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.
Cape Town Photography
Last weekend I headed over to Muizenberg to pick-up my surfboard after a repair from a mishap the previous weekend. The waves in Muizenverg were nonexistent so I took a drive to see some of the other breaks that I have not visited yet, namely Kommetjie (co-mick-ee) and Long Beach.
Well I never got to Kommetjie as I spent much of the late afternoon watching and photographing surfing at Long Beach. There were quite a few people in the water and as I was unfamiliar with that break, and recognize the territorial nature of surfers, I decided not to surf but watch and shoot. I titled this "Back to my Roots", because my professional photography career started out by photographing sports. I really like the action and the fact that you have to anticipate where the peak point of action will happen to get a good shot. Additionally, I've always preferred shooting sports in Black and White. I converted this and made specific adjustments to my taste. I like the overall drama of the image. The point at which you don't know if the surfer is going to make his turn and the dramatic sky and mountain behind him. I did not have my long lens with me, but I quite like how this wider shot turned out.
I continue to post my 365 images as I get to them. It was tough enough to make the images let alone post them everyday. To that end I am still catching up and I plan to make a small book of all of the images. I'll have more information on that as soon as I get some information on details and possible publication methods. I want to get back to real photographs that you can hold in your hand and not just see on the computer. Nothing beats having an album.
I made this image one evening when I saw this beautiful fiery sunset and there were a couple of people walking on the beach. I wanted to convey how nice and simple life can be by just taking a walk with a loved one. I made this with my Fuji camera and I made three exposures and combined them to be able to get the bright light of the sun and the shadows in the same image.
Table Mountain at dusk with the lights of Melkbosstrand and Table View in the foreground. No one is on the beach as far as the eye can see. It was a cold night.
I made this image immediately after my ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video. Luckily it was warm in Cape Town that day, but as usual, the water was Ice Cold so I needed neither a bucket nor ice!
Abstract Self Portrait
I was making some general images on Muizenberg Beach when this little girl that was playing with friends peeked around the corner. I love these happenstance encounters. I made it Black and White as the image was about her and her curiosity. The color would have just distracted away from the structure of the image. We must make choices when we are making deliberate images. Does the color add or distract. It'd up to the individual image maker to decide.
There's a really classy, upscale bar in Cape Town called The Alexander Bar and Theatre. They have a small theatre upstairs where they show movies free of charge. The owners are fans of quirky, foreign, artsy movies, as am I. I love going there.
Storm at Sunset, Cape Town shows the impressive colors that can be experienced by the combination of the two. This is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image where three images at different exposures are combined to be able to get detail in the shadows, and highlights where one would normally not be seen. It's not as easy as it sounds as you have to determine on your own what the initial exposure should be. If you want to know more about HDR a photographer named Trey Ratcliff gives a tutorial on how to produce the images at www.stuckincustoms.com .
The white flag with the black shark indicates that a shark has been seen in the area and the beach is closed. The day before there had been an attack on a surfer. The detailed report is published here on Shark Spotters. The surfer escaped with relatively minor injuries compared to the size of the shark. One surfer was initially unsure whether the animal was a shark or a whale, but stated that b the size leaned toward thinking it was a whale. This is the first attack in Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa in ten years much of this credited to the success of http://sharkspotters.org.za/.
I spend a lot of time surfing on the weekends, and one of my favorite time is when I can go right out my door and go straight into the water. No traveling, or hassle, but I do miss seeing my friends in Muizenberg. As I've said before, it is very meditative for me just being out there on the water. Maybe that's why surfers and surfing in general is so mellow and laid back. Never really grasped all of this in my earlier days of surfing. Road-trips and girls were the order of the day then. Will never forget those days, with Hector, Jimmy, Willie, Lee, Bobby, Shelly (he didn't like Sheldon), Joe, Pepe, Billy, and many others. Good times.
I photographed for two reasons. First because it was pointing toward a crosswalk that did not exist, and secondly and more importantly the arrow lined up with Table Mountain in the distance and I thought it funny. As if to say to go hike Table Mountain.
I helped host a photo-walk at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. It's like many other City, State, or National Botanical Gardens except that this was the yard of Cecil John Rhodes i.e. "Rhodes Scholars" still funded by his trust. Rhodes made his fortune in Diamonds in South Africa and Rhodesia (a country he named after himself), by founding the DeBeers Diamond Company. He is both revered and reviled. Much like John Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, regardless of their reputations, these men helped make their countries successful. I almost ran into this spider until warned by a friend. It was about the size of a tennis ball. I have no idea if it was poisonous or not, and I know nothing about it. I did think, though, that it would make an interesting image.
I love that my office is in Koeberg Nature Preserve. Very quiet. Walking trails everywhere. You never know if you're going to run into Zebra, Springbok, or many other species. Just be careful where you step. Many Cape Cobra's and Puff Adder's here. Not nice. In Winter they're hibernating so not a problem. Come summer they are out. I saw these clouds mid morning and I really liked the shapes and the color gradient as you looked farther East toward the mountains.
All or most of the images of Table Mountain, including my own, are the Post Card type pretty touristy views. I am going to start capturing images of the Table Mountain that we see everyday in Cape Town from different perspectives and places. Some not so pretty, but always majestic.
A Night Scene of the town Melkbosstrand (Melkbos Beach) where I live.
I saw this Surf Fisherman on a cold afternoon run on my beach. No idea what he was fishing for. I made several images. Most did not show his hand with this gesture. It added interest. The others bored me as it just showed his body with the fishing rod sticking up.
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
An image of the Lifeguard Stands in my town of Melkbosstrand. Melkbos is a Milk Bush and Strand is Beach in Afrikaans. It's like a little fantasy village. Unlike any other place in Cape Town. It was actually voted the best place to live in South Africa. A surf town. Neighborhood Watch. Kids walk and ride their bikes to school. People run and walk their dogs on the beach. Police and Armed response patrols are always somewhere close. Couldn't think about living anywhere else while I'm here. Lifeguard Stands at Melkbosstrand - 142/365