Photographing Namibia’s Deadvlei

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Located in the Namib Desert, Deadvlei aka as The Vlei is essentially a dried up lake with ancient trees (estimated to be about 900 years old) coming up from the ground surrounded by desert sand. The clay pan was formed when the Tsauchab River flooded; the abundance of water allowed many camelthorn trees to grow.  Soon the climate changed and the sand dunes began encroaching on the pan; blocking the river from reaching it. The extremely dry climate prohibits the decay of the trees.

To get to the Vlei you will need to hike out there, up and over sand dunes, and while it is not a cakewalk it is also not that difficult. It is approximately one kilometer, bring plenty of water and don’t bring a lot of unnecessary gear. The floor of the pan is hard so there is no need to worry about your tripod legs going into the sand.





Photography Notes:

One thing not to miss out on at Deadvlei is the sun hitting the sand dunes, that glow doesn’t last very long and you will need to get out there early enough to capture it. Also when you first arrive it is best to scout the scene for your shots before the best light. You will see that when the sun rises it will make its way over the dunes and all of the sand will be aglow. Wait for it.




Gear Suggestions:

An assortment of lenses including a wide angle and medium telephoto lens. I didn’t use any filters but I did bracket a few images. I brought along a sturdy tripod. Infrared photography could be good there but I can’t see missing the glow of the orange light on the sand.


Clothing Suggestions:

I wear lightweight shoes that are good for walking on dunes. I bring a lightweight backpack and carry two bottles of water. A brim hat is a must!  Sunscreen or lightweight long sleeves and long pants.



About Author Denise Ippolito

Denise Ippolito is a full time professional photographer, international workshop leader, and creative artist living in New Jersey. Most recently one of Denise’s images was selected as the "Birds" Category Winner in the prestigious Nature's Best 2016 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition. In 2015 she also won the Category for "Art in Nature" in the Nature's Best 2015 International Awards Competition.
In 2010 and again in 2014 Denise received a Highly Honored award in the same Nature's Best competition. Also in 2014 one of her images was selected as part of the People's Choice Awards Top 50 Images in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. She has also won several PSA (Photographic Society of America) awards. Her images have been published in magazines and text books, sold as greeting cards, calendars and most recently featured in a Sierra Club Documentary. Six of her images hung in the distinguished Birds of the World Exhibit featured at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Denise travels extensively presenting slide shows, lectures and seminars and teaching photography and Photoshop. Her workshops feature a variety of subjects including: avian, flower, landscape and urbex (urban-exploration) photography.