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!

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.

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.

Hogsback Sunset

Most trips to Helen’s house at Hogsback include a drive along to the the radio mast at the end of Plaatjieskraal for a walk, a sunset drink and a long look at the spectacular view.  When Andy was here last month we spent a night out at Helen’s inspecting the progress on her house.  We had a good walk in the forest up to the Kettle Spout waterfall, a picnic and, naturally, a sunset expedition.  You can see the view we were treated to in the photos below.  Her house is making steady progress now that she is spending more time there.  It was a little crowded with four adults and two dogs sleeping in one room though!