The Desert Adapted Giraffes of Damaraland

Updated: Jul 2

Find out what our leading wildlife photographer Mark A Fernley is getting up to outside of our photography tours. Read about his photography journey to photograph the wildlife of Damaraland, located in North West Namibia.


As we arrived in our 4x4 truck loaded up with camera gear, I could not grasp the barren terrain that overpowered this vast landscape. In search for wildlife that inhabited this desert, I found that the lighting was adequate for long distance shooting. As I drove into the vast desert hills of Purros, I spotted a large herd or “tower” of giraffe making their way into the distance. This large group stood perfectly in line with each other, and I had to attempt to get the shot.





As the desert adapted Giraffes were walking away and all eyes were off me, I hastily grabbed my Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport Lens for greater reach on the giraffe group. With the Canon 5D Mark IV, I was able to obtain high quality for this potential photograph. Along with a useful and sturdy tripod, I slowly followed the giraffe through the hilly desert of the Purros mountains and finally got to a location where they noticed my presence. I stood still, aware of my surroundings and set the kit up. With tripod, lens and body attached, I extended the Sigma lens to approximately 550mm, giving me a great composition. My Canon 5D Mark IV then had to be set swiftly. The shutter speed was set to a 2,000th of a second providing a sharp image but light enough compensated by the harsh sun’s light at that time. My focal distance was set at F5.1 to project a sharp collection of Giraffes while obtaining a visual but slightly blurred background. Finally, the ISO was set to 500 to equalise the remaining lighting but to obtain a crisp image. As all Giraffes of the group halted, I was lucky enough to get all individuals facing one direction. The image turned out perfectly. Setting these desert Giraffe to one side allowed the image to attain some sort of a story holding this empty space. After the shots were taken, we quickly retreated to the vehicle where we set up camp in search for the Desert Adapted Elephants of Purros.





Once we got into the truck, we found ourselves approached by a large male Desert Elephant. This stunning yet lonely individual made its way through the dried riverbed towards us. These desert adapted elephants, making a rare population of about 600 individuals, had to be photographed. The sands that hit the side of these Desert Elephants would really make an interesting and harsh image that would best express their survival in this barren landscape of Namibia. With the settings previously used for the Giraffe and same equipment, this bull had strolled past for a perfect photograph as I was able to capture a layer of dust surrounding the subject almost acting like a subtle filter. Capturing many images of this individual was not a problem as his distance from me kept equal as he slowly made his way past the truck.


Mark A Fernley



Join Mark A Fernley with Untamed Photography Tours during our wildlife photography workshops, tours and safaris in our unique wildlife locations around the world. From the depths of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest through the dry flatlands of Africa and into the secret forests of India, Untamed Photography Tours is here to help you gain wildlife images of all kind that will make you stand out from the crowd.

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