Category Archives: Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone, but not Forgotten – The plight of the Rhino

On one of Cape Town’s many spectacular beachfront walkways, you have to align the little bits of memory to remember what a rhino looks like. With more than 1000 of these animals poached in 2014 alone, it is a chilling reminder of how short sighted people can be. All too soon, these animals are soon to be extinct, with only a few stuffed specimens in the halls of museums to remind us of the greed of man…

***

Skip ahead ten years, and listen to the conversation between an old man (who can’t forget) and a very small boy (who’ll never remember)…

“You see, son, those animals were huge. They had funny faces, too – all wrinkled and strange. Small eyes – they couldn’t see very well.”

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“And their bodies! Large and cumbersome, they seemed like tanks on the battlefield. Ah, yes, and they were indeed involved in a war. Only, they were outgunned…”

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“Oh, and I adored their backsides! Somehow the small head and the sturdy bum made this animal look …handsome…if you don’t mind me saying so.”r3

“But, Grandpa, why did the people kill all of these wonderful creatures? Surely they didn’t deserve to be extinct now? After all, you told me they had survived for millions of years  – floods, earthquakes, diseases…everything. And now…now they’re gone?”

“You’re right. They didn’t deserve what happened. But, to answer your questions, people shot these animals for a very small part of their bodies – the horn…”

r4The boy sighs. “I suppose I’ll never know what they really looked like. I do get an idea, though, from the bits you describe..”

“I’m glad. If you put the pieces together, you’ll get a good idea of the real thing.”

r5“No, son. You’ll have to try harder…”

“Okay,” the boy says, closing his eyes.

r6The old man smiles sadly. Yes, that’s about the best the boy can do. He’ll never see the real thing, though..

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Credit:

Artist: Andre Carl

Sculpture: Rhinosaur

View the 3D art on Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town.

Photo Challenge: Angular

An angle can imply many things. Viewing objects and people from different points of view may be as much fun as considering the various meanings of what an angle might mean.

Of course, most people prefer believing what they see. This is a no-angle approach and we all do it every day. What you see, is what you get…

IMG_3324But – very often – what we see isn’t reality. People pretend, others lie and relationships may be complicated. What you see, needs to be analyzed carefully to find out what is real.

IMG_2853You may also think of angles as geometrical, cast-in-stone objects. Although this lacks imagination, it does provide an easier passage through life.

IMG_2453But Life rarely follow easy, repeated and predictable patterns. Once we look at  – and really see – how Mother Nature treats such angles, we realise that Life isn’t a mathematical formula. It’s so much more complicated than that.

IMG_2588That’s why, in South Africa – and elsewhere, I suppose – we dream of an uncomplicated Life, where harmony directs us all towards a better future. Where what you see, is what you get…without any political angles.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Achievement

Achievements, by the very nature of such events and things, tend to be personal. Talking about achievements – or capturing the moment in a photograph – might sound like bragging, which is not what the subject is about. Most achievements rest on the shoulders of others, after all.

Zambia ekspedisie 067Like going on a walking safari in North Luangwa with some very knowledgeable guides.

428Or visiting a Himba village, where one learns how precious relationships are. Big lesson here: it’s not what you have – it’s about who you are and how you cope.

IMG_2765Or realising that the most precious moments are those filled with peace and tranquility. Drifting silently on the Okavango river, contemplating the wonder of nature, must rate as one of those achievements in the top 10.

aaBut Nature hides bigger challenges, as well. Canoeing down the Upper Zambezi early one misty morning almost got me drowned (fortunately the crocs were still waiting for the day to heat up!). The achievement? Simply getting to the river bank… It sounds elementary, but the relief of safety…

IMG_2904Yes, I know. There’s a lot to look back on, a lot to be thankful for. There are the children and the grandchildren. Academic stuff and a happy career. Books that were published. Stories in magazines. But…maybe the biggest achievement is to get out there, face the challenges of Africa, and come back a little more wise, a little more complete.

Achievements should do that. It fills life with wonder. And that makes one appreciate every day added to live..

IMG_3136And that is one achievement we should all strive towards…every day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: a Minimalistic Fairy Tale.

There’s a story in every picture – and sometimes even the tiniest object holds the key to a tale of hardship, adventure…or love. Take for instance, the tragically beautiful deserted town of Kolmanskop – once a thriving community in the Namib desert. When the diamonds ran out, the town died. And today, only the spirit of a time gone by remains. Take a walk into a deserted house – let’s imagine what had happened here…

IMG_3048 Who stayed here? And what dreams were dreamt in the little house next to the track? Did he whoop it up at night – or was he a quiet introvert, working hard to make a living?

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Did he stare out of this window, thinking about a special somebody far, far away?

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And if he did, why did he leave his ink pot behind…or did the desert lure him into the wilderness, where he lost his way?

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But wait – he owned a rifle, at least. He wouldn’t have gone into the arid wasteland without it. Too many dangers there. A seasoned prospector would have been able to protect himself. So…maybe he survived the perils of the dunes?

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Ah….let’s be optimistic! He came home to find somebody waiting on the porch. A very, very special somebody from far, far away.

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Of course they celebrated! But first – the luxury of a long, warm bath in this waterless region. They spent a foamy, happy hour here while he told her of his big find.

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“Let’s go,” he said, “and live a life of luxury.”

And she nodded happily, telling him to leave everything behind. “We’ve got enough now. We don’t need more than you…and me…and that wonderful gem you found.”

So they did.

IMG_3356The desert, having given up it’s riches, then took back their house. They didn’t mind at all – they lived happily ever after.

