31 December 2011

Happy New Year

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and wish you everything of the best for 2012.

Country Garden

This looks more like an English country garden, than a scene from Africa.

Hydrangeas in the garden of the Walkersons Hotel, near Dullstroom, Mpumalanga.

30 December 2011

Misty morning

Guinea fowl waiting for the sun to appear.

29 December 2011

Skywatch Friday - Wildebees skies

Nothing like a few wildebees to add some interest to a cloudy African sky.

Skywatch provides links to many great pictures from around the world. Pop in you won't be disappointed.

28 December 2011

Early morning dew

The digital era has added a wonderful new dimension to photography, with the flexibility it gives you and the the ability to manipulate your images. This flower, which may or may not be of the gladiolus family was photographed at the side of the lake at the Walkerson Hotel, at Dullstroom.

27 December 2011


This is one of the species of hare found in the country, but don't ask me which one it is. If I have to take an guess, it is probably a Scrub Hare.

I captured this one in the last light of the day, just as the sun was going down at the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve.

24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

I wish you all a really wonderful and relaxing Christmas and all the best for the coming year.

These are not Santa's reindeer taking a break, but kudu cows from the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve

23 December 2011

Skywatch Friday - Big skies of the highveld

The big skies and wide open spaces of the highveld, at the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve in Gauteng.

Skywatch provides links to many great pictures from around the world. Pop in you will not be disappointed.

16 December 2011

Free State roads are the worst

Having just travelled 4,193 kilometres through seven of the nine provinces, the award for the worst roads in the country must, without any doubt be given to the Free State. Their tar roads make travelling on the dirt roads in the Northern Cape a breeze.

The term "pot holes" is something of a misnomer though. The Afrikaans term, "slag gate" is more appropriate - it literally translates into "slaughter holes." These potholes have the potential to destroy tyres and suspensions, so you have to exercise special care when driving along their roads, or be prepared to fork out a fortune in repair bills.

I do not have any pictures of the potholes, but this series from one of the deviations between Wepener and Lady Brand paints a pretty good, or should I rather say bad picture of what to expect.

While it is encouraging that the roads are being repaired, do not expect their contractors to spare you when you reach a deviation. I am sure that there must be a bunch of bureaucrats sitting in an office somewhere, taking bets on how many suspensions and tyres are likely to be destroyed on their roads.

To compound the problem I find that many of the Free State drivers show very little patience on the road and I get the distinct impression that they are generally in a BIG hurry to reach their destinations.

Even the light weights head for the verge and all its "boulders" to overtake.

I had the camera ready just in case the truck went over, but it managed to get past unscathed.

And the trucks just kept on coming...........

So, if you are planning to travel through the South Eastern part of the Free State, be warned you are in for a rough ride.

The final word is, how do our authorities get away with letting the roads fall into such a poor state of repair?

15 December 2011

Skywatch Friday - Vaal River Sunset

This is the sunset that bid the day farewell, when we spent a night alongside the Vaal River at Bloemhof, on our recent road trip around the country.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

13 December 2011

Road trip

The Max Files has been in the doldrums for the past few weeks, but that was because Sue and I went on a tour around the country.

The idea of the trip started with an invite to my nephew's wedding at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, which made us decide that if we are going to travel that far, why not make a holiday of it and come home on a circuitous route via the Great Karoo. This has been something we have wanted to do for a long time - so we grabbed the opportunity.

Big skies and wide open spaces in the Free State

We ended up travelling 4,193 kilometres over 11 days and visited seven of the nine provinces. For much of the time we were in the Northern Cape, enjoying the wide open spaces and rugged beauty of the Karoo.  The area is so sparsely populated that there is little or no Internet connection, so there was no real opportunity to do any blogging.

The road from Fraserburg to Sutherland is typical of the wide expanses and openness of the Northern Cape

Not being people who like being tied down to schedules, we only booked our first three nights accommodation and from there onwards, it was a matter of going where our whims and the road took us. Luckily Sue and I are both very flexible and made a few impromptu changes along the way and had a fantastic trip.

01 December 2011

Skywatch Friday - Grey Skies

Amazing how the angle from which a picture is taken can create an illusion. These sisal plants are growing along the crest of a hill in the heart of the city.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

29 November 2011

Urban Prison #3 - Hemming us in

There as a time when I would stroll over to the cliff above Albany Road to enjoy the sunset or to just look at the Bay. Those days are over. This area became a dumping ground for building rubble and garden refuse, it was an escape route for criminals and became a favourite hangout for drunks and druggies......................
The result, rather than tackling the root cause of the problems, the authorities decided to fence off the area and so one of my favourite viewpoints is gone, unless you enjoy looking through the wire.

