Grahamstown’s Cathedral of St Michael and St George: three different takes

Here’s something a little different – three different takes of Grahamstown’s iconic Cathedral of St Michael and St George. The first is in the antique sepia style I’ve been using for the Grahamstown heritage series. The second is the full colour by moonlight shot and the third is a multiple exposure fantasy. They are all taken from almost exactly the same spot – just outside Makana’s City Hall on the north side of Church Square.

You would think that the Cathedral would be a heritage site but it isn’t – though it certainly makes a dramatic impression towering over the centre of the city. As usual I’ve made sure that the antique heritage style contains modern elements: the flaring street lights and the security guards relaxing in the square.

The colour moonlight picture was taken when the full moon was highlighting the clouds above the spire. That gives the composition some nice depth and definition and I’ve bleached out the colours a little to give the picture more punch.

The fantasy picture is a multiple exposure. I used the wheeling star trails as the backdrop because the original picture had a lot of ugly coloured flares of light in the night sky caused by the streetlights. Then I decided to strip away some of the fabric of the Cathedral to make it look skeletal. The clock is stuck at midnight and I took the picture just before Halloween!

I’ve already sold one of these as a high gloss print (I can now print on demand up to A3+ size). Let me know using this contact me link if you’d like one. This new series will also be on sale (probably as unmounted prints) at #NAF19 in my exhibition called ‘Reflections’ at the Carinus Art Centre 27 June – 7 July.

 

Cycling by the heritage sites: Howse Street Grahamstown

The second post of the Grahamstown heritage sites is a street-scene. There’s no getting away from the new in this picture because there’s a young cyclist front and centre. Behind him Howse Street runs up to the historical core of the city. There’s power lines and street lights leading the eye towards the skyline and the heritage sites silhouetted there.

Howse Street Grahamstown Heritage Sites

Passing by Grahamstown’s Heritage Sites: Howse Street

The Cathedral of St Michael and St George dominates this picture and strangely it isn’t a heritage site: though it is one of the city’s iconic buildings. The buildings that run between the two spires are the backs of the Victorian shops that front on to Church Square. These are all heritage sites: as is the City Hall itself. Later in the series I’ll post some pictures of them as they are architecturally striking.

As usual there’s a bit of a back story to the picture. To get a shot with a passing cyclist I needed to stand in the middle of Beaufort Street – and that’s a busy thoroughfare – mid-way between two sets of traffic lights. So I needed to wait until both sets of lights were on red and there was a gap in the traffic. It meant I dashed out into the road on a number of occasions before I was successful.

Several of this new series will be on display at #NAF19 in my exhibition called ‘Reflections’ at the Carinus Art Centre 27 June – 7 July.

 

Enjoying the moonrise: Rhodes students on Fort Selwyn

The first post of a new series – Grahamstown Heritage – features the old and the new.

Fort Selwyn lies on Gunfire Hill and it was built for its strategic view over the city below. No great surprise that it’s one of Grahamstown 70 heritage sites. These days it has lost its military importance but it does make a spectacular vantage point. That’s especially true for students who come up from Rhodes University after Friday classes to watch the sunset and then the moonrise. All whilst having an early evening drink or two.

Enjoying the moonrise: Rhodes students on Fort Selwyn, Grahamstown (Makhanda)

There’s an interesting backstory to this shot. Night photos usually need a daylight reconnaissance. I’d already been to Fort Selwyn at night taking pictures of car headlights trailing across town. That’s when I first saw the students perched on the Fort’s ramparts. But then I had to go back in the daylight and work out how to get high enough to get the students and the town below plus the full moon and all of Fort Selwyn in one shot. I solved it by climbing one of the megaliths that surround the 1820 Settlers National Monument. When I returned that night I brought a stepladder, propped it against the rock, climbed up and installed my tripod. Then I just had to wait for the moon to climb high enough whilst the students enjoyed themselves. There was, of course, plenty of musical accompaniment from the sound systems in the open car doors. Not a soul noticed me, or the ladder, perched on the rock. You can see my shadow in the right foreground as a passing car’s headlights helpfully revealed the foreground of the picture.

I expect to have several of this new series on display at #NAF19. My exhibitions called ‘Reflections’ and I’ll be at the Carinus Art Centre. In the next day or two I’ll have the picture for sale as a print or for downloading over at my store.

Oldenburgia – Winner of the WESSA Natural Heritage Photo Competition 2018

Last Wednesday we were waiting to collect our luggage at Port Elizabeth airport when I got the news on social media that I’d won First Prize (Professional Category) in the WESSA Natural Heritage Photo Competition 2018. I was a bit stunned. That’s partly because we’d been travelling  home from Sweden for 27 hours but also I didn’t expect to win. A big thank you to the organisers, judges and Kwandwe Private Game Reserve for their generous First Prize of an overnight stay.

WESSA Natural Heritage Grahamstown Makhanda

Oldenburgia – Winner WESSA Natural Heritage Photo Competition 2018

If you’d like to buy a copy there’s a download available over at my online store. Here’s the picture. Its one of the big trees at the top of the zigzags on the Oldenburgia Trail just below the radio masts on Mountain Drive. There’s a lovely patch of afro-montane forest and summer grasses beyond the tree on the shoulder of Featherstone Kloof. I took the picture using a very wide angle lens on my Olympus OMD E-M5MarkII – it was set at 7mm focal length – which is what pulls the clouds down into the frame. It’s a 1/1250 second exposure at F4, ISO was 200. I did a little editing in LightRoom.

 

Into the Dream Forest at #NAF18

Forests are hard to photograph. They’ve got all the light and shade, shapes and textures you could want – but trying to get that in a picture and capture the feel of a forest is another story. On Christmas Day last year I took a very wet and slippery walk to Hogsback’s Big Tree. On the way down I paused and took a misty shot looking back up the pathway. That’s the picture which led to this set of six images that will be in my #NAF18 exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’. They’re the Dream Forest series. I realised that if I used a Fine Art Filter in post processing then I could give the misty wetness a dreamlike, evanescent quality.

The picture I’d set out for was of an individual tree – The Big Tree. It towers high over your head and it has got a massive girth. These three wide angle lens pictures of individual Hogsback trees are taken from ground level and that gives them a different quality and scale to the Dream Forest pictures.

All of these pictures, and more, will be in sale at the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown throughout the National Arts Festival from June 28 to July 8.

The Big Picture: Unwrapped for #NAF18

Today’s the big day – it’s when I get my large prints back from the framers. I’ve worked on them for a long time but only seen them on the computer screen – and they can be big: 90 cms x 90 cms. I get a glimpse when I carefully unroll them as they come back from the printers.  But I am scared of creasing or marking the surface so once I have checked each print they all get rolled back up again and taken to be mounted and framed.

#NAF18, Metamorphosis, Johan Carinus Art Centre, Grahamstown

The Big Picture: Delivery for #NAF18

Getting them into the house once they’re framed can be fraught with dangers too. The dogs have to be shut away as each piece is carefully navigated up all of the steps from the bottom carport and then round the stoep and finally into my studio. Finding room to unwrap them is like moving tetris pieces as I have over 50 pieces ready for #NAF18. And Kayleigh the cat would just love to sneak in and hide amongst all of the wrappings!

I’ll really enjoy having them around me in the studio for the next three weeks. Then this whole process gets repeated to get everything out of the house and off to my exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’ which is at the Johan Carinus Art Centre for the duration of #NAF18 from June 28th to July 8th.