Himba People

The Himba People really stands out, they wear little clothing, the women are famous for covering themselves with otijze, a mixture of butter fat and ochre, possibly to protect themselves from the sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. This symbolizes earth’s rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life, and is consistent with the Himba ideal of beauty. You can read about the Himba People here.

To photograph people is a skill and it is very much about beeing at the same level as the people and to gain their trust. If you just pop a big camera in their face and treat them like an alien you wont be successful in getting their genuine smile or reactions. For the interested photographer it is good to let the camera rest for a while before you start photographing. You have to show them that you have a genuine interest in what, how and why they do the things that they do. The stories you´ll get explains the images and can be useful to understand the culture and what is most significant for them. I always try to give them some food afterwards to show my appreciation instead of money because then I know what I support.

My first photography tip is to plan your photography session according to the daylight. This makes it much easier to get soft even light, mornings and evenings are preferable. You can use flashes and reflectors and other equipment but that might be mood-changing for the ones you´re about to photograph. Sometimes a small camera and a humble attitude gets the best pictures. Quality of a portrait photo is in my opinion less technical than emotional. A technically perfect photo that doesn´t have any emotions is less interesting than a photo taken with an Iphone with some emotional stuff. I think that´s the reason why some prefer vintage image styles these days, they´re nostalgic and have lots of emotional moments from looking through their old polaroids. It actually makes the image quality worse but the emotional gain is way higher.

Second I try to get close to people, this makes the pictures more intimate when photographing portraits. You can use a wideangle lens to get the landscape in the background and the people up close. Even if you have a telelens, don´t use it. If things are in the way that you doesn´t want to include in the picture I rarely remove them, but I try to recompose the picture. The reason is quite obvious, the people will maybe feel insulted if that thing you remove is their most treasured belonging.

Third thing might be the most important one, keep moving, this is a general advice in photography, the more you move the more varied the pictures will be. By moving I mean move your camera, up and down, sideways and take a quick walk around the scene to choose the angle that you think is best.

These pictures where taken in a small Himba Village situated in Purros in northwestern Namibia.

Summary:

1. Plan your photography according to the daylight. Mornings and evenings are great for soft even light.

2. Get close, get intimate portraits.

3. Keep moving, discover new camera angles.

Morden - Nice tips and excellent pics. Im thinking of keeping gear simple when i visit the himba and use one lens. Would my 50mm f1.2 cover it? You pics seem to be around this FL. Cheers.

THE OUTDOORS

After a few days preparation in Swakopmund I eventually had bought the essential food and supply and packed it to travel Namibias great outdoors. I knew that planning is good when travelling off into the remote areas of Namibia. A common mistake (I learnt my lesson) is to look at the map and see that there will be “cities” that you will travel through and therefor come to the conclusion that there is a lot of stores on the way. However in Namibia the stores outside the bigger cities are very limitied in what they offer and it is clever to buy some extra fruit, vegetables, meat and so on. In my case I couldn´t by much that needed a fridge since I can´t afford one.

I have found out that packing food for a climate where the temperature hits 35 degrees is a challenge however one secret is to store the vegetables and fruit in paper bags in a black plastic container. Some fruits are better than others, banana, oranges and apples are good. They can easily withstand 4-6 days if you pack it in paperbags. The problem with plastic bags is that you get condensation inside the bag and the fruit starts to rotten. That is also the case for vegetables, I enjoy carrot, potatoes, unions, garlic, ginger because the last at least a week if you have used paper bags. You´ll need fresh spices like ginger and garlic to make your pasta or rice a little fancier when you cook over open fire.

Another good thing is salted potato chips which is very good for your hydration, you´ll lose a lot of salt, because you sweat a lot during your time in the outdoors. Eating salted potatochips and drinking water during daytime is a good way of keeping control of your hydration level.

If you´re a photographer another good thing is a power inverter 12V/240V which converts your car power into 240V, then you can charge the batteries for the camera, laptop etc. while driving. A general recommedation is to travel with at least two sparewheels in Namibia since the gravelroads and offroad tracks are pretty rough and can cost you a puncture or two. A spade is good if you get stuck in the sand. If you´re likely to drive in sand you might want to use different tyre pressures (deflate for sand) and then a electric pump is useful.

These are just some humble advices I have and it is not a complete list since I don´t have enough time for that now. And don´t forget the fuel, if you set of into remote areas, check if you´ll need extra jerrycans with fuel. The fuelconsumption can be pretty crazy when driving offroad so please be sure that you´ll have enough.

MENTAL JEWELRY

Climbing dunes is hard work. Today while driving around to locate a good starting point for climbing into the wonderland and massive walls of dunes between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay I thought about the fact that this sea of sand constantly changes, patterns, shapes, dunes move etc…. As soon as you start climbing you feel the sand that swirls around you, the wind, the sand buries your feet, you breathe heavily….. I love deserts, they exits for a reason and one must be that restless humans can find peace there. At least I do.

