Photographing at Namibia’s Kolmanskop
Kolmanskop is a ghost town located in the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. At one time it was a rich diamond mining village. After the diamond field was abandoned in 1954, the town folded and has now been reclaimed by the desert sand and years of neglect. Namibia’s Kolmanskop has become a popular place for tourists and photographers. As an Urbex (urban exploration) photographer I like the idea of seeing sand filled doorways and discovering traces of yesteryear. This lonely abandoned location lends itself nicely to creative interpretation; both in-camera and in post-processing. I’ve always sought out the dark side as a way of expressing my art and this ghost town does not disappoint.
I like to be creative with the shadows at Kolmanskop. I will photograph a scene in the morning and return to the same location late in the day to see how the light and shadows have changed. I don’t use filters at Kolmanskop but I do bracket my images when needed. You may want to bring a flashlight with you for early morning and/or evening shooting.
Wide angle lenses work great here as sometimes you will be up against a close wall. I like the 16-35mm and the 24-105mm. I also like to use a camera body with a full frame sensor. A sturdy tripod is a good idea as the lighting can be quite low at times in some of the structures. I also like to bring along a medium telephoto lens like the 70-200mm with teleconverters. Sometimes the scenes are all about the details. Be careful when using your tripod in sandy areas; sand can easily to get lodged in the joints, making them difficult to operate.
Dress in layers, I was there from dusk to dawn and at both ends it was cool. It got hot during the day but depending on the building I was in, I needed long sleeves. The ground is mostly sand but I would wear a vibram sole shoe, just in case you step on broken glass, nails, etc. A hat for sun protection is always a good idea. I brought a backpack as a roller bag is too difficult to maneuver in the sand. I always use a packable lightweight back pack for trips like this where I am limited with weight restrictions. It is called Stowaway Packable Daypack and weighs 11 ounces and costs $15.00 by Eddie Bauer.
Do you have photos from this location. Feel free to share them with our viewers in the comments below.