How do you Photograph a Camel in the Desert?

When I heard the brief about creating a short promotional video for The Serai I instantly had a picture in my mind of the opening shot. A distant, wide angle shot, of a camel walking through the sand dunes in the golden light. I thought that orchestrating this would be as hard as getting a tiger to walk in front of the car…how wrong I was!

I mentioned this to the folks at the camp and they instantly set out arranging the various ingredients needed. A few brief phone calls and everything was in place. What I did not realize at the time was that they already have this option in place for guests who stay at their lodge! One of the excursions that guests can do at The Serai is a camel ride and sundowner on deserted sand dunes. Can you imagine?

Textures in the sand
Textures in the sand

They arranged everything and we simply hopped on the car and were driven to the most sensational of spots, nearby to the camp. Sand as far as the eye can see. Apart from a small gathering of camels and their handlers, there were no other humans in sight. A rare piece of empty India. Some of the camels were dressed up in gorgeous colourful regalia and ready to be ridden. I had never seen a camel up close, let alone ridden one, so for me this was an unforgettable experience.

Even on the sand dunes the service was excellent. Your every want and need attended to...
Even on the sand dunes the service was excellent. Your every want and need attended to…

I set up the glider, the tripod and the camera. The general manager assured me that we could get the camels to move anywhere on the dunes and that nothing was impossible. I could not believe that my dream opening shot was becoming very doable. There is, however, one difficulty in filming/photographing camels in the desert…the lighting. The lighting in the desert is so incredibly harsh that it’s very easy to overexpose everything. So, after I had composed the ideal series of shots in my mind, and gotten the settings right on the camera, there was nothing left for me to do but to relax, soak it all in, take a quick ride on a camel and wait for the glowing sun to soften. It was then that the lighting became perfect and I could press record.

Getting the right composition
Getting the right composition
Waiting for the sun to sink
Waiting for the sun to sink

So, how do you photograph a camel in the desert? The answer is with a glass of French Champagne close at hand!

Camels and their handlers
Camels and their handlers
Going for a ride
Going for a ride
Sundowners on the desert sand dunes
Sundowners on the desert sand dunes
Getting the perfect shots for the opening and closing of the film
Getting the perfect shots for the opening and closing of the film

To see the finished short video on The Serai, and to indulge in my dream opening sequence, click on the video below. Let me know your thoughts…

Written, filmed and photographed by Adam Bannister

2 thoughts on “How do you Photograph a Camel in the Desert?

  1. What a beautiful country, you really got the sand and the camels all right. I didn´t even know there were camels in India. I think your film shows a very nice part of India, camels and tigers and beautiful birds . It is very temptingfor a visit one day.

  2. Dear Ms Douglas,

    Adam is currently traveling and unable to respond to comments. I would like to thank you on his behalf and welcome you to visit us and see the tigers and camels in real life!

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