by Liz Hardman (Photo) and Klausbernd Vollmar (Text)
(Klick the photos for full view)
The Cape of Good Hope what a euphemism, he thought. The little ship was struggling in the high waves, he could hardly write his notes. Of course, he would be prepared photographing the rich wildlife here – as he was always prepared as his mother`s son.
And this was a particularly important commission, his first one for National Geographic. He had to be excellent.
His mind travelled back to the technical problem how to take pictures from a moving boat. And he felt a little bit sick when he searched the net for solutions with his iPad.
“Ginger is the answer” had his girlfriend told him, but he hated the taste of the ginger in his mouth.
“Keep cool, old boy” he told himself, “be a man!” – or is that no country for old men he asked himself as he was leaving his small and hot cabin for the fresh air on the lower deck.
All four passengers of this wild trip were photographers, this agile guy from Japan with his collection of cameras, binoculars and telescopes, this fair lady from Norway who stood all the time on the deck like a Norse goddess, and there was this German guy, an elderly man, very cool, it took him ages to bring his Hasselblad – the analog one – in the right position for taking one picture, of course the perfect one, while the others took hundreds. He could afford it as the only photographer on this boat taking pictures for fun, not for selling.
Yesterday in the hotel bar they got talking over the rye whisky.
“There is this paradox, photographers see the world mostly limited through their cameras, but make the recipients of their pictures see more. They freeze the moment, let time come to a standstill but at the same time they are very able to show dynamics – or at least the illusion of dynamics.”
We talked about that it is not the photographer producing the picture but the recipient.
“We deliver a projection screen that the admirer of our pictures fills. Look at the nature around the Cape – it`s great. But why is it so great, so moving? Because it reminds us of our inner wilderness, a wilderness that has been domesticated long ago.”
“But they wouldn`t be reminded of Paradise Lost without our pictures, would they?”
We talked until the bar was closing.
And now he was standing next to me, his Hasselblad on the tripod waiting for the one and only, the perfect picture.
“Sorry, but isn`t this an ideal you never reach?” I asked him.
“Therefore I like it. But now is the time for looking not for thinking. Remember good old Kandinsky. He said that the artist has to think first, a lot, but in the process of producing it helps to forget everything.”
“And always remember, my friend, you see what you are.”
Liz lives on the coastal edge of False Bay; the warm side of the peninsula, close to Boulder’s Beach where the African penguins nest. The bay is a place of great activity, likened to the Serengeti Plains, whales, dolphin, seals, penguins, otters, seabirds all have a role in migrating or daily patterns. The Southern Right Whales come to calf and mate from as early as June and then leave again for the summer season in the Antarctic.
The seasons are punctuated by the powerful weather systems forming in the Atlantic; They’re coming out of winter now, a time when the Cape wears her stormcloak and the seas rage, driven by the Nor’westerlies. Then the surfers revel in the waves on the western side, where the Dungeons surf spot brings awesome curling swells over a fetch of many nautical miles. It’s a humbling feeling, seeing the power of those waves …