Many of you will know I spent a number of weeks in southern Africa this summer, part trip recceing and part holiday but always with the camera in tow!
As a country South Africa is globally important for it’s flowers and plant life – the southern cape fynbos habitat representing the smallest of only six floral kingdoms in the world and found only here – and I certainly found them colourful and also good perches for the birdlife I was more naturally drawn towards such as this Southern Double Collared Sunbird.
Head further north on the way to Namibia and you pass through the Namaqualand region in Northern Cape province – famous for it’s fantastic show of flowers in the Spring months. The timing was just about right for this so we planned a couple of nights stop over both heading north as well as south again a couple of weeks later as the precise timing of the displays depends very much on when precisely the first winter rains fell and we couldn’t be sure when this would be when we were making plans several months earlier. This year proved though to be one of the best for many in terms of both quantity and also just how early the fantastic sweeps of colour, in particular the bright orange Namaqua Daisies, were to be found all around the region.
Simply driving on the main N7 trunk road you couldn’t fail to be awestruck by the sweeping vistas of colour – at it’s peak in the middle hours of the day when all the flowers would be fully open and pointing towards the sun – and marvel at how they provided such a dramatic contrast to the otherwise bare rock of the surrounding habitat. The fact that the ubiquitous water pumps were able to provide additional man-made element to some compositions is a reminder of just how dry an environment this is and how sparse it looks for the remaining 11 or so months of the year.
Having said that I particularly enjoyed the close-up, narrow depth of field and solid blocks of colour approach in some of the Spring woodland flower photography I did at home earlier in the year so this array of species and shades gave me the opportunity to try and adapt some of that here too – it was just a bit more uncomfortable on the elbows on rocky scree like this compared to the mud and leaves of an oak woodland!
Seeing and photographing amazing scenes like this is a good reminder that nature photography is about so much more than birds and mammals, and although they will remain favourites of mine for sure then continuing to broaden my approach will be as much of an equal priority for sure.