If you are journeying south from Windhoek to get to the Fish River Canyon or Luderitz, then a stop at the Quiver Tree forest is definitely a good idea. Not only is it a great place to see, but it breaks up what would otherwise be an extremely long drive. Here’s my story and photographs…
Our journey to the Quiver Tree Forest at Keetmanshoop
We were off! Day 1 of our photography tour in Namibia went well and set a precedent for the rest of the trip. Five excited photographers ready for an adventure piled into our hire car and set off on the long road south from Windhoek. I’d read everything I could find about driving in Namibia, and felt well prepared for anything. No need to worry about that first day though, as it was all on tarmac roads, and incredibly empty ones too. Something that this Brit is definitely not used to!
Do we need a Sat Nav when driving in Namibia?
This was a question I’d asked myself several times whist planning the trip, but after copious research and reading I was reassured that although we’d be covering many miles over the course of two weeks there were very few instances where we could go wrong, due to the incredibly low number of different roads in this vast country. Our first day reassured me of this fact and we found the QuiverTree forest very easily.
Staying at the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp
We arrived at the Quiver Tree Forest Rest Camp at the perfect time – just before sunset. Not only were the clouds starting to turn delicate shades of pink, but as we got out of the car and stretched our muscles we realised the temperature was less searingly hot than we’d felt on each of our pit stops during the day.
The sun sets much faster in Africa than it does here in the UK, so we quickly unearthed our cameras from the back of the car and headed towards the Quiver Trees. They are actually Aloes but bushmen traditionally used their branches to make quivers for their arrows from them and the nickname has become common. The first tree we saw was absolutely filled with a sociable weaver birds nest. These little birds build community nests which are large enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds.
We scampered over rocks searching out the best positions to photograph the drama of the dimming light and a sky that was changing by the minute.
And is so often the case in Africa, there is an equally spectacular sunrise – you just have to get up early enough to witness it – and despite a long journey and early start the previous day, nobody was going to miss it or the deep blue sky that appeared within 30 minutes. What a lot we achieved before 6.45 in the morning 🙂
Should I avoid shooting into the sun?
My answer is a resounding ‘no’. Having said that, you do have to consider the implications of doing so: ‘Flare’ has historically been considered ‘A Very Bad Thing’, and you should try to ‘keep the sun out of the frame otherwise your subject will end up as a silhouette, or the flare will cause nasty effects’. Lucky for me then that a) I tend to ignore most of the ‘rules, b) I like silhouettes, and c) ‘flare’ has recently become acceptable and even considered to add a lot of feeling and dreaminess into a shot. In the second shot in the strip above I chose to focus on the sun at the side of the tree to make use of the flare and used f14 to create a bit of a starburst pattern. In the others I made a conscious decision to decrease the exposure compensation so that the trees and grasses were in silhouette. I liked them that way and I believe that unless you are shooting for a client, you should have fun, experiment, and take photos that you personally love – it doesn’t matter whether anybody else loves them or hates them!
Life is an opportunity – Capture it.
Would you like to join me on my next adventure in Namibia?
I’m running my second photography tour of Namibia in September 2018. Maybe you’d like to join me on the adventure visiting inspirational locations like this? You can come along to learn how to take better photos or just come with me and see all the great locations! I’ll happily teach you how to use your SLR or mirrorless camera in a more creative way, capturing the soul of each place we visit.