28 November 2011

Launch break

I did not catch the sunrise on this morning, but captured the gate keeper taking a launch break.

27 November 2011

Surf rocks

The sea was simmering gently at Schoenmakerskop yesterday morning.

24 November 2011

Skywatch Friday - Shades of blue

The jacarandas have been blooming in Richmond Hill for the past few weeks. Their display is for such a short time, but it is really magnificent.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

23 November 2011

The Urban Prison #2 - View through the wire

Looking towards Central from the old PE Tramays building.

22 November 2011

Oppose the Protection of "Corruption" Bill

Make your voice heard today by protesting against The Protection of State Information Bill, which is to be voted on in parliament today. This is just another nail in the coffin for freedom of speach, in our hard won democracy and a step backwards to the old apartheid style legislation. It also raises issues of credibility about the governments sincerity to fight corruption.

This is not a time to keep quiet so if you have not yet done so please add your voice, by going to the AVAAZ website, where you can send messages on line or access the telephone numbers of the decision makers.

The "Editors' pleas on secrecy bill" in the Times LIVE gives a thought provoking view of the main concerns about the bill.


20 November 2011

Reflections of the Hill

Take a few window panes in an unpreposseing tower block and what do you get? Reflections from Richmond Hill.

17 November 2011

Skywatch Friday - Turbulent Sky

The sky over Kleinpoort in the Karoo, looking very ominous.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

15 November 2011

Back in the abstract zone

I have been enjoying exploring abstract photography in the city. This one was also taken the other night in Govan Mbeki Avenue, just before Baakens Street, in the pouring rain.

14 November 2011

The Streets Of Richmond Hill - Edward Street Synagogue

I could not resist the contrast between the red of the flowering gum and the blue on the buildings.

Close up of the flowering gum.

13 November 2011

Red necks

A pair of rednecked spurfowl at the Addo Elephant National Park.

12 November 2011

Breaking the rules again

A few months ago I posted some pictures of me breaking the rules, by taking hand held shots through the windscreen of the car, at night, in pouring rain and actually enjoying the blurred results. Traditional Max likes well composed, sharp pictures and does not like to deviate from what he is comfortable with, but that all changed that night - I now like the challenge of the abstract.

Last night conditions were perfect for my new bent, as it was pouring with rain, so Sue and I went out on a photographic jaunt. There was no room for tripods, so it was a question of cranking up the ISO rating and shooting through the car windows.

Heading down Donkin Street towards Govan Mbeki Avenue.

Palm trees on the Donkin reserve.

Heading down Govan Mbeki Avenue towards the City Hall.

10 November 2011

Sunrise over the Russel Road Cemetary looking towards Algoa Bay

For those of you who are interested in history, this is also where James Langley Dalton is buried. He was one of the survivors of the Battle of Rorkes Drift and a recipient of the Victoria Cross. Langley's character also featured in the 1964 movie Zulu.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

09 November 2011

Urban Prison - Razor Wire #1

I have started a series of pictures that I call the "Urban Prison" to reflect the changing face of the urban environment. When I was a child security was not an issue. We had no burglar bars on our windows, our doors were never locked, barbed wire was confined to farm fences and CCTV and burglar alarms were concepts for the future. That has all changed.

Today, in many cities, we create barriers around our homes and our businesses to keep the bad elements out and ourselves and our property safe. In so doing create our own "Urban Prison."

05 November 2011

Cape River Frog

I cannot resist stopping to photograph any form of wildlife. In fact it is a compulsion with me that is almost magnetic, as I am drawn towards the creature that captures my attention. For this one I had to clamber down some rocks and perch precariously over the water's edge and hope I that I did not fall in.

03 November 2011

Skywatch Friday - A bright day in Nelson Mandela Bay

The new look ArtEC building has become a symbol of urban renewal in Central, where many of the old buildings have been allowed to fall into decay. The mural was commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Bay Development Agency as part of the Route 67 - the art route that starts at the Campanile and ends at the Nelson Mandela Bay Art Museum. This route will put Port Elizabeth firmly on the map as far as street art goes, but that will be a subject for another day.

