We arrived in the middle of the dunes well before sunrise. When we bundled out of the bus, we didn't know whether to go left or right, so we flipped a coin and walked straight ahead. What followed in the next few hours was the most amazing light show of my life as the sand dunes of the Namib desert came to life.
We spent the day in the dunes and in Sossusflei, all now popular tourist destinations. In the afternoon, we headed back along the single road and stopped at Dune 45. Why Dune 45? I'm told because it is 45 kilometres from Sesrium.
The image opposite is what I saw in the late afternoon light. It's funny how some negatives or files stand out when you review your images. I printed this over 30 times, struggling to get exactly the right gradation of tones at the top of the dune and in the sky. It was a marathon darkroom effort, but the following morning as I sorted through my prints, I couldn't really tell which was my masterpiece. At least half a dozen looked identical to me.
The print helped win me the 1996 Australian Professional Photographer of the Year, but there's nothing like having friends to bring you down to earth. Upon hearing of my success, one of my fellow travellers John Bazzano sent me a copy of an English magazine that had been printed a couple of years earlier. In it was a centre-spread photograph of the same dune and trees from a very similar angle. There's nothing new in photography, but my mother tells me mine was the better print.