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Travel – Sutherland – South Africa

Travel - Sutherland - South Africa Introduction At the drop of a hat, my wife and I decided to travel and visit this quaint little Upper Karoo town of Sutherland - South Africa over the Christmas holidays. During my booking, I was very surprised to learn that most of the B&B's were fully booked! Most travellers come from the North (Gauteng) and head to the sunny beaches and grand vineyards of Cape Town and the surrounds for their annual holiday break, and usually stop over at Gariep Dam or Beaufort-West. Sutherland on the R354, lies 110km from charming Matjiesfontein on the N1 / R354 junction. This is really an off the beaten track detour, which is off of the main N1 highway from Johannesburg to Cape Town; it was these travellers that had filled the B&B establishments of Sutherland! Saying that, Sutherland is experiencing a lot of visitors, those seeking the peace and quiet tranquillity of the Karoo. Map of the Western and Northern Cape What is the Karoo? The Karoo from a Khoikhoi word, possibly garo "desert" is a semi-desert natural region of South Africa. It broadly translates as “hard, dry, thirstland”. What this blunt rendition fails to convey is the special place the Karoo holds in the hearts of those who perceive beauty in its endless, sun-drenched spaces and flat-topped koppies (hills). They sense it in the evocative clunk of windmills urging sweet, untainted water from underground boreholes, and in isolated farmsteads where hospitality to travellers is a deeply rooted way of life. Windmill and Salpeterkop, Rogge Cloof, Sutherland Vast, remote, open spaces, silence, serenity and dramatic landforms combine with an extreme climate and unique vegetation to make up the alchemy called Karoo magic. The dust and wind, Petrus and Johannes with Vlekkie and Ou Boet the dogs returning with the sheep and goats in the evening to the kraal, Oom Karel Witbooi and Tannie Saartjie Plaaitjies and a few farmworkers from the neighbouring farms on their usual trek to town on their donkey cart are constant reminders that this is the Karoo. That’s what visitors fall in love with. There is no exact definition of what constitutes the Karoo, and therefore also not its extent. The Karoo is partly defined by its topography, partly its geology but, above all, its low rainfall, arid air, cloudless skies, and extremes of heat and cold. It formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the interior from Cape Town, and the early adventurers, explorers, hunters and travellers on the way to the Highveld unanimously denounced it as a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts. Today it is still a place of great heat and frosts, and an annual rainfall of between 50–250mm, though on some of the mountains it can be 250–500mm higher than on the plains. However underground water is found throughout the Karoo, which can be tapped by boreholes, making permanent settlements and sheep farming possible. Map of the Great and Little Karoo It’s made up of five regions and the boundaries are marked by subtle changes in vegetation: The Little Karoo Tankwa Karoo Moordenaars Karoo Upper Karoo Great Karoo In the south, the Southern Cape Fold Mountain Belt divides the Karoo from the wetter Cape region. To the west, the frontier is the Cederberg mountain range. To the east and north-east, the lines are drawn by the rolling grasslands of the Free State. And in the north, which is where you find Sutherland, the Karoo eventually gives way to kokerboom (quiver tree) country. The xerophytic vegetation consists of aloes, mesembryanthemums, crassulas, euphorbias, stapelias, and desert ephemerals, spaced 50cm or more apart, and becoming very sparse going northwards into Bushmanland and, from there, into the Kalahari Desert. The driest region of the Karoo is however, its south western corner, between the Great Escarpment and the Cederberg-Skurweberg mountain ranges, called the Tankwa Karoo, which receives only 75 mm of rain annually. The eastern and north-eastern Karoo are often covered by large patches of grassland. The typical Karoo vegetation used to support large game sometimes in vast herds. Today sheep thrive on the xerophytes, though each sheep requires about 4 hectares of grazing to sustain itself. The Karoo is sharply divided into the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range, which runs east-west, parallel to the southern coastline, but is separated from the sea by another east-west range called the Outeniqua –Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies to the north of the Swartberg range; the Little Karoo is to the south of it. Great Karoo The only sharp and definite boundary of the Great Karoo is formed by the most inland ranges of Cape Fold Mountains to the south and south-west. The extent of the Karoo to the north is vague, fading gradually and almost imperceptibly into the increasingly arid Bushmanland towards the north-west. To the north and north-east, it fades into the savannah and grasslands of Griqualand West and the Highveld. The boundary to the east grades into the grasslands of the Eastern Midlands. The Great Karoo is itself divided by the Great Escarpment into the "Upper Karoo" (generally above 1200–1500m) and the "Lower Karoo" on the plains below at 700–800m. A great many local names, each denoting different subregions of the Great Karoo, exist, some more widely, or more generally, known than others. In the Lower Karoo, going from west to east, they are the following sub-regions occur: Tankwa Karoo Moordenaarskaroo Koup Vlakte Camdeboo Plains The better-known sub-regions of the Upper Karoo are: Hantam Kareeberge Roggeveld Nuweveld Though most of it is simply known as the "Upper Karoo", especially in the north. Little Karoo The Little Karoo’s boundaries are sharply defined by mountain ranges to the west, north and south. The road between Uniondale and Willowmore is considered, by convention, to form the approximate arbitrary eastern extremity of the Little Karoo. Its extent is much smaller than that of the Great Karoo. Locally, it is usually called the Klein Karoo, which is Afrikaans for "Little Karoo". Our Accommodation Jannie of the Blue Moon Guesthouse was able to roll a stone out of our way to accommodate us during this busy time at The Artist's Cottage, with meals at The Blue Moon Guesthouse. His guesthouse is a charming almost 100-year old sandstone Karoo house with five bedrooms and restaurant. His staff are very friendly and helpful. They serve the most delicious Karoo cuisine all day long, their breakfasts are either served indoors or out on the stoep / verandah, and the most filling, delicious farmstyle breakfast you could wish for! The Artist’s Cottage is one of the oldest houses in town, it doesnt look like much from the outside, step inside and be impressed. The cottage is a charming, typical Karoo-style building which has been renovated with a modern flair yet remains true to its original style! If you expecting modern, upmarket lodging from the likes of a Sandton B&B, forget it this the Platteland where real hospitality and genuine friendliness is far better than the hustle and bustle of the city-slicker's expectation. Here you go back in time and to the real thing! The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Comfort The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Comfort The Artist's Cottage - Karoo Kitchen Platteland simple living at its best. Nothing is complicated here, it seems the most stress that anyone should endure is when the rains don't arrive on time, or where the snow has become too much - the diesel in you bakkie and the water pipes in your home freezes and you unable to keep warm! The Blue Moon Guesthouse The tranquility and stillness of the afternoon, the slow turning of the windmill in the cool breeze, the chattering and chirping of the Karoo birdlife, these were the only sounds to be heard whilst we enjoyed tea on the stoep / verandah. Whilst sitting on the stoep, I was instantly reminded of my childhood, of the locally produced Afrikaans comedy drama - Koöperasie stories (1982–1987) set in a small Afrikaans town. This comedy was filmed on location in the mining town of Cullinan, about a very close-knit community always gossiping about each other, "Ja, so is die mensdom, Mietie!", with "Oom Genis" usually bearing the brunt of the gossip which starred Alex Heyns as Oom Botes, Jacques Loots as Genis, Marie Pentz as Mietie, Emgee Pretoruis as Veldsman and André Verster as Dominee. Earlier in the day, I had passed the closed famers Co-op in town, and this setting just reinforced those memories. Koöperasie stories History Sutherland was founded in 1723 as a church and market town to serve the area's sheep farmers. By 1872 the town had a population of 138 registered citizens living in 19 houses. The large Dutch Reformed church in the centre of Sutherland was built in 1899. The first Europeans to settle in the area were sheep farmers who got there via the Forgotten Highway (the road between Ceres and the Karoo), so called because it was the main highway to the north before the N1.   