother our guide, Ryan. Click, boom, I got the shot with just seconds to spare:

This is the photo I was hoping to capture! It looks like a family of trees out for a morning walk, sans Lucas.

I like photos that evoke a feeling or story. Here I see a scraggly tree with its limbs about to pick up another tree. What do you see?

The combination of white floor (clay), orange sand dunes, blue sky and black trees make the photos at Deadvlei extremely attractive.

The sand dunes around Deadvlei were beautiful. I was ever focussed on dead trees while Kathryn broadened her scope by taking pictures of the surrounding dunes. Here is one of her shots.

[photo by Kathryn]

Thanks for reading and remember, it’s all about the light!

Hello from Deadvlei! [photo set up by Kathryn, but button pushed by “Lucas”]