… or “Use Only Lithium Grease”
On a recent steam train trip from Cape Town to Simonstown, we stopped next to this strikingly colourful suburban commuter train. I’m curious about the sticker that used to be across the door, with only a few letters left as a clue. Maybe “Do Not Feed”? What were they keeping in there?
The steam train trip to Simonstown is a relaxed affair run every couple of weeks by steam enthusiasts Atlantic Rail, and is well worth doing, whether you live in Cape Town or are just visiting. The trip takes the whole day, with a generous stop in Simonstown to allow for exploration and lunch. We found excellent fish and chips along with a great view at Harbourview Restaurant.
Table Mountain from Dolphin Beach
After feeling bad that I was neglecting my bag of Lee filters, I managed to get outdoors and use them for the second time in one week.
It’s been pouring with rain in Cape Town the last couple of days, and roads are turning to rivers, but fortunately the day before the rain started produced a brilliant sunset. On a tipoff from a photographer friend that the clouds would be good, I left work a bit early and braved the rush hour traffic to Dolphin Beach with its picture-postcard view of Table Mountain. Man, it’s stressful to be watching the sun going down while stuck in gridlock traffic, trying to get to the beach in time. But I did make it in time, and spent a good hour and a half snapping away several hundred shots. Everything just calms down the moment you get your legs (and your tripod’s legs) in the water and see this view. What a great city to live in!
There’s something super relaxing about shooting with filters. When you’re choosing between several filters and combos, assembling filter holders and adapter rings, all while trying not to get sand and fingerprints everywhere, you just need to slow right down. Then, once your kit is all assembled and your composition chosen, its just a matter of shooting away as the light changes and making sure the sea doesn’t wash all your expensive kit away. Getting your filters right also saves a huge amount of time on Photoshop later, with less or no need to combine multiple images to get the exposure right. I must have only spent ten minutes processing this image later that evening.
This shot was taken after the sun had already gone down, all the dog walkers had left, and the magical blue hour had started. I enjoy the way the slow shutter speed blurs the water.
Slangkop Lighthouse, near Kommetjie, Cape Town
My wife Lorna and I took a drive out to Slangkop Lighthouse near Kommetjie this weekend hoping for some good sunset photography. It was a fun drive through the beautiful Chapman’s Peak, watching the storm clouds over the ocean, but it ended up being pretty cold and bleak at Kommetjie with not much break in the clouds. Still, it was fun to experiment with my under-utilised Lee filters and try some long exposure shots. This one was a thirty second exposure in rapidly falling light, and blurred the clouds and water in an interesting way. These big glass filters are fiddly and slippery things, and I’m waiting to drop one on a rock. That will be a sad and expensive day.
According to my googling, Slangkop (‘snake head’) is the tallest cast iron lighthouse on the South African coast. It started operation in 1919 and is the fourth most powerful lighthouse in the country. I hadn’t realised that lighthouses could be pre-fab cast iron structures, and it was interesting seeing close up that what I had always assumed was a masonry structure was actually made of large metal panels.
I have a slight niggle. I took this shot during the beautiful ‘blue hour’ period, just after sunset, when the sky fills with rich and mysterious blue tones. But if I shoot in black and white, can I still call it a blue hour shot?
Library of Celsus, Ephesus, Turkey
This is the beautiful Library of Celsus at Ephesus in Turkey, now nearly 1,900 years old.
The building was built both as a library to hold some 12,000 scrolls and as a memorial to Tiberius Julius Celsus, a Roman senator, consul and governor of Asia. Consul Celsus was rich enough to leave enough money to build the library, and he was buried in a sarcophagus inside it, this somewhat surprising mix of functions being apparantly as unusual then as today. The Library was completed in 135 AD, and was one of the best stocked of ancient times. It burnt down in an earthquake about 130 years later, leaving only the facade. It was rebuilt as a nymphaeum, which is rather less racy than it sounds, and was just an elaborate water feature. This too was destroyed, including the facade, in the late Byzantine period. The facade was restored in the 1970s to the state you see it here, and today it is one of the highlights of Ephesus.
It’s a stunning piece of architecture, and the stonework is incredibly carved. Need I say it makes me very happy to see so much money and effort expended on a library? Yes, it does. Well done, Consul Celsus!
It’s also hard to tell that I was surrounded by about 10,000 people when I took this picture. This place is beset by tourists from dawn till dusk, and getting people-free photographs here is a serious challenge. In the parking lot outside, they were playing a game of ‘fit 100 tour buses into a parking lot designed for 20’ that involved a lot of hooting. It was quite a sight, and made me glad we walked the two kilmetres from the nearest town instead of bussed.
Glacier at Paradise Bay, Antarctica
I was lucky enough to travel to Antarctica a few years ago. For someone like me, from Africa, who had barely seen snow before, this was really being thrown in the deep end. I don’t think I’ll be seeing this much ice and snow again in a hurry. ‘s no joke.
This is a spectacular glacier at Paradise Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula that we approached in our Zodiacs. You would think somewhere named Paradise Bay would be all about palm trees and beach volleyball, but not here. Still, very beautiful, and paradise of a less conventional sort. There was a tiny Argentinian research station in the bay near here, so if this is your idea of paradise, you could possibly get a posting out here. This picture was taken at the height of summer, so you would need to pack an extra duvet for winter.
That glacier face was as unstable as it looks. It would periodically calve off huge blocks of ice, the size of a house I suppose, which would fall into the sea with an impressive crash and splash. It’s a forbidding coastline, much of it like this, with very few places to land.