The Suiderstrand Fire

Around lunchtime on December the 22nd, a veldfire ignited near the parking lot in Suiderstrand. With the southeaster blowing hard, the fire quickly spread and within half an hour, one building was completely destroyed. If it weren’t for the quick reactions of the Working On Fire helicopter from Bredasdorp, it could have been a lot, lot worse.

We weren’t down here then, as we were spending Christmas with family in Cape Town, and it took a while before the panicky messages on the whatsapp groups – in Afrikaans, nogal – began to make sense and I finally worked out that our place was not in immediate danger. It was a horrible few minutes. The point of ignition was only 100m from our front door, and had the fire started 24 hours before, it would have been blown directly towards our place.

The wind has been pumping since we arrived down here, and it was only yesterday morning that I managed to get the drone up to survey the scene from above and see just how lucky some houses were to escape serious harm.

There are plenty of melted gutters and lots of damaged paintwork, but nothing that can’t be repaired after the festive break. Not so much for the burnt-out home though. It’s a sad and sobering sight.

If one is looking for positives – and at this time of year, one should always have a glass half full – it was that this was the only casualty, and that no-one was injured or killed in the fire.

The village reacted well, with plenty of people on hand to assist where possible and great communication. And we’ve all renewed our knowledge of evacuation procedures and emergency numbers, which is never a bad thing.

We just hope we never have to use them.

Eye See Em

ICM. Intentional Camera Movement.

Usually, you try to avoid camera movement when you take a shot. But it turns out that there’s this thing called ICM, where you – are you ready for this? – intentionally move the camera when you take the shot.

They should mention that in the name.

It takes a little bit of practice to manage your exposure (careful now) and other settings*, but when you have ‘togged a location to death, it’s something a bit quirky and the results can be… “interesting”. And because you are not paying for film, you can experiment to your heart’s content.

Here’s one I did earlier (last weekend):

I know it won’t be to everyone’s taste. I’m not even sure it’s really to mine, although I do like the simplicity and it really does provide a rather different take on a very familiar place.

The white line is hugely important and perhaps I should have made more of it.

It’s not really Rothko, but can I see something of a background of a Turner there somewhere? Maybe.

Maybe not.

I’d like to see a bit more structure in my next efforts.

 

for example, this was f/36.0 and 1/4″ – barmy numbers!

Some more flight

Yesterday was an incredible day for flying the Mavic*. It’s now just about a year since I got this machine and the technology still blows me away every time I use it. I’ve flown over 140km in that time, in three different countries, desperately trying to improve my piloting and photography techniques each time I’m taken it up, and having a lot of fun along the way.

Here’s one from earlier:

What a day. What a place.

When I look back to the earliest photos I took, and remember how utterly terrifying those first flights were – very much like one’s first driving lessons – it’s almost amusing. I have much more confidence now (obviously) and measure my flight distances in km rather than 10s of metres. 🙂

Still room for improvement though. Always room for improvement!

Here are yesterday’s photos taken in and around beautiful Suiderstrand in Cape Agulhas.

 

* today may also be a good day, but I’m writing this yesterday, so I just don’t know yet.

Sneron

We came back from Cape Agulhas a day early. The weather was not looking like it was going to improve, the traffic looked like it was going to be horrendous and it’s actually been good to have a little bit of time at home before I head back to the laboratory tomorrow.
In actual fact, we only really lost a few hours, given that we only left late yesterday evening.

It meant that we could still get out for 5km along the beach at Suiderstrand, grab a photo of a windswept Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea):

…and have a lunch with some truly terrible service in L’Agulhas before heading off.
And we were still home before sunset. Cape Town summers, ne?

Rather than sit inside and blog all afternoon, we went for a family picnic in Kirstenbosch. And now I’m off to build some of this with my boy. So this is all you’re getting for today.

See you tomorrow. Same time, same place, right?