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Author Archives: elaine

Game Reserve Style

I don’t normally keep nature and wildlife photos because the subject is timeless. An elephant in 1958 looks much like an elephant in 2017. Thank goodness we are still able to say that. Amateur photographers with their Lo Fi cameras cannot do justice to the subject except by attesting to the amazing experience of being in the parks through the sheer number of pictures they take. Vain attempts to hold on to the magical atmosphere of the bush! This small collection, however, has recorded the rest camp environment and buildings and has captured the 1970s aesthetic of the game reserve so well that it all comes back to me complete with smells and sounds.

The game reserve aesthetic of the 1970s includes:

  • The simplicity and neatness of the landscaping and use of ‘rockeries’
  • The slasto paths and walls made with rounded river stones
  • The rondavel accommodation with that exact shade of green paint
  • The thick wads of thatch perfectly maintained
  • The gleaming, polished linoleum floors of the slightly austere dining rooms
  • The hand made, bilingual tourist map and institution-style furniture.

I loved staying in a rondavel. The circular space was a novelty, the polished cement floors and veranda, lying in a cot-like bed, gazing up into the thatch, and smelling its lovely grassy smell, the outdoor folding table and chairs (also painted that uniquely African shade of green).

Having said that amateurs do a bad job of photographing game, I nonetheless liked the composition and Lo Fi quality of this buffalo picture. I included the ‘before’ image to show how I edited the backdrop and sky and enhanced the colour.

Buffalo after editing

Buffalo before editing

 

 

Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Africa, Bars&restaurants, Country scene, Nature, Wild animals

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Racing Cars and Crowds

This collection of racing event photos was a great find. It had been kept in a musty garage and had developed a thick white mold which, when cleaned off, revealed a small treasure of images from 1962 South Africa. The names on some of the cars are those of international racing drivers so my guess is that this was the South African Grand Prix – held that year at the Prince George circuit in East London. It was still 5 years before Kyalami was built in Johannesburg. The film showed a fair amount of damage after cleaning so I went with a textured effect when processing and styling them.

Automobile racing in the 1960s was a firm part of South African culture. It thrived despite boycotts from the late 1950s due to the county’s politics. In the end it was the high cost of running the annual race that was it’s demise. The 1992 SA Grand Prix was the final race in a tradition which had begun in 1934.

My Dad grew up in Johannesburg and regularly attended race events at Kyalami. He was such a fan that when the family moved to Cape Town he started taking us – his two daughters – on outings to the race tracks at Goodwood. Our favorite was stock car racing.

      

 

Posted by on March 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Me on the Beach

I like the natural, simplicity of this beach sunbathing scene from the early 1960s. The beach looks wild, possibly on the Cape West Coast. The women (‘Me’ on the frame), is in a blue bikini and blue sunglasses to match. With just a towel and blow-up pillow, she looks super relaxed – just as it should be at the beach. Is that a radio?

748-at-the-beach

 

Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Beach scene, Nature, South Africa, Woman

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London Visit

I’ve previously written about the collection of abandoned Argentinean snapshots I received from a friend. They belonged to a guy who left them in South Africa many years ago. His snaps show good times for a group of guys in Argentina, their home country. So it was interesting to find some shots included in the box of their travels in Europe. Interesting because of the way they remade themselves for their travels, wearing dapper clothing in a style they may have felt was appropriate for Europe. We’re talking brogues for London, boots for Venice, and a well-groomed style not seen in their home pics. I love this transformation and the soft, self-conscious style of the photos. They do look the part of the debonair tourist, don’t they?

In London …

645---Tourist-after

647---Tourist-in-London-after

655---Old-Plaza-after  656---London-guy-after

… and in Venice.

660---Venice-plaza-traveller-after

680---Venice-canal-after

 

Posted by on September 7, 2016 in City view, Europe, Man, People, Sightseeing

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Fancy Dress Party

Given how popular fancy dress parties were in the 1970s, you’d think they would turn up more often. Perhaps people are wisely getting rid of those pics before disposing of their snapshots! The awful, tacky get-ups, the stereotypes, the smeared make-up on men, the giddy, gaudy, god-awfulness of it all is so endearing. In the late-hour, full-swing drunkenness of these pics we see true humanity poking through, and it is beautiful.

643---Fancy-dress-after

  649---fancy-dress-after   648---Fancy-dress-after   666---Three-fancy-dress-guys-after

670---Fancy-dress-hats-after   664---Man-in-a-dress-in-darkness-after   650---man,-polony,-table-cloth-after

 

Beach Grab

My guess this is a Cape Town beach on the Atlantic seaboard, 1960s. It’s a wonderful example of vernacular photography that weirdly works. Despite being hastily snapped and, as a result, being skew and blurred, there are enough details from the era to make it interesting. I love the relaxed indifference of the women as they stride by, smoking and chatting. It’s almost contemporary.

742---At-the-beach

 

Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Beach scene, People, South Africa, Woman

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A Fishing Family

Usually vernacular slide photography is all birthday parties, travel and glamour so a collection of pics taken locally in SA by a fishing family is something different. This group of snapshots were dirty and blurry but the grit seemed to go with the subject and I like how they look with an added dry texture. The snapshot quality and rough composition of the originals (which I have kept) are wonderful as little paintings.

