Since 2016, when he gave up his former job as a hotel manager, Mike Muizebelt is working as a full time professional photographer. This change of profession did not happen without proper preparation and a lifetime history in photography: His first camera was a loan from his father, and after an intense holiday filled with photography, his passion for photography was born. Mike started saving for his first camera: a PENTAX ME ... This clearly shows that his love for photography has been going on for a long time. "I was always hungry for new techniques, new projects end fresh inspiration." An important source of inspiration is the recently deceased Peter Beard. With his epochal book 'The end of the game' the American photographer denounces big game hunting in Africa and for Mike this is an essential part of his believes. Mike is a specialist in landscape and wildlife photography on the African continent and he likes to work on special projects, like for example his desert series from Namibia. These safari’s into Africa are currently an essential part of his work today, as he hosts phototours to Botswana and other regions of the African continent. Additionally he hosts group workshops in his home country, The Netherlands.
For Mike Muizebelt, photography means sharing ideas, vision and natural beauty with others: "I have an idea in my head and with photography - especially as a digital medium - I am able to pass it on to my audience”. He is not necessarily enthusiastic about the fact that this is often reduced to viewing images on the minimal screens of our smartphones. To really enjoy the subtle details, analog prints are still his preferred method of presenting his work. The fact that he works with Pentax 35mm or medium format cameras is not only because these cameras do not let him down in his outdoor work. The fact that maximum quality can be generated from the RAW data is particularly important for impressive, yet challenging, lighting situations.
Since my first visit to Namibia in 2010 the vast expenses of the Namib desert have fascinated me. It’s a sheer endless expanse of sand which is about 1,600 km long from north to south and has a width that varies from 48 to 161 kilometres. Some of the dunes in the Sossus vlei region are up to 300 meters high. The shifting colours, the feminine lines and the play of shadows over the dunes are as dynamic as beautiful. A photographer’s dream where I can lose myself in capturing the journey of the grains of sand.
It’s an ongoing project that is continuously evolving and is shifting in it’s presentation, just like the dunes themselves. My focus is to document the desert in it’s totality with a focus on unique phenomena or situations. Sea mist only reaches deadvlei 5 times a year and I was very fortunate to capture a memorable one in 2013. Yet I’m still dreaming to improve this particular photographic session with today’s medium format equipment, instead of the APS-C based images I made at that time. But also the ghost-town of Kolmanskop, which was reclaimed by this desert holds my interest. And what to think of endemic species like Peringueys Sidewinding Adder (Bitis peringueyi) or the Namaqua chameleon (Chamaeleo namaquensis) that have adapted to this harsh environment have a place in this project.
For project like this, my portfolio is leading. I decide what I would like to add and based on my requirements I plan a trip or region to spend time in. As with any subject in nature photography, luck and patience play a big role in the outcome. Hence the need to keep improving and adding to this portfolio. As the areas are often remote and harsh my equipment should be weather sealed. Those grains of sand know how to find a way in almost any camera. Being used to the weather sealing of Pentax, I’m more than confident that I will give up before my equipment does …
Currently the basis of most of my work in this region is the Pentax 645Z with the 28-45mm. Additionally I’m packing the older FA 645 80-160mm for the more intimate compositions. For the macro images the FA 645 120mm macro has a place in the bag. This is completed with a Pentax K-1 with the 15-30mm, the 70-200 and 150-450mm. Indeed … travelling light is not an option. But my focus for subjects is wide and having a versatile kit helps to get the images I’m after in the best possible way.
Once finished I’s planning to present the project in a coffee table book of considerable size. Yet I keep on planning new additions to the project so it’s never finished. Maybe I should just go ahead and start with it. There is always the option to make a Namibia’s Sea of Sand 2.0 ….;-) Till that time the images are confined to a digital presentations, either in photo talks or one the internet.
As we say here: to be continued …
He is using following gear: Pentax K-1 Mark II, Pentax K-70, Pentax 645Z, RICOH GR III