Thursday, October 02, 2014

Waterkloof air-force base Aerospace airshow 2014

Pitt special
Airshow on the 20th at Waterkloof Airforce base Gauteng. And a great time was had by all, about one hundred thousand spectators. whew!
As you know by now, I really do enjoy taking pictures but these aircraft are quick and finding them in the view finder takes a little skill and lots of luck. I was using a Canon 18 to 200mm lens, quite heavy and without a tripod a bit shaky but what beautiful pictures. There are a few things I would do differently next time, slow the shutter speed from 1/4000 second to about 1/ 1000 second so that the propellers would be a bit blurry. These pictures look like they have been photo-shopped in, otherwise they are pretty good in my opinion.
Rhino anti-poaching unit with dogs on skids.

 Oh how my heart longed to be in any one of these spectacular craft. Having flown airplanes and helicopters in the past, very distant past in fact, I watched their antics with glee but must admit, most of my time was spent looking through the lens.
One of the thoughts that kept bouncing around in my head was how terrorized people living around a hundred years ago would have been by this incredibly noisy aerial display, can you imagine?
One of the exercises performed was the Rhino anti-poaching unit display using helicopters and dogs. It was very impressive. What happened was they came in with the choppers and the soldiers rappelled to the ground with a German Sheppard harnessed to them. Once on the ground the dogs were released, taking about 15 seconds to release, and off they went after the poachers. Two dogs and two poachers in full dog training padding. Unfortunately for one of the poachers, the dogs saw only him so he had two dogs attacking him at the same time, very scary indeed. Those of us in the group I was with had a good laugh watching him trying to get away, very funny to watch. He was not injured in any way, just in case you were wondering.
Harvards in formation fly by.
   I'm an old fashioned type of person, I like old. South Africa has some very old planes still in use, like these Harvards. I remember, while living near Pretoria in my late teens, watching these beautiful little trainers doing exercises over the hills where we lived. They have a very distinct engine noise ( not very noisy)and were always painted the same, just like these two. Ah, good memories. Unfortunately the shots I have are from underneath, because of the display they were putting on, but that is pretty much how I've always seen them anyway. Lovely. And then came the extremely noisy and unbelievably (1370 miles per hour) fast Gripen fighter jet. This is apparently one of the arms purchases made by the new South African government in the 2005 arms scandal. Although 26 were purchased and paid for, only one is in flight ready use today, another twelve have been put in mothballs. I live in Africa, oh well.
Saab Gripen fighter aircraft
The noise from this aircraft is amazing, and it was only flying by at about 600 miles per hour. Getting a shot of this aircraft was my greatest challenge for the day. Unfortunately every time it flew by it turned away from the crowd, which makes safety sense, so all the shots I did get were from underneath. Sorry about that.
There were commentators telling the crowd what to expect next with the pilots radio communications also audible, very interesting. Lots of stunt flying, Pitt specials flying in formation and then breaking away with, of course, the obligatory smoke trails. Hearts in smoke with smoke arrows, oh how the girls in the crowd cheered when they saw that.
We left the show at about 2pm in an effort to get out before the grand exodus, 100 000 people take up a lot of car space, lots of traffic. It still took us over an hour to get away. On the way home we stopped at a little nursery in Irene for something to eat and a cold drink. A lovely end to an absolutely exhilarating day out with Shelley and Toni.
So what do you think of my photographs so far?
And on a final note, I am so amazed that God invented flying so long ago, no need to be terrorized, just amazed will do.
Blessings to all, Geoff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Digital photography lessons

In my last post, that was written ages ago, I mentioned that I was taking photography lessons to improve my abilities, these pictures were taken since then. What do you think of them?
The first was taken in the garden at high speed to try and capture a bee in flight. It's winter and the Strelitzias are in bloom, not much else for the bees to feed on at the moment. Yes, I do admit it was a chance shot but I was set up for it on a tripod with an 18-200mm lens and waiting for the bee to take off.I must have taken about 50 shots to get this one. Ah, the joys of digital photography.
A few days later the red hot pokers came into bloom so all the bees migrated to the other side of the garden. Trying to get a decent shot of them with the bees buzzing around wasn't quite as easy. The wall behind the flowers was not completely painted yet so the picture has a pink background. Not one of my best shots.

