Lençóis Marahenses National Park - Brazil - 2019

By Puiming Webber

Puiming Webber grew up in Hong Kong and moved to the United States of America in 1995 to pursue her studies. It was there she started cultivating her interest in photography, partly due to the vast landscape and ease of access to nature... Read More

Puiming Webber grew up in Hong Kong and moved to the United States of America in 1995 to pursue her studies. It was there she started cultivating her interest in photography, partly due to the vast landscape and ease of access to nature. Since then Puiming aims to capture the many moods and beauty of nature in those places she visits around the world.

Puiming shoots exclusively with digital cameras nowadays. Her process involves attention to detail in her field technique, along with work in the digital darkroom to fine tune, to optimize and to adjust colours and tones in an attempt to convey the emotions she felt whilst being there in the landscape.

Puiming's portfolio does not arise from any particular desire to see the world through the lens, but rather from her intention to render the world in which we live in. Her travels have shaped every aspect of her life. Through these photographs she expresses her feelings for the locations she visits and the beauty she encounters along the way.

In 2018, I was invited by a good friend, Bruce Percy, to join him and two other photographers, Robert Salisbury and Richard Roberts, on a three-day trek. We would be going to photograph Lençóis Marahenses National Park in north-east Brazil. It would turn out to be one of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen.

When Bruce first invited me, I was hesitant to agree to go on the journey because of the arduous conditions. Other than a mule to carry our most basic necessities, there would be no transportation during our trek. We have to carry our camera equipment during our walk through the park. Not long after our initial discussion, my father died suddenly. His passing put everything into a very different perspective and I realised that unique opportunities such as this one don't come around very often. More than ever, I had the strong feeling of “it's now or never”. Therefore despite my initial reservations about the physical demands this trip may place upon me, I changed my mind and agreed to sign on.

The trek would involve three days of walking. During the first two days, we would have to walk a manageable distance of six miles in order to reach the oasis where we would be spending the night. The last day of the trek would be the most strenuous, involving a twelve mile walk in order to reach the exit of the national park.

Lençóis Maranhenses is famous for its big sand dunes and lagoons. The dunes are ever changing, as they are continuously carved and sculpted by strong winds. The lagoons are only present during the wet season. Bruce chose to go in May at the start of the wet season to provide the best opportunity for seeing the famous deep lagoons of blue and turquoise.

Despite months of preparation, the trip was mentally and physically challenging. With unseasonably high amounts of rainfall, the lagoons and rivers were very deep, which resulted in having to wade up to my chest and neck in water. Thankfully, when conditions became treacherous, I was able to continue with the help of the others.

In order to avoid the daytime heat, we rose in the middle of the night and walked from location to location in the dark. This made judging the scale and the contours of the dunes all the more challenging. Our guides and hosts showed great kindness and professionalism in safely navigating us on our nocturnal journey. Their exceptional effort made the trip enjoyable despite the harsh conditions we faced.

In photographic terms, Lençóis Marahenses certainly exceeded my expectations. The light, shapes and colours were beyond anything I had ever seen. Every turn provided a different opportunity to witness the beauty of nature. Every sunrise and sunset rewarded us with beautiful soft tones and pastel colors. Even the harsh daylight offered great opportunities in the form of beautiful, but fleeting shadows of differing greys. For me, watching the ever-changing clouds casting their transient spell across the dunes was a surreal experience.

This journey gave me a very gratifying feeling long after its completion. Not only did I make perhaps the best works to date, it provided a tremendous opportunity to stretch myself on multiple levels. Looking at the body of work I made from the trip, I can't help feeling a great sense of pride. It serves as a testament to my ability, be it mental and physical. I am glad I was able to cast aside my initial self-doubt and took advantage of the opportunity.

I wish to thank my good friend Bruce Percy for having confidence in me and for inviting me to join him, Richard and Robert on such a unique trip. I could not have completed the journey without everyone's help. Along with the pain we endured as a group, I shall cherish the fond memories, as well as the laughter we shared on our journey together.

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25 photos