Category Archives: Photography

Three Shots: Waiting for Sunrise.

Daily PromptTake a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.

Waiting for sunrise in Africa.

The old lion was tired. After a lifetime in the desert, it was time to move on.

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He glanced around, appreciating – for the last time – the company of his loved ones.

c 4It’s getting lighter. A last drink, a last moment…

IMG_4029dAt last…release! Time to join the others in a magnificent display of light.

Photo Challenge: Thirds in Ruins

This week’s challenge: compose your subject off-center, obeying the Rule of Thirds. Come, visit Kolmanskop, where diamonds once created an impossible dream..

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People used to live here, sheltered from the sand storms in the desert. In the end, the wind won…

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Wind, sand, rocks. Mother Nature in an unforgiving mood…

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The people tried, though. The desalination plant supplied short-lived hope.

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But only for a while. The dreams couldn’t match the reality. Only the walls remain, a silent monument to the men and women who dared to imagine they could tame the wilderness. The final chapter had an inevitable ending…

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Symmetry of the Zambezi

Not for Africa the stark lines of Gothic precision and precise lines. Here, Mother Nature designed with a free hand, a warm smile and an artistic touch. What better example of her symmetrical creativity than the waters of the mighty Zambezi?

A small stream in the upper Zambezi revels in the sunset. It is the start of a massive journey to the sea.

A small stream in the upper Zambezi revels in the sunset. It is the start of a massive journey to the sea.

The moss-grown cliffs oppose each other in an eternal stand-off at the Victoria Falls

The moss-grown cliffs oppose each other in an eternal stand-off at the Victoria Falls. The roar of the cascade announces the arrival of the water at this beautiful gorge.

Farther downstream, the sunset is greeted with quiet tranquility.

Farther downstream, the sunset is greeted with quiet tranquility.

A lonely tree guards the passage to the ocean as the water eddies past.

A lonely tree guards the passage to the ocean as the water eddies past.

At last, as the ocean draws near, twin elephants take a final bath in the cool, fresh, waters.

At last, as the ocean draws near, twin elephants take a final bath in the cool, fresh, waters.

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Finally the lagoon and the sea. Clouds will carry droplets back to the small stream, to start the journey all over again. Perfect symmetry? Only as Mother Nature can do it…

The Way to Rolbos

I’ll simply have to crook. 300 Words to describe Rolbos? That’s impossible. With a picture worth a thousand words, we’ll just have to go the scenic route…

The road there is a narrow gravel track, immediately telling you that you've left the city with all its pretence and false values behind.

The road there starts as a narrow gravel track, immediately telling you that you’ve left the city with all its pretence and false values behind. Please slow down. Drive with care…

The scenery around Rolbos is - according to some - dull and uninviting. Yet it is here that you'll discover the solitude to find yourself.

The scenery around Rolbos is – according to some – dull and uninviting. Yet it is here that you’ll discover the solitude to find yourself. The truth you seek isn’t found in lectures and books, TV shows and sermons – it is patiently waiting inside you to find it where it’s always been.

The big weaver nests suggest something of the values you'll find here. It's about cooperation, family life and accepting that each inhabitant has a role to play.

Along the way, the big weaver nests suggest something of the values you’ll find here. It’s about cooperation, family life and accepting that each inhabitant has a role to play. These birds work hard to take care of the nests – without having to resort to violence. Look at them carefully: they’re living in harmony, which is more than we can say.

Getting there isn't always easy. Often, people turn back because they are afraid of the challenge.

Getting there isn’t always easy. Often, people turn back because they are afraid of the challenge. Perseverance is the key. Instant gratification – the promise all politicians make – has no place here. Guts, determination and hard work are the key elements required to succeed.

The people around here are used to hardship and make do with what is available. Forget the mall and the large shopping centres, life here doesn't need bling to impress others.

The people around here are used to hardship and make do with what is available. Forget the mall and the large shopping centres.,Life here doesn’t need bling to impress others.

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At last! The small town of Rolbos on the horizon. To get here, you have had to shed pretence in favour of perseverance, exchanged the mad politics of the world for hope, and swapped the cynical smile for a peal of genuine laughter. The way ahead, you realise, is through faith, love and kindness. And somehow you know – with a new certainty – that this is what Rolbos is all about. Welcome! Don’t worry – you won’t find the place crowded. Not many people are brave enough to face the simplicity that is the essence of Rolbos culture.

Weekly Photo Challenge: African Travel Expressions

Yeah, we’ve got them all here, just the same as the folks in Europe or Asia or the States. Some personalities are universal – you simply can’t go anywhere without bumping into them. So let’s get off the plane at the deserted little airfield and watch the characters around us.

sealThat smug young blonde – makeup freshly applied – will eye you at the baggage carousel. Are you rich enough? Just passing through? Or maybe willing to mix business with a little…pleasure?

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There’s the timid young man, uncertain about the first night on safari and far too proud to admit his anxiety. Will he be able to close an eye tonight, or be hunted (and haunted) by yet another nightmare?

crocInevitably, over there, we have the lecherous old man, biding his time before making his move. His thoughts are evilly carnal, his appetite never satisfied.

lionBut wait, here’s the slick game ranger (and she’s a girl!)! Dressed in regulation tight-fitting khaki, she’ll take her time to select something…special…for tonight. Beware though: don’t slip into her tent uninvited. Staying beyond the reach of those claws (and teeth) is a very good idea.

buffelWhat? Politicians? Yes, they’re everywhere. And just like in any other country, they are unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Best sit next to the blonde, then. Or even the ranger.

dogOh, well…maybe you’ll be better off in the air-conditioned comfort of the lodge. Yes, great idea. Oh, you’ll still wish you were out there, but at least you’ll be safe. Maybe order room service for the next few days? Yeah…then you can buy some postcards to show the friends back home.

