Inspirations – Two Trees, Etosha by Mark Olwick
This photo was taken during a month-long trip through Southern Africa. I knew before I left that my photo equipment would not be the usual “Big camera with huge telephoto” that most people take to Africa since most of my gallery work has been done with a Holga 120N.
Prior to the trip, I made a shot list of photographs that I had visualized in my mind. This photo was one of the results of that effort (with a minor difference). I knew that Etosha National Park in Namibia was a vast, flat plain of desert scrub, along with the more famous salt pan. I wanted to capture that vastness. The way I visualized it was with one lone tree, a huge sky and the vast emptiness of the pan.
When I came across these two trees though, they really struck me. I still had the vastness I was looking for, but the way that the two trees leaned towards each other also suggested a loneliness or longing for companionship. I imagined that solitary animals, such as the lions or elephants that inhabit the park, also welcome that companionship once and a while. The trees symbolized that in my mind. The cloud pattern also added a very nice geometric element to the frame, drawing your eye across it.
My Holga, which uses 120 medium format film, was loaded with Efke IR 820 black and white infrared film and a Hoya R72 IR filter. I’ve used this film extensively and love the dreamy quality it gives when combined with the plastic Holga lens. I knew that it would turn the skies dramatically black and the clouds puffy white, but with a soft aura around them.
Since that film is incredibly slow (I shoot it at around ISO 6) the exposure was around 1 second. Everything about the Holga is approximate, so if you want exact times, that isn’t the camera for you. I set up my tripod in the safari vehicle since it wasn’t safe to wander around outside, composed and held my breath while holding the shutter on bulb for about a second. Even though you never know what you’ll get with a Holga until you process the film, this photo actually turned out how I had visualized it. No post-processing at all except for a slight crop of the bottom. ~Mark Olwick