Tag Archives: South Africa

Slow Start to the Holidays

I suppose it’s due to the economy that there has been a slow start to the holiday season this year.  Normally by this time our little town would be buzzing but as yet I’ve seen only a handful of cars with out-of-province plates.

This is what Strand beach looked like around 09:30 on Wednesday morning.

Crane_20081210__MG_6636  Where are all the holiday makers?

As seen below, Saturday was busier but still not as busy as I would expect at this time of year.  December 16th is traditionally the date that most people start their vacations so I expect it will get busier during this week.

Strand Beach, Saturday Afternoon

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Kalk Bay Harbour Light

Kalk Bay Harbour Light

Ever changing

When we moved from Gauteng to the Western Cape at the end of 1999, we chose to live in Strand; mainly for the small-town atmosphere and the lovely beach front.

The small-town atmosphere is still largely there, despite the huge amount of development going on in the area around Somerset Mall.  The beach front though, has changed dramatically; for the worse, most locals would feel.  Gone are the small hotels and holiday apartment blocks that accommodated scores of holiday makers in the December summer holidays; they have mostly made way for flashy new high-rise residential apartment blocks, with more being built all the time.  There are still a few houses and small blocks, but as the signs in this photo show; their days are numbered.

The new blocks going up are expensive, with apartments being advertised with come-ons like “From only R2,500,000”.  Perhaps I’m naive but I fail to see how the word only can be used with a figure like that.  I wonder who the residents of these new blocks are and how they feel about the state of the area their shiny towers are in?  Beach Road and the beach front facilities, once the big tourist draw cards, are in disrepair.  The historic jetty has been unusable for years but rather than being repaired or simply demolished, it has been fenced of in the most unsightly manner possible.

Sunset Over a Calm Sea

Sunset Over a Calm Sea

This was taken around the same time as Post-apocalyptic Sunset but this image is more true to what the eye saw. Two shots, exposed for foreground and background were merged with a layer mask in Elements, simulating the use of an ND gradient filter. Processing was then finished off in Lightroom.

Pringle Bay

Pringle Bay
Click here to view a larger version or on the image above to visit the Flickr page.

I don’t own, and can’t afford to buy, one of the latest versions of Photoshop that have good panorama stitching support; or a specialised stitching application for that matter. I must therefore resort to free applications and have had good results from Autostitch up to this point. This panorama is the first one that I was not able to stitch successfully with it; the result had many artifacts and stitch errors and it would not really have been practical to try and repair them to reach a usable image.

I tried the new Microsoft ICE and it did a reasonably good job, with just two stitch errors that were easily corrected. However it produced very marked colour banding with this image so I had to try something else.

I have heard of Panorama Tools but been put off by their non-graphical nature; they seem as though they would take some major effort to learn and use. The Panorama Tools page mentions hugin, a graphical frontend, or toolchain, that uses Panorama Tools behind the scenes. I hoped it would hide some of the complexity so I gave it a try with this image and was blown away. Performing just an automatic stitch, using the wizard, without needing to delve into all the options, produced this image with no stitch errors that I could see and no colour banding.

hugin will certainly be my choice of panorama stitcher from now on.

Post-apocalyptic Sunset

Post-apocalyptic Sunset

To the eye, this was a gentle, pastel-coloured sunset but I wanted to come up with something more punchy.

This was shot auto-bracketed (+/- 2EV). The frames were enfused to a single image with improved dynamic range and this image was then processed in Lightroom.

Colourful Canoes

Colourful Canoes

These canoes, beached in the old Hermanus harbour, are used for whale watching trips.  It must be fantastic to get close to the whales in such small craft and there is probably great opportunity for photographing them; but I don’t fancy the idea of taking my camera out on the ocean in a canoe.