I just love the way the colours of the building are enhanced by the blue of the early morning sky.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

01 November 2011

Karoo Kat - Our shadow

Sue and I first met this cat when it as still a kitten, when it joined us on an early morning walk. She is still as friendly as ever and does not miss an opportunity to go for a stroll in the bush.

27 October 2011

Skywatch Friday - Cotton Clouds

Solitude in the Karoo

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

25 October 2011

Karoo - Got to love this place

The Grootwinterhoek Mountains near Klipfontein, with the Cockscomb Mountain shrouded in mist. This has become one of my favourite places on the planet. It is also one of the few areas of the Karoo that has not been earmarked for fracking. If you are interested in preserving the Karoo and have not already done so,  please sign the online petition in the side bar.

Click photo to enlarge

22 October 2011

Rush hour traffic - Addo style

Sometimes when you get caught up in traffic, it is best to be patient and wait.

20 October 2011

Skywatch Friday - Karoo morning

Whether you say windmill or windpump, it makes a good foreground for the sunrise.

Visit Skywatch for many more great pictures from around the world.

16 October 2011

A time for refreshing

We have just spent a delightful weekend in the Karoo and come away feeling totally refreshed, but still wanting to spend more time enjoying its vastness, solitude and tranquility. Where we go has no access to cell phones or the internet, but those things aren't even a consideration for us out there. It is a harsh and rugged part of the world, with its own charm and beauty and when it gets into your system it grows on you and you just want to be able to spend more time out there, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

13 October 2011

Skywatch Friday - Misty Morning

A misty morning at St Georges Park, with the sun just beginning to break through the clouds.

Skywatch provides links to many great pictures from around the world. Pop in you will not be disappointed.

12 October 2011

Night shoot

Last night I wandered around Central after the opening of an art exhibition at arTEC taking a few pictures on the way. It was what I call a "hit and run" photography session. With no one to watch my back I set my camera on ISO 1600 and proceeded to shoot away and then move on.

The arTEC building mural has become a must see feature in Central. One day I will photograph it in the day light.

The Donkin, with Anton Momberg's Conversation Piece in the foreground.

The Feather Market Hall was built in the days when ostrich feathers were used in high fashion, rather than as feather dusters.

09 October 2011

A cool morning at the beach

The sun might not be shining, but that does not mean the ardent beach goers stay at home.

06 October 2011

Skywatch Friday - Sky or aloes?

I thought these aloe striata did a nice job of enhancing the bit of sky that is visible. This scene was taken in the Karoo, at the base of the Grootwinterhoek Mountains.

Skywatch provides links to many great pictures from around the world. Pop in you will not be disappointed.

04 October 2011

Political expediency vs what is right

Can political expediency ever take precedence over what is right and just?

The failure of the government to grant the Dalai Lama a visa to enter the country, it is a poor indictment on the ruling party, as they have once again ridden rough shod over the democratic values and principles set out in our constitution and in so doing has raised the ire of a large section of population.

And of course they do not like the heat that this has generated, but then if they want to make unpopular decisions they must face the consequences. At this late stage any spin that the goverment places on their decision will have absolutely no credibility.

The Dalai Lama was invited to the country to attend the 80th birthday celebrations of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a friend and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner. Why should that be a problem?

This refusal has understandably sparked a reaction from the Archbishop who was quoted by News24 as saying, " We will pray, as we prayed for downfall of [the] apartheid government, we will pray for [the] downfall of a government that misrepresents us."

"People were opposed to injustice and oppression and people believe that we South Africans would be on the side of those who are oppressed. Tibet is being oppressed.
People who supported us in our struggle... those people are weeping. They are saying South Africa, it can't be. Our government, representing me, says it will not support Tibetans who are being oppressed viciously by the Chinese. May I just remind you - the minister of international relations and co-operation [Maite Nkoana-Mashabane] two years ago said the Dalai Lama can come anytime. She was being very, very, economical with the truth or she didn’t know her work.”

The Archbishop is to be commended for his stand in support of a man of peace whose country has been brutally oppressed.

02 October 2011

Life with Suzie - Who comes up with these things

When you live with a colourful and unpredictable person there is only one certainty and that is, always be prepared to expect the unexpected. The problem is that you can never anticipate the unexpected and believe me the unexpected comes in many guises.

So, was I surprised to see Suzie's car sporting a set of eye lashes..........no. That's the sort of thing that will appeal to her sense of fun and of course my reaction to driving her car.

The car also looks happy, but I think I may just have to organise some eye shadow and lipstick to complete the ensemble.