Mongolia Re-Capped

In Travel, Within The Frame Adventures by David20 Comments

Gobi Desert, Mongolia, 2012

There were 15 of us, including drivers, our translator & guide, and the photographers who joined Jeffrey Chapman and I on this month’s Mongolia Within The Frame Adventure. Together, over 10 days, we drove 2200km, almost all of them off-road on punishing trails, through the green steppes of Mongolia and into the dry, hot, Gobi Desert to the south. Almost all of us were complete strangers before the trip began, what little we knew of each other came by reputation and Facebook, but we arrived in Ulaan Baator, the capital of Mongolia, and made fast friends. Then we jumped into the Delica 4WD vans and headed off.

This wasn’t an easy trip. We were without power for most of the trip, and what little re-charging could be done was usually in the kitchen during dinner hours while the generator was on. Same for hot water for showers; it was scarce. The accommodations were authentic Mongolian gers, some of them in the most inhospitable stretches of open land for miles. We drove 7 hours almost every day. But it was worth it to see and photograph the places we did. Most mornings we rose early, usually leaving for a location at 5am – breakfast would have to wait. And while you stumble, bleary-eyed, from the ger in the morning, you only have to look up at the blanket of stars and hear the others saying what you just didn’t say fast enough: Oh my God, look at those stars!

We made thousands of photographs, had some amazing wines that were shipped to us from Argentina, thanks to one of our participants, and long hours of conversation. For me personally it was a departure, shooting 120 film on my Hasselblad 500 C/M for the first time ever while traveling. It was a steep, whimsical, learning curve, and while it’ll be a week or two before I see the first of those rolls, I’m excited to see what beauty (or horror) comes of those efforts. Here, below, are a few of the images from my D3s.

Gobi Desert Abstract. Mongolia, 2012

Rain Storm. Kharkhorim, Mongolia, 2012

Ger Camp. Kharkhorim, Mongolia, 2012

Police Van. Kharkhorim, Mongolia, 2012

Ger. Gobi Desert, Mongolia, 2012

Thanks again to those new friends with whom we shared this adventure. You made that trip something special. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’d travel anywhere with you folks. Thank you. We’ll be repeating this adventure, for sure. We’re likely to add a couple days, and probably wouldn’t do it during the Naadam festival, preferring to get deeper into the desert instead. Can hardly wait. We’ll keep you posted.



  1. Man, I so wanted to join you on this trip! Can’t wait for Kathmandu!! I love the skyscapes. Tghanks for sharing.

  2. i sure love your images. The simplicity and clean color and form just get to me. I look forward to meeting you and working together some day. — hopefully in some exotic locale, but anywhere would do!

  3. Great shots david! Looking forward to the film photos as well……



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  5. Mongolia has been on my list of places to visit since I saw a spread in National Geographic years ago. Really looking forward to seeing what you captured on film.

  6. Author

    Apologies for the emoticon abuse in the above comment. I’ve got strong coffee in the mug and The Black Keys playing on the radio – it’s one of those mornings!

  7. Author

    Linda – You would have fit right in! ๐Ÿ™‚ See you next month in Vancouver!

    Chelin – Please apologize again to your husband for what we did to you. The diplomatic corps will never be the same, and I feel somewhat responsible… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jim – I’m so excited about getting the film back, but try to keep your expectations low! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sounds like I missed an adventure of a lifetime, but if I was there, I would have made sure to have my WTF sports bra for those grueling roads! Looking forward to hearing more about it in Vancouver.

  9. What a pleasure it was to share this adventure of a life-time with all of you, amigos!

  10. Pingback: Mongolia Re-Capped « National-Express2011

  11. Just goes to show, when you really think about it it’s more about the trip than the photography (aka process v result)

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