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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

1st of December...

With the fear of sounding like everyone, -  can you believe it is the 1st of December already?
As we go into the festive season I want to wish all of you a peaceful time.
Always remember what this time of the year means and where all Hope lies and spend it with your loved ones.

                                Imagine - John Lennon, Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York.

Street photo in Prague...

We were coming out of the Starbucks in Prague, - a place we frequently visit on our travels, and were standing, thinking where we should go-to next when I spotted the above scene.

The old man was talking to a few pigeons on the ground next to him. He was waiting for the tram and probably started talking out loud as we so many times do. (Although we won't always admit it) None of the people in the restaurant behind him noticed, - witch is sad as this old man was probably going to an empty home with no one to talk to?

So with age comes more sitting around on benches. Luckily God provided winged friends to talk to and get some of us through the day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Street photo in Barcelona...

I made this image in the streets of Barcelona when my family and I traveled there this year. It reminds me so much of how quick life races by. Before we know it, if we are lucky, we are the one sitting on the bench feeding the pigeons.

What I noticed about the couple was the look on the old man's face, - almost a sneer of annoyance as the food he was feeding the pigeons are finished, or because the wife wanted to get home so she could get the flowers in water?

The wife is sitting shading her face from the sun with flowers. Was the flowers a gift from him or did she buy it to brighten-up her day?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Open mine shoot...

Just a short blog today, - as his time of the year we are at our busiest and there is very little time to touch ground and as you know, rather busy than sitting idly around.
So I did a shoot today at an open mine where they are taking grade of rocks and mixing it for building purposes. Quite interesting if rocks and that kind of thing rocks your boat.

Obviously I can't show you much as the client needs to approve the layout and the whole brochure.
But just to show you it is not always glamour and models in the Advertising World/Photographic world here is a panoramic I took of  part of the mine.

                                            7 images stitched together around 50 MB J-PEGS

On days were the shoot is not so interesting as what you had imagined, I always try to chat more with the people that work at the said place. On this occasion we had a gentleman by the name of Piet who showed us around and organized the trucks, access and whatever we needed. What an interesting and friendly guy.  He speaks in a soft voice and can communicate with the workers in three different native tongues!
Piet made a hot summers day very interesting and told me that his background is actually Tobacco Farming!
As Forest Gump said himself, - Life is like a box of chocolates, - you never know what you will get?

So to Piet and all his workers in the mine today, - have a great one!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Toddlers, - hordes of them...

After I was recently interviewed by a New York based photographic company it became clear to me that the world outside Africa have a blurred view of some of the real, everyday problems the normal parents face in their day-to-day lives. As with all parents they want the best for their children but reality is often far removed from what they want and what they can do.

Please don't get me wrong, - this is NOT a black/white race thing! I see the same thing in rural areas as well as in city/populated areas, - children goes to schools, private or government, black and white and after school there is no one at home to supervise and so they roamed the streets. Many parents leave home early in the morning and return from work often late in the day. What to do with the children in order to make sure the idle hand are not up to mischief?

It is people such as Mary-Jane that identified this problem and decided to do something about it. She had very little resources but that didn't detour her, she started a day care center that cares for more that 40 pre-school toddlers and young ones.

If you look at the picture above you will notice that although Mary-Jane don't own a lot she gives so much with all her heart. I also have to point out that on the day we visited the pre-school a lot of parents did not bring their children as they didn't want their children photo/video-graphed.

Not only does Mary-Jane play, care and do activities with the children, she and her helpers teach the children to read and write, paint and teach life-skills to them. The children get a warm plate of food at least once a day. Mary-Jane does all this with her own money. Her husband is working and they are doing all this with the salary he earns and small donations some parents contribute to the center. Some people are very poor and cannot contribute anything.

The love that i saw between Mary-Jane, her helpers and the children are heart-warming. One could really see that there is a very strong band between them and that the children are enjoying themselves very much at the care-center. With some-one like Mary-Jane watching over their children, I am sure the parents have one less problem to worry about.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Of old people in rural areas...

It was a drive and a half to get to the far-off rural village in Giyani in the Northern part of the country. As with so many other rural parts in our country it is the same here, - the youth are leaving the rural areas as soon as they finished school and head for the cities in search of jobs. This leaves the older generation behind with no one to care for him or her.

Now these old people are left behind with nobody to help them do the normal day-to-day things we take for granted. Sure, some of the children send their parents money but a most are left without care. Some are sick and need care and medicine, food, cleaning of homes and help with washing themselves.

