I’m not a huge fan of panorama photos. Well, I like the idea, but all too often, the actual product never really matches up to what I was hoping for (or even expecting).
Unless you’re going to plan ahead and take your own individual photos and stitch them in lightroom, it’s not going to be a great result. That said, if you’re willing to acknowledge that you are using a mobile phone and not a DSLR, then your pano app can be fun for sharing a scene on whatsapp (or… er… a blog).
I popped the Mavic up above the early morning mist at home this morning and got this. It’s 21 images stitched together by the DJI software, but then you only get a 0.6MB image. Still, what a shot (though I say it myself)…
One of those occasions where you really wonder if anyone would notice if you sent it up another 80m.
I didn’t. Obviously.
And then this, from Camps Bay this lunchtime. We had a spare half hour and so we grabbed a quick ice cream and a walk on the beach.
Just because I stumbled across it on my Flickr and felt like posting it.
The light was awful, the editing is equally bad; it’s far, far from being a great photo. But I was struck by the fact that despite living here for 17 years, walking these same streets day in, day out, one quick flight with the Mavic and I saw a view of the place that I had never ever seen before.
I love that it gives the impression that the A57 is some near-Parisian tree-lined boulevard, and that my childhood suburb is perched on a cliff overlooking the City Centre. Neither of these things are true, of course, but looking at this here, they could be.
There are currently no plans for a return visit to Sheffield in the foreseeable future, so any vernal version of this shot will have to wait.
If you want to see more aerial views of suburbia (and more) from our visit last September, you can find them in my Sheffield 2017 Flickr album.
It’s the last day of the school holidays today. That means that from tomorrow, all hell will break loose on the roads of the Southern Suburbs and (more importantly for the purposes of this post) I will have to get up an hour earlier than I have been for the past couple of weeks.
This is significant, because it means that I will no longer have to displace Bob.
Bob is our local Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus). He’s bloody annoying.
Egyptian Geese mate for life, but it would appear that within the last 12 months, something awful has befallen Mrs Bob. She is no longer with Bob. It could have been that she has chosen to fly off with a more handsome Egyptian Goose, but that does rather flutter in the face of that ‘one partner for life’ promise. So I think that it’s entirely more likely that she’s thrown a seven at some point recently.
RIP Mrs Bob.
Bob is either distraught or he’s too thick to have noticed anything except that suddenly, there’s no-one on his wing to do the rumpy-pumpy dance with.
Either way, he lets us know his feelings of sadness and/or frustration by honking very loudly early in the morning from his chosen roosting position on one of the local neighbourhood chimneys.
Bob is bloody annoying.
Tomorrow, Bob won’t wake me up. The combination of the later Autumnal sunrise and my enforced earlier alarm time means that his honks will be drowned out by the sound of the kettle and the kids getting ready for school.
It also means that this evening, I won’t have to take Florence the drone on a spin around our vicinity at dusk in order to locate Bob and then displace him, gently convincing him to select a more distant roost by using an advanced technique known as “flying relatively close to him”. It takes a couple of minutes to locate him and then literally 20 seconds to get him to sling his metaphorical hook. Easy.
I’m fully aware that this might be classified as “disturbing wildlife”, but in my defence there are two important mitigating factors at play here:
Firstly, he has premeditated plans to disturb me in about 12 hours time, and: Secondly, if I wasn’t gently moving him on with the drone, I would be throwing stones at him until he left the area. Dangerous to him, local residents and their windows.
This is a quick, easy, painless method of ensuring that everyone locally can get a extra hour in bed each morning. It’s a neighbourhood service that I’m more than happy to provide.
One of the sadly inevitable consequences of the cape Town drought is the exacerbation of our fire season. With no recent rain, the local veld and fynbos is a veritable tinder box ready to go up at the slightest provocation. The Overberg FPA recently documented the huge number (40) of major wildfires they have had to deal with so far this year.
Yesterday afternoon, it was the turn of Cape Town once again, as firefighters, 3 helicopters and a spotter plane worked hard for several hours to contain a fire in Cecilia Forest. We couldn’t actually see the fire from our garden or our house, but I popped the Mavic up and suddenly, all became clear (Well, as clear as it could be with all the smoke drifting around). And so I did what any sensible fellow would have done, and banged the pano button. 21 separate photos, taken automatically by the drone and stitched in the app gave me this:
Those are Wynberg School fields in the foreground (Junior on the left, High School on the right), with the fire clearly visible on the on the mountain beyond, and smoke drifting everywhere, but mainly southwards on the light breeze through the Constantia Valley and down towards False Bay.
This is a great example of how the Mavic can give you a different point of view on things. I knew there was a fire somewhere close: I could smell it, and the air was hazy with smoke. But I literally couldn’t see anything from ground level. I’m in no way suggesting that this a great image (it’s not – shooting straight into the sun is never a good idea), but at least I could see what was going on, and could document it. (And without getting in the way of any helicopters.) Last time I saw a wildfire, I had to drive to get there.
It would be nice, however, if there weren’t too many more wildfires to ‘tog in this way (or any other).
Theewaterskloof being the biggest dam supplying Cape Town with water. And we weren’t alone. Because Drought Tourism is a thing.
Some TWK stats for you from Wikipedia: Total capacity: 480 406 000 m³ (for lovers of comparisons, that’s about 15 times the size of Ladybower Reservoir in the UK) Catchment area: 500 km² Surface area: 5 059 ha
Of course, that’s what it should be like. It’s not like that at the moment.
Theewaterskloof is divided quite neatly into 2 halves by the R321 bridge.
Most of my photos (link below) were taken from near the red dot (just left of centre) on the map above. Those of the dam wall and associated infrastructure were taken near the green dot (bottom right).
And while there is still some water in the Eastern (lower) half, the Western (upper) half is one big – very big – sandpit. Of course, we knew this before we headed out there, but it was still a wholly shocking sight and nothing (including my photos, I fully admit) prepares you for – or allows you to grasp – the sheer scale of what you’re confronted with.
What you’re looking at here is the only water in the “top” half of the dam. The water is about 100m wide at its widest point, and that sounds ok, until you realise that the far side of the dam is over 5km away. Aside from that 100m strip, it’s all just sand. And laterally, there’s almost another 6km to the left that should also be covered in water. But there’s none. Nothing at all.
And everywhere you look, dead trees. Usually they’d be submerged, but they’re high, dry and seemingly petrified. It’s weird: very disconcerting, yet also strangely beautiful. It’s like every photo you’ve seen from the Namibian Tourist Board.
I’m not going to be like that “vlogger” and tell you how much water we’re “losing” through the outflow from the dam wall, and how the coffee and chocolate farmers of the region are “stealing” “Cape Town’s water”. I’m not going to ask you how much water you’re using: if you’re in Cape Town, you should know that already, and if you’re not in Cape Town, then it really doesn’t matter to me. And I’m not expecting my photos or words to effect any change in anyone. If you’re not panicking even just a little bit by now, too few blue pixels on a computer screen aren’t going to make any difference to you.
But even for a realist like me, it was a very sobering sight.
On a more practical note, photography was incredibly difficult. The light was completely overwhelming, there was nowhere high nearby to get a decent vantage point, and what should have been water is now just a wide open space with no landmarks to get any sort of scale or perspective. Even the Mavic up at 120m struggled to take it all in. No wonder NASA used a satellite.
Theewaterskloof is very, very big, and it’s very, very empty. Consequently, it’s my humble opinion that we should all be very, very worried.
Photos on Flickr here. Video to follow. And hey, if you’re the guy who chatted to me on the dam wall this afternoon and asked where he could see my drone photos, you made it. Welcome!