Category Archives: photography

Mother Nature’s spoils

I take a different look at nature, not how to paint it but rather how to appreciate Mother Nature’s spoils.

I have taken the liberty of using information from CC Africa RANGERS so as to be sure my info to you is correct.

I don’t really think you will ever need this trivia, except in a quiz, but it’s fun to know and just one of the ways our rangers are able to enhance your South African Painting Holiday with masses of African titbit’s and Ranger stories. So here goes:

Five useful remedies that can be found in the bush:

  • Russet Bushwillow – makes a great herbal tea.
  • Sodom Apple – the juice is used to treat fresh wounds.
  • Acacia – the cambium is chewed and the juice swallowed to treat stomach disorders.
  • Aloe Secundiflora – the inner plant can be applied on skin as protection from the sun.
  • Lippia Javonica – crushing and inhaling the leaves will help to relieve colds and flu.
  • Lions-paw – an extract from the plant mixed with pumpkin seeds is used to treat tapeworm.
  • Now wasn’t that really interesting? Next time you are painting a Lippia Javonica you’ll be reminded of this article and be able to act all knowledgeable. However, I’ve lived in Africa for years and have never met anyone using any of these cures, (well maybe the aloe even I use aloes) but then again I live in the suburbs of the third largest city in South Africa, with every amenity available to me, so maybe that’s why!

    A Thought 4 U

    “Don’t copy anyone else. You are the best one of you there is. Be yourself, and exaggerate yourself slightly.”
    Paul Daniels, Magician
    par exellence


Photographic help from David Peterson

Today some photographic help from David Peterson

David discusses exactly how to use his technique in lesson 2 of his free Image Editing Secrets course. He has a tutorial for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro and the free Google Picassa.

Have you had a problem when shooting scenes with both inside and outside subjects.

Either everything inside is dark in the resulting photo, or everything outside is too bright. When a photo has a high dynamic range. That is, they have bright sunlight and dark shadows. It is impossible with current technology to have both parts of the photo correctly exposed.
While you can’t eliminate the problem entirely, there are a couple of choices you can make to minimze the problem.

Recompose The Photo

This is probably the simplest solution. Take a photo of a scene with very bright and very dark parts, move your camera to eliminate one of the extremes ie either close curtains for the shot, or take the photo from the window looking inside.

Use Exposure Lock

If you can’t recompose the photograph, instead tell the camera what part of the image you would like to see. The rest of the photo will be either over or under exposed (too bright or too dark) but at least you will see your subject. You can do this by placing the center of the image at your subject; half depressing the shutter to lock the focus and exposure; move the camera to re-compose the image; and fully depress the shutter.

Some cameras have an option called ’spot metering’ to set the part of the image you’d like to be correctly exposed. If your camera has this setting, enable it before using the technique above.

Use Fill In Flash

If your scene has a sunny background, but your subject is in the shade (or has a hat on), turn on the flash. I know it seems wrong but it really does work! By using the flash, your subject will look as bright as the background.

Use a Filter

If your scene is of a bright sky and a dark ground (for instance at sunset, or on a cloudy day), you can use a graduated neutral density filter. This filter cuts out some of the light from one part of the photo (the sky). This will correctly expose the ground and the sky. These filters can be complex to setup, so I don’t usually recommend them for beginners.

Fix The Original Photo in an Image Editing Program

Finally, if you can’t take another shot at the same location, you can fix the original image by changing the levels using a paint program. This works best when your subject is darker than the rest of the photo (because cameras lose detail in over-bright areas). The darker the subject, the harder time you will have fixing the image.”


Techniques are useful tools to learn but your style will become apparent as soon as you understand that you need to produce not the likeness of a scene or object, but an account of how you as an artist, relate to it
Thanks to Bob Brandt, issue: A&I March 2006

P.S. Accept our warm invitation to join me on a painting holiday I promise you will remember – forever!
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My Canopy Tour of Note

Well what a wonderful way to spend Goodwill Day in South Africa!
As a gift for Christmas me, my husband, Fred and my sister Pene, were given tickets to zip through the forest canopy at Karkloof.
Yup we flew, Literally. We were strapped into a harness driven up a slippery bumpy mountainside, walked into a forest and hooked onto a skinny steel wire 30 metres above the ground. Then told -“Go!”

All very well but it was a bit misty on our particular day so all we could see was the first 10 metres of the zip line, so we had no idea where we were heading. All a bit eerie but definitely exhilarating.
I got told off for going too slowly on the first zip, which I thought was mean of them but it did mean I had to be hauled in by a rope which was a bit infra dig!