It is here that a young man saw what was happening and decided to extend a helping hand towards these old people. Earnest got a few willing helpers together and started a project where they go from house to house to make sure all the elders are taken care of. He sees that they take the right medicine on the correct times, help with the cleaning of their homes and help to wash the old ones.

He also established a community kitchen where all the old people that he care for come together once a day and receives a worm meal. Some old people have to be helped to this gathering and it is the only social interaction they get with others.

Here is Earnest with his community of old people that he cares for...

Of cause it is not only old people staying behind in the villages but also very young children. Earnest is also trying to educate these youngsters to care for themselves as well as for the elders.

As the sun sets over this far off place in the country, these old people can sleep a bit better knowing that there are people caring for them.

M9 does the 94.7 cycle race...

As you know Sunday was the 94.7 Cycle Race, which gave me the opportunity to take the M9 out again!

As usual I tried some "not so ordinary" shots with the M9. This shot was taken against the sun in order to get the silhouette-type of image. I tried a lot of shots at F 2.5, witch was not so easy and successful some of the times, how-ever when I got the shot right it is really something different.

More than 25 000 cyclist start from 06:00 a.m. in batches to tackle the 94.7 km through the streets of Johannesburg, over highways and past all sorts of suburbs that can only be found in a diverse city witch is the economic capital of this rock called Africa!

                                       From a bridge over the highway were-under the cyclists pass.

At the water-spots there was loud music and support from the spectators. Because they start in batches and continue riding until the cut-off time at 16:00 p.m. the event pretty much brings the city to a standstill for the day.

I tried a few panning shots...

A bunch of golden-oldies came past...

A shot into the sun to get the lovely flare the 50 mm are so renowned for...

And just to anger the purest I made this in Photo Shop...

With a off-camera speed-light and the city in the background...

Friday, November 18, 2011

On high heels in the garden...

Sophisticated, that's how I will describe Mpho. A young lady full of ambition not only for herself, but also for the community she lives in.

She lives in the far Northern corner of our country. Currently studying at University she still have time in her busy schedule to run and sustain her project. As you can see from the minidress and high heels in the picture this woman are going places! But don't let the corporate dress fool you, - Mpho have no problem getting her hands dirty and do so very often.

Through her project she secures vegetable seedlings from around nurseries in her area and take this to a whole bunch of pre-schools and day care centers for toddlers in the community. At each of these centers she has secured a small piece of land, that, with the help of the teachers and toddlers they convert to vegetable gardens. Here she teach the children how to plant, care and harvest the vegetables. The veggies are then used in the involved schools to feed the children.

Mpho makes the whole learning experience very interactive and practical with all the kids joining in. As with all kids they love getting dirty and enjoy it very much. Through the whole experience the children are taught how to look after their health and the environment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

17 years old and saving the world..

When we set out right at the beginning of this project, we had no idea how many entries we will get. Thousands upon thousands. Sure, some were only asking for donations without giving any service back or having started their project yet. Still, it was heartwarming to see how many young people were helping their communities without asking anything in return and uplifting people their only goal.

We set out guidelines to help with the sifting process and still had thousands of entries! On the one side it was kind of sad not to be able to help everyone, but it was also great to see so many helping others with so little. However we can only help so many and we have to comply with the sponsor's guidelines.

So was it then when I met with a young man named Zaahid in the Pretoria area. Now, this young man is only 17 years old and yet he and his brother wanted to give something back to their community! Their vision was also not only to give back something but also to transfer skills and above all,what they gave back must be sustainable, - exactly what our ground-rules in the vetting process was.

Zaahid, together with his brother, started a Internet cafe, next to a shop, owned by his father in the area. From this shop they started to train people to become more computer literate. They employed a lady to help type and teach typing at this Internet cafe; she types the C.V's of people looking for work.

These two boys didn't stop here. They taught an elderly man who was laid off to start his own Gardening Service. Lawnmowers and other gardening equipment were given to him and now this man is able to support his family again.

Another part of their successes was three young men that was tough by Zaahid to run a successful Car-Wash service. Now these three are also able not only to sustain a business in the local community but are also able to support their families.

Zaahid also managed to secure some funds for another part of his project. With this he bought some needlecraft machines and donated them to an elderly lady. This lady had a dream of doing clothing, curtaining and other needlecraft work in order to make a living but also to have a small sustainable business from which she could provide for her family.

With the sponsorship that was secured for Zaahid, he will be able to continue to expand his project and help more and more people in his community. With young people like Zaahid in this world, how can we not grow better?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let the music play...

