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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I seem to harp on about it, but at the same time we tend to be both plagued by and incredibly luck all rolled into one. I referring to the weather of course. This last weekend was the first African Impact Drakensberg Photography tour for the year and it was wonderful...and wet. Still, both the photo and mountain gods seemed to be on our side and despite some serious downpours, the sun came out periodically and gave us wonderful light.
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Being able to visit the Drakensberg is a privilege that I simply don't grow tired of. Despite returning to the same places time and again the Berg is always different, sometimes radically so. My first visit to Royal Natal (I'm more familiar with Cathedral Peak and the Mdedelo Wilderness areas) as a professional photographer was in 2007. One of my favourite viewpoints of the Amphitheatre massif is from a point on the Tugela River from which one can see both river and the mountain being lit up in the early morning by the rising sun. When the light is good it's magical. When it's bad it's still great to photograph. When I first visited this point park rangers explained that a massive storm had caused the river to change course by some 25 metres so that it swung by the side of the riverbed and actually ate 5 metres into the carpark there. It's been this way since then.
Of course rivers are like snakes. They move sinuously over the landscape and the Tugela River is no different. Some really heavy rains since November last year have caused the river to straighten out to it's old (pre-2007) position, pushing aside almost 1.5 to 2 metres of rock that had built up to cause the 2007 swing. A whole new set of angles are now available to photograph! So the mountain is never different.
In this is a small tale about photographing one's favourite haunt. Return, return again and then return once more. In a past life when I was aspiring anthropologist we were always told that the return to a previously visited community is more important that the initial visit. People recognize that you care. You have returned, which means that you are not just a tourist there to goggle at them. The landscape is similar in some ways. By returning you learn the best places to visit, the right times to explore, the ideal weather conditions...but more importantly you become a friend in some sort of inner mindset.
Ansel Adams is known for his landscapes of Yosemite. in fact his most prolific work is from this American park. He returned continually throughout his life to Yosemite and literally became a friend of the park. His images inspired countless others and no doubt played a role in preserving this iconic American landscape. The importance was in the return.
Thanks to a wonderful, and fast (I could barely keep up) group whose company I am privileged to have come across.
Posted by Emil von Maltitz at 8:58 AM