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.

 

The many shades of Falu Red – Falu Rödfärg – Sweden’s favourite colour.

Think of rural Sweden and forests, lakes, fields and fells spring to mind – wonderfully green in summer and white in winter. The houses, farms and barns will almost all be painted in Sweden’s favourite colour – Falu Red or Falu Rödfärg – that comes from the 1000 year old copper mine in Falun, Dalarna.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Riverside houses in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

I’ve always found the red to be very attractive – not least because it changes shades depending on the light and the season. When it’s cloudy in summer then it is matte and has a clay-like texture and appearance. I’ve chosen this picture of the doorway to Sundborn church steeple because it shows this – there’s also beautiful wood work in the overlapping tiles of wood. The colour is very similar to the red-brown laterite soils where we lived in Ruiri, Kenya. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that I like it so much.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn steeple doorway in Falu Rödfärg

In dappled summer light it’s still soft but with brighter and darker red patches where there’s light and shade. You can see this on the main church building at Sunburn that has a large oak tree spreading shade across the roof and walls. Sundborn church is a beautiful village just outside Falun with a lovely heritage walk that features the locales of Carl Larsson’s famous paintings. The church is part way round the walk.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church in Falu Rödfärg

You also go past this lovely old barn on the riverbank.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Old riverside barn in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

The real richness of Falu Red comes out in this next picture. It’s almost orange-red on the main wall of the church in the foreground. Falu Red, white and green are a really common summer colour mix.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church tower in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

Winter is a different story. All of the green will be gone and replaced with white when there’s been snow. Falu Red is particularly striking when there are cold blue skies behind bare tree branches.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Falun Dalarna Sweden Elsborg

Falu Rödfärg in winter, Elsborg, Falun

These two pictures were taken in Elsborg – the beautifully preserved historic quarter of Falun – during the particularly long, cold winter this year.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Elsborg Dalarna

Winter street scene of Falu Rödfärg, Elsborg, Falun

I had to use a very wide angle lens to capture the sky and clouds in these scenes. Even with the sun at a low angle the Falu Red is vibrant. If you are lucky and there are no clouds then you can get red reflections in the snow.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Stångtjärn, Falun

Reflection of Falu Rödfärg on snow, Stångtjärn, Falun

The wall in this picture shows the yellow-orange colour that you can get when the clear winter light hits the paint horizontally. It’s almost mirror-like. This last picture was taken at Romme Alpin, it’s mostly blue and white, with just a little Falu Red to hint at summer’s warmth.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Romme Alpin

Falu Rödfärg on the ski slopes, Romme Alpin, Falun

 

Revealing the Sugarbirds at #NAF18

Opening up a roll of prints takes me straight back to childhood.  It’s the anticipation, the long wait since you finished the post production and uploaded the images to your printer in Port Elizabeth or Cape Town. Then you get the email, they’re done, and you have to wait for the courier to deliver.  24 hour delivery they say but if you are living in Grahamstown that can take anything up to five days.  Then, of course, they might deliver to a neighbour over the road (because you were out) and never bother telling you!

The Sugarbird images are black and white with the birds floating like oriental brushstrokes on a very pale background. I’d selected the Hahnemühle German Etching paper because I wanted a rich texture and as soon as I saw the images catching the late afternoon sunlight I was delighted with the result.

I’ve four Sugarbirds images in Metamorphosis – they’ll be on show thoughout the National Arts Festival (June 28 – 8 July) at the Johan Carinus Arts Centre.

The Sugarbirds Composite

Trees – at Space Creative and Culinary on October 28th

I always like to make a mosaic of the images I’m going to show.  So this first picture’s your overview of the 14 images that’ll be up for sale at Space Creative and Culinary, 14 Fitzroy Street, Grahamstown on 28th October.  They’re almost all pictures of trees: Balanites, Baobab, Birch, Cabbage,  Fig, Fever, Hornbeam, Oak, Shepherd’s and Yellowwood.

Trees Exhibition

The first thing you’ll see is that some of them are naturalistic but others are mirrored or overlaid to show their fractal designs.  The four images on the top row are all single African trees pictured against the sky.  I’ve mounted them simply on card and they’re printed on enhanced matte paper – they sell for R750 each.

In the second row there’s the Fig Tree from the Botanic Gardens in Grahamstown on the left hand side and two Hogback Yellowwoods twining around each other on the right hand side. These two look quite special as they’re printed on brushed aluminium dibond – they’re the most expensive items for sale at R2500 each.

The black and white mirrored image of the Baobabs is between them, it was taken in the Okavango panhandle.  Printed on glossy paper and mounted behind glass with a black wooden frame it’s priced at R1500.

Baobab Temple

Two green mirrored images come next.  Both pictures were taken in Sweden: on the left is an Oak above the Göta River and on the right is a Hornbeam at Tureborg in Uddevalla.  They’re R2000 each, block mounted and printed on enhanced matte paper.

The three images of spiders’ webs were all taken early one misty morning at Tsitsa Falls in the Eastern Cape.  They’re printed on enhanced matte paper and block mounted ready to be hung –  they also sell for R2000 each.

The final two images are the most complex. They repeatedly mirror, overlay and use positive and negative versions of one lone Birch tree that I photographed silhouetted against the deep blue arctic sky at Tromsø in Norway.  They’re also block mounted, enhanced matte images and sell for R2500 each.

 

Aloes, webs and cosmos

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.

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.

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.

Behind the falls

 

 

Fantasy trees

A couple of weeks ago I posted this picture on Facebook.  It’s one of my favourite trees catching the warm sunshine: full of twisty arching shapes. At the time my good friend Harry Owen said he could see an artwork coming on …. he was right.

Äsperöd Gnarly

Äsperöd Gnarly

I’ve managed to find some time to work with it and I’m pretty happy with these two images. They’re full of mirroring and overlay and to me they’re fantasy works.  This first one overlays an image of the forest floor to give a warm rich texture.

Äsperöd Mushroom Fantasy

Äsperöd Mushroom Fantasy

The second one rotates the trees and the cross processing of the overlaid images gives some amazing blue and red tints.  There’s a completely different feel to it.

Äsperöd Fantasy

Äsperöd Fantasy

This is still a work in progress and hopefully I’ll be putting up more pictures as my ideas develop.