Categories
archaeology

Underwater Archaeology

Something I would love to be able to do

Categories
Stop Motion

Putty Rubber

This is my first attempt at stop motion movies and I learnt a number of things.
1 Putty rubbers can be used effectively to create a character who moves
2 It takes time to photograph a sequence. This 18 second sequence took 20 minutes to photograph.
3 Always use a tripod. No matter how still you think your hand is and how accurate your alignment is, it isn’t any of those things.
4 The type of light you use to illuminate the scene can make a huge difference to the colour of the product. I like the effect of this long life bulb. I had fun No sound yet but watch this space.

Categories
Astro-photography Photography

Conjunction

Tonight the moon is 98% full. Close by are Saturn and Jupiter. And ideal photo opportunity you might say but there were clouds and aerosols so I did not get a hard classical astro-photograph but a dreamy, ephemeral image. I used a little point and shoot camera and it exceeded my expectations.

Categories
Birding

Cleaning Penguins

On 23 June 20 years ago the ship MV Treasure sank off Cape Town spilling tons of bunker oil into the sea. The penguins of Dassen and Robben Islands were badly oiled. Various environmental organisations led by Cape Nature organised the rescue and cleaning of the oiled penguins. I heard an appeal for volunteers. So after work at 4 I volunteered.

I was met by an enormous man called Big Mike and I was handed a waterproof suit and told to carry boxes of penguins from the fleet of army trucks that rolled in in a steady stream.

Now penguins have sharp beaks and they were sorely unhappy so they would peck at any unguarded human flesh the could reach as I learnt when carrying soggy, disintegrating cardboard boxes the evening before. Vicious beaks would appear out of breathing holes at every opportunity. Amazingly I did not get pecked, but it was seriously close a number of times.

At about 10 the stream of trucks stopped. At about the same time a local pizza chain provided free pizzas. After what passed for dinner, I was told to help build pens out of porta pools donated by a local pool company. At 12 I nodded to Big Mike and headed off home.

Next evening after work I went back and spend the first part of the evening cleaned penguin excrement out of the porta pools. Then I got the job of building runways to guide penguins to a specially constructed and filled pool. That done we dismantled empty penguin pools, washed them thoroughly and rebuilt them.

I watched them feeding penguins. The penguins were getting sardines packed with antibiotics. The feeders for the most part had bandages on their hands where they had been pecked except for one woman who was completely unscathed and faster than anyone else. Someone would pass her a penguin and she, sitting on an upturned bucket would clasp the furious creature between her knees and wave an enticing hand over the penguins head. The penguin would lunge at the hand, she would catch the penguin in mid peck, jam its beak open, drop a sardine into its throat and clamp the beak closed before the bird had any idea of what had happened. She was absolute magic to watch.

At some stage, I snarled at someone, “I hate penguins!”
“Why are you here then?” obvious question.
“So my grandchildren can hate them too.”

At midnight I went home, showered, slept and reported for work the next morning. That evening I went back but the line of volunteers was long. I was relieved that someone else would be there as I was tired.

It was one of those pinnacle experiences that you remember forever.

Last week I got an email from Cape Nature advertising the opening of their hiking trails and it had this paragraph:

“This month marked on the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s worst environmental disaster. On the 23rd June 2000, the bulk ore carrier, MV Treasure was battling tempestuous seas in a storm off the coast of the Western Cape when the vessel foundered and sank, causing 1,300 tons of oil to seep into the ocean. This put the two large colonies of African penguins on the nearby Robben and Dassen islands in grave danger. What happened next has been called the largest animal rescue ever attempted.”

So, it turns out that not only did I have the rare and privileged experience of rescuing penguins but purely by accident I was part of a world record. 😊

See the Cape Nature page on this rescue effort.

Categories
flower Fynbos Western Cape

Flowers

This post will be updated regularly with pictures of flowers from the Fynbos biome in the Western Cape, South Africa. The flowers were photographed all over the place and I will not be giving localities because some are so old that I cannot remember where I took the pictures.

Categories
Birding Photography

Gymnogene

Or African Harrier Hawk. We occasionally see this magnificent raptor in the Cape Town CBD. This time a neighbour spotted the bird and called us. It was sheltering from a Cape winter storm in a palm tree. I managed to get some pictures. The problem was that it was quite dark and rainy. Also the neighbour had fire burning and the smoke drifted across our line of sight. The troubles of birding photography.

Categories
Photography

Kayaks

A man prepares kayaks on a Mouille Point beach.

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Cape Town Door Photography

Reflections

On a walk around Cape Town I took a picture of a church door. Only when I got home did I see that Table Mountain was reflected in the window panes above the door.

Categories
Video

Clouds over Lions Head

Video of clouds around Lions Head

Categories
History

Royal Visit Kimberly 1947

Going through my Mothers photograph albums I came across pictures of the Royal Visit to Kimberly in 1947.
Not brilliant photographs, but they do show interesting details that the official photographers would not have allowed into their images.

Royal Visit Kimberly

And of course they illuminated all the important buildings