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Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gone with the wind – June Drakensberg Experience


Howl it did this last weekend in the Drakensberg. Weather forecasts put it as “winds gusting at 30-40km per hour”. It certainly felt like more clinging to the icy rungs of the Chainladder, some 20m up a vertical face of rock. However, my maxim proved itself once more...horrible weather makes for great pictures.

This month we had 5 photographers taking part in the Drakensberg Photography Workshop. 5 cold photographers hailing from England (Helena), Malaysia (Mei), Germany (Carolin), Israel (Bar) and France (Sonia – who was only really disappointed by France being thrashed in their rugby game against South Africa on Saturday). Thanks to an early arrival in Royal Natal on Friday morning, we were all able to hoist camera equipment onto our backs and head straight out towards the Tunnel at the end of the Tugela Gorge.

Thanks to unseasonal rain and a good deal of snowmelt, the Tugela River was flowing strongly from the mountain. So much so that the river in the tunnel was a good 5 inches higher than last month. This meant stripping boots and braving the icicle like water to capture the light and flowing water inside the smooth sandstone walls of the Tunnel. Whoops and shrieks met the bone shatteringly cold water as the photographers waited out their 30 second long exposures. Despite this Bar, explaining that Israelis as a matter of necessity because of their sheer lack of it back home, took a dunk in the water. The rest of us went practically hyperthermic just watching her!

The star attraction though is always the last day as we wend our way up the steep zigzags below Sentinel Peak to the Chain Ladder and beyond. Icy winds buffeted us as we donned headlamps and set out in the dark to make it to the Witches viewpoint for sunrise. Halfway between the summit and the gorge below, waiting for the sun to peak over the horizon is a magical experience indeed. The little sliver of red slowly grows to an orb and then almost flashes into a blinding orange. Light seems to flow like water as the valleys below gradually change from black into golden browns and greens. The inky silhouette of Devil’s Tooth and its Toothpick take on detail as the sun throws shafts of light into their craggy gullies. Fingers numbed by the cold warm up instantly. Occasionally I enjoy sitting back and just enjoying the moment, but as a photographer I get as much joy working the camera, allowing the rising sun to paint it’s magic onto the camera’s sensor.
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