If you’re a landscape photographer, you’re likely going from one place to another to capture the rarest and most beautiful places in the world.
Award-winning Russian photographer Daniel Kordan has been fascinated with the art of photography since he was a child. He grew up in a lake region outside of Moscow and spent most of his time exploring nature.
Daniel studied at the Institute of Physics and Technology and gained experience and knowledge not only in physics but also in hiking, mountain climbing, and guiding tourist groups during the winter and summer.
These skills came in handy when he decided to become a photographer, capturing stunning landscapes from Yukon to Kenya.
His journey to the different areas of the Earth led him to start a series of photographs featuring dragon’s blood trees found in the remote island of Socotra, Yemen.
This group of four islands lies between the Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Sea in the northwest Indian Ocean. The Socotra Archipelago is a World Heritage Site recognized by the organization for its incredible biodiversity.
“Socotra is globally important for biodiversity conservation because of its exceptionally rich and distinct flora and fauna,” said UNESCO. “Socotra is of particular importance to the horn of Africa’s biodiversity hotspot and, as one of the most biodiversity-rich and distinct islands in the world, has been termed the galIndian of the indian ocean.”
The islands have many unique plant species, reptile species, and land snail species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. And one of the plants exclusive to the Socotra islands and found in the diksam plateau is the Dracaena cinnabari or the dragon’s blood tree.
These trees have a large canopy of twisted branches, and their saps are bright red, hence the name.
“There’s something magical about shooting the diksam plateau at night, especially with no light pollution on the island and a breathtakingly clear atmosphere,” said Daniel. “Try to choose a week with no moon or with the moonrise deep in the night sky.”
According to legend, the first Dracaena cinnabari was created from the blood of a dragon that was wounded after its fight with an elephant.
Dragon’s blood trees can live to be thousands of years old, and they’ve been referenced in countless ancient literature. Unfortunately, they’re facing several threats to their survival, such as destructive cyclones, grazing livestock, and warming temperatures.
Equipped with his camera, Daniel captured these intimidating trees on their native island. The photographer, who teaches landscape photography courses and workshops, is amazed by these fantastic yet haunting trees.
In an interview with Modern Met, Daniel spoke about his journey to Socotra:
“My favorite part is the total, pure wilderness of the place. Being alone in nature among so many endemic species, you feel like an explorer!”
Check out the gallery below to see some of Daniel Kordan’s best snapshots of the dragon’s blood trees in Socotra.
You may follow Daniel Kordan on his website, Instagram, and print gallery to see more of his amazing work. If you’re interested in learning about landscape photography, you may also check out his courses.