Trees – a picture and two poems

We will be missing two Poetry at Reddits occasions whilst we are away in Sweden: my contributions are here though.  There are two of WS Merwin’s poems and one of my pictures of Hogback’s trees.  All inspired by Beth Moon’s special book Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time – thank you Kate for the wonderful gift.

Twining Trees at Hogsback

Trees

I am looking at trees

they may be one of the things I will miss

most from the earth

though many of the ones I have seen

already I cannot remember

and though I seldom embrace the ones I see

and have never been able to speak

with one

I listen to them tenderly

their names have never touched them

they have stood round my sleep

and when it was forbidden to climb them

they have carried me in their branches

 

The picture I’ve chosen also reminds me of another of his poems, I think because of the way the trees twine around each other.

 

Separation

Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.

 

Looking forward to our next Reddits in October!

Autumn harmonies

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.

Autumn Harmonies

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.

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.

Symmetry in Nature: Preview

It’s a couple of months since I posted about the book project. There’s been plenty to work on: finding the right online publisher, deciding on the layout, selecting and reworking images, tracking down picture details, drawing the maps and then composing the book. Here is a preview of the covers: you are looking at the book opened out and face down so the back cover is to the left of the spine.

Symmetry in Nature: Covers

After a bit of research I chose blurb to work with as they publish a lot of photo books and their BookSmart software is free. They also give the option to convert your book into an eBook for publication in Apple’s iBook store. Which is something I will be doing very shortly. My book has a large square format since the images don’t come in standard sizes..  That’s meant laying out each page separately with an image and the original picture I worked from plus a short caption.  Here are two pairs of pages from the Mosses and Lichens and Trees sections.

Symmetry in Nature: Mosses and Lichens

 

Symmetry in Nature: Trees

I realised that I am not the first person to construct striking and evocative imagery through mirroring and duplicating.  What I have done in the book, though, is to add value to the pictures so that it is much more than just a set of lovely and intriguing images.  The book is divided into seven sections depending on the aspect of nature involved. Then I have added a brief description for each picture and included one or two small photographs of people and places.  Here is a two page spread from the Leaves section.

Symmetry in Nature: Leaves

At the end of the book I composed two pages of typical South African and Swedish landscapes so that the reader gets a better appreciation of the places where the pictures were taken.  Each page has a location map, list of where the pictures were taken, a panorama and four typical landscapes.

Symmetry in Nature: Landscapes

The book ends with a page showing how I constructed the images and there’s a complete listing of the technical details of all of the photographs.  It’ll be 54 pages in all. I am just waiting for ISBN numbers to be issued for the hard copy and eBook then it’ll be uploaded and published!

 

 

Night photos around the fire pit: Hogsback

Last weekend we escaped to Hogsback.  The temperatures had built up all week long to 39 degrees so we were happy to go and stay at Helen’s place high in the mountains.  On Saturday night we came back from a cooling swim in the dam in time for a braai. I have been trying to get a good set of night pictures for a while now and had a couple of ideas to try out.  So I left the others to do the cooking and got busy with my camera.  Weather conditions were really changeable with clear skies and stars and then the wind picked up as a night storm came rumbling past.

The evening started with Luke and Helen collecting wood and preparing the fire.
01 Preparing the fire pit

When the coals in the main fire pit could be raked aside for cooking Steve and Kate got busy with the chicken, potatoes and boerewors 

02 Steve and Kate get started

03 Hot coals

04 Food ready

I asked Kate to give the fire a stir so I could capture the sparks flying (and dying) in the wind.

05 Stirring the embers

A storm was clearly approaching but I had time to get Helen to join me on the stoep beneath the starry night sky.  This is a picture I have always wanted to capture. 

06 Helen and Roddy on the stoep

Once the storm came there was lightning silhouetting the clouds behind the house as the wind picked up and sprayed sparks all over me.  The pictures are dramatic with trails like tracer fire and also my head torch bobbing and weaving in the last picture. The sparks died quickly on the green vegetation all around that was very sappy from the recent rains.

07 Storm approaches

08 Flying sparks

09 Finale

There was no rain with the storm …. but a very tasty supper and malt whisky to appreciate before we doused the fire and headed off to bed.