7 December 2013

The Packett Family Shoot

I met Brigid early this year when she asked me to help her with her photography. We have had a few sessions over the months and her photography has grown in leaps with her progressing to doing some family and preggie shoots. She is a lady full of life, a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother. Her wedding anniversary this year heralds 40 years of marriage and with this she wanted to do a family shoot with her children and their wives/husbands and her adorable grandson. It was with great pleasure that I agreed with a resounding yes when she asked me if I would do the shoot of them. Now I must explain that Brigid is a lively, happy lady that simply adores her family. Her house is filled with lots of family pictures and this bears tribute to many family events and occasions that shows how close this family is.

We agreed on a date not too long ago at a lovely restaurant that has beautiful gardens  that would be ideal for a morning shoot and then they could have a celebratory anniversary lunch. As fate would have it, they day before the shoot the weather was pretty lousy and light rain was predicted for shoot day. mmmmm.. not ideal but we would switch to plan B if it was raining... (I didn't really have a plan B but would create it if the need arose... lol)

With Brigid's permission, I would like to show you a few images from the shoot.

Fortunately on the morning of the shoot there was no rain even though it was pretty overcast. We started the shooting with the family standing on a wooden bridge that crossed a small stream on the property. I had brought the number 40 along and we did some standard shots but then I asked the kids to show some emotion towards Brigid and Ken on having reached this milestone...

This is what I got... lovely..

As you can see, this was going to be a fun shoot... we did a few more pics on the bridge..

We then shot the "guys"...

Sebastian wanting to really be in the frame

and then then Sebastian ran off with the frame.... a great little guy doing what little guys do....

Dad eventually got hold of Sebastian and I fired of a couple of shots while dad and son were having some fun..

After some more family shots, I got the girls together..  Really beautiful ladies..

I must tell you that daughter and daughter in law seem so have some sort of liking of hats... they arrived with a bag full and we put these to good use..

The "Pouting" shot

The gardens had these beautiful rocks and the ladies obliged..

By this time Sebastian had saught out mom and my camera captured some lovely moments including this one....

A kissy please mom...

There were areas of the garden that had a carpet of purple flowers and the girls couldn't resist..

I had also found a lovely spot which had this real country forest feeling and it made for the ideal spot for a miniature couple shoot... I wasn't disappointed...

We ended the shoot with a couple more shots including this wonderful happy family shot

 and I quite liked the feeling of openness and attitude of this shot

10 November 2013

Return to Marievale

The sound of the alarm pierced the silence of the morning... it was 3.45am and time to rise. I hadn't been back to Marievale since the incident and I had decided that today was the day. With an hours drive ahead of me I left in time to make the sunrise. I always enter from the "rear" end of the reserve past the crusher plant and to my surprise their was a new boom across the entrance..... but wait, the road just about went around the boom so I merely had to drive around the sentry house to gain entry. Fat lot of use and so much for the heightened security that I had been informed had been implemented as a result of the incident!

The sun rising over the pans as you enter the reserve

I headed for Hadeda hide with a little apprehension and hoping that there was another photographer there already. Much to my relief there was a car parked behind the hide so all was good. The pan was awash with the early morning golden light which was almost over saturating the scene that lay in front me but oh boy, how sweet is that light. The pan was quite busy with the normal waterfowl but this wasn't why I was here. I had what a friend in Cape Town called Malechititis - withdrawal symptoms from not seeing a Malachite Kingfisher in a while!

It was not long before a juvenile appeared, albeit it for not longer than 10 seconds. I managed one shot in the subdued light as it flew off.

The little Reed Warblers were ever so busy dashing in and out the reeds, never sitting long for longer than a second or two. A real challenge in the low light so very high ISO's were once again the order of the day.

Whilst the activity was high, I have thousands of images of the normal waterfowl so I declined from shooting these. The water level is low at the moment and the left hand side of the hide has been cleared of reeds so we had many birds doing their morning stuff. This little Sandpiper was happily running around, pausing every now and again to dig for his grub and just asking to be photographed :)

I was also quite happy to see the Lapwings with their babies running up and down. I hadn't seen the youngsters in quite a while and of course they were begging for a a shot.

I by chance glanced around and low and behold, the Malachite had returned and not only returned, he had already caught his breakfast!

There he sat, breakfast in his mouth

He has to tenderize the meal so that it goes down easier, so he smashes it on the right of the branch....

Swinging it with all his might..

and then smashing it on the left hand side..

Suitably tenderized and ready to go down..

One satisfied diner... and off he went..

A lone Whiskered Tern had arrived and was getting comfortable

The Hottentots Teal's were playing follow the leader

and the Cape Shovellor was stretching it's wings

A fly past by the Flamingo

A lone Swallow had been gathering nesting material and dived in and out the hide to build it's nest.

