My Leica Experience So FarRead More
I am in the middle of a book that has a somewhat surprising title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK. While this book has significant ideas on how to improve your life and well-being, it also has great significance for every creative. Many of us determine that we will produce when we have the motivation and inspiration to produce work. This of course applies to any vocation. We use this as an excuse in a subconscious manner, not necessarily in an attempt to avoid work. The book challenges us to first take action rather than wait for inspiration and motivation. I've heard this before in a round about manner from writers or photographers that take action for inspiration. I remember one writer who has an office and sits in his office for four hours everyday, whether he writes anything or not. This is a habit in order to force inspiration. I would say the same thing for my photography. I have had a slump because I have not felt inspired and void of motivation. As a result, I took no action. Coincidentally, on the first day of 2017 I started a 365 project. A 365 project is committing to make and post at least one NEW image per day for a whole year. It's actually not easy as you have to search for INSPIRATION. The important thing is that you have the MOTIVATION to take ACTION. How fortuitous that both of these activities entered my life at the same time. Don't wait. Take ACTION
Sarah RawRead More
In Cape Town, you can get anything and everything on Long Stret, including trouble if you're not careful. When I first got here two years ago I was walking down Long Street during the day and saw two guys across the street shadowing my every move. Not surprising considering that the camera around my neck could feed a small village for a year. I stopped and I just stared their way letting them know that I knew they were there and luckily they just moved on. That was my first hint that I should get a smaller camera rather than carrying this Canon behemoth, that was no problem carrying around in the States. My next experience was much more abrupt. I was with a photography group and we were walking some side streets when a Police van screeched to a halt next to me and asked what I was doing there. They proceeded to tell me that my throat would be slit for the camera I was carrying. That was my decisive moment. The following weekend I was at the local camera store picking out a small Fuji camera. It was much smaller, lighter, and much more inconspicuous. I've really stuck with my Fuji gear and even used it to photograph my son's wedding in addition to my Canon gear. Unlike my Canon stuff I don't need a recovery and rehabilitation period after carrying it for hours. Oh and the images are amazing. They rarely need any adjustments. So yes size does matter. I attached some images from Long Street taken with my Fuji XT-1. These are straight out of the camera with no editing.
Many people do not recognize the name Gordon Parks as being one of the great American photographers. He was not only a photographer, he was also an author, and a filmmaker. He did all of this in an era where it was nearly impossible for a Black Man to hold a position of prominence. Nevertheless Gordon Parks did just that and is an Ikon of American photography as much as any other. He was a principal photographer for Life magazine in it's heyday and was sought after by the most famous people in the world for his photography. He photographed Ingrid Bergman, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, and countless others. His success was partially based on separating himself from the politics of the individual he was photographing. Another interesting fact is that Gordon Parks wrote and directed the movie Shaft and his son Gordon Jr. wrote and directed Superfly. All very successful movies that crossed racial boundaries. The image that is shown was the image that made Gordon famous and landed him a job with Life magazine. He was depicting Black struggle in America and had the school cleaning lady pose with a mop and a broom in front of the flag. The movie of his life is free for viewing on Vimeo and you do not have to be a photographer to enjoy it. It's called "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks."
I just finished watching "Monk with a Camera", a documentary about Nicky Vreeland, Grandson of Diana Vreeland, former editor of Vogue magazine and Harper's Bazaar, and his journey from boy of privilege, to that of the Abbott of one of the most important Tibetan Monasteries in Exile. It depicts his struggle with being a devote Tibetan Buddhist and his love for photography. The documentary tells of how Nicky uses his photography for good by selling his prints to fund the construction of the Rato Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. This is a must see for any photographer!
Excerpt: This movie follows Nicholas who gave up worldly possessions to become a Buddhist monk. He meets a Master of this religion that is a teacher for the Dalai Lama. Nicholas uses his former love for photography to help the monks rebuild their civilization and further their teachings. The Dalai Lama learns about this and makes Nicholas the first western person to become an Abbot of the Monastery which is a very high position in this religion.
