Also referred to as ‘celestial’ or ‘astral’, the sun is one of the oldest stars in our galaxy, at about 4.6 billion years, it is just short of middle age. My fascination with the sun stems from knowing that without it, life could not exist as I know it. The sun being the biggest light source known to man, it proves to be the most important primary raw materials as a photographer. I ventured out in the wee hours of the morning to join Joburg Photo-walkers to witness the celestial spectacle, called ‘sunrise’. No place was more appropriate for this event than the second highest point in Johannesburg, at 1807 meters above sea level. Northcliff Ridge provided an impeccable and unobstructed view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The irony of it all was braving temperatures less that 10 º C to witness the spectacle whose surface temperature is about 6000 º C.
We made the most of the ‘golden hour’ and then packed our canvases and headed for an early morning breakfast at Greenside’s Doppio Zero.
It is about 5 billion years before the sun dies, according to astrophysicists. I am happy I still have a chance to experience it’s splendor in my time…
The question I have everytime I hear the expression “don’t mix business with pleasure” is: what if your business brings you pleasure? Excuse the pun. What I mean is, what if the work you do is your passion or your calling and you draw incredible growth, inspiration and satisfaction out of it? Then for me business becomes your pleasure and both become inseparable. My profession has not brought me the ultimate pleasure thus far, but it continually offers me platforms from which I can draw inspiration and depending on what I do with the ‘inspiration’, I could extrapolate growth and consequently satisfaction. One such platform presented to me was the SAIChE Conference 2012, held at the Central Drakensburg, in the Champagne Sports Resort, Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Chemical Engineers (aka Chem Engs) from all walks for life and across the world populated this exquisite five star venue to honour the conference call. Dr. Sven Godorr (Manager of Research and Development at Sasol Technology, SA) and Dr. June Wispelwey (Executive Director AIChE), were two plenary speakers that got me revering the exceptional work done through this profession and the significant role Chem Engs still play now. They got me thinking on the challenge we are currently facing: creating a balance between three factors that are essential for developing sustainable technologies: environment, society and business continuity. Finding synergy for all these factors proves to be one of the mammoth tasks Chem Engs still need to resolve in the 21th century. I think one method that will be essential in resolving this was summarized in Dr. Wispelwey’s take home message that we should “hold a philosophy of lifelong learning”. Being in the midst of the most spectacular region of the majestic Drakensburg, my colleagues and I decided to take time off the conference and explore the area. We accessed the Central Drakensburg hiking trails through Monk’s Cowl, Ezemvelo Nature Reserve.
As we walked through the trail we were greeted by the country’s highest and most impressive mountain range, rising over 3000 meters high. The mountain still had snow, as winter turned into spring by day.
The trail led us through lush grassland; the flora consists mainly of tussock grass, into the Skerspruit falls. As the sun set we also made our way back to the conference.
The hour and half spent exploring a part of ‘uKhahlamba’, ‘Maluti’ or the ‘Dragon’s mountain’ left a huge imprint, enough that no matter how fraught our current state of affairs are: I remain proudly South African…
I normally say to my friends, if they want to know if spring is around the corner, they should ask my nose. Hay fever has become my mode of welcoming spring each year and I had to contend with this for four years now. Although I get to welcome spring with tearing eyes, scratchy throat and a congested nose, the anticipation of it supersede its negative side-effects…
There is still about 2 weeks left until the official start of spring, but I can’t help notice:
- That the temperature has started peaking and suddenly I have to put half of my wardrobe back where it belongs…in the wardrobe.
- The sun seems to set a bit later than it did in the past two months.
- Ladies and gents have become more flamboyant in their in vogue attire.
My biggest fascination about spring however is not the superficial beauty brought about by humans, with their variegated garb, but the authentic beauty that nature brings. This is in the impeccable colours, textures and aroma of flowers and the trees seen all around. The city of Joburg becomes a wonderland, full of greens, purple, pink, yellow and orange blossoms of flowers. What I am particularly looking forward to this spring is: beautiful walks in the park, relaxing and reflecting about life on the patio. Being a spring baby I reserve no bias of thinking spring is the best season of the year….
Streets of Troyeville, Winter 2012, 9 August, South Africa….
Women’s day photowalk
This year I had the privilege to celebrate Women’s Day by doing what I love the most, with people who share the same passion…taking pictures. The Joburg Photo Walkers met for another adventurous photo walk and it was held in Troyeville, central Johannesburg. Our journey started from the Troyeville Hotel on Bezuidenhout road. The roof top of the hotel offered us a spectacular view of Joburg’s famous skyscrapers: Ponte hotel, Telkom Tower and the Carlton City building.
After 76 years, the Portuguese suburb shows no age, as it still has clean and well tarred roads, along with well painted old style houses.
I was particularly fascinated by the façade the public park along Bezuidenhuit road was. Residents basked in the sun, some reading newspapers, some having a chat with friends and some taking a nap. This false sense of security draped off the fact that Johannesburg is a crime stricken city and it is almost impossible to walk around with a peace of mind. The little flower tree at the edge of this dry, yellow grass park depicts the reality of Joburg, however. The city is big, its resources are spent and infrastructure dwindling, but you can seek and still find beauty and life amidst the rabble and the grey situation.
My highlights of the walk were:
1. Having a 360 ̊C view of Joburg from Carlton Centre building -> Ponte building -> Sunninghill, Power Station -> Bedfordview -> Alberton -> City Deep-> and back to Calton Centere-à priceless. On Langermans Kop.
2. Visiting the Scottish Horse Memorial, on Caledonia Hill, along the Kensington Ridge.
The photo walk has certainly inspired me to learn more about the evolution of culture and heritage in and around Joburg…
View of Ponte building and Telkom tower from the Troyeville hotel. PhotoWalk Women’s day 2012