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Thursday, 30 August 2012

One swallow does not a summer make.

Saw the first swallow of summer today, seems to have out flown his mates from where ever it was they spent the winter. 

White-throated swallow. This guy looked a bit lonely, but I suppose the rest will arrive in the next couple of day.

Saturday the 1st of September is officially the first day of spring here in the southern hemisphere and also the opening day for trout fishing on our streams. So you know where I will be, 2 or 3 weight rod in hand.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Mountain Reed Buck and Duiker.

Took a drive out on the Loteni road, a round trip of about 140km. I was looking for interesting landscapes to photograph. Along the road I stopped to photograph a tree, when I heard a loud, sharp whistle, the alarm signal of a male, mountain reed buck.  

Click to enlarge.

He ran for quite a distance then stopped to look at me, if I was a hunter this would have been a fatal mistake. Fortunately for him I was only shooting with a camera. This is big buck, with a huge pair of horns, a real trophy set.

Mountain reed buck live at altitudes of 3000 - 5000 meters, they usually live together in small groups, while they graze at least one is on guard ready to give the alarm whistle should it spot danger.

On my way back I spotted this Duiker, (Dutch for diver, from it's habit of diving into thickets when alarmed), crossing the road in front of me. True to form it dived into a patch of thick grass next to the road when it saw the car. I stopped, got out with my camera to see if I could get a photo. The Duiker bounded out of the long grass when I was almost on it, jumped over the barbed wire fence next to the road and into the veld. Just as the reed buck did, it ran then stopped to look back at me, just before it disappeared over the ridge.

I suppose this what you would call "a clean pair of heels," as it heads over the ridge.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

More of my "paintings".

The manipulated photos below I took last year, with my BlackBerry, while on one of my fishing trips on the upper Mooi river. 

Click to enlarge.

This tree, a blue gum, grows right next to the road on the way to one of my favourite fishing spots. To me this tree epitomizes the perfect tree. Every thing about it is just right.

Red hot pokers growing next to the Mooi River.

Single bloom.

Two in a row.

Garden next to a trout stream.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Through Obama care the US is sterilizing her children.

I copied that head from Archbishop Cranemer's blog. It seems that children as young as fifteen can have themselves sterilized without parental consent. The writer calls it an Obamanation.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Long evenings.

The long, warm, summer evenings are slowly returning and the dogs and I were able to go for a long ramble on the farm.

Click to enlarge.

A blurry photo of Bruno kicking up dust. 

The youngest of my landlord Dave's Labradors. He has a whole pack of them I've never counted them but there are at least six. This one was dying to walk with us, but I sent him home, being of a very obedient dog breed he obeyed.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

My new wheels.

The reason for my trip to Pretoria last week was to collect my new wheels. This car previously belonged to a diplomat who's tour of duty had come to an end and he had to sell the car. Millage on the odometer was 167,000 km, (about 70,000 miles +-), and it is "only" 16 years old, my old car is 30 years old and has 365,000 km only clock. I paid the princely sum of R26,000,(about $3000, US). One other plus is that it has a new engine, what happened to the old motor I don't know. 

The car has power steering, ABS braking system, 1800cc four cylinder, fuel injection engine, four speed automatic transmission (with two settings, normal and sport), air con, electric windows, electrically operated side mirrors, and central locking with immobiliser.  It has a radio/CD system with a removable control panel, (which I have removed and put away), I like things quiet when I drive.

On my trip down from Pretoria the measured fuel consumption was 7.1 litres per 100km, or 14km per liter, (at an average speed of 120km per hour) what that works out to in miles per gallon I don't know, (almost 4 liters to a gallon). I estimated that one could go almost 800km on a tank of fuel. 

My sister in law, Estelle spotted this car with a for sale sign in the window, while visiting friends, my brother in law Wim, had a look at it, took it for a test drive and said it was a good buy, and "voila" I have a new car.

Click to enlarge photos.

Click to enlarge.

Left hand side view.

Bruno has just finished blessing all four wheels with his "holy" water. The car has four brand new tyres on which is another blessing.

Left front view, new number plates, NE23479, the licence disk is in the left hand bottom corner of the windscreen. Here in KZN we use a numbering system that identifies your town, thus NE = Natal, Estcourt. Other province have a complicated computer generated letters and numbers that ends in the initial of the province.

Interior view. I doubt if children or pets were ever transported in this car as the upholstery and interior are spotless and in perfect condition, with the exception of the  drivers seat that has a slight tear on the outer edge of the backrest, thus the seat cover that I put on. The back seats look as if no one has ever sat on them. Except for a few minor nicks and scratches, the paint work, - which is silver with a touch of gold in it - looks almost as good as when it came out of the factory.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sunrise panoramas.

