The desert is a fantastic and unique environment, which is different to any other natural scenery. Due to its uncommon nature, the approach requires some out-of-the-box thinking as well. In this article, I’ll give you some advice on planning, composition, gear and other aspects of desert photography.
Learn about the right equipment and techniques so you can capture awe-inspiring desert photos.
Preparation for Desert Photography
The most important thing about your desert trip is safety. There are so many dangers out there that you’ll want to sort them out beforehand. These are the essentials that you need to have for a short trip:
- A sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses
- A scarf
- Plenty of water
- Appropriate footwear
- A hydrating snack (like an apple)
Lenses for Desert Photography
The minimal focal range you must have is 20 mm to 200 mm and I recommend to have a wider range, like 15 to 300 mm (EFR). This way you’ll be able to capture all types of landscapes and abstract sand patterns.
What to Photograph
There are so many subjects in the desert and each of them deserves your attention. I’ll some of them in the list below:
- Sand patterns
- Lone dunes
- Dead trees
- Grass and wildflowers
- Dune patterns
- Abstract geometry
- The wind
- Terrain contrast
I bet you’ll want to return to the desert over and over again just because it’s impossible to shoot everything you want in one go unless you have several cameras at once and yet I’m not sure.
I have a small desert some 300 km away and every time I go, I bring something different, no two photos are alike, no two stories are the same.
Typically, we shoot around sunrise and sunset, everyone knows that. This rule is one of the fundamental rules one learns once they start doing landscape photography. And this rule doesn’t work here, in a desert. That’s because of the unique shape of the dunes and sand patterns. Once they alight with the light direction, it doesn’t matter where the Sun is. Just keep an eye and plan ahead.
This article is merely a brief summary of the original guide. Please navigate to the full Desert Photography Guide to expand every single sentence and learn more about the Desert Storytelling, photographic subjects and about how to work with the different types of light in a desert.
Anton Gorlin, originally from Ukraine, is a landscape and a real estate photographer residing in Sydney, Australia. He picked up photography accidentally – during a business trip to Australia. Anton conducts online landscape editing lessons and seascape sunrise and sunset workshops in Sydney. (Facebook | Instagram)