Often, the places closest to home result in producing the best photographs. I believe this is for the simple reason that these are the most frequented areas to photograph. Near where I live is a small reserve called Rietvlei. The reserve houses a dam in its centre and the rest of the reserve is basically just highveld grassland. Perhaps boring to the untrained eye, but once you visit a few times, it reveals some very nice secrets, especially from a photographic potential.
The other factor that aids areas close bye is that you have the opportunity to experiment as much as you like safe in the knowledge that you could come back again the following day if needed. So these types of places become a work in progress- something that can only make you a better photographer.
This reserve was particularly interesting to me last winter when I got involved in trying to photograph breeding Africa snipes in the wet areas of the reserve. I spent many a freezing morning watching them doing their display flights, courtship and other behaviour. The result: A portfolio of images in Africa Geographic: Africa Birds and Birding.
So now Rietvlei to me has become more of a reserve to me, it has become a place where I see potential at almost every turn. It is also a place where I can just go for two hours on a quiet afternoon to get away from the madness of work. Or I wake up early to see if there are any birds warming themselves in the winter sun and be back at work by 08h30.
And the more you visit the place, the more secrets are revealed to you. On a recent afternoon jaunt into the reserve, I was alone, driving along quietly and enjoying the solitude. A late summer thunderstorm had just passed and there were water puddles in the roads. Turning a corner, I came upon this little Cape longclaw enjoying the fresh, warm water. I stopped and immediately dropped out of the car onto the ground to get a low angle of the bird bathing. The bird was blissfully unaware of me and started having a full-fledged bath in front of my camera! I snapped away excitedly. In a minute it was over.
The bird flew off and I drove away. The camera never took another picture that day. The work was done and once again, Rietvlei had revealed a small secret that came and went as fleetingly as the wind.
As I drove out the reserve, I heard a jackal call in the evening dusk; I crested the rise and saw the city lights in the distance. What a beautiful place to have just on your doorstep, in amongst the city.
Nikon D200 - 200-400mm lens and 1.4 converter
Exposure - f 5.6 Shutter Speed: 1/200sec
Exp. Comp. 0 EV
ISO equiv. - 400
Flash sync- not attached, Exposure mode- Aperture, Metering Mode- centre weighted File type- NEF (RAW)
Focal length: 840mm (560, 35mm equivalent)