Shooting data: Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, 1/250 f/11, iso 100, handheld. Chott El-Jèrid, Tunisia.
The emptiness, the silence and the stillness of the desert are something amazing. In some places along the road to Ksar Ghilane, we stopped just to "hear" that silence...it is a kind of weird sensation, as when you listen to music at maximum volume for hours and then you it abruptly ends...so it is in the desert: when there is no wind, you feel like being deaf, like if the whole world had become a movie with no audio. In other places, as in Chott El-Jèrid (the place you see in this photo), the loud sound of wind replaces the silence, but the view is still other worldly: and endless flat area covered by salt. The distant horizon line looks perfectly straight and the sky is blue, without any cloud.
Usually, I prefer to take photos at sunrise and sunset, but in a place like that, even the harsh light of early afternoon is amazing...actually, it may be even better than the classic sunset light, because in this case the harshness of the light mimics the harshness of the environment. The lens choice was a no-brainer: Sigma 8-16. It was the most extreme lens I had (in this trip I have replaced the 1DsIII + 12-24 with the 7D + 8-16 and I have been very happy with this choice) and it was perfect for a landscape like that. The composition of this photo follows the basic rule of thirds, but I have included a lot more empty room than I usually do: why? Because this is what you see in the desert...an immense, endless, "empty" space all around of you, and I wanted to show this sensation in a photo. The inclusion of a human figure - my travelmate Lorenzo - was essential for this photo: many times, in landscapes a human figure gives a sense of scale. Of course, I have taken the photo at 8mm and I was relatively distant from Lorenzo, because I wanted him to appear very small in the photo, to highlight again the vastness of the desert.
Talking about photo equipment, as already said I have enjoyed a lot the Sigma 8-16... it is sharper than my 12-24, it gives a very similar angle of view on APS-C, and it is an amazing lens for creative landscape. Its extreme angle of view often creates a strong perspective distortion: you may like it or not, it is a matter of personal tastes...I love it and indeed in this trip I have taken the majority of my photos with the Sigma 8-16, and a lot less with the Canon 24-105. The image quality of the 7D, at low ISO, is almost indistinguishable from my previous 1DsIII, so I have had no regrets for this choice. In my next trips, I plan to always use the 7D, expect for very low light situations, where the 1DsIII has still about 1 stop of advantage.
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