Still smiling

This won’t be the best photo you’ll ever see.

Far from it.

Many (if not all) of the photos that I post on here won’t be the best photo you’ll ever see, but that doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve been trying to take a shot of some lightning for ages. Yesterday evening, it finally happened and I’m still smiling.

Look, this isn’t my life’s mission; it’s not like I go around hunting storms in order to take photos, and I’m not going to immediately retire from my non-existent photography career just because I took it [audience groans].
But after 236 attempts last night alone, I finally got lucky and got this:

Treat yourself to it bigger on black for the full effect.

Having given up round the back of the house (because this), I was actually just about ready to give up around the front as well as the storm moved off to the south. But I persisted, lying under a convenient shrub to avoid the worst of the rain. And when I realised that one of the closer bolts of lightning had (for once) coincided with one of my exposures and actually in the right direction, I was over the moon.

There are better photos of lightning. Maybe even better photos of lightning taken last night. But I didn’t take them.

I took this one though, and I’m still smiling.

Look North

What to do when your son is invited to a birthday party on that side of the mountain and you have a couple of hours to kill? Head down to the local beach and take some photos, of course.

It wasn’t the best day weather-wise, so the photos must reflect the drama and the moodiness of the prevailing conditions. White sand, grey skies, black mountains: it was almost monochrome, so that’s what I worked with. I’ve only had chance to edit and upload a couple of images so far, but this one defines the afternoon quite nicely:

See it bigger and better on black here.

I have ordered a new ND filter for the camera, but I won’t actually get it until June (it was 4x more expensive in SA than in the UK, so I’m picking it up when I get over there). In the meantime, I’m limited (even on grey days like today) to 1/8″ – so that sea should be smoother. Still, I do kind of like it.

I’ll pop a link up to the other images I took today once there’s something to actually link to.
Aaaaaand… it’s here!

On Flickr Explore

I’m on Flickr. I’ve been on Flickr for well over 10 years.
I have never made it onto Explore.

What is Explore?” I hear you ask…

Users who aspire to the ultimate level of recognition within the Flickr community will certainly become aware of something called Explore. Explore is a daily stream (viewed by thousands of people) of the top 500 photos as selected by Flickr’s “interestingness” algorithm.

Explore is somewhere I go to view some of the best photos uploaded in the last 24 hours. And it’s good that they cut them down to 500 because going through all 25,000,000 daily uploads would be a bit of a pain.

And there are some absolute gems in there, as there should be with a 99.998% rejection rate. But it’s clear that there is a huge difference between “bestness” and that intriguing but ultimately flawed “interestingness” algorithm. I mean, look at this from this morning:

Nine wonky photos of school buses? Is that really the best we could do?

Those images made it in to Explore simply because about 20 people clicked the “favourite” button on them. Evidently, the school bus spotting fraternity in the US had been waiting for something to get excited about for… well… quite a while. And then nine came all at once*.

How ironic.

I’d love to get onto Explore: photography, after all, is meant to be seen. And every view increases the potential of more of this kind of thing. I like this kind of thing.

There’s a good thread about Explore here, and there are plenty of sites around where people with far more time than me have looked at common features of Explored photos and kindly shared them with us. Apparently, things that can influence your chances include the time of your upload, how many followers you have, whether you pay $25 to be a member each year etc etc etc.

It’s taken me no time to work out that if I am going to get Explored any time soon, I need to make some fairly radical changes to how I use Flickr. I’m not there just yet.


* and there are over 5000 more where they came from…


I’ve got some bleeding on my knee which has meant further tests and prodding in hospital today. I’m doing all I can to get myself sorted as soon as possible, but in the meantime it’s painful and debilitating.

So here’s something to just fill some space today.

Monochromatic barns from Caledon, taken about this time last year, before all this nonsense began.

Fingers crossed for a big improvement tomorrow. on


While I was enjoying the hospitality of the local… er… hospital yesterday*, some of my recent photos of Theewaterskloof

…were being used (with permissions and credits, I hasten to add) on the website of Norwegian environmental NGO, GRID Arendal.

GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 to support environmentally sustainable development by working with UN Environment and other partners. We communicate environmental knowledge that strengthens management capacity and motivates decision-makers to act. We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity building services.

Now you know.


GRID-Arendal have been doing a lot of work on water provision and sustainability across Africa, and this article (with my photos) details Cape Town’s current plight for their readers around the world.

As I mentioned earlier in the year, I’m also looking forward to having some of my snaps published in other publications this year (and some in a book due for publication in September 2019!).


* with apparently what should be a positive outcome [champagne bottle emoji] [I’ll keep you informed emoji].