The End

Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art

Selecting a cover for the book on Rolbos wasn’t easy. How do you capture the poignant but sometimes outrageous escapades of the group at the bar in Boggel’s Place? The cover had to say something about isolation and the atmosphere of the stories. Here are a few examples:

B 1But no, that didn’t do it. It had to be more human, more humane, say something about the town.

b 2Too desolate, run down. Maybe something more romantic?

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Nice…but still not enough character. So here’s the one that made it to the cover. It’s a lovely image, kindly provided by my most efficient publisher, and it says it all…

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When day has gone…

Nighttime in Africa is so special. That’s when the shadows deepen – not only in the bush, but in your mind as well. And you get visitors…

IMG_0134aThe spooky moon fills your mind, creating images you’d rather not endure.

IMG_3246Quick! Add wood to the fire…! Listen…the soft padding of approaching paws!

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Oh joy! It’s the resident badger, scouting for scraps. But…isn’t that another shadow moving behind it? Oh no…there are two of them!

108_0844A jackal and a brown hyena followed the badger in the hope of robbing him of supper!

Trip 2012 043And then you realise – the biggest of them all has been watching silently all along.

x23aWhen at last dawn releases you from the claws of darkness, you get the fire going for a mug of black coffee. Another day of adventure awaits…

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PS If you like Africa and her stories, you may want to have a look at Imagine: Africa..

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Endurance…the Africa Way

Africa poses many challenges to everything and everybody who makes it through every day.

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The hardy Welwitschia steadfastly ignores the arid conditions of the desert, surviving for hundreds of years on the dew it collects on its leaves.

IMG_2551Some trees didn’t make it, of course. This one, thousands of years old, survives in a petrified state. One cannot but help wondering about the birds and the animals it gave shelter to.

a3The San people did, fortunately, leave a record of the time when rhino’s were abundant – and respected.

IMG_2602And Mother Nature, not to be outdone, carved this map of Africa out of solid rock. Maybe it’ll still be there after mankind manages to wipe itself out.

IMG_3250What do we learn from this?

Well, Mother Nature has found ways to endure. Mankind, however, must still do so…

The Kalahari Biker Reflects

Servaas settles down in the large chair, sighs, and sips the ice-cold beer. He’s finally arrived in Calvinia, where he discovered – much to his surprise and joy – the Rolbos Guest House. Of course he took that as a sign and immediately stopped to enquire about a room for the night. The hospitality of his hosts was outstanding.

IMG_3500He remembers the shell of the old tortoise, and imagines how it must have been like when it was alive. That animal must have been quite old, must have seen so much…

nAnd then there was the memorable visit to Pella and all the date trees. Yes, that was quite something…

82Ce4SjOf course he’ll remember his visit to Doctor Patric in that rural clinic. That man really helped him a lot!

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Servaas sighs contently as he drains the last drops from his glass. The trip has changed his life, indeed…

P4010880Shall he ever – EVER – forget his visit to the nudist camp? He still blushes at the thought…

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Then there was Madame Esmeralda. If you look carefully, you’ll see both the old woman he met, and the young lady Servaas left there…

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And yes, He’d remember that shack where he helped to deliver a baby for a long time. Surely Nature will claim it back, now that the old woman and her daughter have been employed by Agnes?

***

Mrs Rootman finds the old man fast asleep in the comfortable chair.

“Shame,” she tells the maid, “old people drift off so easily. It must be boring to have so little to do when age catches up with you.”

Smiling gently, she drapes a wooly blanket over the sleeping figure.

 

Photo Challenge: Containers

Storage: that’s the key to survival in any remote area. Africa has lots of them – remote areas as well as strange ways of storing, preserving and transporting essential items.

Come see our village, the man at the camp said. We are a prosperous family, living not far from here. So I went and  I asked the old Himba woman permission to see her house. It is not mine, she said, but you are welcome.

335The hut contained a young mother and her baby. No, this photo wasn’t photoshopped. The red colour is real. I looked around  after greeting her and receiving a shy smile in return. See, she said, this is my house, my life. Look at all the things I have. I am a blessed woman, she said, holding the baby out to me.

37Then she proudly showed me her container with the aromatic herbs. Picking up a glowing ember with her fingers, she dropped in into the herbs so I may smell the scent of the veld, the aroma of Africa…

36And look, she said, I have a pail, a calabash and a funnel.

I looked. And I saw the funnel was made of wood and s strange bit of copper or brass. What is that? I asked.

The old woman heard the question and laughed. It used to contain a bullet, back in the days of the war, she murmured.  Now it pours the goat’s milk from the pail to the calabash38

I marvelled at that. These women have so little…and yet so much. The spent cartridge a soldier had thrown away, now served as an important component to the primitive funnel.

Oh, let me rephrase that… The word ‘primitive’ doesn’t belong here. Not in this society where the scrap of wartime now helps them survive. Maybe we should learn from them. We, in our large houses and with our many possessions and running water and electricity – we keep on making guns and shooting down aeroplanes. We are hamsters on silly little wheels, constantly wanting more. How primitive is that?

I walked out in the sunshine, past the kraal filled with goats and the little ‘hut’ for the chicken swinging gently in the breeze. It contains the eggs, keeping them away from vermin.39

My visit left me wondering whether the minds of these people contained more wisdom than I originally gave them credit for. Are we really sure that our way of life contains everything to make us as happy as they are? 40

Or should we admit that they have more reason to smile than we do? Shouldn’t we discard the trappings of luxury and sit in the sun more often while we contemplate the joys contained in a simpler life?