It’s been a week and a half since I left the boys somewhere between Ayuun and Sisir. In my absence, the expedition family has grown considerably. The once small flock of three camels has now become seven, in addition to a group of Omani army special forces guys who bring with them, their own flock. And despite the incredible hospitality shown near the start, the goat dinner and festive campfire parties with late night dancing and camel meat, it too has continued to grow. The local Omani Sheikhs and Bedu’s have taken it upon themselves to ensure the expedition team receive the best possible exposure. I guess news travels fast in these remote desert climes. During my visit, I was invited to a party by the main Sheikh from Hauyma. Despite being 200km from any civilization, great food and entertainment was enjoyed by all.
I met the boys at an oil station in the midst of the Rub al Khali desert, still within Omani territory although not far from the Saudi border. The team had just been fed to the brim and enjoyed long, decadent showers. Expedition life doesn’t appear to be that harsh if you find the right places. I, for one, was delighted that everyone smelt nice and fresh again! A quick cup of tea to revive me following the nine hour drive down and we were off into the dunes; stunning, expansive dunes with wide subkahs (salt flats).
Shooting in such an awesome part of the world can’t fail to be amazing yet it brings with it, its own challenges. How do you create varied work day in day out when each day boils down to a handful of guys, on camels, in sand? Little changes other than the angle of the sun. Certainly, the best light is found at the crack of dawn and again at dusk.
On my final afternoon, before returning to Dubai, the magical hour before sunset was astonishing. The sand dunes were on fire with warm red sand, expansive shadows and breathtaking scenery. I shot like crazy, dashing around like a mad man; long lens, wide, fisheye, front, side, low angle, trowing myself on the floor in front of the camels in a quest to be as creative as possible … the guys, despite thinking I was a little crazy, loved it.
I just find it incredibly motivating and equally empowering to find these scenes come alive thanks to the great light. There’s never a guarantee that such moments will be captured which I’ve no doubt adds to the appeal. Some days are just average. Others can be amazing, yet you’re stuck in a gorge with no subject to shoot.
This day however, brought the subject and the light hand in hand. This day became the perfect end to a chapter.