On my way to work this morning I took a little detour to see if I could get an early morning photo of the sun shining on the Drakensberg.  I took several photos then "stitched" them together to form panoramas. I didn't get the "stitching" absolutely right, but with practise I might just. After stitching them I manipulated them further.

Click to enlarge.

Looking westward, with the sun rising behind me.The two halves don't have exactly the same exposure, the photo on the left is lighter and one can see where they join in the middle.

The same photo , now a water colour painting.

In this panorama I zoomed in to show more of the Drakensberg, about 35km from where I was standing. The N3 highway can be see running north/south in the middle.

Here the photo has become an oil painting.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Is it Art?

One can achieve the most amazing things with photo editing programs, take an ordinary photo and turn it into an oil painting that looks as if it has been painted by a master. But is it art? Well I guess not, but it still gives me a lot of pleasure to do it, the only limit is your imagination.

Click to enlarge.

Sunrise at Sondela.

Same sunrise scene, manipulated.

While I was walking along that morning a car came past leaving a plume of dust behind, I photographed the suns rays shining through the dust.

Once again same photo as above. Might not be art with a capital "A" but each one is unique as only I have those specific photos.

Above a picture of a maroela tree, the sweet luscious fruit of these trees are much sought after by man and animal alike. The fruit can be used for jams, is fermented into an alcoholic drink called "mampoer", (kicks like a mule) and also a delicious cream liqueur.

The same maroela tree after manipulation.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sondela re-visited.

I have just returned home after spending five wonderful days at Sondela with Wim and Estelle. 

Click to enlarge.

Bushveld sunrise.

Welcome mat at the door but they won't let me in.

When I returned from my early morning walk on Thursday morning this guy was standing at the glass sliding doors, he only left after I fed him a banana. This Nyala bull is extremely tame and not at all aggressive, but I was very cautious while I edged my way passed him into the house. Those horns a razor sharp and one playful but of the head can do serious damage. 

After I edged my way passed him I took this photo from the inside. Enlarge this photo to see how sharp his horns really are.

Below some birds I photographed at Sondela.

Blue Waxbill.

Violet-eared Waxbill's at the back and a pair of Scaley-feathered finches in front. These little birds are extremely small, hardly bigger than a mans thumb.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Snowy South Africa.

For the first time in recorded history every region of South Africa has had snow at the same time. From the southern most tip of Africa to almost the Tropic of Capricorn, (must be global warming).

On Tuesday afternoon I got on a Greyhound bus just outside of Estcourt to travel to Pretoria to collect my "new" car, (ie. slightly used, like for 14 years). Hardly on the bus when it was announced that we would have to make a 200km + detour as the main pass over the Drakensberg had been closed due to the snow. A six hour trip became a nine hour trip. 

More than 300km of N3 highway from Howick outside of Pietermaritzburg, north to Villiers in the Free State Province was closed for more than 24 hours. Hundreds of cars, trucks and buses were stuck in the snow unable to go anywhere. In South Africa we are not equipped to handle heavy snow falls, no snow ploughs, etc. 

When I left home at 3pm I took this photo above. This is the first time since 1996 that it has snowed in Estcourt.

Below some photos taken off the Internet of scence of snow in KZN.

The weather has improved over most of the country, but in the south and south east it is still very cold. Cheers from Sunny I mean Snowy South Africa.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Snowing in Estcourt.

At the moment I'm in Pretoria again, after a long bus journey, more about that later. When I left Estcourt yesterday at 3 o'clock it was snowing, and it seemed that it snowed all through the night.

Photo taken from my front door.

When I phoned this morning I was told the snow was between 10 & 15cm deep, 4 - 6 inches.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Study of a flower.

On Sunday this lily was on our communion table at church, and I photographed it with my BlackBerry phone camera.

Click to enlarge.

Then I started to manipulate the photo with my new editing program.

First a pastel.

Then a water colour.

Finally a van Cogh.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Still editing.

Changes to some photos I took just after I got my new camera.

Click to enlarge.

Wild flower, original photo.

After editing.

Bird in flight, original photo.

After editing.

Egyptian goose and egret.

After editing. Note how the eyes are more visible in the second photo and the colour's  more vibrant.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Having fun being creative.

My new photo editing program is full of interesting possibilities. Below are some photos that I've worked on today.

Click to enlarge.


to this.

From this bleak under exposed photo, to...

..this almost "Impressionistic painting.

This under exposed photo, or...