Fishing4

Fishing7 Fishing3

Fishing1  Fishing2

Fishing5 Fishing6

 

Posted by on July 9, 2016 in Boats, Close-ups, Harbour

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Fynbos Lady Nerds

I just love how these three nerdy ladies are enjoying the Cape Fynbos, in 1968. My guess is that this is somewhere near Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town.

741---Fynbos-nerd

740---Fynbos-Jenny

739---Fynbos-Me

 

Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Flowers, Nature, People, South Africa, Woman

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Vintage Photo in a Vintage Photo

I wish I knew more about vintage clothing to be able to guess the age of the old portrait in this 1960s snapshot. Of course the irony is that the snapshot itself is now vintage. From a note on the frame, we know that the man is someone’s ‘Grand pa’ while the knees belong to a man named ‘Nic’.

738---Grandpa-after

 

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Man, Old cars, People, Photography, Portraits

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Cable Car Table Mountain

The Table Mountain cable car pictured in the early 1960s with a lone man inside. These cars could transport about 12 people comfortably. I can just remember them, the open air and greasy smell of the cables. Nowadays the cable car company transports about 800 people per day up and down our famous and wonderful mountain.

737---Cable-Car-after

Visit the cable car website

 

Painted Frog Rock

People love finding rock formations that, from a particular angle, look like something else, especially an animal or human. The Internet has many examples of rock formations that look like a fox, rabbit, elephant, dog, penguin, bear, porcupine, fish, horse, camel, dinosaur, rhino, or human face. There are of course many examples of human breasts and buttocks as well as human genitals in rocks. Here is a rock formation that looks somewhat like a frog located in the Western Cape alongside the road between Betty’s Bay and Rooi Els.

733---Bettys-Bay-Frog

The last time someone updated the paint job on this rock was in the early 1990s I’m told. It used to be cool to paint on rock formations if they were small enough, however these days one doesn’t see it often. It’s not cool anymore to paint on a natural feature. Instead people do it virtually in Photoshop; some of the examples I’ve seen in Google look like they might just start walking!

 

Retreat and Spotty Dog

Here is another pic of iconic Spotty Dog the roadhouse on the Main Road of Retreat, taken in the mid or early 1960s. I’ve previously written about Spotty Dog in another post so go here to read about the history. The building is so iconic and so often photographed without context that it was nice to find a second drive-by photo in the same collection of the nearby Retreat Shopping Centre. Grandly named but actually a small, traditional Cape grocery store situated right on the Main Road and displaying a large array of fresh produce. Together the images give one the flavor (if you’ll excuse the pun) of the area.

731---Spotty-Dog-and-car-after

Long forgotten by some is the fact that Retreat was once one of the largest ‘locations’ in Cape Town – an area where black South Africans lived. It saw forced removals under Apartheid throughout the 1950s with many people being moved to the new township of Nyanga. In 1961 the area was declared a ‘colored’ group area. Spotty dog witnessed all this South African history (maybe that’s why he’s showing a few cracks). The building is fondly remembered by people all over the world.

732---Retreat-shopping-centre-after

Where does the name Retreat come from? “The suburb of Retreat in Cape Town was so named because the Dutch retreated to that area when they were losing the Battle of Muizenberg (1795). The Dutch landed there after the Retreat and declared the area to be ‘Terugtrekking van de nederlandse 1795′ or in English, Retreat of the Netherlands 1795.The signage with Terugtrekking van de nederlandse 1795’ written on it can be found at a Museum in Cape Town, South Africa.” (Wikipedia)

 

Posted by on March 6, 2016 in Bars&restaurants, Political, South Africa

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Birthday Party

Two moms enjoying a chat at a toddlers birthday late 1950s. A classic snapshot that perfectly captures the tête-à-têtes between the mothers with an offbeat composition. Tempting to crop it but I liked the deep well of the veranda space and the way the balloons poke in at the top.

706---Moms-and-kids-bday-party

The square format slide had degenerated to a murky magenta. I considered converting it to black and white but in the end liked this soft pink shade, with desaturated color.

 

Petting the Horses

Who has not stopped on a dirt road to climb a fence and pet the horses? Such a lovely found snapshot with two teenage girls gently connecting with a horse and foal in the mid 1960s.

705---Teens-and-horses

This was a genuine moment on a family holiday, but surely the photographer had seen images of beautiful young women and girls with horses, its a genre in popular art and has been for more than a century. This reminds me how, consciously or unconsciously, we mimic images in popular media, art and advertising when we pick up a camera. This is a well documented phenomenon in vernacular photography. I don’t mean to destroy the charm of the image with this comment, it is a wonderful photograph in every way!

 

Camping Girls

Four young girls playing at camping, mid 1960s. The wooden fruit boxes have Graymead Farm printed on the side, and Google tells me that this is probably the present-day one in the Villiersdorp area, Western Cape. It was probably a fruit farm. Love how this shows us a contrasting childhood for girls to the norms today. Nothing here is pretty or pink. These girls are down and dusty, barefoot campers, having fun with the simplest of props. It even looks like they’ve been making fire. Its rough and earthy and I love it. Respect to the parents who allowed their girls to create this experience and lovingly photographed it.

704---Kids-play-at-camping---after

 

Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Camping, Children, Nature, South Africa, Summer

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