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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Importance of Frame

Last year I wrote about the ability to see inside the frame - the fact that “the photograph has edges, the world has not” (Stephen Shore -The Nature of Photographs: 1998). Of course saying this is easy whereas putting this into practice takes a little more skill. The problem is that as photographers start out they tend to be more concerned with the content and how much they can fit into the scene. As they grow more experienced the realisation dawns that less is more and the concern shifts to how little should be included in the scene.

The key word above is inclusion. Angela Farris Belt in her book, ‘The Elements of Photography’ explains that “even those photographers who know the basic rules of two-dimensional composition don’t necessarily understand how to apply those rules toward orchestrating content within a photographic frame” (6:2008). I dislike the use of the word ‘rules’, but essentially photographers end up ignoring one of the defining characteristics of the photograph, the fact that the image is an encapsulated reality within the boundaries of the photographic frame.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lightroom Bootcamp - 7th December 2013

The Lightroom workshop is an intensive one day course on how to use Lightroom. We concentrate on the Library and Develop Modes so that digital asset management and RAW conversion can be effectively utilized.

The workshop will take place at Iphiti College in Gillits (same location as the Introduction to Digital Photography courses). Students are required to bring a laptop with Lightroom so that they can follow along with hands-on examples. Please also bring a packed lunch.

Time: 8:30am 7th December 2013
Cost R1100 per photographer (limited to 6 photographers)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dead Vlei Finale - Part 4 of the Namibia Landscape Workshop Recce.

It has to be one of the bucket-list destinations for photographers from around the world. It ranks there with Antarctica, the Okavango Delta, Torres del Paine and Death Valley among others. It's instantly recognizable from screen-savers splashed across both Microsoft and Apple computers around the globe, and it was our last location. What a finale! Sossusvlei and the incredible tree skeletons of the Dead Vlei.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Sho't Left to the Great White Place - Part 3.5 of the Namibia Landscape Workshop Recce

We're here, so why not? Etosha Game Reserve in the north of Namibia is one of world's most famous natural reserves. Its enormous pan and surrounding arid lands are home to thousands of animals and some of the most startling photographic opportunities to be had. Although we are in Namibia to recce for next year's landscape workshop, it seemed silly not to take a look at Etosha. So, although the reserve won't be included in the 2014 workshop, it is an option for photographers to continue to after the workshop (which can be organised through Tailor Made Safaris as an addition to the workshop). 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Fiery Monolith - Part 3 of the Namibia Workshop Recce

Towards the west of Namibia's Kalahari, in the region that settles itself as the Nama Karoo but is spitting distance from the Skeleton Coast, is the Spitzkoppe. Rising some 600m from the flattest of landscapes, this incredible engorging of orange colored granite is like a giant beacon visible from dozens of miles away. It's immense folds of rock contort and wave around the pinnacle that is the Spitzkoppe itself, creating a Mountain that would not be out of place in a Martian Landscape. Meanwhile the heat of the desert bakes the rock face so that moving over it is like walking across a massive stove top, searing your body if you dare to spend too long in the sun.

This is our third photographic location after picking up our guests, Preeti and Prashant in Windhoek. The drive north-west from Windhoek passes first through terrain that seems quite familiar to the average South African. This is of course landscape similar to the rest of the Kalahari's edge, a biome that stretches across Namibia into Botswana and down into the north of South Africa. But the geologic mass that is the Spitzkoppe is more reminiscent of Australia's Uhuru (Ayre's Rock). An incongruous, in this setting, pinnacle of coarse granite whose orange hues contrast dramatically against the azure blue sky.

Of course Nick and I saw this megalith in the desert and decided (stupidly), that it had to be climbed. We were under the impression that we had lucked out when a third of the way up we came across a series of cairns amongst the mess of giant boulders, the telltale climber's friend. We followed these not realizing that they led to a roped climbing route (or at least that's what we ultimately guessed as the final destination of the cairns would have required Spider-Man like skills to continue). Our initial destination was actually the lower peak of Pontok Mountain, which would have been somewhat easier to summit by our reckoning. Still, we made it down, slightly dehydrated and sweltering, but safe. It was only upon our return that we discovered that climbing isn't exactly allowed during the summer months as the rocks absorb so much heat that they cannot actually be touched without inflicting minor burns upon oneself, (it didn't actually get that hot, but it wasn't hard to imagine).

One of the most incredible photographic sites in the Spitzkoppe is undoubtedly what is referred to as the 'the Bridge' (there are actually a few arches, but this is by far the easiest to access and photograph). We spent two evenings, an afternoon and a morning photographing this small portion of the Spitzkoppe. In the end we all agreed, we still hadn't spent enough time at this rock feature. It just kept on giving incredible images with amazing light.

The problem, if you see it as such, of visiting the Spitzkoppe as a photographer is that you can quite easily be overwhelmed by all there is to photograph. Nick jokingly pointed out to our small group that I was like a hare in the veld. One minute I was here, then I was there, then I would be somewhere else again. I found it almost impossible to concentrate on one area (to the detriment of my images I think). There was simply too much, from the amazing details of rock shapes and textures to the incredible bulk of the mountains against dramatic cloudscapes. It was just too much for me. Spitzkoppe needs more than two days! It needs months to fully explore and to appreciate this incredible isolated desert sentry.

But we only had two days and hopefully we made the best of it (I cannot comprehend some of the overland tours that would arrive at 4pm in the afternoon and be packed up and ready to go by 6am the following morning). I'm already looking forward to returning to this strange mountain with it's baking surface and rough granular textures. As we drove away along the white dusty road I looked back into the rear view mirror and watched as the warm orange and red triangle of the 'Groot Spitzkoppe' slipped under the canopy of dust-smeared acacia trees and it seemed to wink out of existence like a dream.

Nick is sharing more of his images on www.facebook.com/tailormadesafaris. More details and updated pricing for next year's full workshop will also be made available as soon as we return to South Africa (the original pricing is available to anyone booking before the end of December 2013).

To read the side Recce to Etosha go to this link: A Sho't Left to the Great White Place - Part 3.5 of the NamibiaLandscape Workshop Recce

To view the second stage of the journey at the famous Kolmanskop ghost town read this page: Through the Desert to A Ghost Town - Part 2 of the Namibia Workshop Recce

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Through the Desert to A Ghost Town - Part 2 of the Namibia Workshop Recce

Leaving the surreal landscape of the Quiver Tree Forest we cut across the southern end of Namibia towards the coastal town of Luderitz. The landscape only gets more surreal as you journey along the B4 highway. Dolerite capped hills disappear and you find long avenues of short grassed sandstone hills that march along the side of the highway, forming a huge geologic avenue of sorts. The very occasional farmhouse stands out starkly against this semi-desert landscape. An oasis of humanity in a sea of emptiness.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From The Ocean to The Quiver Trees - Part 1 of the Namibia Landscape Workshop Recce

Namibia is a long way to travel if you want to start from the Indian Ocean. Two days driving, not all of which was uneventful, and 1667 kilometres from Durban to Keetmanshoop with a short stop in Bloemfontein en route. Clouded skies rapidly made way to limitless blue skies over a burnt horizon. Miles and miles of scrub and dust make for a harsh beauty in the dry landscape.