NG Kerk Sutherland During the Anglo Boer War, the church was used as a fort by garrisoned British soldiers. During the war a number of engagements between British and Boer forces occurred in the town. In one such engagement, a force of 250 Boer commandos attacked the local British garrison for 10 hours. The ruins of a fort can be found on the outskirts of town on the hill called Rebelskop. This was named after this engagement. As one enters the town from the Matjiesfontein side, the Anglo Boer War cemetery can be found on the left-hand side and can be visited. Economy Major economic activities include tourism and sheep farming. The area includes at least twelve registered B&B's, guest houses and guest farms. The nearby South African Astronomical Observatory also plays a significant role in the town's economy and is a major driver of tourism to the area. The town also has a number of bars, restaurants and an amateur astronomy observatory that service the tourism sector. Sutherland has recently gained in popularity, with many Capetonians buying property in the town and many more visiting on weekends and vacations. Our Experience The tiny Upper Karoo town of Sutherland - South Africa is a town with about 2850 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province. The main road is tarred, whilst the side roads are gravel adding to the Platteland charm that it oozes. There are a few well-known stores in town - OK Foods and PEP, butcher shops, a bank, post-office, two fuel stations, police station, church and a farmers co-op. It lies in the western Roggeveld Mountains in the Karoo. It is famously known as the coldest place in South Africa with an average yearly temperature of 11.3 °C and an average annual minimum temperature of 2.8 °C; although the farm Buffelsfontein holds the official lowest temperature record in the country, of −20.1 °C. Snowfall is common in winter. The coldest temperature recorded in Sutherland was −16.4 °C on 12 July 2003. Sutherland has a semi-arid climate and is well suited to sheep farming. It normally receives about 169mm of rain per year and because it receives most of its rainfall during winter it has a Mediterranean climate. The lowest rainfall (4mm) in January and the highest (28mm) in June. It is also called the ‘Gateway to the Universe’ as it is the location of the most powerful telescope in the Southern Hemisphere – SALT and has the best night skies in Southern Africa. The SAAO - South African Astronomical Observatory takes advantage of the local climate and remoteness of the Upper Karoo – an area that is flat and arid, and therefore cloudless, for most of the year and also very undeveloped with clear unpolluted and very dark skies – except for an inverted ‘blanket’ made of zillions of stars which looks like someone had thrown a bucket of glitter into the sky. It is located approximately 15km from town. Sutherland has its own Dark Skies reserve - Spaceport Karoo, which is South Africa's first and largest Dark Sky Reserve. While Sutherland is most famous for its stargazing and SALT, there are many other things to see, do or simply enjoy around this small town during the day. At 1450-1500m above sea level, snow is guaranteed in the cold winter months, as is a myriad of flowers after the summer rains re-awaken the Karoo. There are walking and mountain bike trails around the town, newer mountain bike trails being developed at Rogge Cloof as I write this blog, horse-riding and just enjoying the wide open space around you. If you looking for peace and quiet, you have found it! Your ears ring in the stillness of Sutherlands' quietness. During 2017, I had wanted to shoot the night skies with a few ideas in mind. This was my perfect opportunity to do so. Getting up early in the morning to shoot sunrises, is not my strong point. With a bit of gentle coaxing, my wife Dominique got me out of bed to capture the sun painting up the NG Church in town. I am glad I got up for it, as it is best photographed as a sunrise shot. It was a rather normal chilly morning for us, being summer, but a normal morning in Sutherland. I was intrigued by the old traditional Karoo architecture of the dorp, and captured a few images there too. Traditional Karoo Home I had contacted Rogge Cloof at the suggestion of my friend Francios of Manic Cycles Worcester, and met with André and Corlia, two wonderful hosts that have a heart and passion for the Karoo and Sutherland. Francios has supplied Rogge Cloof with 6 fat bikes that are very comfortable to ride, actually designed for snow, which will be great to ride in the winter snow and during the other seasons. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon chat and a game drive while I scouted for locations to shoot my night sky images. There are a variety of game and antelope at Rogge Cloof, that being Springbok, Eland, Grysbok, Gemsbok, Zebra, Black Wildebees, Caracal and Jackal, with more game to be introduced that originated from the area. The luxury accommodation is unique and very comfortable, a perfect place to own your own peace and quiet during your stay. Rogge Cloof Panorama My wife, Dominique and I setup before sunset, as I wanted to capture the Blue Hour. Springbok congregated around the windmill slaking their thirst just before nightfall. During that time André and Corlia were preparing the most delicious meal for us. I shot from around sunset to approximately 22h30, in between enjoying the fine dinner and Rogge Cloof's own locally produced Sutherland wines that had been presented. People always associate the Western Cape with wine, I was very surprised to learn that Sutherland is our only highest-altitude, semi-arid, coldest wine growing region in South Africa. Rogge Cloof boasts 3 wines which are produced using organic practices and are grown on the farm Kanolfontein, the vineyards were planted in 2004. One of the wines is from the Ceres Valley. The South African winelands encompass 27 diverse districts and some 77 smaller wards in total. I walked away with a few good images which I am happy with, it wasn't an entirely dark moon at the time of my shoot, that is why the the foreground was lit up in the way it was. The moon was in the last quarter phase. As time was short for us, I want to return again to capture more of what the Upper Karoo has to offer in the other seasons of the year, I have a few ideas in mind, so look out for my next blog on Sutherland when that trip has been completed. Milky Way Panorama Arriving at The Artist’s Cottage around midnight, after our shoot at Rogge Cloof, I was seriously impressed at how clear the stars shone in town, in spite of the few mercury vapour street lights that lit the streets. Sadly, the next morning after breakfast, we had to return home, but going home refreshed and inspired and all the better for our experiences in Sutherland. Sutherland NG Kerk - A Light in the Darkness The Artist's Cottage - Wishing Upon a Star In Conclusion As time was short for us, I want to return again, to leave the boundries of my regular radio station behind and tune into something different. I need to spend a more time there to capture so much more of what the Upper Karoo has to offer in the other seasons of the year. I have a few ideas in mind, so look out for my next blog on Sutherland when that trip has been completed. My focus was purely on landscape photography, I did not come away with any wildlife images, even although the birdlife in the area and game at Rogge Cloof is in abundance, I only brought along landscape lenses for this trip, which is another reason for me to return. Special thanks to André and Corlia of Rogge Cloof for your wonderful hospitality, and to Jannie of The Blue Moon, we plan to be back when it snows! Do show some love and support for these two venues should you decide to visit the Upper Karoo, you won't be disappointed! Acknowledgements Information sourced from various sources on the internet: Wikipedia, Rogge Cloof, Discover Sutherland, Wines of South Africa and Badisa for the Koöperasie stories image, all watermarked images are copyrighted and belong to Craig Fouché Photography. There are two gallieries for this blog, a monochrome and colour below. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs. colour gallery monochrome gallery


