We’ve been staying in Helen’s house at Wild Fox Hill, Hogsback, this past week. There’s been her three dogs and four cats to look after whilst she’s in Sweden visiting Jeannie. We’ve also taken care of her Eco-Cabin and the Air BnB guests. I’ve brought along my Olympus OMD I mark 2 along with the big M-Zuiko 7-14 mm wide angle lens hoping to get some good night shots and Hogsback hasn’t disappointed!
Wild Fox Hill Eco-Cabin, Hogsback
Here’s a picture of the Eco-Cabin taken on our first night. There was a very small new moon, no light pollution and no wind – so ideal conditions for night photography. If you’re familiar with southern hemisphere stars you’ll recognise the two pointers and Southern Cross – the picture’s taken looking almost due south. This second picture was taken looking vertically upwards to capture the full extent of the Milky Way. The two pointers and Southern Cross are now at the right hand end of the Milky Way. Mars is very clear to the left of the Milky Way and Jupiter is up at the top right.
Milky Way, Mars and Jupiter over Wild Fox Hill, Hogsback
In this last picture the crescent new moon was shining behind me so there’s a blue tint to the sky. It’s the first time I’ve managed to successfully merge two wide angle lens images together to make a vertical panorama. I really like the effect of the Milky Way arching across the sky above the Hogsback mountains.
Wild Fox Hill, Hogsback, Under the Milky Way
That’s Mars in the centre of the picture. I was lucky to have some of the foreground lit up by a car’s headlights on Winding Lane. When we get back to Grahamstown I will upload these images into my on-line store – they’ll make a nice addition to the Hogsback Series.
Two or three times a year we make the journey west from Grahamstown and into the Karoo – often staying somewhere around Compassberg which at 2504 metres is the highest peak in the Sneeuberg and Karoo. Kate has been working in the area for many years and I’ve gone along too. Sometimes that’s involved some academic work but more often I take my camera out and about. For me as a photographer the Karoo is really grainy: there’s gravel roads, flatlands, thorn scrub on rock outcrops, flat sedimentary ledges in front of rugged mountains, dolerite columns and twisting sandy rivers. All of this under a huge sky with dramatic light – especially when there’s rain (and snow) about.
This slideshow features some of my favourite themes, sunsets, storms and night skies.
Karoo Windpump, Beaufort West
Karoo Obelisk and Milky Way
Passing Storm, Beaufort West
After the Storm, Karoo National Park
Karoo Sunset, Compassberg
The road to Compassberg
There’s a picture of an iconic Karoo wind pump under a stormy sky. The Obelisk below the Milky Way is at Ganora Guest Farm (it marks the sharp turnoff to their self catering cottage). The Karoo Sunset was actually taken from Hogsback, which isn’t in the Karoo, but I was looking due west at the sun setting beyond range after range of Karoo hills. The two Passing Storm pictures were taken approaching (and from within) the Karoo National Park one dramatic afternoon. The last two pictures are of sunsets at Compassberg and the Sneeuberg north of Nieu Bethesda.
I’ve put The Karoo Windpump and The Road to Compassberg in my online store where you can also find plenty of other landscape pictures and my latest exhibition – Metamorphosis.
Our second experience of the Karoo Wine Club’s excellent tasting weekend in Graaff-Reinet didn’t disappoint. We went last Friday to find some wines cheap enough for the opening of my fringe exhibition ‘Metamorphosis’ at #NAF18. For the price of a R250 ticket you get to sample wine from some 30 different estates: there’s craft beer, gin and liqueurs too but I failed dismally to get the right product!
Tasting Stoep Wine
Wines to taste
Karoo Wine Club Sampling Glass
Sampling Beer at the Stoep Wine Tasting
We also took along my portfolio to discuss possibilities of exhibiting in the Drostdy Hotel at the lovely Imibala Gallery and had a couple of very positive and helpful discussions. I’m hoping that a return trip is going to happen later this year when I’ll be carrying some of my metal prints with me.
