Sand dunes and trees

The sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia were formed around 5 million years ago, and are some of the highest in the world. The rich orange and red colours of these dunes owe much to the iron content of the sand. Here, embedded in the foot of one of these giants, stands a tree next to a fallen comrade. That the tree has grown, survived, and even thrived in such a harsh environment is testament to its hardiness. You need to be tough to survive in these desert conditions. Certainly my camera gear put up a valiant fight against the sand, with tripod legs being particularly susceptible.

Woman’s Bridge in Buenos Aires

It was 2006, and it had been several years since I had last visited Buenos Aires, so it was good to venture out and explore the place. Wandering along the docks of Puerto Madero, and enjoying the music and food of this fascinating district, I spotted a distinctive and elegant structure which I didn’t recognise. On closer inspection, I discovered that it was a rotating pedestrian bridge named El Puente de La Mujer or Woman’s Bridge. Now, I had made the rookie mistake of keeping a polarising filter on my camera lens most of the time which had the effect of creating very dark and uneven skies in a lot of my photos. However, in this close-up of the bridge’s central steel needle, the contrast between dark and light is dramatic to say the least, but which I think works.

Minaret of Jam, Afghanistan

The ancient Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan, 2009. It does have a significant lean but there have been efforts to stabilise the tower. This quote from the Lonely Planet “Afghanistan” Travel Guide (1st Edition, published 2007) is what really got me interested in going to Afghanistan…

Crossing the centre of the country along the spine of the Hindu Kush is one of the most remote and adventurous journeys it’s possible to do in Afghanistan, but one that rewards travellers with a continuous parade of stunning mountain scenery. Travelling from Bamiyan, the route travels through the Hazarajat over a series of high mountain passes to the heart of the medieval Ghorid empire. This is a land of tiny villages, marginal agriculture, and nomad caravans with their camels and yurts. At its centre lies the fabled Minaret of Jam, hidden from foreign eyes for centuries, and even now is accessible to only the hardiest travellers.

Woman in the fields of Myanmar

We had made a very early start to the day, it was well before sunrise, for our journey to some fields near Hpa An in Myanmar. Traipsing across the fields, surrounded by the irregularity of the karst landscape, we soon reached our objective where we saw a handful of women hand-cutting the crops. Here, an older woman greeted us with a smile, perhaps somewhat surprised that we wanted to take photographs of her and her co-workers.

Dead trees of Deadvlei

A unique view of the dead, desiccated trees of Deadvlei in Namibia which I photographed in August 2015. This photo won a Photoburst Travel Photo of the Day.

“Deadvlei” from the English word “dead” and the Afrikaans word “vlei” for marsh. It was once an area fed by the Tsauchab River where trees and other plants flourished. Perhaps 600-700 years ago, maybe 900 years ago, the changing climate and encroaching sand dunes conspired to cut-off the water supply, killing-off the trees and most of the plants.

Today, visitors are greeted by an eerie but spectacular sight. Illuminated by the brilliant blue skies, a white clay pan is surrounded by rust-coloured sand dunes which are reputed to be some of the highest in the world at over 1,312 feet (400 metres). And the trees; dead, desiccated, and scorched black by the sun. Truly a forest of the dead.