In my ongoing attempts at getting to grips with shooting black and white large format landscapes I have been spending some time wandering around some very pretty scenery, lugging around a very much oversized camera bag in search of likely subjects. One of these missions led me into Newlands forest on one of the few not-so-dry days we’ve had this year.
On a rainy day every gully or valley along the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is transformed into a river or stream. Some of these streams will carry trickles of water down the mountain year round, but steady rainfall sees them joined and fed by dozens of other smaller streams.
In many areas these streams flow through some of the most easily accessible areas of natural forest in Cape Town. Once the water reaches the roads and suburbs surrounding the mountain, the natural forest is replaced by concrete canals hemming in the river, and guiding much of it through what is the oldest urbanized river valley in South Africa. One of the best known of these rivers, the Liesbeek river, originates above Kirstenbosch Gardens and is canalized for more than half of its 9km length.
The images presented here show a section of river flowing through indigenous forest on the slopes above the Newlands Forest fire station, and the canal that water ends up in downstream in the suburb of Rondebosch.
I find it interesting, and a quite sad, how quickly the un-spoilt natural scenery is replaced by the harsh geometry of the canals.
These images were photographed on my Ebony Large format camera on Arista Edu 100 film (rated at 64 ISO), hand processed, scanned on an Epson V700, and prepared in Photoshop. While this is not my preferred workflow – I’d much rather be hand printing, and the scanner does not like this film – some defects in the film emulsion (read: holes everywhere…) mean that getting decent prints would be a bit of a pain.
It also doesn’t help that I don’t currently have access to a 4 x 5 enlarger…