Studio Portraiture Shoot – Plus Size Model – Carine

Studio Portraiture Shoot - Plus Size Model - Carine My client Carine is a plus size model. She discussed her intentions to have a studio portraiture shoot with me in my studio, what she had in mind, her vision and end result. Between the many conversations and Pinterest ideas shared on Whatsapp, we came to settle for a three outfit wardrobe for her shoot. We didnt want a Plain-Jane shoot, but something that would have a polished feel about it, that felt classy, and with professional makeup. This is where Celeste of Celestial Makeup Artistry came in. She has just launched her business and has already worked for an event run by Guess in Cape Town at the Waterfront. Her website will be up and running in the new new year, so do look out for her; in the interim, follow her on Facebook. I can highly recommend her work, she is a qualified, passionate and talented makeup artist, whom I know personally and have worked with. Celeste did the makeup for Carine, which are top international brand names, and complimented her well. The lead up to the shoot was exciting for Carine, as well as daunting. Being a plus sized person, having never posed in front of a camera, let alone in a studio environment before, really started to get the nervous butterflies flapping inside her, yet courageously she pushed through with it, almost cancelling at the last minute. The response on Facebook, with the sneak peek was amazing and overwhelming to say the least! For me, seeing the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly experience Carine had, was amazing; that being both on an inward and outward level. I asked Carine to share her story, and she kindly did. This is Carine's Story "I wanted to say so much more, but it kept it short. As a little girl sitting in front of the mirror, putting makeup on, I stirred up the deep desire to become a model. I saw myself strutting down the runway, ozzing confidence, and would believe that I am beautiful, that size and shape didn't matter. The reality was, my confidence was only real in my dreams. For years I struggled with my plus sized body, and with that, the dream of being a model fell further and further away. About two years ago I realised like anything else in life, confidence is a journey. Seeing this photoshoot through, is yet another confidence trip in my life. It was like stepping on the edge of a mountain, poised to bungi jump . Your mind shouts NO! Your body YES, it will be fun, you will be fine. This will be exciting! I am all the better for taking this step to do this photoshoot, my confidence levels have been boosted, I feel so much better about myself, it was all worth it! Being in the studio is way more difficult than it looks, you are required to pose, twist, bend and arch in so many different ways to get the best results for your photo, I really have a new respect for photographers and how they work, and what all goes into a photoshoot! From a personal experience, it isnt easy being a plus-sized person, however, just like that little girl almost 40 years ago sitting in front of the mirror, I looked passed every wrinkle, freckle and blemish and allowed my confidence to rise up. For the first time in my life, I told myself: "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL."   After viewing my photographs, this confidence trip has done more for me than any diet plan could ever have. I no longer see a fat woman, but one who is happy to face challenges boldy, and to take on whatever makes me feel alive!" In Conclusion A shout out to both Celeste for the great makeup, and Carine for not backing out. I really enjoyed this shoot, it was so worth it! I used a Nikon D5 with various short prime lenses and Elinchrom studio lighting. All editing in ACR and Photoshop. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.


Family Portraiture Shoot – The Smith Family

Family Portraiture Shoot - The Smith Family What a lovely family the The Smiths are! And a unique one too! It was an absolute pleasure to photograph this special family in my studio, as it was a family and maternity portraiture shoot all in one. We have known each other for approximately seven years now and a family shoot has been long in the making. They have a fantastic story to tell, and enjoy life to the full. Warren is an artist and a friend of note, someone I can always depend upon. Géne is a budding photographer and mom to be. Richard is a special child in many ways. Quite excitable, funny, intelligent and really nice to be around. As a family they enjoy the outdoors, going hiking in the Worcester mountains and surrounds, photography, capturing beautiful images of the Karoo and coast and enjoying life to the full. Their life is changing as they prepare for their new arrival. Richard is so excited, Géne has been documenting the progress of her pregnancy, while Warren has been busy preparing the nursery for the special day. This baby is extra special to them, because Richard's identical twin premature brother passed away at 2 months, while still being in hospital. This pregnancy really is a blessing and enormous gift. When Warren and Géne fell in love, it was love  at first sight and they will be celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary on Monday 9th October. Géne says: "It's great being married to my best friend!" I am looking forward to a follow up maternity studio session with Géne, just before baby is born, as well as once the baby is born. Come and celebrate this wonderful family with the images that have been captured. My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D5 and a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G Lens. I also used two 165cm strip boxes by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio lighting. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.


