Sossusvlei : A Collection of Photos from Another World
A photo essay of Sossusvlei’s gargantuan red desert dunes, families of dead camel thorn trees frozen in cracked, white clay and sprinkles of life. Magic.
Located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, lies Sossusvlei – literally meaning “The Marsh of No Return”. The name derives from the fact that the pan itself is a drainage basin with no outflows (though no one would blame you for thinking that it was because the harsh landscape swallowed people whole).
The surrounding area is often referred to as Sossusvlei too and includes the famous Dooie Vlei as well as many other famous dunes (including the largest dune in the world – Dune 7). This photo essay documents our journey through this unusual landscape to what at times really felt like another world.
Frozen in Time
Perhaps the most iconic photographic element of Sossusvlei is Dooie Vlei (dead marsh) – the famous clay pan surrounded by some of the largest dunes in the world and dotted by the blackened skeletons of dead camel thorn trees . It is believed that the site was formed between 600 and 700 years ago when, due to climate change, the Tsauchab river (which used to flood the pan) got blocked off from the area.
Slipping through the soft red sand of the dunes surrounding the pan, we eventually reached the top (camera gear in hand), opting not join the brave tourists sliding down the other side on cardboard boxes.
During our time in Sossusvlei we were lucky enough to experience the ebb and flow of nature over this spot frozen in time – a testament to the way that life always just carries on and on.
… the rise and fall of the sun and moon…
…thick desert mist nourishing small desert plants
… the relentless desert wind blasting sand in our eyes
… dark clouds build over head and then release a fleeting but welcome rain…
Passage of Time
There is something about the desert – something ancient, yet impermanent; something still yet fluid; something dead yet completely alive. The three photos below are testament to this.
Taken from the same spot at three different times during the day, the photos show how the light reflecting off the dune in the background changes during the day. There is no Photoshop involved here – just the very real magic of nature.
Beauty in Isolation
Spend too much time in the desert and your eyes start to play tricks on you. Lonely trees spring to life like elegant ballerinas, sand ripples like water and the sun puts the spotlights on.
Perspective / Proportion
With the tallest sand dunes in the world (some measuring 400m in height), it is easy to feel small in Sossusvlei. Towering over the landscape, filling the skies with their red sand, fluid yet motionless.
A Living Desert
Even in this harsh climate, life continues to find a way to exist. Springbok and gemsbok dot the plains with the dunes serving at the ultimate backdrop.
If you would love to own one of the photos above, you can find them (and many other fine art prints) on Adam’s website: www.rabinowitz-photography.com/portfolio. Prints can be ordered framed (currently only available in South Africa) or can be shipped in a tube internationally.
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