Extreme Photography

In October 2011, German amateur photographer Marcus Böhm fulfilled a longtime dream of traveling through Namibia and Botswana. His luggage contained also two ZEISS lenses: the Distagon T* 3,5/18 and the Makro-Planar T* 2/100. In just four weeks, Böhm (34) covered 5,000 kilometers and produced some truly fascinating photographs of the landscape and native wildlife.

Rehobot sunset (Namibia) (F/9; 5 sec.; ISO-400)

Rehobot sunset (Namibia)

On his first night in Rehoboth (Namibia), Marcus Böhm had his work cut out as he was treated to a spectacular sunset. He had originally booked a simple camping area and planned to sleep in an open SUV using a blanket as a roof. When he arrived, he was pleasantly surprised when he was shown to a comfortable, thatch-roofed house next to a lake. Marcus Böhm positioned his camera and Distagon T* 3,5/18 on the wall along the terrace and using a remote release captured this view for eternity. The shot convinced Marcus Böhm he had made the right decision in taking along this ZEISS super wide-angle lens. Thanks to its very large angular field of 99⁰, he managed to capture the great expanse of the African landscapes and national parks in their unforgettable, natural beauty.

Another indispensable tool during his safari trip was the Makro-Planer T* 2/100. As a product designer, Marcus Böhm has an eye for aesthetics in his profession. His talent also helps in macro photography, in which patience, intuition and a trained eye are invaluable for capturing the tiny details of the miniature world. Böhm particularly valued the manual focusing and the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 felt like a true precision instrument. He also liked the large rotation angle, which enabled extremely precise focusing and targeted accentuation of the finest aspects of the motif.

It was not just the lenses’ comfortable feel and their excellent image quality that made him take ZEISS lenses on his trip though. He also needed something robust and compact. Here, too, the lenses completely met his expectations as neither the constant shaking on the bumpy dirt roads nor the extreme heat or fine desert dust caused any problems with the lenses.

The first two weeks took Marcus Böhm from the capital Windhoek through the towns of Rehoboth and Solitaire in the Namib Desert. From there he headed north through Etosha National Park, home to virtually every large animal species found in southern Africa, with the exception of crocodiles, hippopotamuses, waterbucks and buffalos. Finally, he reached “Caprivi Strip”, the locals’ name for northeastern Namibia’s extended tip. Marcus Böhm later crossed the border into Botswana, photographed Chobe National Park, known for its large elephant population, and Noremi Wildlife Reserve.  He returned to Windhoek by way of Maun in the Okavango Delta.

Two vintage cars in Solitaire (Distagon T* 3,5/18; F/3,5; 1/3200 sec.; ISO-400)

Two vintage cars in Solitaire

These two vintage cars perfectly express an atmosphere of desertion. Welcome to Solitaire, a tiny settlement just before the Namib Desert. There’s nothing here – except for a gas station and a couple of homes and stores. This picture was shot in the midday heat using the Distagon T*3,5/18. The extreme angular view enabled the photographer to draw attention to both rotting cars close by against the backdrop of an expansive landscape. In this way, the cars gain a powerful presence.

Microcosm wasp’s nest (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/8; 1/200 sec.; ISO-640)

Microcosm wasp’s nest

The calm after the storm south of Solitaire. After a rough night in the rooftop tent of his Jeep, Marcus Böhm discovered a wasp’s nest near his camping ground the next morning. The nest was under a tree – no doubt the result of the storm that raged through the near-treeless savannah and grasslands the night before. Nearly five centimeters in length, the imposing wasp was guarding its nest - a perfect moment for the Makro-Planar  T* 2/100. Marcus Böhm approached the wasp until he was just a few centimeters away and focused on the insect’s facial expressions. Thanks to the stunning clarity, you could imagine you’re part of a microcosm. This feeling is reinforced by the shallow depth of field.

Dunes of the Namib Desert (Distagon T* 3,5/18; F/5,6; 1/1250 sec.; ISO-640)

Dunes of the Namib Desert

Like a work of art, this dead tree seems to be welcoming you to the impressive dunes of the Namib Desert. No photography enthusiast can pass by such a scene without capturing it on film. Böhm went for the wide-angle Distagon T* 3,5/18 and the golden section to give this motif its special presence and aesthetics.