A Moment to Remember

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“This tree,” Vetfaan says as he slides the photograph over the counter, “is special. It didn’t give up.”

Boggel studies the picture. He has seen it before – several times. When Vetfaan slips into one of his pensive moods, he sometimes produces the photo. It seems to give him strength to overcome his depression – a rare but not unknown occurrence

“It’s the one in Caprivi, isn’t it?”

“Yep. Grows there in the barren soil, amidst the rocks where everything else struggles to survive.”

“That’s where the ambush was.” Boggel doesn’t have to ask, he knows the story.

Vetfaan closes his eyes deliberately, as if he wants to kill the picture in his mind. He doesn’t succeed, of course. Not now.

Some moments in time get burned so deeply into the circuitry of the brain, they remain sharp and fresh for a lifetime. Nothing – not time nor age – will spontaneously fade those moments away to insignificant grey graphics; especially if the horror of those moments are nurtured by clinging to them. That’s the trick, of course: the ability to let go. It is necessary to replace the memory with the reality of the present. Unlike the yellowing photographs in an old album. these pictures retain colour, focus and even sound as long as they are allowed to torment by revisiting them. Even now, the crash of gunfire and exploding grenades reverberate in Vetfaan’s ears.

“Why did you take that picture, Vetfaan? Surely you need to forget those days,”

When Vetfaan opens his eyes, Boggel notices the incredible sadness in them.

“I went back, Boggel, many years later.” Boggel knows this, too, but like the good barman he is, he listens intently. “To see. To remember. To forget.” Vetfaan sighs heavily. “I wanted to see if the blood had washed away in the meantime. And you know? No matter how hard I tried not to see it, there was blood everywhere. Gunfire. Screams.

“So I took the photo. See that tree? The rocks didn’t stop it from growing. It gives me hope.”

Boggel slides another beer towards his friend. “It looks like the tree is lifting the rock up – breaking it in two.”

“It does, doesn’t it? And on the picture, there’s no sound, no blood. That only remains up here.” He taps his head with a calloused finger. “I so wish this picture can be there as well. Maybe if I looked at it long enough…?”

Boggel nods patiently. One day he’ll tell Vetfaan that memories can be like that rock. Slowly, gently, the mind will grow around the agony of the past, lifting it, breaking it. The blood and gore will wash away. And, in contrast to what the mind remembers, the real, true, picture will eventually break the chains anchoring Vetfaan to the yesterdays he so desperately needs to forget.

“It takes time, Vetfaan.”

“Yes, Boggel. I’ll get there. Just like that tree. One moment at a time.”

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity, Africa’s Allure.

Africa. A continent of conflict, as we all know. The home of pirates, religious fanatics, despots.

But…the real Africa has another face. Non-human…even non-animal. Just beauty and space.

And serenity…

Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town. A lane of 100 year old trees. It is quiet here…

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In the magnificent Baviaanskloof you can hear the silence

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Close to Stellenbosch. Only the forlorn cry of a fish eagle to keep you company.

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Ahhhh….the roads through Namibia. Nobody in sight. No telephone lines, no fences…

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The beauty of Damara Land

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Rain in the Serengeti

The Rolbos Guide to 2015

d6Sweat the small stuff. Pay attention to detail, and the Big Stuff never becomes a problem. And never lose the wonder of even the smallest creatures around you.

d2Mother Nature has been around far longer than you have. Respect her, and by doing so, respect the world your children will live in. Never take anything for granted – even rocks decay with time.

d4There is beauty in everything – even in the harshest environment. Seek beauty, and Life will reward you in kind.

IMG_3851Take time off. Rest. Think. Reflect. And make sure you get enough me-time. Crowds and lots of friends may well have a place in your life; but that alone is insufficient to become who you should be. Nurture your uniqueness and avoid wishing you were somebody (or somewhere) else. And yes…you are good enough.

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Make sure you have at least one soft toy, and that it has a name. They are more loyal –  and give more solace and joy – than most people you know.

188_8855Be kind to older people. Visit them. Talk to them. Loneliness is the worst affliction of old age and more debilitating than any disease. Surprisingly, you’ll find that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

IMG_2629Study other cultures and history. You are a mere link in the very long chain of humanity. Losing sight of this simple fact. inflates the ego and kills humility.

IMG_2765Travel. See places you’ve never been to. There is no more sad a person than one who thinks the world ends at the city limits.

IMG_2801Birds fill your life with song. Learn the names of at least ten this year. And then study how they live. There are great lessons in this.

IMG_2876Learn to do things yourself. Depending on others inevitably leads to disappointment at some or other stage. It is the strong and independent mind  that survives the hardships we have to face every day.

IMG_3254Never cease to be amazed by the magic of  fire. Nor by the way light gets rid of darkness.

IMG_3349Never lose the ability to play. It’s the best way to stop taking yourself so seriously. Be loyal to those you love and they’ll join your fun.

IMG_3408If your mother is alive – then show her your love. If she has already passed on, never forget her legacy.

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Love your family – even the ones with bad manners. They are part of who you are. Rejecting them is to reject your own identity.

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Enjoy wine in moderation. It’s the best social lubricant ever invented.

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Lastly – you will face giants in the next year. That is inevitable, for Life has a way of challenging the best out of you. Sit back, smile humbly, be patient and at peace. No situation is permanent – and often the threat to your existence is as uncertain as you are. Wait…it’ll pass. Every day is a gift – be grateful.x51

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…

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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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