The Living Edens
Unfortunately, it was one of those rare occasions that my Arriflex camera developed a fault. The camera motor, running at high speed, produced an image which pulsed and, no matter how we tried to reduce the problem, we couldn’t. The result: that particular shot had to be consigned to the cutting room floor. However, the sequence (composed of other aerials and material shot from the ground) was included in the film.

Sand blasted cameras

Working on Namib tested the camera equipment under conditions dreadful to precision machinery. The constant wind sand-blasted the cameras. Often we had to film creatures from ground level, which meant crawling along on the dunes, the wind-blown sand stinging our faces, bringing water to our eyes. To help protect the cameras, we wrapped them in heavy duty plastic bags that we cut to measure every day. Despite our meticulous precautions, at the end of each day we found sand had seeped into the bags and into the camera. There seemed to be no way to completely keep it out.

Within days the grit was affecting the smooth focusing of the lenses.

Most worrying of all was that the fine sand grains somehow managed to get right inside the light tight magazines, threatening to scratch the film negative.

By the coast we had other problems. The constant wind whipped up sea spray and soon coated everything in salt. Within a few minutes, the sharp image through the lens would begin to get fuzzier and fuzzier as spray coated the glass. So after every shot the lens would have to be carefully wiped clean to remove the sticky salt.

Micro light flying

Flying over the sand dunes proved to be quite an experience. The dunes, some hundreds of feet tall, are completely bare of vegetation. There are no reference points on the dunes to compare for size and this makes judging distances in the desert very difficult. When walking across the dunes this size anomaly often caught us out, and we frequently thought a dune to be much larger than it actually was. When flying over dunes this can be extremely dangerous, for it is very difficult to judge how high a dune is or how close the aircraft is to the dune. It is a problem which has resulted in a number of fatal accidents.

a picture of the expansive Namib desert sand dunes

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