About this Blog

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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wonderful Wild Coast

Holiday. Wow, what a concept. that's exactly what I've just come back from. As a freelance photographer these seem to be few and far between. Even on supposed holidays there is often a commissioned shoot that has to be organized. For once this wasn't even an option as I found myself with family in the middle of...nowhere. Not exactly nowhere of course, but certainly far from any clients or deadlines, or even electricity for that matter, at the wonderful Khululeka near the mouth of the Ntafufu River along the Wild Coast. This doesn't mean that no photographs were taken, naturally.

A number of professional photographers bemoan the fact that working as a photographer has taken the joy out of creating pictures. To me, this is a clear indication that photography is just another job, like being an accountant (apologies to any accountants who are passionate about their tables and figures), instead of a vocation. For a large number of hobbyists turned professionals, the reality of earning a living destroys the original enjoyment and creativity of the art as it was as a hobby. On the other side of the coin are the photographers who are deliriously happy with their work (long may I remain in this camp). So of course images were made, but this time purely for pleasure.

South Africa's Wild Coast is an astoundingly beautiful and rugged section of coastline that stretches from the border of Kwazulu-Natal to the area around the Kei River Mouth in the Eastern Cape Province. The area was made a traditional home-land during the Apartheid years and as a result is completely lacking in some of the most basic of rural necessities. Large tracts of populated lands are lacking in roads, electricity, running water, access to schools and clinics and much more. Towns are congested and dirty and only provide the most basic of commodities (there isn't really enough wealth in the area to afford anything more).

But it is beautiful beyond belief. Rolling hills provide for a vista around every bend of the road (and there are a lot of bends, beware traveling on these roads if you regularly get car sick!). The coastline itself is a photographers dream Lone beaches with rounded boulder rock reefs. Hills that dive into the coastline. Tranquil rivers that snake serpentine like through hills and gorges. Every minute can be filled...but of course this is a holiday and the occasional nap is definitely well warranted.

Back to work now :) Thanda time next week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Raw Studio 2.0

I don't usually post news articles on this particular site unless I consider them truly significant or useful on a much more fundamental level than a new camera or lens announcement is. This announcement did catch my eye for that very reason. Raw Studio 2.0 is a Linux based RAW conversion engine that has just been released in it's second version guise. It is an open-source software, like all Linux programmes, and like all open-source Linux packages, it
is available free. 


A growing number of computer users have started to look at the Linux based operating systems such as Ubuntu which are not only free, but which often work more efficiently and faster than the expensive competition. The problem is that to run any microsoft based programmes an app called Wine needs to be used. This is where the proverbial bugs creep in. With Raw Studio and Gimp it is now possible to run an effective digital workflow using only Linux based software.

Sadly I haven't tested the system. A modicum of programming skill is required to work Linux. This I'm afraid I don't have. I have played with Gimp though and am suitably impressed. Photoshop is still the industry leader, but the free Gimp gives it a rather good run for it's money (and what a lot of money it is too!). If Raw Studio is anything like Gimp, and I hear it is actually easier to use, then it should definitely be considered for anyone wanting to try out Ubuntu or a similar OS.

You can visit the site and download Raw Studio from http://rawstudio.org/

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wet Wet Wet

In theory the rain season occurs in the Drakensberg in the mid summer. Lightning grazes the top of the escarpment and sheets of water cascade from the skies to drench the lush green vegetation. Rivers literally choke with rushing water that tosses boulders along like ping-pong balls. So April is supposed to be relatively dry. Supposed to be. Every now and again the mountain doesn’t quite listen to the meteorological schedule. About a decade ago some friends led by the late Reverend Keep were taking a school group into the lower Drakensberg and were literally pinned to a campsite as torrential rain turned the Indedema and Mhlwazini rivers into mad infernos of white water. 

Click through for more

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thanda time once more. I've just gotten back from a great week with the fabulous four (it was a small group this month of only four photographers from the US, Israel, Germany and Spain).

We were lucky enough to spend about an hour with the reserve's two cheetah males that have formed a coalition. A radio call alerted the guide as to whereabouts they could be found. then for a glorious 60 minutes the photographers were able to watch uninterrupted as the two animals moved along the reserves fence-line, stopping every now and then to lie on the road or mark territory. I say uninterrupted as all the other game viewing vehicles were chasing after a potential lion sighting on the other side of the reserve, enabling the photographers to enjoy the sighting without worrying about being chased off other vehicles (most private reserves have a two vehicle limit per sighting, meaning that often the vehicle that actually spots the sighting has to move away just as things get interesting, so that other guests can also have a view. This is only fair, but can be frustrating at times).

A howling wind yesterday kept people grabbing at their hats, coats, and anything else that could grow wings and take to the air. Thankfully nothing did in the end, but it still emant for an interesting landscape shoot in the evening on the Kings Land next to Thanda proper. Heavy gusts of wind made incredible slow exposure patterns as the photographers learned to play with long exposures in landscape photography.

For me though, a highlight of this week was the final critique session yesterday evening. I always find that students on the course improve from the first day that they arrive. However, last night I was stunned at the images that were produced for an assignment that had been set. Quite simply it was one of the best group selections of images that I have seen of this particular exercise. There is nothing quite like seeing success in a student photographer for the teacher. I certainly don't take credit for what the students produced, but they had me grinning from ear to ear by the end of the session.

Which puts me in mind once more how lucky I am to do the work that I do. It is a privilege to be able to create photographs and call it a profession. To meet like-minded people from around the world, share ideas and watch other images be fomented, visualized and created is an honour.

I'll post something a touch less poetic next week methinks ;) Thanks again to a wonderful group at Thanda this week. I'm looking forward to seeing some of you again in the Drakensberg.