Review – Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 About Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 800 film from Fujifilm is a high speed daylight-balanced colour negative film offering a vivid tonal palette with accurate color reproduction in a variety of lighting conditions. It features a nominal sensitivity of ISO 800/30° along with a wide exposure latitude for use in an array of conditions, even under fluorescent lighting. The fine grain structure and high degree sharpness are well-suited to scanning and enlarging for printing purposes. In addition there is a good exposure margin, a good sharpness for this sensitivity, a decent grain and strong colours. This Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film has made a good impression on me when shooting in a low light situation, in indoor areas or with a short exposure time. I usually shoot Kodak ColorPlus 200 colour film as my general go to film for everyday shooting of a wide variety of subjects. In 2008, Fuji made a revision to their earlier films, by adding in an extra layer to their films, a fourth layer called 4th Color Layer Technology. This works to faithfully bring out subtle shades of color and complicated patterns as the human eye sees it. All of the Fujicolor Pro films incorporate Fujifilm’s proprietary 4th Color Layer Technology, adding a cyan-sensitive layer (to the conventional red, green, and blue-sensitive layers) for a more natural rendering of delicate skin tones and neutrals, just as the eye sees them; and a more natural and balanced reproduction of color in varied lighting whether daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, flash, or mixed lighting. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film multi-purpose color negative film, with fine grain and outstanding color and sharpness. Ideal for fast-action sports, non-flash stage photography, and general use with compact zoom lens cameras. If you want something with more sensitivity, you can always grab a roll of Fujifilm Superia 1600 which can be pushed to ISO6400, depending on the results you would be looking for. I intend to shoot a roll or two of this film on some night time and Milky Way shots; at the moment, it is kept in the fridge until the conditions are right to do so. It is the fastest multi-purpose color negative film in the SUPERIA line and has a wide exposure latitude. Click here for the data sheet in a pdf format. My Experience with Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film Two weeks ago, I went out for the day with Kirsten Frost to do some bird photography at Intaka Bird Island and Rietvlei Nature Reserve Cape Town. I took along my Nikon F5 film body and a Nikon D4 digital body mated with a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II and Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III. We arrived early in the morning around 07h45 and the sun was just getting up for the day. The hide was not busy at Intaka at the time, and we were able to set up in a nice spot inside the hide. The light was very pleasing with a warm yellow glow over the ponds as the sun started to shine passed the buildings in the background. I swapped between both bodies during our shoot there, first with the Nikon D4 as the film speed was too slow for any action shots above 1/500 second. I waited for the right opportunity to switch to film, and began using my Nikon F5 film body. Although I own the Nikon F6 as well, I really do like using my Nikon F5, and find myself using it a lot more than the Nikon F6. This was THE film body of professionals, press photographers and the like in that era, a truly robust workhorse. People ask me, "Why film?" It is a simple answer. Anyone can shoot 14fps go back and check their memory card, click delete, and maybe keep one image out of that burst! But with film, you need to slow it down, think about your shot, compose, and make it count! From this roll of 36 shots, one was a complete miss when a Pied Kingfisher launched from a perch. I was not on continuous drive, and missed that shot. Instead I ended up with an empty perch! I paid NZ$25.00 for this roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film which is around ZAR240.00 for a roll of 36 exposures, development and scanning gets done at Orms in Cape Town, which translates to around R110. Using rapid fire on a roll of film is nonsensical and a complete waste of money. I do have quite a few keepers from this roll, that I would consider printing on canvas, and overall are very happy with the results of every single image. Click on the first thumbnail to activate the gallery. " template="/www/htdocs/w012c428/craigfouche.co.za/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/ngglegacy/view/gallery-carousel.php" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] What impressed me as well, was the backwards compatibility of the modern Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens to the Nikon F5. This is the first time that I am shooting a long G-series prime lens on an older generation body. I do own various D-series lenses, both primes and zooms, but nothing over 200mm. This was also the first time I got to shoot a roll of ISO 800 film and Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film. In the earlier days I used to use Agfa Ultra 50, Optima 100, 200 and 400 professional film, and slide film as well, that being Agfa RSX 50 and 100, Fuji Velvia and Sensei which produced fantastic results. Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 Film With digital images one tries to shoot the best quality images with the least amount of noise at any ISO, and that is what you get at high ISO, noise! Film has grain, the higher the ISO the more grain you will get. Grain can add much texture, grittiness and feeling to an image, particularly in monochrome at ISO 3200 or higher if you push it  that far. As this was the first time to use Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, I was not sure how much grain I would get. I edit my images in Adobe Camera Raw (ADC) and Photoshop. To satisfy myself and the purists, I edited with and without a noise reduction plugin (it is plain to see which were edited), my go to plugin for noise reduction is Imagenomic. The results speak for themselves, the Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film performed very well, is able to give amazing colour results under any lighting conditions, with and without the grain. I intend to shoot another roll of this film in the near future, but at night for astrophotography, hopefully I get some amazing startrails and Milky Way images from this film. Keep an eye out for my next blog on that review! Where to buy film? I have been importing film from both B&H in New York, USA; Nik & Trick Photographic Services in Kent, UK; Auckland Camera Centre in Auckland, New Zealand; and locally from Orms, and now particularly from The Film Guy who has a very wide range of lovely films in various formats available locally in South-Africa. If you haven't tried a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 film, or any roll of film, give it a try, your photography can only improve, don't just take my word for it, try it yourself! Disclaimer: All watermarked images are © Craig Fouché Photography 2017, other non-watermaked images are manufactures' images.


