Quiver Tree Forest, Keetmanshoop, Namibia by Alastair Craig

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Picture Story

I love Africa - a simple statement, but true. I had dreamed about going there for many years, but work and family commitments made the cost too high and the time too difficult to find.

I eventually went to Kenya for my first visit in 2013 after I took early retirement from teaching, went back, this time to South Africa in 2016, and managed to get back again in 2017 to complete a road trip through much of Namibia. I was travelling with friends from Tusk Photo, a group with whom I had previously tracked Snow Leopards in the Himalayas, so I had some great company.

The trip in was not without a degree of irritation because someone opened my bag at Jo'burg airport and stole my hair & beard clippers, though they left behind a set of radio triggers, my tripod and some other kit worth much more than the clippers! Trying to explain to the airport police that they needed to look for an unusually well groomed worker with no sense of values didn't really work, so I gave up on that one.

After flying on to Windhoek, we boarded our Toyotas and headed off to one of our first stops, in the Keetmanshoop area to capture the iconic Quiver Tree Forest against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Because the place we were staying in was primitive to say the least, there was absolutely no ambient light and we were able to capture some really amazing sights. In this shot, I painted the trees in the foreground very lightly with a small torch to pick out the contrast between the texture of the Quiver Trees and the sheer depth of the Milky Way.

The challenge with trying to capture both a sharp foreground and a sharp Milky Way meant that pixel-peeping while previewing the shots was critical, and cost a few test shots. To get the right amount of light painted on the foreground trees also cost a few more, so that the Milky Way was clearly changing orientation as we shot.

I may try to post one or two of the daylight shots later, but if you get the chance to travel here, don't miss out on this most incredible sight - and don't forget a small torch!


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