WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Earth's Environments

Paul van Schalkwyk, Namibia

Shifting sands

Paul photographed these mysterious migrating dunes in the low afternoon Sun while flying over one of his favourite places – Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. His aim was always to create intriguing abstracts through which he could share his joy of the wilderness and inspire others to value wild places. The wandering dunes have been created by southwesterly winds carrying sand inland from the coast to the gravel plains. Moulded into alien shapes, they are on a slow march – just a few centimetres a year – to a dune belt further north. Timing is key when taking aerial photographs from a fast‑moving small aircraft. But this was not Paul’s only challenge. Using a heavy medium-format camera – the best for landscape – he would shoot through the open door while flying his plane at the same time. He even listed planes among the equipment necessary for taking photographs of the ever-changing beauty of his beloved desert.

Technical specification

Phase One P65+ & 150mm lens; ISO 200.


Skeleton Coast, Namibia: latitude -20.0896, longitude 12.6587 Skeleton Coast, Namibia: latitude -20.0896, longitude 12.6587

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

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Paul van Schalkwyk, Namibia

Born in 1955, Paul combined his two great passions in life: photography and flying. An acclaimed photographic artist, he spent more than 1,000 hours in the air, seeking to share the world’s beauty with others and winning more than 50 awards as a photographer, film-maker and writer. He was killed in March 2014, flying solo, when his plane crashed over the Etosha Pan, Namibia.

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