I Don’t Work For Free – You Are Not My Client

I Do Not Work For Free - You Are Not My Client!! I do not work for free - IF you think I do, you are not my client, please move on!! Funny how so many people love your work until you tell them they have to pay you when they commission you! So many times clients think and believe they have the right to force their hand in making a photographer either grossly undercut another photographer to get a cheaper rate for the same shoot, or actually expect the photographer to do the shoot for free. When I tell my prospective client who made these requests that I do not work for free, they almost always seem surprised, and even a little offended, by the very suggestion that they should pay me for the work they are commissioning me to do. “We don’t have the budget for that, Jimmy does it for free!” they respond! One can almost hear them turning to their office colleagues and saying, “Can you believe the audacity of this photographer, asking us to actually pay him to photograph for us? He should be grateful we even noticed and contacted him!”, conveniently forgetting that they DO have the budget to pay everyone else involved in the project – it’s normally just the artists, musicians, writers and photographers who are expected to work for free: not because the large, household-name brands who make these requests can’t afford to pay them, but because they don’t feel they should have to. Why would they, after all, when they know many of us will work for free? Photography is a skill that is not valued, part of the issue, of course, stems from the fact that many photographers don’t value their work themselves – and if they don’t attach any value to what they do, then why would anyone else? If you as my client are going to profit from my work, then I expect to profit from it too. Exposure does not pay the bills, mortgage, insurance, and no business gives a flying fish about the exposure you were given for doing a free job, because it does not pay their bills! What About Jimmy? Just because Jimmy shoots for free doesn't mean I have to! Jimmy may be a hobbyist and doesn't have the business overheads that I do, so for him, it really doesn't matter that he works for free. The problem lies here: just about anyone can walk into a camera store and buy a camera, (that still costs money) and think they have arrived. They set up a Facebook photography page with a Yahoo or Gmail email account, happy to do business over Whatsapp messenger, and are suddenly a top notch photographic company, charging unbelievable prices that are just above zero! He would like everyone to believe that he is a top notch company though; however, there is more to taking photographs than just pressing a button! Do You Know Jenny and Steven? Jenny, who is getting married, wants the most amazing photographs of their special day. She gets swept up in the buzz of the wedding planning and contacts the caterers, the dressmaker, the venue, visits the shoe shop, contacts the DJ, spends the money... oh yes, she left the photographer for the last minute (they are an after thought), and there is no budget for that! Then there is a pity-party story she is out of budget as the dress cost so much, how can't she possibly afford you because you are so expensive, and then she tells you they having a 250 guest wedding! She then tells you, their friend either does it for free, or has the latest iPhone 7, that has a 12-megapixel camera, who, she is convinced will do the job just like I would, with my 16-megapixel Nikon D4 DSLR which costs the price of a car! Her friend can edit the images on their cellphone, as they don't need Photoshop, the apps work just fine! What she fails to see, is that a blue ribbon chef does not go to the deli and buy chicken flavoured 1-minute noodles and serve you a one minute dish, he actually prepares everything from scratch and you are served a blue ribbon meal, nothing less! Now that Jenny is no longer my client, as I do not work for free, she will then sift through many posts on relevant sites on Facebook to find her freebie photographer, and may end up using the services of Steven. Steven then finds himself in a predicament and posts the following on Facebook: Hey guys, I'm taking a huge risk here but is there any chance someone's not booked tomorrow? I'm doing my first wedding and I need an experienced photographer to assist me and second shoot for me. My support photographer cannot make it. I am prepared to cover any petrol costs. The inexperience shown by the photographer is what also what drives the prices down. Furthermore, the support or second shooter as they are known, who is more experienced is expected to be paid in fuel expenses for his time and expertise! Jenny commissions Steven, as he offered the following wedding package as per his advert below: R3 500 2 photographers 6 hours shooting 500 photos Photo album Photobooth Canvas It is impossible as a weekend or full-time photographer to edit 500 images, depending on the quality of the images and touch ups you have to do, pay your second shooter, print a photo album and canvas, make a profit on the photobooth you hired, cover traveling costs to the venue, the outlay for camera equipment and make a profit for the price quoted above! This advert actually exists on Facebook! You get what you pay for! The Digital Era The digital era has opened up photography to so many people, you never leave home these days without a camera, it's part of your phone! The instant gratification of click or delete and the photo is taken, looked at once or twice and forgotten about, is not like the days of film. There you had to wait until your photos were developed to see what you got and if they even came out! The perception people have is their high megapixel cellphone camera is more than capable of competing or performing at the same level as a DSLR camera. The fact is the 12-megapixel sensor is not the same size on a cellphone as it is on a DSLR; the results are simply not the same! In the days of film, professional photography was more out of reach than it is today. You had to shoot slide film as the print houses would only accept slides / transparencies for publications. Slide film leaves little to no margin for error. People have forgotten that there ARE skills to be learned in photography, skills come with experience, experience with time, not just delete and shoot again! What Do You Get When You Hire A Photographer? Let's look at it from both sides, from you as the client, and me as a photographer, who is essentially a professional and a business owner, working from one contract or photoshoot to the next; what are you paying for? The Client Someone who can take photographs. That simple! Your expectation is to have someone take the most amazing photographs, in the shortest turnaround time (because we live in an instant world now), usually for free or next to nothing, if you are one of those clients. You have no idea about the amount of the work involved after the shoot, you think you paying for  3 hours work, and that is it. If you are business minded and expect the best, you will employ a recognised photographer who has a professional portfolio, comes highly recommended, possibly an award winning photographer with a few publications to complete the task and concept you have in mind. You understand that the time you are paying for is not only the shoot, but the editing time after the shoot. Your need is that the end product needs to sell your brand and grow your business if this is a marketing shoot, bring you a return on the expense of your shoot, and possibly a longer term relationship with the same photographer for future concept shoots you may have. The said photographer may end up working for your opposition! The Photographer Someone who can create images that will meet your requirements under all types of lighting conditions and environments, and deliver amazing results that leave lasting impressions on all who view your images. You are paying for my time, both at the shoot and after the shoot; that is the many hours spent behind my expensive computer, equipped with the latest editing software, which is now my modern day photo lab editing your images. Even if film has been shot it still needs to be converted to digital! Admittedly, not every photographer has studied, those that have, it is many hours in the classroom, YouTube, paid online courses offered by the likes of Lynda.com and Creative Live to perfect the skills needed for the job on hand, as well as how to run a successful photographic business! As a business owner, I need to have liability insurance in place in case you injure yourself in my studio or on a shoot, or plan to sue me for future earnings for whatever reason. A professional photographer needs to have sound contracts in place, written by attorneys, we know law firms are not cheap!  My photographic equipment, which is anything from a studio light to a frightfully expensive camera and lens combination, professional camera gear is not cheap and needs to be insured. I have the expenses of business running costs, that is lights and water, office rent, website hosting and IT support, telephone and internet services, data storage plans to keep your images secure on a backup system. I will also need to purchase a new camera or lens if it is not in my kit to cover a different genre of photography. I may also need to pay an assistant for the times that I am not able to work alone. Should I be planning an exotic workshop for international clients in Antarctica or any other destination, I need to save towards that trip, which is certainly not cheap. One needs to prepare, plan, save, advertise well, to attract those clients to run a successful workshop; this costs money. Remember too, I also have a family and need to put food on the table and a roof over our heads! If you still think anyone can press a button and be a photographer, look and think again, see what is actually involved, and appreciate the end product you are receiving from a professional photographer and DO NOT ASK TO HAVE YOUR SHOOT FOR FREE! I have yet to find someone ask the dentist for a freebie, and say my friend has a few instruments you can borrow, will that help lower the price? No! You go to a dentist to get a professional job done, not to a mechanic to have your teeth pulled with a greasy pair of pliers! You pay the bill for the professional service you received, as he is a professional! You wouldn't dare ask the cardiologist doing your heart transplant for a freebie either, he may just let you die on the operating table. So what gives you the right to disrespect my profession and expect photographers to work for free? Conclusion I do not work for free, if you expect me to, you are not my client! You really get what you pay for in all walks of life. To the other photographers out there: When  you learn how much you worth, you will stop giving people discounts and working for free!  


