Friday, December 2, 2011

The Dunes Are Alive!

In my last blog, I described the life living WITHIN the dunes, but did you know the dunes, THEMSELVES, are "alive?" Dunes are constantly changing shape by the power of mother nature- especially when she blows strong winds up the windward side of the dunes, causing the grains of sand to blow over the crest to the shorter leeward side. 
Not only does this change the shape of the dune, but also causes some dunes (known as barchan dunes) to actually migrate across the desert a few meters each year; which is enough distance to periodically update maps currently in print.  (especially if they block roads, which they often do!!)
One afternoon on my most recent trip to Namibia, we set out to photograph the dune belt between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The wind was blowing quite strong- too strong to subject our gear to the constant abrasiveness of the sand grains blowing through the air. So, we spent some time sitting quietly in our vehicle watching the sand as it blew across the face of the dunes. It reminded me of a "tan blizzard" and it was mesmerizing to watch the swirling patterns of blowing sand as the millions of tiny grains brushed across the dunes and over the crest. I noticed that the speed of the wind and its gusts are what determined the dancing patterns we saw. It was like watching a ballet! I wanted to take this memory home with me since watching the blowing sand was so relaxing and fascinating.

I secured my bean bag bag on the car window for stable support and placed my Canon 5D Mark II on top of it. I braced the camera by placing my hand on the lens to stabilize the camera even more. Then, I shot many video clips of the scene before me hoping to capture the side lit dunes and the dancing sand.
Below is a link to my video page on my web site.  Here, there are two of my favorite videos I made from the afternoon which rival any still shots from the photo session. I hope you take less than 2 minutes from your day to witness the beauty of nature and the "movement" of the dunes.

Clcik HERE to view.


  1. Wendy, thanks for sharing these! I didn't realize it would be so windy there. Is it always? Susan

  2. No, Susan- not always this windy. It just happened to be windy the day we were there. On our first trip to Namibia, we had a very windy morning at Dead Vlei, and a windy afternoon around Dune 45, but all other days were calm and quiet.