It was October when I received that phone call from Tanguy Dumortier, a wildlife documentary filmmaker, producer of "Le Jardin Extraordinaire" the most famous nature show of the Belgian TV. He was proposing me to join him on a trip to Namibia to work as still photographer and assistant during the shooting of a documentary focusing on 'the colours of Africa'.
To my surprise, the crew would only consists of the two of us. That meant that beyond my role of photographer, I'd had to be a sort of 'jack-of-all-trades', going from camera assistant, 4x4 driver, timelapse dude and even cook (sometimes).
The following story is a glimpse of our 22 days shoot in Namibia illustrated with the photographs I took along the way.
TITLE: Teaser of "Extraordinary Africa", directed by Tanguy Dumortier
MY ROLE: Still Photographer in Namibia
TIME OF YOUR LIFE REQUIRED: 1 Min 30 Sec
KEYWORDS: #Wildlife #Africa #Adventure #Desert
TANGUY LOOKING FOR A SHOT IN THE CLAY PAN OF DEADVLEI GIVES A SENSE OF SCALE TO THE SAND DUNES BEHIND HIM.
The film was part of a 6 episodes series of 22 minutes called "Extraordinary Africa". Tanguy had already shot footage in central Africa and our mission in Namibia was to get about 10 minutes of edited material, focused on desert and savana.
Our days would generaly start an hour before sunrise, having a coffee and gear up to catch the morning lights and fresh temperatures.
At midday, we'd generally hide from the heat and harsh light, downloading memory cards, planning the next days, and drinking liters of beer. Then, at the end of the afternoon, we'd shoot again until sunset.
The arid condition of Namibia surprisingly supports a wide number of plants and animals that have adapted to survive, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. One of them is the Social Weaver bird who build enormous nests that are perhaps the most spectacular structures built by any bird.
After a few days in the region of Sossusvlei we arrived in the small settlement of Solitaire that merely consists of a gas station, a shop, a chapel and a bakery with a café. The café is strangely known for its apple strudel.
CAR WRECK NEAR SOLITAIRE, NAMIBIA
FROM THE SMALL AIRCRAFT WE HIRED, WE CAN SEE HOW THE WINDBLOWN DUNES OF THE NAMIB DESERT LITTERALLY FALL INTO THE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
Shooting from an airplane is more difficult than from an helicopter, but it's also much cheaper. The day before, we had a pre-flight briefing with the pilot to determine our route with precision.
A VARIETY ANIMAL SPECIES CAN BE FOUND ROAMING SOSSUSVLEI, INCLUDING OSTRICHES, ANTELOPES, RODENTS AND BIRDS.
Being a two men crew, we had to be self suficient and capable of doing everything required to capture the videos and photos we needed but also, simply to get from point A to point B safely.
Being December, it was peak breeding season and as many as 200,000 fur seals could be present at the rookery during this time.
Named for the grief that afflict shipping on Namibia's unforgiving Atlantic coast, the Skeleton Coast is the name given to the country's far north-west corner.
Spoiler alert: Nature always wins in the end.
THE MESMERIZING SPECTACLE OF A GROUP OF GIRAFFES FOLLOWED BY THEIR SHADOW IN THE SUNSET LIGHT
We ended the journey in the Etosha National Park home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including endangered species such as the black rhinoceros.
THE ETOSHA NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA
We were slowly driving, both alert, watchful for any noise or movement of animals, when suddenly, without warning, he appeared from behind a bush: the impressive black rhino. We didn't see him and now he was there, way closer than the safe distance.
Another emotional encounter occured that one afternoon when we were driving back to our camp site. He was there, in the golden sunset light, moving slowly; a magestuous lonely elephant. It was an old specimen, covered in dry mud, both his tusks had been broken.
FULL MOON AT ETOSHA NATIONAL RESERVE, NAMIBIA ©Jean-Marc Joseph
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