Ask any serious photographers and they will tell you that they clearly remember almost every moment they make an image.
The truth for me at least is this, - when you make an image it becomes a part of you. You can revisit the time of making it at any time you look at the image. Maybe it is because of the emotions you felt when you made the image, the smells and sounds around you, the people interacting in the image or around the image you made?

In this way when you open a special image with say, a loved one in it, or of a special moment, place or time in your life, you revisit that time of your life. Is it because you were the creator of the image? Or maybe because you were part of the decisive moment? Or is it because you have a special feeling connected to the moment? All of the above?

In my life it is not only this way when i make special images but also with music. As one person once said, - music is the essence of life, without it we are just one step closer to primates. You hear a song playing somewhere and it can transform you away in an instant to a special place, time or person in which you had a significant experience with.

Walk in a city you visit, a country not your own and you hear a song, music or see musicians making music on the sidewalk and it is sure to transform you, - into the moment or far away into your memory.
To see the joy and emotion on the face of a musician as he plays his instruments can be quite inspiring. You absolutely have to capture those moments.

So whether you see the musicians on the street playing for some of your lose change or whether he is a professional playing for fame, - keep an eye on the emotion he has, the magical transformation to a special moment in your or his life is available for you... let the music take you there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

End of the year,- time to SUPER-SIZE the rat-race.....

As everyone are saying right now, - is it the end of the year already? Short answer, Yes!
For us in the Advertising world it is the busiest time of the year. The times of year were you easily lose your marbles if not on guard.

All the clients realize all of a sudden that the year is coming to a end and there are just so much more that needs to be done, - promotions, Christmas specials and what not else? And please don't forget, - the Back to School promotions must also be done before the holidays, - there will be no time next year!

                        My boy preparing for the exams. M9 F 2.5 50 mm Summarit ISO 200

And it seems, as if in sync, that all the clients realize this at the same time! The printers are fully booked and the Marketing Guru waking-up to late will not get things printed! Why is it always like this? It is not really as if the year sneaked out of the backdoor with-out anyone noticing, - but it always seems to catch every one by surprise!

Tempers are at a breaking point all around and people are screaming more than regular. On the roads it is carnage! Everyone is in a hurry! It seems as if all the roads are packed to capacity, accidents are more frequent and tempers are in the red! The rat race just turned SUPER-SIZE!

On the home-front it is not far from this either, the children are tired of getting-up early to go to school, sports are finishing and revision times are set to prepare for the exams. The wife are starting to look for a place to go to on holiday for the family, also almost to late, and it seems the only one oblivious to the rat race is my Bull dog, Winston. The only thing that upsets him is if he doesn't get his 8 hours sleep during the day! Yeah, it's a dogs world out there...

                                                          Winston at 50 mm.

So, while we all try to please all our clients, get to were we should and do what we have to, - remember what the true holiday spirit is all about...
Peace, love and joy and for now try not to lose your temper to much out there so we can all go on a well deserved Summer holiday!

                                                      Almost time to put your feet up!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Caring for old and young...

The search to find young people doing good for their community continued and in a small rural village in the Free State we met with a young lady called Maggie.
She works full-time at a home for old people and orphans.

Maggie is a delightful person who like to help these needy people in her community. During the morning she cooks for the old people, wash and clothe them and make sure they take all their medicine.
After school she sits and help the children with homework and plays with them.

Maggie, bellow in yellow, has used her sponsored money to buy things, you and I take for everyday necessities, like a television, blankets and toys for the children, to make life a little more bearable for the people in her care-center.

                                               Maggie and the people she looks after at the center.

                                                  One of the old ladies at the care-center.

        Children and old people make for the best images,- maybe because the have so much emotion?

                From on top of a roof, I took this panorama of the area. Nine images stitched together.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not your usual computer academy...

The  search for young people who unselfishly uplift their community took us to the far-of province of Limpopo on the Eastern side of the country.

In a small rural village we met Andries. This remarkable young man saw a great need to educate his community in computer literacy. Andries is a man who speaks at mach 2.3 and you have to listen carefully at what he says or else you will miss the conversation. He lives with his father and converted a shack in the back-yard to serve as his classroom. From here he also repair broken computers.

                                Andries and some of his students in-front of his academy.

To show this, I put the speed-light behind the computer-screen to imitate the light illuminating their faces.

These three lads where watching everything carefully from a distance. I gave them some sweets and asked them to sit on the wall, - they looked at me as if I was the first white-man they ever seen, - probably was..

This is the view from Andries's academy of his neighbors. Seven images stitched together. 150 MB J-peg file.

With the sponsored money Andries received he finished the building in which he is expanding the   academy into and he received seven more computers to continue with his excellent work.