Road Trip: Niedersachsen
So my mother, my girlfriend and I went on a weekend trip to one of my favourite haunts, Farm Niedersachsen, down on the edge of the Namib Desert at the foot of the Khomas Hochland.
Niedersachsen was one of the places where Henno Martin and Hermann Korn hid during their desert sojourn, as described in the book The Sheltering Desert (In German: Wenn es Krieg gibt, gehen wir in die Wüste). Recommended reading for people coming to Namibia, and also for those who think they’re committed to anti-Nazism and who think they’ve done enough.
Niedersachsen is a harsh, dry-looking place. My father used to insinuate that the principal produce of Niedersachsen was rocks. Hard, flinty rocks.
Photographically, it’s a challenge. The window of “good” light is narrow: a short while in the morning, and a short time in the late afternoon, tending to dusk. The sky is more often than not a featureless blue, which in black and white often washes out to a sort of flaccid paleness. The landscape is dominated by what one might term ‘badlands’ – hilly, rough, shredded by a fibrous network of valleys and canyons – and in the dry season of a fairly uniform character.
Niedersachsen got a whopping 8mm of rain in the last rainy season (October ’06 to May ’07). For non-metricians, that’s 0.31496063″, aka 5/16″.
I took my Yashicamat 124, a tripod, a shutter release cable and a handful of films (Ilford XP4+, expired in October 2003 …). The girlfriend, who is not required to keep to any rules in this year, took her old Minox 35mm which she had found under a park bench some years back, and an Olympus digital camera.
Niedersachsen has no shortage of things to photograph, as a quick browse of my Niedersachsen-tagged pictures on Flickr will attest. Lots of landscapes, but a couple of Namibian farm-specific peculiarities as well.
However like I said above, in black and white it’s definitely a challenge. I shot three or four films, but I haven’t been into the darkroom yet. I’m hoping that with a fresh batch of developer, actually using stop bath this time (I mean to use a 1:4 solution of spirit vinegar and distilled water) and some fresh fixer, I will be able to obtain some reasonable results.
Oh, and it looks like the Yashicamat’s light meter has failed. 😦
On the up-side, my negative scanner finally arrived today.