I’ve had such positive responses from my recent blog post on the Karoo that it’s inspired me to put together these ten images. This time all of the pictures are different styles in black and white. They’re taken from Mt Zebra National Park, which is just outside Cradock, along the R61 to Ganora Guest Farm and Compassberg – just before you arrive in Nieu-Bethesda.
I get these rich blacks in the landscapes if I use the wide-angle M.Zuiko 7-14mm lens. It really picks out the contrasts when there are clouds and captures lots of detail and texture in the foreground.
Lone tree, Blaauwater Siding, Nieu-Bethesda
Karoo sheep and water tank, Blaauwater Siding, Nieu-Bethesda
I used the same lens for this view. I love the way that the fence line and clouds pull you into the photograph.
Gate, sheep and sky, Blaauwater Siding, Nieu-Bethesda
When the sun’s lower then the light often gets much hazier. I’m looking either through or into the light in this next set of pictures.
Compassberg from Witnekpas, Nieu-Bethesda
Karoo skyline north of Mt Zebra National Park
Misty Road, Kranskop Loop, Mt Zebra National Park
The next pair of pictures were both taken using a zoom lens (the M.Zuiko 40-150) with full sunlight bathing the focus of the scene.
Grass and bush at sunset, Black Eagle Hike, Mt Zebra National Park
Karoo roadside view, N9, Middelburg
Lastly I’ve a couple of pictures that I took looking upwards with the body-cap fish-eye lens. That means the sun gets into your picture unless you hide it behind something!
Drought, Blaauwater Siding, Neu-Bethesda
Jointed cactus, Blaauwater Siding, Nieu-Bethesda
I’d love to get some feedback so let me know what you think!
This past few weeks in Sweden I’ve been using my Fujifilm X100F exclusively. It always takes me a while to adjust to new light and compositions and the switch from late winter in South Africa to late summer in Sweden is quite drastic. That’s one reason why I’ve been using monochrome – it’s helped me to capture the light.
When we arrived I opened up my parcel from Fuji with the wide and tele conversion lenses I’d also bought. We went out berry picking on the first weekend to a beautiful location called Karlsbo – it’s about a half hour drive from Falun in Dalarna. I was keen to use the wide angle converter and so I screwed it on to the standard lens and took a lot of pictures that day – this is one of them. It is a vertical panorama of two images one stacked above the other.
Karsbo Panorama, Dalarna
This second picture was taken on the beautiful Bohuslän coast at Ramsvikslandet. It was a stunningly clear day after a major storm had passed through. Everything I was seeing was swept clean. The granite rocks and islands were scraped bare by glaciers and the sky was a clear blue with hardly a cloud. For this picture I used the tele converter so as to zoom in on the cottages at Fykan across the close cropped grass in the foreground.
You couldn’t get much more of a contrast than with this next image. It’s taken late one evening after sunset and it’s a view of the Bäveån that flows through Uddevalla. The river has a series of old mills along its course and this one hunches above a broad sweeping curve with the rapids in the background.
Bäveån Mill Pond, Uddevalla
The last couple of pictures were taken from the outlook above Gustafsberg – it’s has a lovely outlook west over the fjord to the Uddevalla Bron and east to the harbour entrance.
Uddevalla Bron from Gustafsberg
Uddevalla from Gustafsberg
I’m really pleased with the results I’ve got and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them.
The same thing happens to my photography whenever I come to Sweden. I think it’s either the impact of all that Scandinavian design on my artistic sense or maybe its all of the conformity and regularity of life here. Here’s a great example.
Sensommar i Sverige
Since I arrived in Falun a couple of days ago It’s been raining a bit and so the summer furniture was stacked up (neatly of course) on the altan just outside the kitchen window. It looked so typically ‘sensommar’ – late summer – that I went out to get the picture. The composition just jumped out at me. Here’s another.
I was out on the balcony trying out new settings on the Fujifilm X100F and, once again, the shapes and lines drew me in. This time the light was changing as I took the picture (the sun came out!!) and so I could experiment with different compositions.
For the next six weeks I’ll be working only with the Fujifilm. I’ve found that’s the best way to learn what a camera will do. In the end I will be using it without thinking at all about the settings. Also it means that I can use the two new lens extensions I have just bought for it!
It’s an unusual place – Grahamstown – located in a basin at the headwaters of the Kowie river. The poor black population in the eastern townships look across to the middle class suburbs on the other side of the valley. There are not many South African cities where black and white are so closely juxtaposed. I live in Sunnyside, on the south side of town, and our house is quite high up on the side of a hill. A lot of my pictures look down into the valley. I’m frequently photographing into the light too. The cathedral is nearby – further down Hill Street – with the northern suburbs lying beyond. Makana’s Kop is another Grahamstown landmark. It dominates the eastern side of town – across the Belmont Valley.
I wanted a set of black and white pictures so I needed to capture textures and shapes. South African townships are typically laid out on rectangular lines. This makes for clear compositions. The two pictures here were both taken in winter with low angled light. Before dawn Vukani was wreathed in mist and smoke. I managed to catch the first rays of sunlight cutting across the mists. Monument to Makana was taken just after a storm had passed at sunset. Highlights of rain outline the regular street patterns. The 1820 Settlers Monument is the large rectangular building that lies in the foreground of the picture.
Monument to Makana
In summer we are likely to get thunderstorms – but many of them drift eastwards past the town. From the stoep of our house you can see them over the horizon – behind the spire of the Dutch Reformed Church. Of course some of them do hit the town bringing heavy rain and dramatic lightning.
Off to the north west is the Rhodes University campus. It’s surrounded by tree lined streets. Some exotic monkey puzzle trees are in the foreground of this picture. Belmont Valley lies to the south east. It’s where the Kowie River runs down to the sea. The leafy suburbs shown here are above and below Hill Street. They are beside the old road down to Port Alfred.
The last two pictures are also taken from the south side of town. They’re higher up – on Mountain Drive – where we take our dog walking. Both of them are looking right over the bowl containing the old districts of Grahamstown. The townships have now spread right up Lavender Valley and out on to the plateau at Hooggenoeg. The mountains on the skyline are the Amatolas. The last picture is looking north-west – into the semi-arid Karoo. It shows the Winterberg range that is approximately 80 kms away.
There’s a nice selection of my Grahamstown pictures over at my online portal roddythefox.co.za. They’re reasonably priced. All of the pictures were taken with my Olympus OMD EM5 MarkII. I’ve edited them in Lightroom using the Nik collection of plugins.