A Cormorant suddenly appeared out of the water... I don't know who was more surprised, me or him.

By this time the clouds had come over and the activity subdued. I decided to leave Hadeda and go over to Duiker hide. The wind was now blowing at quite a speed and was almost unpleasant. Much to my surprise, between the ripples in the water, a Crested Grebe suddenly appeared.

 I sat for a while longer and a Darter suddenly appeared and jumped onto the perch in front of the hide. He started preening himself and was almost too close for the 500mm.

I left the hide and headed further down the road that borders the Blesbokspruit. I came across some Flamingos siphoning the water for their breakfast and a pair of Avocets crossing the stream but I could not sit for long. It's a narrow dirt road and I had a car behind me waiting for me to move. No overtaking is possible so I only managed a shot or two.

I hadn't traveled another 100m down the road when the Glossy Ibis appeared out from between the reeds..

I decided it was time to leave and started making my way to the exit. I stopped to watch some Coots chasing each other and while sitting quietly, the Red Bishop popped onto some twigs right in front of me.

19 October 2013

A picture speaks a thousand words

They say that a picture says a thousand words.. and it does... really.. One picture can save a thousand words of descriptive text which at the end of the text can leave many different images in our mind because we all relate a written description to our own unique imagination and interpret it differently. If we in turn look at an image there is nothing that can be misconstrued or misrepresented... or is there?

Well summer has finally arrived and so off I went and got my Porshe Boxster out from storage. Now you must understand.. men and their cars.. well, that's a story all on it's own. I love this car and have been the proud owner for several years now. I will even let you into a little secret.. the mileage is exceptionally low and the insurance premiums even lower...

I posted this image on some photo groups on Facebook and got some comments like "I'm jealous" and "wow"... 

BUT... is everything what we really see the truth? Do I own a Porsche Boxster? Hell no! Would I like to? Of course!! So where did I get this Porsche from? I cannot tell a lie, directly from my showcase. What? you might say, you keep a Porsche in your showcase? Well actually I do. 

Now this is where the "trickery" comes in. This photograph was not manipulated or "Photoshopped" as many would put it. It is very much as I shot it. I will admit I had to slightly change the colour of the grass under the Porsche because I didn't have the patience to match it up with the grass in the background when I shot the image. Other than that, it is exactly as I shot it.. 

 Aha.... well there you go. The secret is out the bag! I don't own a real Porsche but indeed do own a scale model replica of one. So by using a photographic technique called "Forced Perspective" I was able to achieve an out the camera real image of what seems to be my Porsche in my front garden. This technique has been around since just about the advent of photography and I'm sure has been used many many times to fool the viewer!

So does a photograph speak a thousand words? Yes of course it does.... but seeing isn't always believing is it?

26 September 2013

Snow on the Stellenbosch Mountains

I had been doing some work in Cape Town and stayed a few extra days to do some landscape and avian photography of the region. It had been bitterly cold (well for me at least) and the wind and rain had at times been unrelenting. Last Sunday morning saw me on my way on the R300 with my destination to be Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the foot of Table Mountain. Whilst driving I threw a casual glance to my left and there it was.. snowcaps on the mountains behind Stellenbosch. Now you don't understand, the feathered friends will always be at Kirstenbosch but the snow would not always be on the mountains.. Decision made, destination changed and off I steered on the N2 towards Somerset West. As to the actual mountains my knowledge was rather sparse but hey, if there were roads, I could get some shots. Not the best time of day for the best light but it would have to do.

Now the town Stellenbosch is 53 km east of Cape Town and is in a hilly region of the Cape Winelands. It is sheltered in a valley at an average elevation of 136 m flanked on the west by Parrot Mountain (yes, you read correctly), which is actually a hill. To the south is Stellenbosch Mountain and to the east and southeast are the Jonkershoek, Drakenstein, and Simonsberg mountains. The Twin Peaks have an elevation of 1,494 m and the highest point is Victoria Peak at 1,590 m.

The soils of Stellenbosch range from dark alluvium to clay. This, combined with the well-drained, hilly terrain and Mediterranean climate, prove excellent for viticulture. Summers are dry and warm to hot, with some February and March days rising to over 40 °C. Winters are cool, rainy and sometimes quite windy, with daytime temperatures averaging 16 °C.  

I firstly headed into the upper suburbs of Somerset West which showed this lovely backdrop.

I then headed up on the road from Somerset West through to Stellenbosch and managed this shot over the vineyards. I particularily liked the sky.

From here I drove through the town and headed up on the Pniel road where just a week before I had shot some images of the mountains with clouds hanging over them.
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The previous week, same place

 Traveling further down heading towards Franschoek I came across this open field which provided a wonderful foreground to the mountains.