photography by alessandro ciapanna

Posts from the ‘geographic’ category

NAMIB – Namibia’s red desert

These are (poorish) scans from 35mm Fujichrome Velvia slide film. Please excuse the dust specks: i enjoy working on capturing the pictures. Not so much working on them at the computer…

They were shot a few years back, but most of them are unpublished. Plus, i’m quite sure the scenery has not changed much since then.





It doesn’t rain much, but when it does some areas flood and then the hot sun dries out the fine white mud.




Dead tree trunk. Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Tree, Deadvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dry forest, Deadvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Curved tree, Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Live tree at sunset. (Can you spot the tripod’s shadow?) Dune 45, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunrise, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunrise, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunrise, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunset, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunset, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunset, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.





Dunes at sunset, Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namibia.



Namibia is a vast and wild country in the south west of Africa. it borders on South Africa, Botswana and Angola. By means of a narrow panhandle in the nort east it also reaches out to Zimbabwe and Zambia. On the west it has a huge and treacherous stretch of coast along a freezing cold Atlantic Ocean.

It was once colonized by Germany, and there are signs of this everywhere: on the coastal city of Swakopmund i spotted a street name sign that read: “Kaiser Wilhelmstrasse”. Everywhere, beer is made according to reinheitsgebot, the old German purity law. And a German quality beer tastes a lot better, after a day in a hot African desert.

On the logistics side. i flew myself to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. There i rented a small Vw car (left-hand drive – what were they thinking?) that came with two spare tires, as do all cars in this end of the world. I also rented a mattress (the desert floor can be mean…), a tent and a sleeping bag. Then i checked most of my stuff into storage at the Cardboard Box hostel and headed off to the place i wanted to photograph with my camera, my rolls of film and my trusty tripod. And bags and bags of biltong, the local spicy dried meat – yum!

Upon arrival at the only campground right in the heart of one of the world’s oldest and driest deserts, i was asked for my reservation. I had none. The campground was full, but the guy at the desk had no heart to send me away and told me to ask around if i could share someone else’e space. Now space, in a desert, is not hard to find. So i set up my tent under a large tree at a dignified distance from the tent of a lovely French couple, who not only would not accept my payment for my share, but would ply me with a nice warm meal every night.

Every morning for a week i’d get up at least an hour before dawn, when the gate separating the campground from the desert is opened. I’d drive into the middle of somewhere, i’d park the car, and i’d go out walking in the perfect light looking for the perfect dune, tree, rock, whatever. I’d stop about two hours after sunrise, when the sun was too high and the light had become useless in bringing out the texture, as well as the colors of the sand.

Back to the tent, eat, sleep a couple of hours, and then back out to shoot for the last two or three hours before sunset. There is no humidity in the Namib, and there are no cities nearby to light the night sky, so when the sun sets, it immediately get pitch black – bring a flashlight.

All these shots were taken using a tripod and mostly with a trusty old 24mm manual focus Nikkor lens fitted on a Nikon FE slr. in a week i shot twelve 36-exposure rolls of Fujichrome Velvia 50 iso slide film.

Alessandro Ciapanna

LAOS – life on the water, a photo essay

tourists rent inner tubes and use them to float down the river. here one is jumping off a wooden structure into the river near vang vieng, laos






child driving water buffalo near a bamboo bridge on the outskirts of vang vieng, laos






person in a cone-shaped hat doing laundry in the river near vang vieng, laos






woman lighting incense in early morning fog before sailing along the mekong river, northern laos






weighing a hog on the banks of the mekong river (you should have heard the poor thing scream…), northern laos






the shallow rivers have clear, warm water and are ideal both for washing clothes and for bathing. near vang vieng, laos






suspension bridge near vang vieng, laos






uxo – unexploded ordnance – is a serious problem in laos. it is recycled for scrap and used as fenceposts, as here. vang vieng, laos






“tubing” means floating down the river while sitting in a large car’s inner tube. vang vieng, laos






while tubing, tourists pull off the river at various stops to enjoy purpose built swings and diving boards. near vang vieng laos






laos is a lovely landlocked country in the south of asia. it borders with thailand, cambodia, vietnam, china and burma (myanmar)

it is sparsely populated, criss-crossed with rivers that lazily sweep past imposing mountains and dense forests.

not only is it one of the world’s most pristine countries, but it is also populated by some of world’s most friendly people

alessandro ciapanna

ATITLAN – Guatemala’s great lake

A monochrome photo essay on one of the world’s most beautiful lakes: Atitlan, in Guatemala.





Jumping off the platform, San Marcos, Atitlan, Guatemala.







Laundry and bath, San Pedro de la Laguna, Atitlan, Guatemala.





Munching bone by lake Atitlan, San Pedro de la Laguna, Guatemala.





Volcano, San Marcos, Atitlan, Guatemala.





Reeds, San Marcos, Atitlan, Guatemala.





Spray on boat window, Atitlan, Guatemala.





Santiago dock, San Pedro de la Laguna, Atitlan, Guatemala.





Waiting for the ferry to Santiago Atitlan, San Pedro de la Laguna, Guatemala.





Kids horsing around at the helm of a water taxi, San Marcos, lake Atitlan, Guatemala.




All pictures taken in January 2012.

Thank you for stopping by.

Alessandro Ciapanna