Autumn De Doorns
At eight o’clock this morning I was on the road to De Doorns, the weekend traffic on the N1 was already hectic with huge trucks from the North making haste to get to Cape Town before the weekend.
At first I thought the valley was under a blanket of mist, which would make interesting pictures but as I neared the mist became denser and bluer and I realised it was smoke. Literally dozens of fires were blazing, some in the informal township right on the road, but surprisingly the majority were in the vineyards. I haven’t spoken to anyone to ask whether these fires are intentional or for warmth as maintenance work has already started and workers are hard at work and the mornings are chilly already.
The autumn colours of the vineyards are an iconic subject to photograph in the Boland and with good reason. Set in a basin surrounded by high mountains De Doorns must be one of the most picturesque places in South Africa.
I wound my way through the farms and took a few photographs, it’s not quite the right time yet so I’ll have to make a return trip in a three or four weeks time, hopefully we’ll have some snow early on in the winter as that just lifts the photograph to another level.
I tried to capture the smoke which looked like fine spider webs wafting in a breeze. Used a narrow aperture of 18 and ISO at 100, as I was standing virtually on the shoulder of the N1 I didn’t want to make a scene so did my shooting from the fist and not a tri-pod.
At one of the roadblocks I spotted a troupe (collective noun I’ve just made up) or is it a gang of bikers in full regalia. I grabbed the camera and took one shot before we were waved through, I didn’t’ want to annoy this lot at all. I’ve heard all about Biker gangs!
Taking the morning off from doing tedious chores at home was great and almost felt like a mini-break. The beautiful Labrador was far too exuberant for me to capture without the "motion" blur, and his partner in crime was jumping up against me too. The cloudy moon still high in the sky was just so big and round and gorgeous I had to take a picture, it was late in the day so it looked like a balloon drifting amongst the wispy clouds.
Don McCullin’s advice for stronger images. “Borrow from the past the way that painters and musicians do. It’s not a crime so long as you don’t plagiarise.” If you can have a look at this legendary photojournalists' photography. Truly magnificent.