1. It’s breathtakingly beautiful to be at Sossusvlei in the Namib at first light and watch the first light on some of the highest dunes in the world and to see the stark forms of long dead camel thorn trees at Dead Vlei etch their graphic shapes against the dunes.
2. To be inside the park before sunrise and after sunset you need to stay at a camp inside the park. You can pitch a tent at the campsite, book into the Namibian Wildlife Resorts or one of the wilderness lodges. Unfortunately none of the lodgings come cheap.
3. For a more private and intimate experience visit the 100 000 hectare Namibrand Private Nature Reserve, which lies to the south of Sossusvlei, is privately run and offers a more exclusive and equally spectacular experience. Early morning overlooking the Chateau is a breathtaking experience.
4. The desert has great light briefly for a few hours before and after sunrise and sunset. When setting it out it can be very extreme in the desert during the winter months May to July so prepare yourself for temperatures as low as zero degrees and climbing up to beyond 25 in the middle of the day.
5. Clouds make great subjects for landscapes. You are likely to find them during winter (May to June) and also during the summer months (January to May). August and September can be very windy months and is also when the park is most busy. The rains are most likely from January to February. At the end of the rains the landscape is very green and you can see fantastic flowers.
6. In the desert it is safe to get out of the vehicle and to exploit the light. For landscapes in low light where you will need depth of field you will need a tripod.
7. Spend at least two nights at Sossusvlei. I suggest an sunrise at Deadvlei and another on Big Momma overlooking the vlei.
8. A backpack style camera bag that gives you easy access to your gear is ideal for the desert.
9. You will need good walking shoes that are sufficiently high that they do not let in the sand into them while walking up the steep dunes. Its a bonus if you are up to climbing the tall dunes but if not up to the challenge there are great low level angles to be had.
10. A macro lens is great for close up shots of desert animals. It’s easiest to photograph insects in the early morning when the air temperature is coolest.
Photographing a golden orb web spider at Wolwedans. Shot at 20mm with a D700 at f22. The Chateau at Wolwedans shot at sunset. HDR image was created using three different exposures that were taken on centre weighted, and then spot metered on the foreground and the sky and then combined in Photomatix. Tripod highly recommended for such images.