There is an area of Namibia in which wild horses can be found. Being from Indiana in the U.S., I don’t have much experience with wild horses roaming about. So I was really looking forward to an opportunity to photograph them in Namibia.
When we first began to see them beside the road, we stopped frequently for some impromptu shooting. Wild horses socialized in small groups on both sides of the road.
I’d go to one side and then hear the people on the other side squeal with excitement as two horses on their side reared up and produced amazing photo ops.
I’d go to that side only to hear the folks on the side I came from make the same familiar elated squeal.
In these types of situations, my instincts are much like my line hopping skills at the grocery where I somehow manage to move further and further back in the que.
I didn’t get one blasted shot worth showing from any of the roadside photo stops.
But Kim had a stop on our itinerary which included a chance to photograph wild horses traversing the desert landscape at sunset. Our trip out to where the wild horses were began about an hour before our light would vanish and we needed at least that much time to get there. We had to hurry.
Once everyone piled into the truck with their gear, we headed out through the paddocks – stopping to open and close gate after gate.
Along the way out of the paddocks, we passed many domestic horses like the one above. On any other day, I would’ve considered them fine subjects, but we had a lot of ground to cover if we wanted to see wild horses at sunset.
I used the old method of counting how many fingers at arm’s length you can fit between the setting sun and the horizon and realized that we had about 45 minutes to traverse a lot of land. (15 minutes per finger).
Once out of the paddocks and into the desert, it became clear that our chances of getting the kind of shot that had motivated us to come here were slim indeed.
There were only a few driving paths through the desert, and in order to protect the vegetation and wildlife, vehicles were not permitted to deviate from these long established routes.
This meant that to some degree, we weren’t going to the horses – the wild horses of Namibia would instead have to come to us. Arrgghhh…
Then suddenly in the distance I made out a faint line of dust. With my lens, I could see that there was a line of horses making their way toward our little path. I knew as soon as I saw the horses that we wanted to put them and the little bit of dust they were kicking up between us and the sunset.
I also knew right away that the Nikon D3 with the 200-400mm f/4 lens would be perfect because at 400mm it would compress the foreground and background. It would also make the sun look larger in the composition.
Dust can create a wonderful effect when backlit. And don’t worry about blowing out the sun – it would appear blown out anyway if you had eyes capable of looking at it.
A few moments later and the event was over. My nerves were wrecked from wondering if we would get anything. But the satisfaction of seeing the images on the camera’s screen made it all worthwhile.
I knew that we sacrificed a lot of good photos along the way for this opportunity and blowing it would have been a terrible shame. Fortunately, the fates gave us all that any photographer can ever ask for – opportunity. At that point, the rest is up to us…