We’ve been having lovely autumn weather with clear air, blue skies and low angle light that brings out all the changing colours. I’ve tried to capture this in these images and combined them into one pattern of autumn harmony.
Going clockwise from the top right the inspiration was a bare tree in front of the after sunset glow. At bottom right is a red leaf in a sea of green foliage. The bottom left picture is a flower in the bracken and the top left is the bark of a birch tree. Here’s how the bare tree looked.
Bare Tree and Belt of Venus
And here’s a detail of how it looked after combining and overlaying the image eight times.
Autumn Harmony detail
I’m often asked if my images are for sale and the answer is yes. I’m exhibiting again on the fringe of the National Arts Festival at the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown from 29 June to 9 July. If you’d like to purchase one of these, for example, then just email me using this contact me link and I’ll provide a quote. Cost for a high resolution 50cm width print of Autumn Harmonies will be approximately R1000 including packaging and courier to South African destinations. I have also organised having prints made and delivered overseas.
Last week we spent a day at Addo Elephant National Park and, just as we were leaving at sunset, we saw a lone bull elephant striding up over the horizon. The misty Suurberg ridges rising up beyond the Sundays River valley made a lovely dramatic backdrop to his silhouette.
Addo Elephant coming out of the sunset
I got to wondering what would happen to my picture if I draped it like a tablecloth over a three dimensional elevation model of the Addo area – showing the elephant embedded on the landscape it lives in. It wasn’t easy to get the image looking aesthetically pleasing and on the right part of the landscape but here’s the result.
Elephant and Addo landscape
It’s coincidental because I was also using my geographical skills last week working with a 3D model of the Port Elizabeth area. I suddenly wondered if I could get something much more evocative using the elephant picture instead!
There will probably be autumn mist tomorrow morning, our host at Tsitsa Falls backpackers (Adrian Badenhorst) told us around the camp fire, you often get them when a hot day follows. He was right. The whole Tsitsa valley was dark with mist at sunrise but it soon began to clear as the sun burned through.
Mist in the Tsitsa valley
The backpackers is on the site of an old Transkei border trading post so it was surrounded by big banks of krantz aloes. They were already beginning to flower and during the day attracted beautiful malachite sunbirds. This morning, though, the mist gave an unusual backdrop for a photo shoot of the spider webs.
Old trading store
Unusual because there’s no background to the pictures I shot. I was on the hillside looking down into the mist and far below you could just make out the bridge over the river. In the distance was the muted roar of the big waterfall. In the foreground spiders’ webs arched gracefully between the conical aloe flowers.
Aloes web 3
Aloes web 1
Aloes web 2
Further down the bank, beside the drainage ditch, there were entanglements of cosmos. Most of the flowers were gone and the spiders had made delicate webs between the dead heads remaining.
Cosmos web 2
Cosmos web 1
Cosmos web 3
Once the sun had come out I took a walk down the valley and went behind the waterfall. A short scramble through the rocks below and you get a fantastic swim in the pool wreathed in clouds of spray from the falls. A stunning place to visit.
In a couple of month’s time Grahamstown’s Festival Gallery hosts its annual end-of.year exhibition. This year the theme is Summer in Miniatures – artworks have to be no bigger than 30 cms. I’ve decided to try out a submission with the idea of ‘Summer Nights’ and use a selection of four night pictures taken this past southern hemisphere summer.
The first two were taken on Ganora Farm which is just outside Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo. Summer Nights 1: Angel and Obelisk was taken in the middle of the night when there was no moon. I wanted to catch the Milky Way stretching directly above the rock and quite by chance I caught the light of my head torch that I was using to light-paint the top of the obelisk. Summer Nights 2: Compassberg Star Trails was taken on a night when the moon was full which is why the landscape is so bright. It’s a one hour exposure looking north to Compassberg mountain and has beautiful star trails arcing across the horizon.
Summer Nights 1: Angel and Obelisk
Summer Nights 2: Compassberg Star Trails
Summer Nights 3: Firefly and Star Trails
Summer Nights 4: Pride Rock Star Trails
Summer Nights 3 and 4 were both taken looking south from Mountain Drive, Grahamstown: so they are overlooking Featherstone Kloof. In Summer Nights 3 I was joined by a firefly that flickered briefly past my right shoulder and up into the sky. It’s another picture taken when the moon was full so I hid beneath a rock overhang to avoid getting direct moonlight on the lens. For the last picture, Summer Nights 4, I highlighted Pride Rock from underneath with a bright LED as there was no moonlight to bring out the foreground. The lights on the horizon are from Port Alfred 60 kms away.
If they’re accepted for the exhibition they’ll be priced at around R2500 for a framed print but I can supply a high resolution digital image for half of that. Contact me if you are interested.
Images taken at low light have always been one of my passions but lately I have been able to take much better images at night. A new camera and lens have helped! So I’ve been taking milky way pictures and star trails – quite a few have been posted in Instagram using my @roddythefox account. A few nights ago I was taking some star pictures in the garden below our house and I swung the camera down and round to capture the vegetation. Here’s the picture I got – I was blown over by the glossy aspect of the leaves, the jungly shapes, the amazing violet-pink sky and the interesting composition.
I saw straight away there were lots of possibilities in the shapes to make some special images. So I enhanced the picture’s contrast, cropped out most of the right hand side and then mirrored it horizontally and vertically to get this dramatic image.
I’m pretty sure I will be using it for Portals. It’s such a great fusion of night imagery with mirroring to find a stunning pattern. I could see, though, that there’s the possibility of another great pattern using the almost vertical leaves on the left hand side of the original. This time I’ve duplicated it many times to arrive at a fantasy wallpaper/wrapping paper design.
One of the unusual things about taking the portals pictures is that I am often looking for an image to complete. So I look for quirky shapes that can be combined into something intriguing, different and provocative. Fortunately for me there are plenty of trees in and around Grahamstown with strange forms which provide me with great material – especially at sunset when the light is changing rapidly.
There’s a hook at the top of the trunk of this leaning tree, with slanted bands of clouds behind. When I cropped through the hooked tree and copied, flipped and joined I got the following two images.
The shapes of the clouds now focus your eyes on the strange silhouette in the centre of the image. One of these will go into the Portals Exhibition but I haven’t been able to make my mind up which it will be.