Archive for the 'Black and White Photography' Category

Slangkop Lighthouse

Slangkop Lighthouse, Cape Town


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?


Of Pofadder and Puff Adders

Road to Pofadder


The Road to Pofadder, Northern Cape

Pofadder is a small town in the Northern Cape of South Africa, synonymous with remoteness to South Africans, like Timbuktu is to others further afield. Not being satisfied with that sort of remoteness, I decided to take this photo an hour or two out of Pofadder where it really gets quiet. This is the road from Kenhardt to Pofadder, which is about 200km of dirt driving with very little to see, unless like me you love the remoteness of the Northern Cape. It’s always pretty but especially like this, with rain recently fallen and more on the way. I didn’t see another car for that entire 200km of road: it was just me, my Land Cruiser, and Paul Oakenfold Live in Ibiza. What a wonderful afternoon of driving it was!

For non-South Africans, Pofadder is Afrikaans for a puff adder, which is a beautiful but lazy snake that likes to lie in footpaths and bite hikers that stand on them. You really don’t want to be bitten by one: you will likely experience feelings ranging from ‘really really sore’ to ‘dead’. The town is however apparently named after one Klaas Pofadder, a local Khoi-Khoi leader back in the day. The snakes aren’t in short supply around here either. However the town was named, I think it’s a name David Lynch would love.

Here’s what puffies look like, this one from another Northern Cape trip to the Biedouw Valley…


Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)


This is a baby, probably about 30cm long, and was very happy just lying in the sun, even with me shoving a camera in his face. Maybe not my wisest moment.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Verneukpan, Northern Cape, South Africa


I think this is what my skin looks like at the moment.

It’s so crazily hot hot hot in Cape Town the last few days and nights, that it’s been almost impossible to work or sleep. And it looks set to continue for the rest of the week. I ended up in a pool of sweat today trying to assemble a fan, but now it’s spinning like a jet-engine, I’m its fan, and things are a lot cooler in the photo lair.

I don’t shoot black and white too often, but keep meaning to try more. This is a close up of the baked earth on the salt pan at Verneukpan in the Northern Cape, South Africa. It gets crazy hot out there too.

Verneukpan is well off the beaten track, and is the location of Malcolm Campbell’s unsuccessful 1929 attempt on the world land speed record in his car Bluebird. Remnants of his track can still be seen, and I got to take the Land Cruiser out for a land speed record attempt of my own. I think I managed not even near half of Campbell’s speed of about 350km, but that was scary enough driving off-road, even if it was a very smooth off-road.

But at least they don’t have speed traps out there … or much else for that matter.

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