Just returned from a fantastic flower photography workshop with my two friends Kathy and David Richardson. We travelled 3000 kilometres from Cape Town to Kamieskroon and had the most amazing creative opportunities.
Kamieskroon Hotel and Namaqua National Park
We spent our first nights at the legendary Kamieskroon Hotel. The hotel is something of a mecca for photographers as it was here that Freeman Patterson and Colla Swart ran many workshops in the 1980s and 90s. Freeman Patterson is probably the father of flower photography workshops and his book Garden of the Gods (1984) remains the standout work about this fascinating region. The hotel is now run by Maryna and Helmut Kohrs (Colla’s daughter and son-in-law).
The flower fields at nearby Skilpad were spectacular. We also had rewarding experiences on lesser-known areas inside the Namaqua National Park and on mountain drives between Kamiesberg and Garies. The flowers were somewhat patchy due to the lack of rain so we had to travel fairly widely to find the colour and diversity we were after. But find flowers we did.
From Kamieskroon we headed to the Beach Camp. It’s a pop up camp that is set up for the flower season. It had a spectacular position at Groen Rivier with very good food and hospitality. It was into 4×4 mode as we explored the sandy tracks that run up and down this coastline. Some of the most colourful flower fields in this area and would find fascinating plants that survive in this harsh and salty environment.
Niewoudtville and the Hantam Botanical Gardens
The highest concentration of bulbs in the world is found in the area around Nieuwoudtville and we spent three nights in the town exploring the exceptional Hantam Botanical Gardens as well as the flower fields of Papkuilsfontein. Flowers were in fields beneath the Gifberg Pass and we poked our way around the quartz fields of the Knersvlakte finding many stone plants which are fragile desert adapted jewels of this dryland.
Nedersetting Restaurant is run by the extremely capable Wessie can der Westerhuizen and my question of whether lamb would be on the menu was met with. “Is there sand in the desert!” We shared meals and conversation with my school friend Christopher Willis who is now head of the National Botanical Gardens and offered additional insights into the bulbs of this fascinating area.
We headed next to Bushmanskloof in the Cedarberg. This five-star Relais & Chateau hotel serves meals as good as would be expected in a top city restaurant. The reserve covers several thousand hectares and has 100s of kilometres of roads to explore. In addition to great flower photography we found wonderful scenery, reflections, sunrises, ostriches, springboks, baboons. We would have been happy to have had an extra night or two at this magnificent lodge but we had places to visit and things to see.
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Our next stop was Kersefontein, This farm dates back to 1742 and our host Julian Melck is the eighth-generation owner. He has several guest rooms at the farm and opens up his wonderful house for dinners. His nephew Andrew Bance and his wife Chane arranged a special flower safari for us that include meals beside the river, a boat trip and fascinating tours with botanist Helene Preston and bird expert Dr Gisele Murison. Our time with Helene also gave us the opportunity to put our flower photography field studio to the test and create some wonderful montage images. What an experience staying in this historic farm with Julian as our host.
Paternoster and West Coast National Park
We headed next to Paternoster for a night at the excellent Linhof Guest House where we enjoyed wonderful hospitality and waves that crashed right outside our rooms. Where else can you enjoy crayfish with eggs benedict for breakfast. Thank you Mariana. Next day we visited the Posberg in the West Coast National Park where the combination of flowers, seascapes and granite boulders had our cameras in a full blur.
For me this was an extra special flower photography trip as it was the 8th trip that I have guided David and Kathy Richardson. They are truly special people and have done workshops round the world with the likes of Frans Lanting and many other top photographers. Kathy is a truly talented photographer and we spent a lot of time practicing blur, multiple exposure and field studio techniques that she has learned with photographer Niall Benvie.
Out with the daisies
The flowers were probably best described as patchy and we worked hard to get ourselves in the right place at the right times. We got stuck once, lost once, and took upward of 4000 images on our 3000 kilometre adventure. Its impossible to view any work in isolation and my grateful thanks to Kathy for her creative ideas and those inherited from the books and works of talented photographers such as Freeman Patterson, Colla Swart, Frans Lanting and Neil Benvie. Here are some of my keepers with some tips about how they were created.
This multiple exposure was created in camera from 9 images. Minimal postproduction.
Another 9 exposure shot in camera.
Multiple exposures with a very small hand movement.
Multiple exposures with a twist.
Join a guided trip to see the flowers
We will be back in August 2020 and plan a 11 day trip back to some of our special places. Its a wonderful change of pace from typical safaris and there are lots of techniques to learn. We intend to run the trip for a minimum of 2 people and will accommodate 3 at the most.
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