Rooftop Photography in Dubai 2017

Rooftop Photography in Dubai 2017 Background After about 3 years of planning, it finally came to fruition. I had seen many a great image being posted on Facebook's Landscapes / Seascapes / Cityscapes page, the shear grandeur of skyscrapers, the modernity of the buildings, and the ethereal beauty, more so when photographed at night, and especially so when shrouded in the  late winter mists. I decided that, I too, wanted to fill my lenses with such amazing imagery! The rooftop photography in Dubai bug had bitten me! I transit regularly through Dubai - UAE; Istanbul - Turkey; Amman - Jordan; and Doha - Qatar to my end destinations, but never really get to spend much time exploring these cities due to layover times. This year, I took my wife Dominique, along to experience this shoot in Dubai with me. The Right People I was delighted to see that Daniel Cheong was running the first ever legal rooftop workshop in Dubai in association with Nikon School on the 28th October 2016; subsequently, ALL his workshops were fully booked until the end of 2016, with photographers flying in from Singapore, China, Netherlands and the GGC / Gulf States! I was also excited to be the first fly-in South-African to attend a workshop with him, which was held in January 2017! I am also the first to shoot film from the Cayan Tower; I used my Nikon F6 with Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros Black and White Negative Film with a variety of older Nikon D-series lenses, including the rare Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D Lens and the very new Nikon 19mm  f/4 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens. The Tilt-Shift Lens is an awes0me lens, however does not have an aperture ring like the 24mm, I was forced to shoot all my film images at f/4. As per Pete DeMarco's Photography Blog - The Nomad Within, Daniel Cheong "is the original Dubai rooftopper. He usually shoots from high vantage points, especially during blue hour or in the fog." There are some photographers' work that one easily recognizes; Daniels' hallmark is definitely rooftop photography in Dubai. There are a few other well recognized photographers that shoot rooftop photography in Dubai, namely Dany Eid, Alisdair Miller, Beno Saradzic, Sajeesh Shanmughan, Mohamed Raouf and Zohaib Anjum. All their work can be found in publications, newspapers, personal websites and on Facebook. Dubai Photography Workshop Contacting and finally meeting Daniel online was great. My time constraints were limited during my stay in Dubai, as I was also committed to shooting the 24H Series - Dubai motorsport event. Daniel was unable to attend the workshop with me due to a family emergency, I was however very fortunate to have spent quality time with Dany Eid. The world is a much smaller place now with social media in play, and so much easier to meet the right people! Knowing the right people in any circle is beneficial, this made all the difference for my architectural, cityscape and rooftop photography in Dubai experience. When To Go The best time is in the winter from December to February. It’s much cooler. This is also when you’ll have your best chance of catching the elusive fog. I am not a humid climate loving person, I prefer either very hot and dry, or very cold! This is one occasion that I was prepared to make that sacrifice for the possibility of shooting the fog in Dubai. We had fog a few days prior to my shoot, on the day it was very windy, obviously no fog, which made for challenging long exposure photography. This is amplified on the skyscrapers. Where To Stay This is the peak season, flights are very expensive and usually fully booked. One should always be on the lookout for various specials, be that flights and or accommodation. Lodging in Dubai is not cheap. Most of the cheaper hotels and guesthouses are located around Deira. We chose to stay as centrally in the city as possible, that being close to the Mall of Emirates. This afforded us many opportunities to view the city and its delights either by foot, taxi, Red Bus, local bus and skytrain. There are apartments, budget hotels and mega expensive hotels to choose from, it all depends on your budget. I would suggest reviewing your stay on sites such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Agoda.com to see how people have rated your choice of stay. What I Shot Make use of the interactive map to see where the various landmarks are in Dubai.     Cayan Tower The Cayan Tower is an easily recognisable tower as it is spiral shaped, offering a safe 360º view of the Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, Port Jumeirah, Emirates Hill Golf Course and Jumeirah Lake Towers. Cayan Tower at Blue Hour, Dubai, UAE Cayan Tower, known as Infinity Tower before it was inaugurated, is a 306-metre-tall, 73-story skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development. The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill SOM architectural group, the same group who did the concept design for the Burj Khalifa, also in Dubai, and Trump Tower in Chicago. Upon its opening on 10 June 2013, the tower became world's tallest high-rise building with a twist of 90º, this has been surpassed by the Shanghai Tower. Daniel has exclusive permission to shoot from this location as access to rooftops in Dubai can be a nightmare! Dubai Marina Dubai Marina is an artificial canal city, built along a 3 km stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline. When the entire development is complete, it will accommodate more than 120 000 people in residential towers and villas. Dubai Marina from Cayan Tower at Night, Dubai, UAE It is located on Interchange 5 between Jebel Ali Port and the area which hosts Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and the American University in Dubai. There have been many instances of marine wildlife (especially whales and sharks) entering the lake, because of its proximity to the open sea. Dubai Marina from Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE The Tallest Block The tallest block is located on the western side of Dubai Marina, the block is also known as the tallest block of supertall skyscrapers in the world because it contains some of the world's tallest residential towers, including Princess Tower, which is the tallest residential buildings in the world completed in 2012. Tallest Block, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE The high rise buildings, are mainly clustered into a block, with the majority of the skyscrapers ranges between 250m to 300m, which includes Emirates Crown, Infinity Tower, Ocean Heights, Marina Pinnacle, Sulafa Tower, Al Seef Tower, Le Rêve, Marina Crown and few are taller than 350m and 400m, which includes Elite Residence, 23 Marina, Princess Tower, Marina 101, Marina 106, Damac Heights, The Marina Torch, and a supertall Pentominium, which rises to 516m, if completed it will become worlds tallest residential building surpassing Princess Tower. Palm Jumeirah The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago in United Arab Emirates, created using land reclamation by Nakheel, a company owned by the Dubai government, and designed and developed by Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock/Architects, Inc. It is one of three planned islands called the Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira) which would have extended into the Persian Gulf, increasing Dubai's shoreline by a total of 520km. Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE Palm Jumeirah, East Side, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE The Palm Jumeirah is the smallest and the original of three Palm Islands originally under development by Nakheel. It is located on the Jumeirah coastal area of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Palm Jumeirah, Nakheel’s flagship project, is the world’s largest man-made island and is comprised of a two-kilometre-long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent. Palm Jumeirah, West Side, JBR Towers - Dubai, UAE Atlantis, The Palm Atlantis, The Palm is a UAE luxury hotel resort located at the apex of the Palm Jumeirah in the United Arab Emirates. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is themed on the myth of Atlantis but includes distinct Arabian elements. The resort opened on September 15, 2008 as a joint venture between Kerzner International Holdings Limited and Istithmar. The 1,539 room nautically themed resort has two accommodation wings, consisting of the East and the West Tower, linked together by the Royal Bridge Suite. It is complemented by the Aquaventure water park and the Nasimi Beach, which frequently plays host to concerts and other events. Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE Burj Al Arab The Burj al-Arab or Tower of the Arabs is a hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the fourth tallest hotel in the world; however, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. It stands on an artificial island 280m from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210m above ground. The hotel is described as the first seven star hotel by a journalist who was at a loss for words when he first saw the hotel. We were treated like royalty during our four hour brunch at the exclusive Al Muntaha Restaurant. The Al Muntaha ("The Ultimate"), is located 200m above the Persian Gulf, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends 27m from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator. The views from the exclusive Al Muntaha Restaurant & Skyview Bar, and the architecture of the Burj Al Arab are nothing short of opulent and spectacular! This was such an amazing experience that I have created a separate gallery for the Burj Al Arab in this blog. Burj Al Arab, Interior View of the Atrium, Dubai, UAE Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa or "Khalifa Tower", known as Burj Dubai before its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is the tallest artificial structure in the world, standing at 829.8m. Construction of the Burj Khalifa began in 2004, with the exterior completed 5 years later in 2009. The primary structure is reinforced concrete. The building was opened in 2010 as part of a new development called Downtown Dubai. Dubai Skyline with Burj Khalifa from Skyview Bar, Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE The Y-shaped plan is designed for residential and hotel usage. A buttressed core structural system is used to support the height of the building, and the cladding system is designed to withstand Dubai's summer temperatures. It contains a total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators. Due to time constraints, I was only able to shoot the Burj Khalifa from the interior of the Burj Al Arab, and the private road leading to the island. That is the beauty of "incomplete" work, there is always a reason to return to such an amazing location such as Dubai, with fresh inspiration and ideas! Dubai Skyline - Burj Khalifa from Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE What Camera Gear I Used As I shoot both film and digital, I brought along the following gear: Film Nikon F6 Body Nikon AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Lens Nikon 18mm f/2.8 AF-D Lens Nikon AF-S Zoom-NIKKOR 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED Lens Nikon 19mm f/4 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros Black and White Negative Film Digital Nikon D5 Nikon D800e Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 ZE Lens Nikon AF Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Lens Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens Nikon 19mm PC NIKKOR f/4E ED Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E Tilt-Shift Lens Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens Tripod Conclusion Although I titled this blog - Rooftop Photography in Dubai 2017, I have included other imagery depicting the cityscape and architecture of Dubai. More of those images can be seen on the relative pages of my website. We thoroughly enjoyed this experience, one I will never forget! I am also very excited to be the first fly in South-African to shoot with Dany Eid, that is a humbling honour and privilege, as well as the first to shoot film from the Cayan Tower! I look forward to be able to do this again, and have had my eye on the high rises of New York, USA for the same amount of time as Dubai. I hope to fulfill that experience of shooting in the Big Apple soon! Thank-you A big shout out to Daniel Cheong and Dany Eid for such a fantastic product and for being pioneers in opening up the way for others to experience rooftop photography on Dubai. Thank you for affording me this opportunity, a lot of personal firsts for me and to have been able to capture the images I did. I look forward to returning to shoot with you again. A big shout out to my friends Dirk and Zena, for your friendship and assistance with our stay in Dubai, we appreciate you! Acknowledgement : Dubai  Workshop Photography advertising image - Daniel Cheong Photography, some content information sourced from various websites. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.   2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT - FILM - FUJIFILM NEOPAN ACROS 100     2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT   If you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments below. I would really like to hear from you, and the experiences you may have had, both good and bad in Dubai. 2017 DUBAI CITYSCAPE AND CAYAN TOWER SHOOT - BURJ AL ARAB   If you have any questions or comments feel free to post in the comments below. I would really like to hear from you, and the experiences you may have had, both good and bad in Dubai.


