In the promotional trailer for BBC’s current showcase natural history series, Africa, Sir David Attenborough plants himself human compass-like at the top of a hill. In all directions are sweeping, majestic views, empty of human civilisation.
I have written substantial parts of my last two books at sea, much of them typing with one hand while clinging to the desk with the other, keeping a leery eye on the cabin window to determine which stage we were in the great oceanic washing machine cycle.
In the postwar period in Europe a strange fairground attraction emerged – the shooting gallery. All but defunct now, these booths lured punters with the prospect of shooting an air rifle, but not to hit a target and win a stuffed panda. The object was to take your own photograph.
We all know that great photographs can emerge as much from accident and luck as from precision and planning. Moments when everything seems to be conspiring to be observed by the camera are rare.
Photography is changing so quickly in the digital era, it’s hard to keep up. We tend to think of this as a technological phenomenon, but it’s also social and cultural.
‘Bush Midnight’ is an evolving body of work about the African bush. In the wilderness night has a different density to anywhere else. ‘Bush Midnight’ is a term that refers to the early nights in bushcamp: if you get up at 4.45am, then you go to bed at 8.30pm.
‘Bitter Pastoral – A Talk About the Cederberg’ is the title of an essay written by my friend Stephen Watson, a South African writer who died after a short illness in April 2011.
Recently I’ve been learning about birds, and can now identify over 70 African birds by their calls, and a similar number by sight. Bird life in Lewa in the Northern Rangelands of Kenya is prolific, with over 400 species recorded in the area.
Sunrise on the Indian Ocean creates a visual effect more moving than any other sunrise I have seen.
‘Only food runs, Jean.' This is what I was told when I first broached the subject with Corne van Schwalyk, the marketing director of Ecotraining, a training provider of safari and nature guide courses in South Africa.