Addition 201701

It’s 2017, and besides the sense that the world is on the brink of disaster – nothing much has changed.

Welcome back. I hope this year will be a good one, in which we will appreciate the kindness of others, and continue to work at actively making the world a place where nobody will get left behind.

I’ve added a couple of photographs since we last spoke, and most of my activity here (and on social media) has revolved around my work with the students at the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design. I really enjoy that work, and I’m happy to say that I will be back there this year – teaching student and photographing stuff.

But as a gentle reminder that I photograph other things too, there’s this…

I spent some time with my parents in Stellenbosch during December. They’ve got a beautiful garden which attracts a fair amount of wildlife. Mostly birds. This baby Common Waxbill was brought into the house by Lybica – my parents’ cat (and main source of joy). It seemed like Lybica was just bored and wanted something to play with, because – besides possible emotional trauma – the bird hadn’t been harmed. It also seemed to be rather exhausted, as it kept falling asleep in my mother’s hand after she caught it. Falling asleep is not a great idea when you’re the only threatened party in a potential life-and-death situation, but it didn’t seem to understand that. After admiring how beautiful it was, the Waxbill was set free – with the hope that it would find its way to safety, safely.

A couple of minutes after being bid farewell, it was returned to us. Lybica was being quite diligent, and the Waxbill quite silly. This second rescue was turned into a slightly more elaborate affair, with some food, and foliage placed in a large glass bowl (with it) so that it could get some rest in a safe place, and be observed some more.

At one point during the first rescue, the silly little Waxbill escaped from my mother’s gentle grasp and found itself poised on this Delicious Monster – blissfully unaware of the looming threat.

See larger image here

Mother’s Day Grain

Just not from me…

I was (sort of) hoping to be awake early today (it’s still Sunday, the 8th of May, 2016 - and Mother’s Day in South Africa - as I’m starting to write this, so I’m sticking with ‘today’), but – as it usually happens – I couldn’t get to sleep last night. It wasn’t for lack of trying – I just can’t fall asleep before I am really sleepy, and that usually only happens at around 03h00. Go figure. I need my sleep in order to keep my heart from going into over-drive, so my final waking time depends on whether I have appointments, or whether I’ve had a sufficient amount of sleep.

But I woke up at about 05h00, had a glass of water and went back to bed and fell asleep. I missed the dawn sky over the Stellenbosch mountains I’ve so often half-heartedly planned to photograph again. It turns out the sky was clear anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned. Clear sky is not as interesting to me as cloudy sky.

I was already running slightly late for a Mother’s Day lunch in Stellenbosch when my Kombi refused to start. Not a cough. Not a splutter. Not even a whisper of a turn of an engine. Niks. I’m assuming it was a combination of a couple of things, because after emptying the last drops of spare fuel from my jerry can into the tank, fiddling with wires, brushing cement dust away from connections, and tapping stuff (like the coil and starter motor) with the handle end of a large screwdriver – she started – as if nothing had ever been the matter. After chipping some dried cement chunks off my windscreen while getting more fuel for the trip at the closest petrol station – I was off.

Seriously, what’s with this cement? – you ask.
There have been builders on the premises where I live that have been busy doing renovations and structural maintenance. Much of this involves cement. – I answer.

While driving along the N1 to Stellenbosch I saw a flash of lightning in the distance – straight ahead, so more-or-less to the East. I only saw one flash – and this brings me back to Saturday night/Sunday morning, and probably part of the reason I couldn’t get to sleep. At some point during last month, a trusty weather service had forecast thunderstorms around Cape Town for the next day. I’ve been pretty keen to photograph lightning again and planned to take a trip down the Peninsula to chase it - so I was quite excited! This is what happened the last time I photographed lightning - about three and a half years ago:

Lightning Strike over Claremont 2012 [16006]

But those forecasts disappeared as the day broke. Gone. Soos mis voor die môre son.
For the next three weeks I watched weather forecasts with much hope – but no luck. Then – out of the blue on Saturday night: a thunder-clap right over my neighbourhood! I quickly set up my gear – excited as a little Christian child on Christmas morning. Disappointment wasn’t an option. My moment had arrived. This. Was. It.

When I got outside the sky showed no signs of a thunderstorm. The cloud cover was frail and high, and there was a chill in the air. Nothing like a sky about to erupt with the force of anything that would have 52 days of the year named after it. It was still and rather drab. At least for about an hour – when there was another blast. But again… It might as well have been a back-firing Cortina from the adjacent block of flats. No further signs of thunder. Until, after another long delay, there was another strike. But by that time I was already in bed.

But I digress…

Lunch with most of the family was good. I haven’t been east for a while, and Peet always makes a good meal. Afterwards I went to my parents’ home – for another espresso, and just to catch up with them. My parents – and when we still lived ‘at home’, sometimes the rest of us (the children) – have spent much time cultivating a beautiful garden in which, today, I photographed this:

Felicia amelloides [12006]
Felicia amelloides [12006]

Felicia amelloides [09007]
Felicia amelloides [09007]

Fern [02001]
Fern [02001]

Hawthorn [36001]
Hawthorn [36001]

Swamp Cypress [33001]
Swamp Cypress [33001]

Robinia [37004]
Robinia [37004]

Robinia [43005]
Robinia [43005]

I left Stellenbosch just before sunset, and was on the Annandale road just after. The sky over the Hottentots-Holland Mountain Range and towards Cape Town was spectacular, with some rays of the already-set sun still catching the higher edges of a varied array of cloud formations. This was great – my missed dawn had come to meet me at dusk. But it was actually already a little too dark, I was a little too excited, and too blindingly preoccupied with some exploratory technical experimentation that I’d also been waiting to do, that I wasn’t concentrating sufficiently on the outcomes. I pushed my ISO speed beyond reason for the moment. I got still enough (hand-held) photographs that looked very nice on a small scale, but I’ve deleted them.

I couldn’t live with the converted grain.

Happy Mother’s Day.

View larger photographs here

A View of Table Mountain during Winter.

Winter is still my fourth favourite season. One of the many reasons for this is the unendurable task of drying washed clothes.
If you’re old-school - or poor - you’ll know exactly what I mean.

This afternoon, while hanging another bit of clothing out to dry in the sun on a clothes-drying rack on my balcony, I noticed a Southern Double-collared Sunbird in the tree that graciously blocks my would-be numbing view of Table Mountain through a stretch of electrical cables. When out in public, sunbirds usually dart about from flower to flower collecting nectar, or chasing after insects, so I thought I’d just watch it for the brief moment it was to be in view before fluttering off, and then carry on with my day.

By the time I finished hanging the washing he was still there. So I watched him a little longer.

I’d had my moment of observing, then thought I may as well fetch my camera – knowing that he would certainly be gone by the time I got back to the balcony, but satisfied that I had managed to spend some time enjoying his presence - therefore countering the disappointment of missing the moment.

So I went inside, swapped lenses, and when I got back he was still there! Calmly hopping from branch to branch as if inspecting the neighborhood as a potential home turf.

The area inside the tree was relatively dark, and I had to shoot through layers of branches to get where he was sitting making mental notes.

Check larger images here: Southern Double-Collared Sunbird Gallery