A few months ago I won two First Prizes in the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards - one for a series of four night shots from Namibia, and one for a time lapse video that was also shot entirely at night in the same country.

You can watch the time lapse video here:

Namibian Nights (videoclip)

This is basically a test shot (camera angle, direction of the lights) for this image. I would normally not shoot with so much distortion, but in video the rules are completely different than in photography. In this case I knew that the typical wide angle perspective distortion would work great if the camera moved forward and that it would create a lot of depth. Most timelapse videos are basically moving stills, and that's something that I did not want.

For lighting this scene I used two small lights that stayed on during the entire shoot. Setting up a scene like this takes up a lot of time, because you're dealing with a moving camera - finding a good composition is not enough, you need at least two: a starting compositing and an end composition. This means that you're constantly moving the rail inch by inch and that you have to make adjustments to the camera position as well. The perfect camera position at the start composition may not be the perfect camera position for the end composition.

Depth of field is another problem - shooting at night you usually shoot with a wide aperture to get as much light in as possible, which means a shallow depth of field. This is usually not a problem when you're shooting stills, but it's an entirely different ballgame when your camera is moving - your zone of sharpness moves. So even if you think you have a great composition for all camera positions, you may still have to change everything because of depth of field issues.

This is why shooting a dolly-based night time lapse takes up so much time.

If you're interested in joining me on this trip and learn more about night photography and composition, please check out my website for more information:

Squiver Photo Tours & Workshops

We were the first company to offer a specialized nature photography tour to Namibia many years ago, and the first to do night photography there, and it has since become our most copied tour. Many other companies now offer similar trips, but don't let that fool you - none of the workshop leaders has neither the experience nor the artistic accolades that we do. If you seriously want to improve your landscape and night photography, while having a great time with a small group of like-minded enthusiasts - this is the trip for you.

All tours for this year are fully booked, but you can already reserve a spot for the 2014 trip.

Hope to see you there!


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©2013 Marsel van Oosten, All Rights Reserved. This image is not available for use on websites, blogs or other media without the explicit written permission of the photographer.

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