“Whispering Death” was the nick name for the F-111 fighter-bomber that were housed inside these Hardened Aircraft Shelters during the cold war in the RAF Upper Heyford, Quick Reaction Alert Facility, UK. I thought the moniker was also an apt title for this series of photographs of the military paranoia of the era. Crews sat for four hour shifts in nuclear-armed F-111 bombers, engines running in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside ready to respond to any Soviet threat at a moments notice. The facility is the best preserved Cold War Airfield in Europe.
This post is written for British Exploring Society’s expedition to Namibia summer 2014 but will be of interest for anyone taking a camera into a desert for a prolonged period of time. For some examples of my desert photography see these posts from Western Desert, Egypt & Wadi Rum, Jordan
Most cameras and most lenses are
better than most photographers
If you have a camera you are happy with just bring it. You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures. Much more important are visual thinking and composition. Film, Lomo & disposable are all fine: just bring what you enjoy using.
If you want a Point & Shoot (type of camera shown above) you can’t go wrong with the offerings from Sony, Canon, Nikon or Panasonic. Look for manual control options if you want to get creative. £70-200.
If you want to freeze action and or have good low light performance you need a SLR or Micro Four Thirds Camera. A telephoto (long) lens helps you get closer to wildlife and the landscape. Suggested budget interchangeable lens cameras:
Recommended 2nd hand retailer (with six warranty) mpbphotographic.co.uk
A camera is no use unless its accessible when the light suddenly changes, or wildlife suddenly appears. Keeping the camera accessible is more important than the type of camera you carry. Think about how you get to the camera when wearing a backpack. For most of you a Point and Shoot camera with a pouch on your backpack shoulder strap is the best option.
If you place a camera on the ground in the desert, sand and dust will enter the lens mechanism and break it. Most desert expeditions have a number of breakages in the first few days when people ignore this advice. Always put the camera back in its case when you finish actively shooting with in.
Clean the camera regularly helps prevent dust working its way into the camera. Wrap the camera in zip-lock or sandwich bag, then place in its case during dust storms.
KEEPING IT RUNNING
Bring enough memory cards for a few hundred shots/ week more if you want to take video.
There are no charging facilities. Bring enough batteries. Get to know you camera but one or two per week should do.
A handful of 3rd party batteries are cheaper, easier and lighter than a solar charger.
If you want to try Solar look at Powermonkey Extreme amazon link but check eth voltage of your camera and if it can charge from usb or this won’t help you.
Any photography questions regarding desert photography/BES Namibia 2014 ask them below in the comments and I’ll answer them here so everybody can benefit.
A photographic journey through Wadi Rum, Jordan. More images here
If you enjoyed this have a look at Western Desert Journey, Egypt which was chosen as one of WordPress.com Editors’ Picks of the Year 2013
The monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt, is the oldest active Christian monastery in the world. It is the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the burning bush.
The monastery’s library holds a unique collection of Byzantine manuscripts second only to the vatican in scale. The site is sacred to both Christianity and Islam. A mosque was built within the walls of the monastery, but it has never been used since it is not correctly oriented towards Mecca.
Built between 548 and 565 the massive granite walls have stood for over fourteen centuries. The walls were repaired in 1801 during Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition. The bell tower was built in 1871 and contains nine bells of different sizes that were a gift of the Czars of Russia.
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest Christian buildings in England and one of the great pilgrimage sites of Europe in the medieval times.
Looking to improve your photography skills? I’m speaking on Travel & Architectural Photography for this weekends Photolive in London. Discount code SC_15, for 15% off day and weekend passes http://www.photo-live.com/