2 WORLDS

I first arrived to Windhoek on Thursday this week and there I slept one night at Erika & Hermans backpackers place called Backpacker Unite. They are the most warm and welcoming hosts and their place is a nice, cheap & clean place to stay in Windhoek. The day after I had planned to take a minibus to Swakopmund. The minibuses in Africa works fine, but they can be quite loaded with bags, people & other things that can be transported. Most minibuses even have a trailer to carry the bags etc… When Erika and Herman told me that they had planned to go to Swakopmund and that there were space for me it was a great relief. I have one huge duffel bag 33 kg, a camera backpack 12 kg and another camerabag with 8 kg. To carry them all at once is not an easy task since it is bulky bags. The reason why I headed for Swakopmund where I am as I write is that the car that broke down on me (more on that later) has been standing at a workshop in this coastal town of Namibia for a year. Swakopmund is a premier destination for retired germans who enjoys apfelstrudel and needs that as much as some swedes craves for pasta bolognese when visiting Mallorca. To be honest I think they´re just afraid of trying anything new.

Anyway Swakopmund can be quite nice as a peaceful place to spend a few days after some time out in the bush. There are some restaurants and lately there have opened a fine mexican restaurant and a new and tasty pizzeria. After making food over open fire it can be nice for a change.

My next step is to collect the car from the workshop which hopefully can be done tomorrow, monday.

At first sight Swakopmund looks very polished and I think most people doesn´t recognize that there are a township in Swakopmund called Mendosa. That is where most the workers and poor people live, love & laugh. From what I have seen it seems to be more brotherhood in this area than in the other areas of Swakopmund where people barely say hello. I took a walk myself tonight in Mendosa and even though it was sunday it was still a lot of things going on. You´ll get perspective while exploring how life can be just behind the polished facade.

A photostudio in Mendosa. How I wished it was open.

Some of the beachhouses in Swakopmund are quite impressive, not very African but who cares. The Atlantic Ocean is pretty cold here in Swakopmund and today the signboard said 13 degrees celcius. I thought for a while about taking a swim but I decided that it can wait until Mozambique and the Indian Ocean.

Even the Germans like Mamma Mia, I wonder if ABBA gets their royalty.

The owner or graphic designer must be one good copycat. It reminds just a little of a logo for an american coffeechain.

I don´t like fences, in particular not electric fences.

I wonder why every backpackers place around the world has a Buddha statue?

The Thunderstorm

A woman sitting next to me turned around looked at me with fear and said: Can you smell the smoke?

The trip from Copenhagen via Cairo and Johannesburg to the final destination Windhoek took some time, but when I finally arrived it didn´t feel like a year since I last walked the Namibian soil with my dusty sneakers. If you´re going to a place like Namibia you can leave the dress shoes or white converse at home, after a couple of hours you will have a layer of redish micro-dust that reminds you that you been on an adventure with the wrong type of shoes. It is good to have a pair of sneakers but probably your old worn-out ones are better to bring. They will be as good and if you feel for it, you can give them away to someone with the same shoesize before heading back home. In all you saved your fancy shoes and gave away a fine pair of useful shoes. That is what I will do when I am heading back home… Last year I saw africans run barefeet on gravelroads with stones in the size of legopieces, I had to rub my eyes twice to believe what I saw.

Arriving in Windhoek can be quite disappointing compared to looking at postcards of Namibia. I don´t think there is a single postcard with Windhoek as a motive. If there is that publishing house is probably done a bad business in printing the postcard. The city is useful to supply yourself with equipment, clothes and food before heading out to experience the postcard sceneries and adventures that Namibia offers. You don´t need a lot of equipment but a basic list of  “good-to-have-equipment will be supplied in a coming blogpost.” The most useful is probably a headlamp, among other things it offers you a life insurance at night, you don´t want to step on a Puff Adder in the bush.

The best thing about Windhoek is the dry heat of about 33 degrees, the nice fruit- and icecream cafees and a light that we haven´t seen for months in Sweden. I wish I had a lightmeter to compare it to the Novemberish milky and dark days back home.

 

The plane shook like a curtain in the wind and I felt a bit worried about the panic in some of the crew members eyes. There was a subtle smell in the cabin and to my fear it was smoke. In that moment I felt my pulse was beating faster, I tried to calm myself and read the text in my book but it didn´t help at all. When a woman who sat next to me, turned around and said: “can you smell the smoke?” I thought “This is it”. All crew members where asked to take their seats and suddenly people around me started throwing up, it felt surreal and I thought for myself, fuck why did I fly with Egyptair, even though I knew that was just bullshit. The storm and turbulence that the plane was passing through must have been somewhere over Zimbabwe I think. I kept my eyes on the altitude meter and to my relief the plane was still at the same height as the seconds before. People that threw up where running for the toilets even though the crew had asked everyone to stay at their seats. A couple of moments later, I actually don´t know if it was hours, minutes or seconds, I heard a tone from the message system and the pilot made an announcement. What was it all about? Are we gonna make it? He says that we have 40 minutes to the landing in Johannesburg. That must be good news! Eventually the turbulence stopped and everyone around me looked relieved, even though some where in shock. That was the worst flight situation I have ever experienced and I hope it stays that way.

All pictures where taken with a Sony RX100.

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