Winter Aloe blossoms

Mid winter is the right time for seeing the spectacular flowering of the Eastern Cape’s aloes.  These four pictures were taken on my daily walk from our home in Sunnyside down the hill, across Somerset Street and through the Botanic gardens to work.  The whole countryside is glowing with them: particularly at dawn and towards sunset on the road north from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort or west along the N2 to Port Elizabeth.

 

Landscape and family pictures: Hogsback weekend

Last weekend’s trip to Hogsback was a good time for photography: the light was excellent, landscape compositions were everywhere and, of course, there’s my daughters and grandchildren.  I’ve already posted my antique picture panorama but here’s a selection of the other pictures I took.

This composition was right outside Helen’s house: the building poles were stacked above the fire pit with Tor Doone looming behind them.  I couldn’t resist taking another, with completely different clouds, the following morning when we set off for one of our walks.

Family walks with small children and an even smaller puppy can be slow affairs.  Here’s Helen holding hands with Luke and her new puppy, Rain, trotting along beside them  This was taken in poor light with my telephoto lens looking down the long hill beside Helen’s house.  The next day we had another walk – to Luke’s ‘Niagara’ waterfall – and here is Sophie being carried in her backpack by Jeannie.

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Helen gave me a great guided tour around the property before we left for a Sunday meal: she ended it by showing me where she plans to build the new main house.  Driving home to Grahamstown on Sunday the light was lovely and the clouds were dramatic so I stopped at the Pluto’s Vale turnoff to take some last pictures before sunset.

Hogsback panorama, antique painting?

Last weekend was spent at my daughter Helen’s place high in the Hogback mountains.  On Saturday evening we took the three dogs and Jeannie with the two little grandchildren up the hill for a sunset walk. It was quite a dark scene with soft light playing on the clouds above the mountains.

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The light and composition reminded me of a nineteenth century colonial painting.  I took seven images to piece together. This evening, once the power outage was over, I corrected them for brightness and then stitched them into one scene using Double Take.  Then I imported the panorama into Aperture and removed blemishes (dirt on the lens) before exporting it again and finally importing it into FX Photo Studio Pro.  The last step was to mask the photo with the ancient canvas filter and add a suitable frame so as to give the picture the antique feel I had experienced on the hillside.  You can see the result above.

Wind farm on the skyline

It’s taken a few days for me to realise that there’s been a change to our skyline.  I went to Scandinavia seven weeks ago and meanwhile the turbines for the new wind farm on Highlands Road have started going up.  I didn’t see them until I went for a walk on Mountain Drive a couple of evenings ago.  They’ve been quite controversial but, as someone who sees wind turbines all the time, I don’t find them intrusive.

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Summer and winter sunsets in the same week

My friends know that I love taking sunset photos – and low light photos in general.  A week ago I was still in Northumberland. On my last night at Warton I went out just before 11pm and looked north west to the after glow of the sunset above the Scottish border.  It was really tranquil, there was plenty of late evening bird song with bats swooping past continually.

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Sunset here in Grahamstown is just after 5pm at the moment – we are almost a quarter of the way around the world from Northumberland and so it is approaching mid-winter now and our shortest day.  I went out with Jeannie and the grandchildren for a sunset walk yesterday and grabbed a couple of quick shots looking south-east from below the toposcope on Mountain Drive.  The mountain bikers, runners and dog walkers will all recognise this cabbage tree.  There were some beautiful clouds over the Indian Ocean glowing with the last of the sunlight.

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Garden and countryside

We’ve spent plenty of time outside in Northumberland this past week.  It’s been rather cold and windy but with plenty of sunshine, showers and one big storm.  The wind’s been a problem for photography but when you get into the shade of the farm garden or when you are walking on sheltered paths then there’s been a riches of flowers and landscapes.

Here are two flowers from the lovely garden at Warton and a spectacular inverted three sided hook that adorns one of the gate posts.

Out in the country Northumberland often has a big sky.  You can see that in the picture with the silhouettes of the cows.  These two photos were taken on the coastal path north of Boulder.