Camera Strapz – Quality Custom-Made Camera Straps

Camera Strapz Background I recently ordered eleven custom designed camera straps from Vicki Street of Camera Strapz.   Shooting from the top of Cayan Tower Dubai, UAE I found her services very good and can recommend anyone that is looking for a custom designed camera strap to get in touch with her. The turn around time is very quick depending on your design. One will receive constant updates from Vicki regarding the progress of the design, as well as a test image for your approval. Design Preview Design Preview Once that is done, it gets sent off to the embroiderers for image conversion to stitching format; a *.dst file. I requested my *.dst file for further usage, that being for branded shirts and clothing. Stitching Software I use my gear both locally and internationally, and felt confident when shooting from the Cayan Tower in Dubai, UAE, which is some 77 levels tall; inside the Burj al Arab - the worlds first 7 star hotel; and the Dubai Autodrome, and locally, that my camera strap would do the job it is meant to do. The Product It is made from good quality leather, nylon webbing and fabric; the stitching is strong, and you can rest assured that your expensive camera gear wont take a tumble once correctly secured. Each camera strap is backed with choice leather for comfort and durability. When it comes to design, whatever your logo or branding, Vicki will be able to help you there. Some designs range from birds for birders, camera brand names, peoples names etc, just be creative and if it can be stitched, it will be done for you! Shooting inside the Burj al Arab, Dubai, UAE Custom camera straps can be made as scarfs, paracord wrist straps, regular leather and cloth straps, even African beaded straps! This is a brilliant way to show your brand off, and to look professional as well. I chose to label my camera bodies, add my brand logo too, it makes it easier for me to see which body I am taking out of my bag. Dubai Autodrome, Dubai, UAE Contact Vicki She is based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South-Africa, have a look at her website and Facebook page for more information, copy the links below: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/camerastrapz/about/ Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CAMERASTRAPZ?ref=hdr_shop_menu Acknowledgements: Images not watermarked with my watermark belong to Vicki Street of Camera Strapz.


2017 CREVENTIC 24H Endurance Series – 24H Dubai Round 1

2017 CREVENTIC 24H Endurance Series - 24H Dubai Round 1 What an amazing series to be a part of, the CREVENTIC 24H Endurance Series - 24H Dubai Round 1 which ran from 12-14 January 2017! Here is a highlight from last years' event, be sure to check out http://www.24hseries.com/2017/24h-dubai-2017/video for all their videos of the days' racing. Highlights for the Hankook 24H DUBAI 2017 below:   As an avid fan of motorsport, having shot numerous races from 2001 onwards in South-Africa, that being the WesBank Samcar V8 series, SA Production Cars and the Engen VW Cup, Formula Ford, the Vodacom Sports Car series and the hugely competitive SA Superbike championship; I mostly shot these events on film in the day. More recently, I shot a few rounds of the 2016 Wingfield Motors Power Series regional racing held in Cape Town, South-Africa, and is one of the best events to attend and watch as a spectator. As a gamer in my early days, I thoroughly enjoyed playing WTTC and GTR 2 – FIA GT Racing Game which is a sports car racing simulator developed under license by Blimey for SimBin Studios. I finally got to experience and photograph GTR racing for real, and it was thunderous, exhilarating, action packed and filled with high-octane adrenaline! About The Race This year, I have been afforded the opportunity to shoot my first international motorsport event, that being in Dubai, at the Dubai Autodrome. The Hankook 24H Dubai endurance race has become a mainstay on the international motorsport calendar and is the second largest 24H race grid in the world, with entries from all over the world. The line-up consists of up to 100 Touring and GT cars, including big name marques such as Lamborghini, Porsche, BMW, Seat, Renault, Nissan, Mercedes and Audi to name a few. The Cars, The Action!! This series runs both 12H and 24H events at the following circuits and countries: 2017 CREVENTIC RACE SERIES CALENDAR 24H SERIES powered by Hankook Round 1 24H DUBAI 12-13-14 January - UAE Round 2 12H MUGELLO 17-18 March - Italy Round 3 12H RED BULL RING 7-8 April - Austria Round 4 24H PAUL RICARD 5-6-7 May - France Round 5 12H IMOLA 30 June – 1 July - Italy Round 6 24H PORTIMAO 25-26-27 August - Portugal Round 7 24H COTA USA 9-10-11 November - USA 24H TCE SERIES powered by Hankook Round 1 24H SILVERSTONE 31 March – 1-2 April - UK Round 2 12H MAGNY-COURS 21-22 April - France Round 3 24H MISANO 7-8-9 July - Italy Round 4 24H BARCELONA 1-2-3 September - Spain Round 5 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS 6-7 October - Belgium 24H PROTO SERIES powered by Hankook Round 1 12H MAGNY-COURS 21-22 April
 - France Round 2 12H MISANO 6-7-8 July
 - Italy Round 3 12H PAUL RICARD 18-19 August 
- France Round 4 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS 6-7-8 October 
- Belgium Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE This year in Dubai saw 92 cars on the start grid and 416 drivers with more than 40 different nationalities the first round of the 24H SERIES 2017, the Hankook 24H DUBAI, which was a huge success for everyone involved. With the premiere of the first CREVENTIC 24H Proto Series event, the 3x3H DUBAI, this was also a great success. A total of 17 prototypes made their introduction. HANKOOK 3X3H DUBAI 2017 - Kox Racing The international atmosphere, the challenging Dubai Autodrome track, the wonderful weather, excellent facilities and all the effort made by the teams, mechanics and drivers made the Hankook 24H DUBAI a truly memorable experience for both my wife and I. The Race Track in Dubai The length of the circuit according to the FIA Track License is 5,39km, which runs in clockwise direction. It is also one of the most modern circuits in the world; and one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of technical and high-speed corners with 19 turns in total, 2 main straights of 800m each! The track is friendly with very safe and wide run off areas. No gravel which is ideal for a 24-hour race. Thank goodness, the race is held in winter, we had our fair share of water to drink, as it is a long way around the track to shoot from prime locations! We definitely lost a few kilograms sweating and carrying gear around! A huge thank-you to Dirk for the trolley, there are ways to work smarter not harder with your gear, that's if you don’t hire a quad bike to get around! Map - Dubai Autodrome Circuit   My Experience This was such an amazing experience, to be able to rub shoulders with international photographers, press and TV crews. The track facilities from racing to medical, are of FIA standards; along with a brilliant Media Centre, which is fully equipped for the local and international press. Reiter Engineering - Pit Lane, Dubai Autodrome, Dubai, UAE The racing was truly spectacular, the highlight being the 24H Endurance series – GT-Cars, Touring Cars and the 24H Touring Car Endurance Series were particularly thrilling for me. The new Prototype 24H Endurance Series cars offered a Le Mans type feel to the racing, reminiscent of the early Porsche 956 / 962C type cars. I found the friendliness of the teams very accommodating, rather different to the local racing in South-Africa. Even if they didn’t speak good English, they were still available to answer any questions that I had, to their best of their ability. Many unhindered photographic opportunities were to be had as the teams went about their business. Race Wars for Position - Manthey Racing & GDL Racing Team Asia I was well impressed by Creventic’s organisation of the event as a whole, they done a spectacular job from start to finish. The logistics of such an event is just enormous! Their efficiency was spectacular! I was also very surprised to find a South-African team – Bucket List Racing run by Max, a British manager and Kris, a South-African, where the mechanics and 4/5 drivers were also South-African! They competed in a BMW F30 340i race car which was built and developed in South-Africa. There were 2 additional drivers, driving for different teams, Noami Schiff for Reiter Engineering in a KTM XBow, and another South-African driver Jordan Grogor, driving for GP Extreme in a Renault RS01. More about Bucket List Racing can be found here. Usually these races are mostly European drivers, as they generally follow the European circuits, DUBAI 24H was a wonderful mix of nationalities from American, Asian and Arab countries. Team Bucket List Racing I certainly would like to return to cover another 24H Series; this was done at my company's own expense, as well as with some assistance from Media 24 South-Africa for the media accreditation which was very helpful, this led to me being published in our local newspaper - Worcester Standard. I certainly gained the experience needed to shoot on an international event and race track, where I also learned a lot very quickly. I know what extras are required to make my next shoot even more of a success. It is very tiring and demanding landing after almost an 11-hour flight at 05h00 in another time zone on the day of the event, having a 30-minute break for a shower and breakfast, heading straight to the track to cover a full 12 hours racing, and to do it all over again the next day! I am a passionate photographer and would do it all over again, you have to take the rough with the smooth to get the results you after; I believe in what I do and my images are proof of this. Without the support of my wife Dominique, it would have been almost impossible to have captured the images we both did. Working as a team we were able to focus on different things as they were rolling out at the same time. Ideally, one needs a complete media team to manage gear, memory cards, editing and disseminating of media, more so during the live 24 hour race, as one really needs to eat and sleep during shifts. Moonrise over Dubai Autodrome, Dubai, UAE We had not planned to share our hotel with the various teams that were competing, this was discovered at breakfast the following morning, which was a pleasant surprise for us! Some Interesting Facts Team Black Falcon in their Mercedes AMG GT3 car used 18 sets of tyres in the race, and 24 sets for the whole event. 1700l of fuel was used during the race with a total of 2300l for the whole event. Their top speed was 260 km/h with an average speed of 124 km/h. Their average pit stop times to change both drivers and tyres was 18 seconds and average refuel times were 2 minutes! They completed 575 laps for the 24H event. Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3 6200cc My Gear I made good use of my Nikon D5, D800e, D600 along with F6 film body with older Nikon D-lenses. Lenses ranged from Nikon 16mm Fisheye, 24-70mm f/2.8; 70-200mm f/2.8, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 as well as my Sigma 12-24 f/4  and 120-300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 and 2.0 times convertors on the digital bodies. The Sigma is a great lens and an awesome weight saver when having to fly with large prime lenses! Thank-you A big shout out to Natasha of Creventic for affording me this opportunity to be a part of the event and to have been able to capture the images I did. It would be great to be picked up by a media company or professional racing team, and to be able to cover more international events like these in the future, who knows, perhaps I might even cover Formula 1 one day! Information, video and map image sourced from http://www.24hseries.com/ Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.       2017 CREVENTIC 24H Endurance Series – 24H Dubai Round 1  


