Near Naudes Nek. Southern Drakensberg. South Africa. 2015

My eyes are floating around in the sky, circling like a hawk over a landscape that tingles me all over like a beautiful song. Every shimmer of light, every blade of grass, every stone on the road amplifies the majesty around me. I am a photographer, a great force grabs my sharpened awareness, yet, I always realise that the light my camera grabs, is a mere fraction of this grandiose vista. In country talk, I am the mere horseshoe in the haystack. Photographs are mere impressions of the real world. The cloudbank that covers those representations cannot be improved, even with the magic of Photoshop. All cameras, even the most expensive, have limitations. Those that have travelled on many roads and have crossed many horizons, will tell you that finding the essence of a scene starts in knowing the camera’s limitations. Pictures are only brief flickers of light, small instantaneous moments on the journey that we call life. Some pictorial enthusiasts perceive life through the viewfinder of a camera. Then, when that journey is over, they return home and view their snippets of life on a flat-screen projection, far from the reality of the moment. I stop my bakkie and climb up a bank. Maybe the hawk in the sky told me to. A Boeing passes overhead, streaking the sky with vapour trail. I squint my eyes into the bright; blinded by a passion to take this, save this, hold this forever. But I know, that this is a moment of the never-ever again time. ‘Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong.” This is the song of so many country roads. It’s the country hit of 1971 by Henry John Deutschendorf, known to all country roaders as John Denver. “Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze”. Then, as life’s luck would have it, a flock of sheared sheep come walking down the road. I take two frames, then dangle my camera away and just watch the light on their backs, the bleating of the mother ewes and the stones rolling under their feet. Then as they came, so they went and above, the Boeing too. Far below the Bell River glides quietly, reflecting the clouds drawn wide across the sky. I stand, holding onto a snippet of life that I just can’t understand, don’t want to understand —–a short moment that will forever pass. “Dark and dusty, painted in the sky, misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye” (John Denver died whilst flying his own plane over Monterey Bay in 1997).


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