The silhouetted branches of a long-dead tree and a distant sand dune near Dead Vlei combine to create an engaging abstract composition.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM at 200 mm, 1/100 sec at f/10, ISO 200

I created this post’s featured image on my second of two mornings at Dead Vlei, in Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft National Park. Having tried my hand at some iconic Dead Vlei photos the first morning, I felt I had a chance to experiment a bit on the second.

The contrast between the Vlei’s shaded dead trees and the sunlit dune west of the Vlei was extreme. Therefore, properly exposing for the bright sand would render the trees nearly black — in silhouette, that is. I just needed to find the right tree and to position the camera so that the jagged outlines of the branches formed a pleasing abstract composition. This picture is one of my favorite attempts at doing just that.

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