One morning the class was sent off to the Nan Hua Budist Temple near Boksburg about 100 km from where I stay. We were required to be there before first light and at that time the frost was still white on the ground, brrr!
I managed to get some really lovely shots, rich in colour and shape. This shot of the entrance arch was taken just as the sun was rising. I quite like the result.
Of course things like iso settings, shutter speed and aperture all have to be learned now that I'm shooting in raw mode as opposed to auto.We did a night shoot as well as studio work, much more challenging than expected. Those pictures I'll publish on my next post.
Blessings to everyone, Geoff.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I haven't written anything for absolutely ages, no e-mails, no blog posts, not even a hand written letter, (not that I've received one of those for a gazillion years or so.) Sorry.
Now, down to what I want to write about. As some of you know I take pretty good photographs or so I've been told often. Well I no longer work for Setbuild, family and all that, I started doing photography much more seriously instead and decided to do a course on how to take awesome pictures with MY camera. There are a whole lot of things about digital photography that are a little different from film, ISO, shutter speed, aperture and so on. Yes I know about these things and how they affect each shot but how do I adjust MY camera to get it right, there are so many buttons and dials and bits on my camera, very confusing.
By the way, I was given an entry level Canon 350D dslr (digital single lens reflex,) camera by my son James quite some time ago but didn't really know how to use it, now I do.

It's winter in South Africa at the moment and everything is dry and leafless, rain falls in Johannesburg, where I am at the moment, in summer with great thunderstorms and lightning. I tried to find something to shoot that could be interesting to look at but there was so little around. This picture of the Modderfontien lake play ground was taken at about 10 AM on a school day so, no children. Please remember I was still trying to get to understand my camera but, as you can see, it still worked out to be visually attractive.
The next one was taken at the water's edge with the ducks coming quite close, I was standing alongside a fairly large tree so they felt safe. I haven't adjusted any of these pictures in Lightroom yet. The picture of the ducks is a little blown out because of the light reflected off the water, that will be adjusted a bit later for my portfolio. The light was in front of me and a little to the left leaving the duck's eye in shadow, which is a pity. Oh well, learning curve. I spent a few hours wandering around taking arbitrary shots but wasn't enthused.
The next day I took a trip to Johannesburg zoo to try and get a few animal shots. It was very cold that morning and most of the animals were trying to get warm in their dens or just lying in the sun.
I did get one nice shot of an African Serval. These creatures are hunted for their coals and no longer inhabit their areas where there is human habitation. This little thing was lying in the sun while it's mate paced up and down along the enclosure fence, sad but gratifying to know it's safe from the hunter's spear. There wasn't much sunlight in the enclosure, too early, so this was the shot I chose from about twenty odd pictures. Still learning about ISO speed at this stage. There were lots of other animals in similar enclosures that also had bad light but the pictures were too dark for my liking. The Johannesburg zoo does very important work to safeguard animals now considered too endangered to release back into the wild.
I ran out of battery power soon after this shot. Lesson learned; take extra batteries, fully charged, on any photo shoot.

 On Friday night I invited a young lady from the photography school to accompany my to a night club with a few friends so I could try my hand at low light photography, she turned me down, oh well, the rest of us went anyway and had a fantastic time.
Shooting in low light definitely has it' challenges. Very low shutter speeds and wide open aperture. The main problem with that is that people don't stand still for very long so there is a lot of movement blur in the pictures.
 Our eyes are a huge amount more sensitive to light than cameras but with judicious manipulation of ISO and shutter speed it will still look okay.
With a bit of luck I'll be able to post about the process I went through to get better at taking awesome pictures. There is quite a bit to tell, join me tomorrow when I talk about each aspect of camera work.
Many blessings, Geoff.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Working with Setbuild

One month of frantic madness. 

