Capture Namibia: Photography Tips from Jan & Jay Roode
Jan & Jay Roode are the husband and wife team behind Skyhawk Photography. These two avid conservationists and adventurers have been taking to the skies to capture the best of Namibia. We caught up with them to find out what makes photographing Namibia such a soul stirring experience.
Defiant – An ancient Camel Thorn tree stands defiant to both time and the extreme elements on the blinding white salt pans of the Sossusvlei complex. Photo by: Jay Roode
Tell us about your most unforgettable moment while shooting in Namibia.
In the Nama language “Namib” means vast which is really the only word that truly captures the infinities of space, sky and solitude of this timeless place. For us it is a special environment for inspiration and a unique place to ponder the human soul.
Trying emotively to put into words what it feels like to take off with the sunrise on cool desert air and fly low over rolling dune fields, golden prairies covered in Oryx and Springbok or along the mist cloaked Skeleton coast is one that I am going to have to leave for our images to convey.
We have many unforgeable moments from our shoots in Namibia, on the ground and in the air so it is hard to single out a particular one, but some that stand out are; finding ourselves alone one afternoon at Deadvlei with a silence so deep we could hear our own heartbeats, watching the wind bound through a never ending sea of swaying grasses, waking up to the calls of the Namaqua Sandgrouse and the Barking Gecko, taking off with the dawn into a pale blue desert sky and watching the landscape turn to burnished gold beneath us …... the list is impossibly endless.
River of Life – a salt water estuary spreads inland on limbs of pastel blue and green south of Walvis Bay. Photo by: Jay Roode
"Namibia is one of the most photogenic places on earth, it is a place made up more of sky than of earth and its vastness never fails to touch our souls" - Jay Roode
The Wanderer – A lone Ostrich wanders the brazen orange dunes of the Naukluft. Photo by: Jay Roode
How does Namibia compare to other places you’ve photographed?
Namibia is incomparable to other destinations we have travelled; it is a cosmos of form and colour and a photographers dream. The diversity of its landscapes, people and wildlife could keep any photographer busy for a lifetime.
As one of the worlds least populated countries, it is a a place where a person can revel in timeless isolation and can explore the pursuit of beauty and silence without distraction.
Namibia has well established roads, accommodation for every taste and budget, is safe to travel through and is populated with some of the friendliest and most hospitable people on the planet which makes it an extremely “photographer friendly” destination. However one does need to prepare for extreme distances between destinations and set aside a good chuck of time to truly explore this enchanted land.
Nama Starburst – we only just recently discovered what the purpose of this star-burst pattern is thanks to a man named Bertie Kotze. These are apparently the remains of a discontinued Decca navigation system/Radar station. The grid pattern is a system of underground cables. …..... and here we were getting overly imaginative with explanations that included extra terrestrial life forms and an eccentric yet highly motivated German artist. Photo by: Jay Roode
Mysteries – An undiscovered salt pan, not unlike Deadvlei lies like a pearl in the swirling dune sea of the Naukluft. Photo by: Jay Roode
Which photos shot in Namibia are you most proud of?
We have taken some gob smacking images from the air in Namibia so we would be hard pressed to choose just three. However here are three we particularly love....
Spirit Rising, Photo by: Jay Roode
The Eduard Bolean shipwreck, an old German Woermann-Linie steamer that ran aground near Conception Bay on the Skeleton Coast in 1909. The shadow seems almost more solid that the ship itself and is the only indication what this vessel must have looked like in its heyday.
On Wings of Stillness, Photo by: Jay Roode
This image was taken on the jet black brine pans found south of the harbour town of Walvis Bay on the Namibian coastline.
The Walvis Bay Ramsar Site is regarded as the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa, not only for the large numbers of resident species found here, but particularly for the vast numbers of both intra-African and Palaearctic migrants. It is renowned for the large numbers of both Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingo, and has been listed by RAMSAR as a Natural heritage site.
Our aircraft is so silent that the normally exceptionally sensitive Flamingo are left undisturbed allowing us to capture these tranquil and undisturbed moments from above.
Suspended, Photo by: Jay Roode
Where the golden dunes meet the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on an exceptionally calm day.
What is your equipment of choice for your Namibian expeditions?
On our photography expeditions essential items we always include would be; our Bose noise reduction headsets and some seriously laid back music (Bob Dylan and some Mark Knopfler normally hits the spot), Fisherman’s Friend extra strong mints, a weird and wonderful selection of bits and bobs such as an emergency locator beacon, an extra fuel bladder, first aid and survival kits and of course a hair dryer (just kidding). A warm jacket and thermos of coffee for those cold desert mornings and a good pair of walking shoes are also essential.
But from a photography perspective we never leave without two camera bodies and a plethora of lenses ranging from super wide angle all the way up to a prime 300mm with extenders. Spare batteries and a fist full of very large memory cards are also on the list.
Colours of Salt – A truck drives along a road dividing two deep pink salt pans near Walvis Bay. Photo by: Jay Roode
A photographer friend is desperate to capture the best of Namibia. What top 3 tips would you give them?
#1: Make time – set aside a decent amount of time to photograph Namibia, it is a vast place with so much to see and experience. We would recommend a month.
#2: Take your time – don't rush from destination to destination in search of that perfect image. Enjoy each destination for what it is, search for the magic. Breath and feel the vastness – take time to plan your shots - it will reflect in your images
#3: Make use of the golden hours of dawn and dusk, that's when the desert really comes alive
Splendour – A desert transformed - this image was taken in 2011 just after some of the heaviest and most prolonged rains in Namib history. Photo by: Jay Roode
About Jan & Jay Roode from Skyhawk Photography
Husband and wife team Jan and Jay Roode are avid conservationists and adventurers and having left their successful corporate careers now dedicate themselves full-time to photographing Southern Africa from above.Jan is the man in the pilot’s seat of a light aircraft which has been specifically modified for aerial photography, and Jay wields the Canon. They work together constantly to get the best angle on a particular scene.
For the Roode's their obsession with aerial photography comes from the unique angle aerial photography gives us; it challenges our perspectives of the world and allows us to truly grasp the beauty and magnitude of the African landscape.
Most importantly it allows us to see whole landscapes and ecosystems as living breathing entities to be conserved. A percentage of the sale of each of their images goes back to a conservation cause in the country from which it was taken.
Find out more about Skyhawk photography on their website www.skyhawkphotography.com Facebook page or on Twitter @Skyhawkphoto
More Photographer Tips
This part of a series of blog post interviews with professional photographers on how to Capture Namibia. Every week we'll be posting tips, tricks and amazing photographs from these impressive photographers.
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