Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
Top photographers can spend days, even weeks setting up a shot. I don’t know that I have either the patience or aptitude – I’m an opportunist and shoot what I see.
A few evenings back I left a 40th birthday party at around 11.30pm. Driving home, I saw the intermittent flash of lightning to the south. Fortunately I had both my camera and a tripod with me, which led to me taking a detour in search of a good vantage point from which to shoot.
Shortly after midnight I found myself on a dirt road beneath some power cables, and overlooking Tembisa township even further south. The electrical storm was raging, but the rain hadn’t broken, and so I set up my gear a short way into the veld. Violent, beautiful summer thunderstorms are typical of South Africa’s Highveld. The downside is that it is potentially dangerous to be out shooting on one’s own (at any time of day, but especially after dark).
After 15 minutes or so I noticed a police van turn off the main road, and trundle down towards me.
“What are you doing out here so late at night,” asked the cop suspiciously. “Are you a land surveyor or something?”
Even though several witty answers flashed through my mind, I explained exactly what I was really doing – and showed him a few of the pics I’d already taken. I’ve learnt that policemen don’t take well to humour or sarcasm while on the job. It wasn’t a great spot – with ants crawling in my slops, and biting my ankles, and so I followed him out towards the highway and home.
But then I turned around. I don’t sleep much, so didn’t see the point of driving straight home. Looking on my phone’s map app I found a road that should have led me home the long way around, but that still seemed to be taking me towards the lightning. It turns out iPhone maps really are as bad as everyone says they are because I ended up in a dead-end, with the township right ahead of me.
Again I traipsed into the veld. And then the heavens opened. I waited in the car for twenty minutes or so, comforted by the fact that all potential muggers would be quietly under cover and not out looking for an insomniac photographer to rob. I shot through the windscreen a bit but, with no end of the rain in sight, reluctantly pointed my car towards home. I did stop a few more times, jamming the tripod in place, and shooting through an open side window.
I was in bed by 3.30am – tired enough to actually fall asleep.
(All photos are as shot, apart from levels correction. I don’t see the point using Photoshop to clone and manipulate the images. Like I said, I shoot what I see. And you see what I shoot … You may want to click on photos for bigger versions.)