Published on: 24th May 2017
The past Easter weekend (yes I realise this article is quite late) we went campingat Witsand Nature Reserve in the Northern Cape. I've been to Witsand quite a number of times and cannot get enough of this place - I know I will go again...
On our way there we had a beautiful sunrise with mist. It took us more than two hours to drive from Johannesburg to Parys in the Free State – a distance of about 80 kilometres! But, after the mist had dissipated we were left with a very clear blue sky. I already realised that this will be a cloudless weekend.
Witsand is about 750 kilometres from Johannesburg and our early morning photoshoot caught up with us during the day. After setting up camp it was already too late to hike to the dunes for a sunset session, so we settled for a dinner with red wine next to the campfire.
Sunrise greeted us without clouds. I tried to get some interesting photos with the sunrise hues in contrast with dunes, but it was not very successful because the dunes were still in shadow.
Xiaoyi on the other hand, decided to use her infrared camera, and after she showed me one of her photos on the back of her camera, I quickly exchange the Fujifilm X-T2 for my X-T1 Infrared converted camera. In all my previous visits to Witsand I never thought of using infrared to photograph the dunes. The combination of clear blue skies and white or yellow dunes created some unusual high contrast monochrome scenes. The rest of the weekend I only used the X-T2 during our night star photography sessions.
I used two lenses for all my dune photos, namely theFujinon XF35F1.4R and the Fujinon XF14F2.8R. The X-T1 is a converted camera with a 590nm "super colour" permanent infrared filter which means that it has a serious colour shift but it still allow all orange and red visible light to reach the sensor. The contrast was not good enough to turn the blue sky black, so I fitted my 720nm infrared filter on the 35mm lens and my 850nm infrared filter on the 14 mm lens. While the 720nm filter still required some post processing to get a dark sky, the 850nm filter resulted in pitch black skies.
Although I did not photograph any "normal" dune photos this weekend, I think my one track mindedness resulted in an unusual portfolio of monochrome dune photographs.
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)