Getting that “Wild West” feel – “down under” in Namibia

Just outside the vast “dune sea” of the Namib Naukluft Park is the last place you can get gas, before you venture into the coppery-red dunes of Sossusvlei, a dry but harsh landscape where only the most well-adapted creatures can survive. The place consists of the Solitaire Lodge, a small coffee shop and gas station, and a few ramshackle buildings. Adding extra character are a number of rusty vintage cars scattered about the property, surrounded by sand and the occasional cactus. It gives the place a “wild west” feel you might get outside Death Valley in the U.S. – you can almost imagine tumbleweeds rolling by. But you’re in Solitaire, Namibia.

When we stopped in Solitaire, I immediately thought about how cool the old cars would look in the morning light, in spite of the clouds which cut down on the shadows I was looking for. But when I processed the photos, though they looked OK, they didn’t quite capture what I had been looking for in my mind’s eye:

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Luckily, though, these were RAW format photos, so I decided to play around a bit with the sliders on the program Photomatix (which is good for HDR photography but can create many other effects).  Some people will not agree with this degree of manipulation, but I like how things turned out:

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