Friday evening was spent sampling the different clusters of wineries to find a safe place to take pictures on Saturday night. I quickly discovered that Graaff-Reinet’s motorists treat random photographers as fair game to flatten – especially after dark – and finally found a nice spot outside the Reinet House on Murray Street. I wanted to catch the stars above the fine historic building and the wine tasting going on outside as cars drove by.
Early Evening Stoep Wine Tasting outside Reinet House
The N2’s not an easy road and I don’t think many festinos’ would think it’s a delight: but most people will come to #NAF18 along it. Whether from Port Elizabeth or King William’s Town it snakes its way across a whole sequence of deep valleys. I just love the names of the rivers. On the PE side you leave Grahamstown through Howieson’s Poort and must cross the Berg, Palmiet, Assegai, Kariega and Bushman’s before the long dry stretch to the Sunday’s River at Colchester.
N2 by Night: Howieson’s Poort
To the East of Grahamstown it’s across the Belmont Valley you go and over the Kowie River before the long climb up to Governor’s Kop. You’ve still got the Great Fish and Keisakamma to cross before you reach the Buffalo River bridge entering King William’s Town.
N2 by Night: Grahamstown
N2 by Night: Belmont Valley
The N2 at Night makes a good photo essay. From the radio masts on the western end of Mountain Drive you can catch the car headlights coming up Howieson’s Poort. At the toposcope you can look down over the N2 bypass to the town’s lights. Below you is the Port Alfred road and the N2 weaving across the Belmont Valley and up through the cuttings beyond.
The Howieson’s Poort picture is one of this year’s Grahamstown series that I’m showing in Metamorphosis, June 28 – 8 July, at the Johan Carinus Art Centre during #NAF18.
This month certainly started with a bang – we had a spectacular storm last night that’s given me another picture for #NAF18.
Autumn Storm over Grahamstown
I shall add it to the three night pictures in the Grahamstown Series I’ve already printed for Metamorphosis. You get such cool colours and effects in night photographs whether it’s a moon rise, car headlights or lightning. But they’re quite tricky to take. Then there’s problem of just how to print them. This time I’ve selected something a little different – Ilford Metallic Gloss.
Blue Moon over Grahamstown
N2 into Grahamstown
Lightning over Grahamstown
The prints have a slight metallic sheen with rich contrasts and plenty of detail. They’ll be on sale at the exhibition and there’s a nice selection of my Grahamstown pictures over at my online portal roddythefox.co.za.
In a couple of month’s time Grahamstown’s Festival Gallery hosts its annual end-of.year exhibition. This year the theme is Summer in Miniatures – artworks have to be no bigger than 30 cms. I’ve decided to try out a submission with the idea of ‘Summer Nights’ and use a selection of four night pictures taken this past southern hemisphere summer.
The first two were taken on Ganora Farm which is just outside Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo. Summer Nights 1: Angel and Obelisk was taken in the middle of the night when there was no moon. I wanted to catch the Milky Way stretching directly above the rock and quite by chance I caught the light of my head torch that I was using to light-paint the top of the obelisk. Summer Nights 2: Compassberg Star Trails was taken on a night when the moon was full which is why the landscape is so bright. It’s a one hour exposure looking north to Compassberg mountain and has beautiful star trails arcing across the horizon.
Summer Nights 1: Angel and Obelisk
Summer Nights 2: Compassberg Star Trails
Summer Nights 3: Firefly and Star Trails
Summer Nights 4: Pride Rock Star Trails
Summer Nights 3 and 4 were both taken looking south from Mountain Drive, Grahamstown: so they are overlooking Featherstone Kloof. In Summer Nights 3 I was joined by a firefly that flickered briefly past my right shoulder and up into the sky. It’s another picture taken when the moon was full so I hid beneath a rock overhang to avoid getting direct moonlight on the lens. For the last picture, Summer Nights 4, I highlighted Pride Rock from underneath with a bright LED as there was no moonlight to bring out the foreground. The lights on the horizon are from Port Alfred 60 kms away.
If they’re accepted for the exhibition they’ll be priced at around R2500 for a framed print but I can supply a high resolution digital image for half of that. Contact me if you are interested.