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.
The dead eucalyptus trees on Mountain Drive were my earliest interest: their stark branches against a clear winter sky for example. This old tree is right next to the gravel road and I’ve photographed it a number of times. As you pass by it rears up against the skyline. The interlocking branches remind me of a cat’s cradle of fingers, praying hands or the tracery in a gothic church window.
Mt Drive Archway
Clean images and simple subject matter are typical of my early symmetry pictures. The original for this picture was taken in July 2014 just after the big fire that swept across the hillside. The storms that have followed have all but demolished the tree now.
Mt Drive Archway Original
iPhoneography is what happens when, for some silly reason, I haven’t bothered to take a camera out with me. Then, of course, I immediately see a composition I want to photograph and have to rely on my phone to do the job. Here’s five pictures from the past few months taken in this way. The first is a mid-winter self portrait of my shadow with bike: it’s taken by the toposcope on Mountain Drive. The second is a picture of the cathedral in Turku, Finland that I grabbed one cold May evening. The third is shot from the little bridge in the Botanic Gardens on my way to work: I often stop to admire this patch of jungle. The fourth is dark, it’s an after sunset shot of Grahamstown that really stretches the capability of the camera. The last one uses the panorama function to capture the big landscape that we live in: it’s taken looking west into the sunset along Mountain Drive.
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.