The journey homeward started with a four hour flight from Serra Cafema to a dirt strip outside of Sossuvlei. During a three day lay over at Sossuvlei area, we took advantage of shooting Deadvlei. Four brave soles hit the dunes beyond Deadvlei for a long and strenuous hike deep into the dunes. This last hike of the trip took a serious toll on my Nikon gear causing failure of the playback and AF buttons in both D300 cameras. This was in addition to my lenses sounding like pepper grinders. Just my luck, the playback button failed in the depressed position which locked out all button functions to the left of the view screen. With the histogram no longer available, I was on my own for exposure management. Thankfully I had been shooting in the desert for almost a week and was well aware of the ‘plus’ exposure compensation when shooting bright subjects such as sand. What was more challenging was preventing clipping of the blue and red channels during exposure and managing the shadow details with nothing but my shooting experience to rely on. So why did my Nikons fail? Simple, I used them unprotected in a 30-35 knot sustained wind in the middle of sand dunes. Needless to say, sand was getting into everything. Look out Nikon – all of my gear is heading your way for repairs.
With both cameras down and one more day of shooting, I decided to take a big risk and result to using a safety pin and Eclipse Sensor Solution. I used one drop of solution (like I would if I had WD40 or a silicon lubricant) around the edges of both buttons and pried them up using the end of safety pin. After repeating this procedure several times, I had most of my controls back, at least enough to shoot Dune 47 in the late afternoon – at least I thought so. When taking the classic post card shots of the red Dune from the road, the controls failed again, this time in the RGB histogram mode. I could not have ask for a better failure, as I was able to adjust the exposure compensation to prevent clipping with an automatic display after each shot. The following day, was another bush plane ride to Windhoek, then on to Johannesburg, connecting to New York and LA with the final push to Seattle. Total flight time I would estimate at something like 23 hours from Johannesburg to Seattle, each way (not including some 10 hours in bush planes). Total air time – my guess is something just short of 56 hours. This trip was painful, exhausting, challenging, and professionally rewarding as my photography skills were pushed to a new level. Thanks to my photography, once again I was able to see another corner of the world that is seldom seen and yet most of all – I met some wonderful people that will likely influence my personal and professional life for a long time to come. Special thanks to my truck buddies, Paul T, Sylvia, Justin, Larry, JP, and of course Andy for the invitation of a lifetime. I never thought I would be standing on the side of a river looking at the border of Angola.
After South African Airlines lost my checked bag, I treated myself to a business class upgrade. So here I sit in the LAX Red Carpet Club after a wonderful United meal of smoked salmon, fresh greens, stir-fried shrimp, chocolate and grand vanilla ice cream followed up by a warm chocolate chip cookie. Oh yes, I almost forgot the raspberry mojito (always thinking of you, Coogan). Home for two weeks then it’s off to Hawaii for a week of photography and fun in the sun. I will be processing most of images from Tanzania and Namibia in the weeks to come, so enjoy these few images until the next posting. Just a warning, if the colors are a bit off it is because I am using a non-color managed netbook that I bought just for this trip so I will have to fix them after I get home.
BTW, there are only four slots open for my Tanzania Feb 2010 trip. If Africa is on your bucket list, then what are you waiting for? Come join me for an adventure that will stir your soul and warm your heart.
Cheers and happy photo’ing.