Family Portraiture Shoot – Van der Westhuizen Family

Family Portraiture Shoot - Van der Westhuizen Family My long standing friend Dirk and his family booked a studio shoot with me during their visit to South-Africa from Dubai. They are such a wonderful family and was indeed a pleasure to do this family shoot. Simon is two years old, whilst we did have our hands full in the studio, he settled down and brought a few giggles to the day. They a fun, spontaneous family to shoot and for me was so much fun! I have known Dirk since 2008, as we used to work together for emergency services in the Eastern Cape in the early days. Family portraiture is fairly simple to do, those being photographed need to be themselves, relaxed and to simply have fun behind the camera. The van der Westhuizen's were just that! We are capturing a moment in time that can’t be repeated, however, that moment can be returned to in the form of photographs and treasured forever. Small children are so easy to work with, active, excited and fun to be around, that being said, kids should be kids and left to be who they are. The best thing to do is allow small children to gain your confidence and to settle down. I was able to capture some really special, natural moments that required no effort from my part to capture the very essence of who they are, that they can treasure for time to come. This is the part of photography that I really enjoy, when going to work is fun and not work! I REALLY enjoyed this shoot! This family are just such lovely people to photograph and to be around. My gear I used for this shoot was a Nikon D800e which is great as a studio camera at 36.3mp. I also used a 185cm shoot through umbrella by Phottix, along with my Elinchrom D-Lite RX 2/4 studio kit with a 165cm octabox and a 150cm softbox by Phottix. Click on the images below to view an enlarged single image. All my images are available for purchase as prints. Digital images can be used under license agreement. Should you wish to purchase or license my images, please click here for more information, so I can assist you with your needs.


Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 Winners

Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 Winners Ientered the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 on the 21st August 2016 and was informed that I was a finalist for the November Gallery, which can be read here on my previous blog. The final results of the competition have been announced in January 2017  issue of Getaway Magazine as per competition rules. Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016  is a prestigious showcase of the best photographs their readers have to offer. Enthusiasts brush shoulders with professionals at the highest levels, as both have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes. Congratulations to the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2016 winners. This year Getaway Magazine present their biggest competition yet, with travel and equipment prizes to the value of over R160 000. Prizes include the opportunity to see desert elephant in Kaokoland, one of Namibia’s wildest areas, plus fantastic equipment prizes – including a drone! The Final Winning Shots Below are the winning images, well done and congratulations to everyone that entered, I am glad I did not have the difficult task of judging, as there were really top quality images submitted! I recognised quite a few names from the various Facebook photographic pages and groups I belong to. I have enjoyed this privilege and opportunity to have been an entrant as well. Winning isn't everything, I enjoy the recognition, accreditation and validification that my work receives, it is great to have your work published. I am really pleased that my image ended up finishing with a Top Ten Finish and a Highly Commended placing overall! Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg35 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg36 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg37 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg38 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg39 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg40 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg41 Getaway Magazine January 2017 pg42 Conclusion I will be back again to enter, and to continue to build capacity. I am sure the submissions will be of the same high standards one has come to expect from the Getaway Magazine Gallery Competition 2017. The pages from Getaway Magazine were acquired as a E-zine and used for content to write this blog.


Craig Fouché Photography | A Photographic Celebration of my Works
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