Winter Aloe blossoms

Mid winter is the right time for seeing the spectacular flowering of the Eastern Cape’s aloes.  These four pictures were taken on my daily walk from our home in Sunnyside down the hill, across Somerset Street and through the Botanic gardens to work.  The whole countryside is glowing with them: particularly at dawn and towards sunset on the road north from Grahamstown to Fort Beaufort or west along the N2 to Port Elizabeth.

 

Landscape and family pictures: Hogsback weekend

Last weekend’s trip to Hogsback was a good time for photography: the light was excellent, landscape compositions were everywhere and, of course, there’s my daughters and grandchildren.  I’ve already posted my antique picture panorama but here’s a selection of the other pictures I took.

This composition was right outside Helen’s house: the building poles were stacked above the fire pit with Tor Doone looming behind them.  I couldn’t resist taking another, with completely different clouds, the following morning when we set off for one of our walks.

Family walks with small children and an even smaller puppy can be slow affairs.  Here’s Helen holding hands with Luke and her new puppy, Rain, trotting along beside them  This was taken in poor light with my telephoto lens looking down the long hill beside Helen’s house.  The next day we had another walk – to Luke’s ‘Niagara’ waterfall – and here is Sophie being carried in her backpack by Jeannie.

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Helen gave me a great guided tour around the property before we left for a Sunday meal: she ended it by showing me where she plans to build the new main house.  Driving home to Grahamstown on Sunday the light was lovely and the clouds were dramatic so I stopped at the Pluto’s Vale turnoff to take some last pictures before sunset.

Hogsback panorama, antique painting?

Last weekend was spent at my daughter Helen’s place high in the Hogback mountains.  On Saturday evening we took the three dogs and Jeannie with the two little grandchildren up the hill for a sunset walk. It was quite a dark scene with soft light playing on the clouds above the mountains.

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The light and composition reminded me of a nineteenth century colonial painting.  I took seven images to piece together. This evening, once the power outage was over, I corrected them for brightness and then stitched them into one scene using Double Take.  Then I imported the panorama into Aperture and removed blemishes (dirt on the lens) before exporting it again and finally importing it into FX Photo Studio Pro.  The last step was to mask the photo with the ancient canvas filter and add a suitable frame so as to give the picture the antique feel I had experienced on the hillside.  You can see the result above.

Wind farm on the skyline

It’s taken a few days for me to realise that there’s been a change to our skyline.  I went to Scandinavia seven weeks ago and meanwhile the turbines for the new wind farm on Highlands Road have started going up.  I didn’t see them until I went for a walk on Mountain Drive a couple of evenings ago.  They’ve been quite controversial but, as someone who sees wind turbines all the time, I don’t find them intrusive.

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Summer and winter sunsets in the same week

My friends know that I love taking sunset photos – and low light photos in general.  A week ago I was still in Northumberland. On my last night at Warton I went out just before 11pm and looked north west to the after glow of the sunset above the Scottish border.  It was really tranquil, there was plenty of late evening bird song with bats swooping past continually.

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Sunset here in Grahamstown is just after 5pm at the moment – we are almost a quarter of the way around the world from Northumberland and so it is approaching mid-winter now and our shortest day.  I went out with Jeannie and the grandchildren for a sunset walk yesterday and grabbed a couple of quick shots looking south-east from below the toposcope on Mountain Drive.  The mountain bikers, runners and dog walkers will all recognise this cabbage tree.  There were some beautiful clouds over the Indian Ocean glowing with the last of the sunlight.

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A short walk on the Northumberland coastal path

My last post had two pictures taken when we were walking a short portion of the Northumberland coastal path.  Now I’m back home in South Africa I realise that I should have included some pictures of the coast and the path itself. So here’s some typical coastal scenery of the stretch of path between Boulmer and Howick scar. You walk past a number of pretty little bays such as this one where the Whitefin Spring flows into the sea.  There’s a natural spring that bubbles right out of the rocks on the far side of the footbridge.

Whitefin SpringFurther north along the path there are dramatic castles such as Bamburg that look like something out of Game of Thrones.  We didn’t see anything as spectacular but this lonely house near Howick lies right on the shore.  There’s a good stone wall between the house and the sea but it must have plenty thick walls to withstand the winter storms as it is very exposed. Kate says that as a child she always fancied living there – she’s not so sure now she’s older!

HowickThe path itself is attractive because it winds along with the sea on one side and some lovely farmland on the other.  Here’s a portion of it.  You can make out the sea on the left hand horizon with the fresh green fields on the other side of the fence completing the scene.

Northumberland Coastal Path

The sky was getting dramatic when we walked approached the end of our walk at Boulmer.  The raked patterns in this field definitely caught my eye and the fence post lying on top of the stone wall drew me into this last picture.

Farm outside Boulmer