Category Archives: Flash photography

Stranded fishing trawler

Our Cape coastline has a habit of luring seafarers to its shores. Our most recent victim is a 50 metre Japanese fishing trawler, the Eihatsu Maru, which beached itself on 12 May. No one knows how it ran aground, and none of the 30 crew members, nor the dog, were able to explain – a language barrier, apparently.

It has created endless photo opportunities for Cape Town snappers, though, and it must be the  most photographed item this year. Salvage attempts have been foiled by low tides and bad weather, so I suspect she’ll still be providing photo ops this weekend.

I went down there last night. I had a specific angle and mood in mind, but police tape forced a new plan. Maybe I’ll sneak up on it from another side tonight. The weather is cold and miserable, and so it might keep the crowds away.

Eihatsu Maru, a Japanese fishing trawler, stranded off Clifton Beach, Cape Town: ISO 100, Aperture f/9, Shutter 15 Seconds

My young assistant tagged along, causing much distraction, but I did get this shot of her:

Leaping on Clifton Beach: ISO 100, Aperture f/4, Shutter 5 seconds, off-camera flash at full power

And then there was the sunset …no Photoshop required.

ISO 100, Aperture f/4, Shutter 1/2

Winter unset over Clifton Beach: ISO 100, Aperture f/4, Shutter 1/2


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Filed under Cape Town, Flash photography, Low light photography, Photography

My mother makes me play in traffic at night

I’ve not blogged for so long …

Some late bloomer friends of mine have recently started blogging, and seeing their murmerings on Facebook about getting started, I thought I should get back on the horse. So here I am.

I’ve had this idea in mind for  a pic for a while and last Friday I hauled my daughter down to the main road, tripod over the one shoulder and camera and flash over the other. With all her faffing about, we missed the good light, and for all my procrastination, we missed the sky I needed. So the pic’s not entirely the one I had in my head but, as with exercise, some is better than none. I’ll just be hauling her down to the main road again one of these chilly evenings.

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Filed under Flash photography, Photography

Sometimes I get lucky …

… and sometimes I get very lucky.

This weekend I had an event to shoot – the Discovery Life end-of-year staff party hosted at the Big Bay Surf Life Saving Club. Derrick and Debbie Frazer did a superb job in transforming the club into a colourful beach-themed venue … but that’s for a different post.

The shoot was straightforward enough: loads of pics of happy, smiley people enjoying their fully catered, fully sponsored year-end get-together where everyone forgets the workday stresses and lets their hair down. All went well and I was just winding down when the live music started up … it was Goldfish

Yep. Sometimes I get very lucky.

Dominic Peters

David Poole

Visibility, angles and lighting were a bit challenging. They had a red gel lighting them from the side I was on, and the setting sun striking them from behind. I worked mostly with a slow sync shutter and fill-in flash so that I could still get the rim lighting, halo-effect, a bit of motion blur, an the lighting effects.

Red gel, setting sun and fill-n flash

Most of the pics translated well into black & white, although the red gel di cause the skin tone to get that translucent paleness usually seen in pics shot with infrared black & white film, and needed a blue filter to tone them down a bit.

They put on a superb show and had the 400-plus revellers bouncing and singing along. Look out for them at St Yves, Camps Bay, during season.

It would be really, really great to photograph these hugely talented (and photogenic) musicians from a slightly easier vantage point.

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Filed under Events Photography, Flash photography, Photography, Portrait Photography

Garden bugs

Trying to grow an organic garden is pretty rewarding. It comes with some drawbacks, though. Like regular plant-scoffing visitors. I was amazed to discover how many bugs I have in my garden. This is not so good for the basil and the roses, let alone the lettuce, but it does give my macro lens and twinlight flash some air.

I discovered that my elegant lady is covered in canaeus carnifex, commonly known as red bugs or fire bugs. They seem to mate a great deal, and the hundreds of teeny babies in the seed heads of my shrub will attest to that.

Cenaeus carnifex, also called red bugs or fire bugs

The green vegetable bug is almost impossible to detect. All you see is brown curled up leaves left in its wake.

Nezara viridula, or green vegetable bug

Nezara viridula - you don't want to squash these guys. There's a reason why they belong to the stink bug family

The sunflower seed bug decimated my tomato bush – pride and joy of my garden, and producer of a rather fine harvest. There is now a bare patch where she once stood.

