The magical kokerbooms
When he clinched the frame, at the final moment of sunset, Uge was ecstatic. 'I felt this was possibly the most beautiful picture I'd ever created.' He had set up camp in the Giant's Playground in Namibia specifically to photograph the dramatic landscape at night. And as the African night descended, he felt the enchantment of the place. It wasn't just the dramatic dolerite boulders, strewn about like a giant's toys. It was also the otherworldly, 'magical' kokerbooms, or quiver trees. These are giant succulents, aloes, found only in Namibia and part of South Africa, which survive the arid conditions by storing large amounts of water in their trunks and leaves. He staged the fairytale set, just as the sun went down, by lighting specific trees at specific distances with a torch, using a long exposure and adjusting the zoom to highlight the changing colours as the natural light faded, moving the torch from tree to tree. He had very little time, and had just three chances at the composition. The crowning element was the spread of branches overhead, 'closing the frame and giving the picture its strength'.
Canon 7D + Tokina 12-24mm f4 lens; 95 sec at f4; ISO 320; Manfrotto tripod; Tank007 TK-737 torch.
Giant's Playground, near Keetmanshoop, Namibia
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Uge Fuertes Sanz, Spain
Uge is a member of SFT (Turolense Land Photographic Society), ASAFONA (Aragonese Association of Nature Photographers) and AEFONA (Spanish Association of Nature Photographers). He has received recognition in many wildlife photography contests including Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Asferico, GDT (the Society of German Nature Phtographers) European Photographer of the Year, Golden Turtle and Glanzlichter.