I flew to Salem, North Carolina from Cape Town, South Africa to photograph my son's wedding. I would not normally recommend this, however...Read More
This is a comb to scrape through the wax on your board to rough it up for extra grip and/or clean and put on some more wax. My friends at Xpressiononthebeach gave me this. It acts as a a business card for a unique company in Muizenberg, South Africa called Wawawaves. They make old style traditional wooden surfboards, and some with a more modern flair. Very interesting site with some surfing history at www.wawawaves.com
More than half of video is sound. Shaky video, good sound, OK. Bad sound, no way. So in order to get the sound right like on the video I made you have to get one of these. It records the sound separately and then you synch it with the video in a video editing program. Not easy, but worth it.
I listen to a lot of Podcasts. For those of you that don't know, a Podcast is like a radio show about a topic area that you are interested in. Most of the ones I listen to are about photography and the business of photography. Recently I was listening to a photography podcast that talked about expanding your creativity by the use of your lens to determine perspective. The lens that they were talking about was your eye and your field of view. The person being interviewed discussed perspective in this manner. This may be an old story to some of you as it is described in Steven Covey's, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. To paraphrase, a man is on a subway when another man and his many children get on the train. The train is rather empty and the children are causing a ruckus, making a lot of noise, and generally out of control. The first man is very bothered and disturbed by their actions and is internally very critical of the Father who is just sitting there looking down at the floor and doing nothing about the behavior. The first man is thinking about the misbehaving children and what an irresponsible parent the Father is. Just then the Father looks up at the man and tells him that they have just left the hospital where his wife has died, the children do not know it, and he's thinking of a way to tell them when he get's home. In the meantime he's letting them blow off a little steam. What a different perspective you get when the Father speaks up. All of a sudden we empathize and want to help. There are a lot of things we can learn about from this story, the least of which is photography. When you hear about something happening in the world, or close to you, don't be so quick to judge. Remember, situations that we encounter are not black and white. Life is mostly gray, and the difference may just be our perspective. Change your perspective every once in a while, understand, and be a better person. And you thought this was going to be about photography!
I woke up this morning to an ocean, that for Cape Town, almost looked like a lake. Though there were small waves, it was very calm. I knew that if I just looked carefully enough during these conditions, it would not be difficult to spot the Whales. I opened the blinds and I did not have to search. They were about 50-100 yards off the beach. Right in front of my place. The last time I saw them they were much farther off. I made some photos of what I saw this morning and you can see those below. What I tried to emphasize was perspective. I wanted to show their size and how close they were to shore. These are the Southern Right Whales. They come close to shore between June and November to calve and feed their newborns. As such you do not see them breach (jumping out of the water). It paid off being patient though. The last few images were of the tail. Enjoy!
When surfing in the Cape Town area i.e. somewhere near the Cape of Good Hope a wetsuit is essential. It's not just a nice thing to have. It is what you get when you get a surfboard. Booties on the other hand are not always necessary especially if you primarily surf in Muizenberg where the water is warmer than the Atlantic. Since I live on the Atlantic side they are necessary. My first surf at Big Bay with no Booties resulted in having to come out of the water every 20 minutes because I could not feel my feet enough to be able to stand on the surfboard. Notice that they are Reef Booties and Proudly South African made. Had to get with "The Booties" - 153/365
This is an all too common scene all over Cape Town and South Africa in general. I usually do not make images of the homeless because they are gratuitous and a way too easy way to get some emotional response for your image. I do, though, need to add this to make the visual images that I make about my time here real. It can't be real without the ugly reality. Why does this situation exist on such a vast scale here? Well there are a lot of reasons for it, but most of it is literally uncontrolled illegal immigration from other African countries. There is virtually no immigration enforcement unless of course you attempt to do it legally. Then there is a vast network that has to be navigated. A blind eye is turned toward the illegal immigration. Mostly being self serving. The public statements are that these individuals cannot be aggressively pursued because their home countries assisted the ANC (Afican National Congress) during the fight against Apartheid. The practical reason is that every Black African that comes to South Africa somehow finds a very expeditious way to become a citizen just prior to elections and are able to vote. Most of Black South Africa votes for the ANC. This guarantees that they stay in power. So over a period of time the ANC has systematically moved a huge population of Black Africans to the Western Cape with the promise of jobs, economic prosperity, a better life, and has not delivered. Anyway, my discussion on the crazy history of this place could go on for a long time. More than my blog could stand, but I thought it important to discuss because the reason the man is flat on his face sleeping in the street at night is not totally of his own doing, and there are tens of thousands like him mostly living in the squallor of crime ridden squatter camps that would be an outrage in the USA. Very sad. The Ugly Side of Cape Town - 149/365
It is a relatively recent phenomena that South Africa has received the "Fast Food Spawns of Satan": McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc. Here in Cape Town it is all the rage. Before you know it South Africa will have similar obesity problems as seen in the USA. Too bad. The food is so good here! My365Project 143/365.