Agnoscellis versicoloratus, or sunflower seed bug

Amazing how creatures so destructive can be so beautiful. I don’t have the heart to kill them, so I’m hoping some big bird will come along and have them for breakfast before my garden is a desert wasteland!

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Filed under Flash photography, Macro Photography, Photographing gardens, Photography

World Cup Final Draw: Long Street Festival

The World Cup Soccer is drawing near, and this weekend the final draw was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. My friend, Ron Gaunt, master sports photographer, was there to record the glamour.

Very late in the day, when the festivities were pretty much in full swing, and by the time 50 000 people had gathered in Long Street to watch the draw on the big screen, be entertained by our local bands and to dance in the streets, I made my way downtown to see what’s up. And it was simply incredible!

Those sadsters like myself who had wandered into town too late to be allowed into the main festival area thronged at the gates, and pleaded with security guards and policemen to be let in. At that stage, the fellows had been on their feet for about eight hours, were hungry, tired and fed-up, and had heard every story imaginable. They were buying none of it. Not one more person was getting into the festival.

And so I meandered back down the road, and back up again, and back down, looking for some semblance of festivity to photograph for Ron. More and more people started arriving, excitedly making their way to the festival end of the road, where they would be sorely disappointed. All they would find were policemen on horseback and a mass  of people all trying to catch a glimpse of the party on the other side of the fence.

And then the mood changed. You could feel a shift in energy. A whole new party started on the other side of the fence. People made their own music, honking their vuvuzelas, drumming, chanting and singing, and they danced to their own beat. Laughing people with their arms around each other, all wanting their picture taken, danced and ran down the street. A crowd of people would suddenly stampede down the road, coming straight at me, singing at the top of their voices, waving flags and making a noise.

It was an amazing experience. People of all nationalities and all races were united in celebration. Everyone was everyone’s friend. On my own in the middle of town, carrying my camera, I felt completely safe. We were all looking out for each other. It was a great day in South African history. I am very grateful to have been a part of it.

For more of my pics, take a look here, and for Ron Gaunt’s full story, as well as his sports photography, take a look here.

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Filed under Cape Town, Events Photography, Flash photography, Photography

Canon Macro Twinlite MT 24EX

I know I waxed lyrical about my Canon 100 mm macro lens a while back, and I do still love it more than almost anything else. But I now have something to love equally as much: my new Canon Macro Twinlite MT 24EX.

Struggling to get a high depth of field and a fast shutter speed (at the same time) in low light are now a thing of the past. I’m turning into a hunchback, and wearing out the knees of my jeans shuffling about gardens trying to find tiny things to shoot.

First there was the lobelia to inspect and illuminate right up close:


Then the lobelia and alyssum looked so good together that they, too, needed a mini studio and lighting director:


The rosebush revealed this rather annoyed fellow sporting a drop of water on his head (I had just watered the garden):

OI09072801 low

I love the way the reflected rosemary stalks make it look as if it’s wearing some kind of tribal headgear. It’s face is reflected at the bottom of the drop. On Flickr I have called this ‘Mantid with updo and reflection’.

Then it was time to inspect the yellow flowers of the tomato bush, dangling from furry stems:


Which then led me to this dilemma:


I mean, how cute is the little fella?!

OI09062745 WP

You have to be really quite heartless to want to squish something so tiny. Okay, it’s going to grow to the size of Big Daddy alongside, but that guy’s just too big to squish.

So I decided that the big guy had done all the damage he was going to do, and was probably going to cocoon himself pretty soon. With a bit of luck he’ll show his wings in my garden for a while, as a ‘thanks for all the greens’ before fluttering off to gardens beyond the wall. The little guy I tried to transfer to the nasturtiums, but dropped him, so he’s probably scoffing my tomato plant from the bottom up. Him and his little brother, which I also dropped.

But back to my Macro Twinlite MT 24EX: quite a bit more to learn, as it can operate on different ratios, the flashlights can be moved into different positions, and can operate either both at the same time or one at a time, creating some more natural looking side lighting. It’s a really great little strobe. Well worth aquiring!

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Filed under Flash photography, Macro Photography, Photographing gardens, Photography