Sunset with the Zebra Mountains as backdrop (Distagon T* 3,5/18; F/4; 1/100 sec.; ISO-400)

Sunset with the Zebra Mountains as backdrop

Fascinating cloud formations in Naukluft National Park with the Zebra Mountains as backdrop. It is a bare, desert-like region, dotted with small rivers. A thunderstorm developed late afternoon but lasted no more than 15 minutes. Not long afterwards, the water had evaporated and the clouds gave way to a beautiful sunset. This freehand shot was taken with the Distagon T* 3,5/18. Capturing such unique perspectives in full beauty is only possible if the lens’s angular field is large enough.

A praying mantis (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/7,1; 1/250 sec.; ISO-1000)

A praying mantis

The last stop before the huge Etosha National Park in a camp near Khorixas. While looking for firewood, Marcus Böhm wondered why a branch he wanted to use suddenly ran away. It was a praying mantis. The photographer carefully positioned the branch with the animal on top in the grass, grabbed his tripod and captured the moment on film with his Makro-Planar T* 2/100.

Oryx antelopes in Etosha National Park (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/10; 1/640 sec.; ISO-640)

Oryx antelopes in Etosha National Park

Visitors looking for wildlife at midday in Etosha National Park will find them among the scattered trees and shrubs. Here, three Oryx antelope are looking for protection from the scorching sun. For this shot, Marcus Böhm used the Makro-Planar T* 2/100, proving it can also be used effectively as a (short) telephoto lens.

Elephant herd at a cool mud bath (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/9; 1/1000 sec.; ISO-500)

Elephant herd at a cool mud bath

To photograph this elephant herd, Marcus Böhm drove his vehicle at walking speed to their watering hole. The matriarch on the left was not going to let him get any closer. As soon as the photographer turned off the Jeep’s engine, he was no longer a danger and the calves were allowed to wade around in the cool mud bath. A great shot thanks to the Makro-Planar T* 2/100.

Giraffes at watering hole (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/4,5; 1/5000 sec.; ISO-400)

Giraffes at watering hole

Marcus Böhm had heard that giraffes take turns drinking. Here he witnessed it with his own eyes. The other family members watch out for dangers — which there was here, as there was a lion hidden in the adjacent undergrowth only visible with binoculars. It had its eyes on the herd at all times. No wonder this picture was taken from the Jeep (Makro-Planar T* 2/100).

A Dragonfly along the Okavango-River (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/6,3; 1/500 sec.; ISO-400)

A Dragonfly along the Okavango-River

Again and again, Marcus Böhm was fascinated by the insect world he encountered. He spotted this dragonfly near the city of Rundu along the Okavango River, the border to Angola (freehand shot with Makro-Planar 2/100).

Butterfly in the Mudumu Game Reserve (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/11; 1/160 sec.; ISO-500)

Butterfly in the Mudumu Game Reserve

Insects like this butterfly, shot in the Mudumu Game Reserve (Caprivi Strip), nourish themselves with essential minerals in the damp sand near the watering holes. Marcus Böhm crawled through the mud to get within a few centimeters of the butterfly with his Makro-Planar T* 2/100. Details easily overlooked by the naked eye are easily captured with a macro lens: just look at this tiny creature’s colors and body patterns.

Elephant bath in the Kwando-River (Makro-Planar T* 2/100; F/5,6; 1/640 sec.; ISO-400)

Elephant bath in the Kwando-River

According to the guide who accompanied Marcus Böhm on a boat ride on the Kwando River on the border between Namibia and Botswana, elephants feed on natural plant remedies when they feel unwell. This elephant is eating the roots of a hydrophyte that according to the ranger are especially effective. This picture was taken freely using the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 the moment the boat stopped in front of the elephant.

Sunset at the Okavango Delta (Distagon T* 3,5/18; F/4; 1/100 sec.; ISO-100)

Sunset at the Okavango Delta

Another spectacular African sunset near at the end of Marcus Böhm’s trip. He will never forget this shot — nighttime in the heart of the forest of Kwhai Community Camp in the Okavango Delta. No fences, no rangers and no people far or wide. Just the nighttime calls of African wild dogs. And the perfect kind of image for the wide-angle Distagon T* 3,5/18.

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4 Comments

  1. Christian Petersen

    Great photographs. Thanks for sharing them.
    I lived in South Africa for nearly 20 years and travelled extensively there. I am amazed at the results of an 18mm especially that in the Okavango and the Dunes of the Namib Desert. Beautiful, beautiful. I can feel being there even though I haven't!
    Am I correct to assume these are high resolution photographs cropped to taste?

    Reply
  2. Hopefully, I'll get one soon. I really need a super wide for landscapes and interiors. What really concerns me eventually is field curvature and ease of focusing and achieving sharp images from foreground to background.

    Reply

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