The surfboard in Hawaii has a deep and spiritual history. In this modern era of mass produced popout boards, the custom Hand-Shaper is an increasingly rare breed of artisan who continues to respect the importance of carrying on the Hawaiian tradition of constructing sacred craft. Bill Foote… is one of those legendary Hawaiian surfboard shapers… where quality, innovative design, and customer enjoyment of his boards is what he really cares about and focuses on. Bill’s constantly evolving designs are borne out of a rare and unique depth of experience that spans over a 40 year period as a well respected and world renown Surfboard, Stand Up Paddle, and Sailboard shaper. My surfboard was designed by Bill Foote, cut out to his specifications, then sent to him for correction and approval prior to covering with material and then epoxy. Pretty cool actually. The company, Signature Surfboards was started by Neil Esterhuizen here in my town of Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. He coordinated with famous surfboard designers around the world and created this line. I wanted to make sure to buy local and this was the best of all worlds. My Bill Foote Designed Surfboard - 139/365
Leaving 2014 Afrikaburn I was able to await a lull in the people leaving to be able to make an image of the entrance and the gong that Afrikaburn Virgins are to hit on entrance to the festival. It looked a lot different during the day against the morning sky. It was an experience that I was not well prepared for with regard to food, ice, etc. If I am to attend next year I will be better prepared. It is definitely an event that someone in South Africa should attend at least once.
AfrikaBurn is the spectacular result of the creative expression of participants who gather once a year in the Tankwa Karoo to create a temporary city of art, theme camps, costume, music and performance! http://www.afrikaburn.com/
Getting there was a mission. About 3-4 hours from Cape Town including a 113 km Tire Eating dirt road. I was advised to deflate my tires and I made it there and back OK. When I got back to Cape Town I noticed I had a definite slow leak in one of my tires. So I didn't escape unscathed. Lots of color, performances, crazy costumes, awesome landscape and great people.
It's so common to see people of all ages on the beach in front of my house. I was lucky enough to be out making sunset images when this little boy came speeding by on his bike. What a wonderful sense of care-free freedom, and what a beautiful place to ride. My 365 Project 110/365.
Sometimes my 365 images are not about being artistic. Sometimes it's just interesting or a new thing I've encountered while here in Cape Town. First of all I've never seen Venison (Deer Meat) sold in a grocery store before. So that is interesting and different. On the other hand what is more interesting is to look at the name of the store: Woolworths. Lest it be confused with Woolworths in the USA. Here is the story.
Woolworths Holdings Limited (JSE: WHL) is a South African chain of retail stores and one of the largest in the country, modeled on Marks & Spencer of the United Kingdom. This relationship with Britain's Marks and Spencer was formed after the Second World War, which led to the retailer buying all of the unissued share capital of Woolworths in 1947. These shares were later sold, but close ties still remain. The first Woolworths store opened in The Old Royal Hotel in Cape Town in October 1931. It was founded by Max Sonnenberg assisted by his son Richard and Fred Kossuth.
The Woolworths brand now incorporates a series of food stores, some of which are attached to department stores, while others stand alone or are attached to Engen petrol stations in prosperous urban areas. Some branches include an in-store restaurant, branded as "Cafe W". Woolworths goods are sold at 149 corporate stores, 51 international franchise stores throughout the rest of Africa and the Middle East and 69 South African franchise stores nationwide.
The chain was named after the United States chain F. W. Woolworth Company but, because of the contemporary trademark laws, the name was legally used without permission. No financial connection ever existed between the companies. I thought it was rather interesting. They are almost like a Whole Foods, or Fresh Market. My 365 Project 109/365
I know I've said it before, "I never get tired of Sunsets in Cape Town or Table Mountain." I was driving home and I decided to stop at Blouberg Beach when I saw this beautiful sunset. The amazing thing about making sunset images it that they change in seconds. In this case the sun was setting behind my right shoulder and the colors you see are a reflection of the sunset on the scene. I must also say it's one of the first times I've seen this beach with calm water. Table Mountain Sunset from Blouberg Beach - My 365 Project 108/365