This is a long overdue blog post. Since I've moved to Johannesburg I've been so busy, and when not working, just exhausted, writing has been rather low on my list of priorities. I haven't found a home yet, still staying at my sister's house. Time to get things worked out and sorted.
Here are a few pictures of what I've been up to, nothing exciting like flying or sailing around the world, but keeping me alive and fed. The Rise and Fall of Apartheid exhibition was built when Myles, my brother, was in hospital having his prostrate removed. His test results have since come back clear which is a huge relief. The exhibition was built on site in the Africa Museum, a very beautiful building from 1913, the old Johannesburg market. The building houses some very old and forgotten documents and artifacts, now being documented and digitized so access will be easier via the internet.
Erecting the Prasa promotional stand at Johannesburg station
This Prasa stand was fairly interesting in that it was erected in a very busy public space with thousands of train commuters passing through both morning and night. Prasa, Public Rail Authority of South Africa. It will stay up until 20 May and then be taken down. It only took two days to erect but about a week to pre-build everything. I'm fortunate to have a good crew working with me, well done chaps. Yesterday we completed two show stands for The Wedding Expo at the Coca Cola Dome in Northriding.
Paper Planes and Pipe Dreams show stand
South African people are very creative in their efforts, or so I feel. The thing that I felt very sad about is the fact that a large, probably most, number of young brides who come to this expo will, in the not too distant future, make a vow to "remain married until death do us part" which will in a short while be broken. Oh well, life goes on all the same and God will still love them despite what happens.
There were obviously lots of other stands like the cake competition and organizations offering wedding venues, flower arranging,dresses and even a Buick

 to transport couples to and from the wedding. Some of the stands were very pleasant to look at, the cakes particularly, not my style really, what can I say?
 In general, I'd say they were two pleasant days on site. It amazes me how stressed and strung out exhibitors get on the day before a show, very funny actually. With these two simple stands however, we were on time and on top of it.

    It has been said to me that 2014 is the year of the horse in the Chinese calendar, well we've been at full gallop from the beginning of the year. Thank you Lord.
Some more pictures:
cake competition entries

Monday, January 13, 2014


So I'm now living in Johannesburg South Africa. Oh well what can I say? Johannesburg does have some very interesting attributes. The largest man made urban forest in the world, the largest city in the world not built on a river, coastline or lake. It also claims to be the lightning capitol of the world, I'm not sure about that but will acknowledge that Archibald goes into meltdown almost every afternoon in summer, he's probably shaking like a leaf right now as the clouds build up for this afternoon's thunder storm. Poor little guy.
Going back to the urban forest thing; This weekend saw the beginning of the butterfly annual migration, millions of little white butterflies all heading eastwards in waves. Final destination Madagascar off the African east coast, a staggering distance of over two thousand miles (3200 kilometers). As can be imagined, forests provide refuse and sustenance to large varieties of wild birds. There are flocks of wild parrots, actually parakeets,
Not my picture (Source link)
We have a couple of Indian Minahs resident in the garden, oodles of  doves and pigeons and then things like Mouse birds, Crested Barbets, and Woodland Hoopoe.
image source
Not only do we have vast bird flocks but amazing insect and reptile life living right among us. There are of course also plenty of rats and feral cats to take care of them.
I don't have any friends here yet, they're all in Cape Town but this too shall pass. I've been attending the Presbyterian Church in Elma Park. Mostly a very old congregation but it was still the holidays so maybe things will change next week when everyone is back at work and school, we'll see. I'd like to join a home-cell group and meet people, how else am I going to make friends, I work all week.
I'll write more about my new home in the near future. Blessings to everyone, Geoff.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lawlessness and Love

I was listening to someone ranting about the state of our country and the reasons Nelson Mandela was first put on trial. They were not very complimentary and there was quite a lot of angst mixed in with everything being said. The scripture that came to mind was about how as lawlessness spreads so man's love for one another will grow cold and, of course, being the type of man I am, out it came with the addition of my own words, "I don't want my love for others to grow cold."
The person who had been ranting and getting quite upset sat up, closed their computer and just looked at me before admitting that they did not want their love to grow cold either. Just a few simple words and everything changes.
With the passing of Nelson Mandela South African politicians are climbing on the band wagon and trying to score brownie points for the up-coming election. His family are fighting over the rights to the Mandela brand name and there is a lot of racist rhetoric. How sad that in this country love and forgiveness have died with Mandela, I can't imagine Mandela being too happy.
Anyway, I'm not a politician, just an ordinary citizen trying to keep his head down and get on with the job. God has indeed come to the aid of the oppressed and downtrodden and brought him to honour, just as He said He would. Reign on oh Lord, we love you and give you thanks.