The next zip-line I whizzed down and thought I’d never stop as I really couldn’t feel any braking when I tried to brake, however I got there just fine. Then it was the time for the longest and steepest and I really wanted to see what was down below so I cruised down peering below at the trees somewhere down there. So intent was I on my mission, the next thing I know is I’m being yelled at to speed up to get up to the finish step. Oops I missed again, but this time by so far I had to turn round and haul myself in hand over hand up the line. M mm, I didn’t make that mistake again. When they said don’t break I listened and did not break and I did make it to the end in a fast whizzle stop – but what fun.

It was over all too soon. All 8 zip-lines done and dusted just when we were getting the hang of it all. Anyway the walk out of the forest was lovely with a little stream, some pretty flowers and a couple of bird sightings. The perfect end to an astonishingly fabulous trip in the trees.
I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who can take one.
Check out my video

Hippos at St Lucia

Look what these lucky people saw on their hippo tour up the iSimangaliso Wetland Park estuary a world heritage site situated on the North Coast of Kwa Zulu Natal. (Formerly St Lucia).

If you come and join us on a Painting Holiday you could be the one sitting this close to the hippos while you sketch away or take photos for a later painting.
How cool is that?

Last time I was there taking a stroll down the road to have some supper and there wandering along also looking for supper was this young hippo. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

This stopover is day 2 on my Painting tour

Your South Africa image search is over!

Look what I found today – A really cool site full of pictures that you can look at and use freely.
2 000 high-resolution photos in the image library is a stunning free resource for publishers, media practitioners – and anyone else with an interest in South Africa.

A great way to get some interesting painting  resources to hone up on your African art. Then I can promise you , you will be itching to get here and see it all for real and what better way than by coming with me on a South African Painting Holiday

Go to SouthAfrica.infoSource:
The all-in-one official guide
and web portal to South Africa.

The Berg or uKhahlamba

“The Berg” is a stunningly beautiful World Heritage site.The Drakensberg mountains got their name from the Voortrekkers because the ridges resemble a dragons back but the Zulus call them uKhahlamba the “Barrier of Spears”
Whatever you call it, the Berg is unadulterated beauty and perfect for any artist who wants dramatic paintings.

The Drakensberg is located in the west of KwaZulu-Natal along the border with Lesotho, it stretches 150 kilometres, and the peaks are a massive basalt cap on top of sedimentary rocks formed 150-million years ago.

Usually sunny, the weather is quite capricious and can change in the blinking of an eye so go prepared, as the scouts say. Generally speaking the summers are warm and wet, up to 800-2000mm of rain can fall a year here, it has been known to thunder down in a storm of lightening and rain and clear just as quickly. Misty clouds can pull down over the peaks and leave a hiker blinded until it lifts again.

A visit in the cold dry winter between April and September is best. The nights are frosty with a daytime atmosphere crisp and invigorating. Above 2000m you are most likely to see snow; however it can snow at any time of the year up on the peaks ( Check out my previous blog about our most recent snow!)

Hikers and walkers delight in the many trails through the mountains, there are some fairly extensive maps which show the trails to make your path easier to travel.


4000 years ago the San Bushmen painted 520 pictures on the walls of caves and rock shelters and despite all those years of weather most of them are still clearly visible. You can hike, with a guide, to view them and see a world unchanged in all these years but accessible to only a few… will you be one of those few lucky people to be transported back to the beginning of painting and the lives of the little guys who made these incredible masterpieces.I’ve been lucky enough to see several sites and each time they really do make your mind scrabble back and try to imagine their life as it was then. There are a few locations where the San are continuing with their life very similar to those days but the modern world keeps getting too close so I’m not sure how long it will be until their life is only to be read in history books. A real shame but we always seem to think the grass is greener on the other side don’t we?

Click here to see some more rock paintings

Or better still come and see them for yourself

South Africa, Arbor Day

In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognized the need for raising awareness of the value of trees in our society.

Trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of our communities as a source of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty. Collective enthusiasm inspired the government to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week. So every year from 1 to 7 September schools, businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in community “greening” events.

The Wild Plum is the common “tree of the year”. It is an attractive garden tree good for attracting birds and butterflies into the garden.  The tasty plum-like fruits are enjoyed by , monkeys amongst other animals, birds and people who often use them for making jams and jellies. With their sour taste, they also make a good rosé wine.

Wild Plum

Wild Plum

The bark is a popular traditional medicine. It is used to treat acne and eczema, and is usually applied in the form of facial saunas and skin washes. Powdered burnt bark is used to treat sprains and bone fractures. Bark is also used for dyeing, and it gives a mauve or pink color.

One of the rare trees of the year is the Bladdernut.  The berries are enclosed in inflated papery structures that give this tree its common name of Bladdernut. The berries attract fruit eating birds.

Just a couple of the different trees you can see if you visit South Africa. Come on a painting holiday and you can cheerfully sketch or paint the trees while sitting out in the bush plein air! Wonderful!

Sources: KZN Wildlife Rhino Club