The start of a photo series looking at the United Kingdom’s longest river, The Severn. A follow-on work from Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song
“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.
An assignment for De Boer structures and & Twelve PR to provide architectural photography of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Great Pavilion 2014. I think I was the only one not primarily pointing their camera at the beautiful plants on display!
The wide angle interiors were taken with a wide angle (17mm) tilt shift lens. and the details with a 70-200mm telephoto lens. All were tripod mounted. A gentle gradient filter was applied to balance the tone of bright roof structure with the darker displays when they both appeared in the same frame.
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.
My 20 favourite photographs from 2013 – happy travels for 2014!
1/ Western Desert Journey, Egypt more>>
2/ Landscape Magazine Cover Feature more>>
3/ Copper Staircase, Villa Mallorca by Arup & Studio Mishin more>>
4/ Sahara Sands more>>
5/ Manolo Blahnik, Harrods by Data Nature Associates more>>
6/ Apartment T by Krause Architects and Upton-Hansen Architects more>>
7/ AnalogFolk photoshoot cover feature in Conde Magazine more>>
8/ Pyramids more>>
9/ Infinite Forest more>>
10/ RAF Bicester Unlocked more>>
11/ Cancer Centre Naestved by Effekt & Søren Jensen more>>
12/ Invisible Gods more>>
13/ Bundeswehr Military History Museum, Dresden more>>
14/ Ridgeway: Momently Clinging more>>
15/ Saxo Bank HQ by 3XN, Copenhagen more>>
16/ Norfolk Horizon (Homage to Gursky) more>>
17/ Walk On catalogue cover more>>
18/ Canterbury Cathedral more>>
19/ Wadi Rum Journey more>>
20/ From Greenland to the Sahara: Interview more>>
Read the 15 page interview by Tim Parkin in On Landscape magazine here (PDF 3.7MB) where I talk about the practicalities and artistic considerations when photographing in the arctic and desert environments.