Tuesday, December 22, 2009

James Stewart/Sting/The Police

I recorded my album "Live to a mic" by virtue of a barter deal with James Stewart from Streetlevel Studios. Here is what he bartered for: a 70's looking pop group poster much like the cover of "Regatta le Blanc" by the Police. Below the exciting detail from James and the pic.

The Suikerbossie, Hout Bay



James Stewart is best known as the lead singer for The Usual. Remember The Shape that I'm in, Like a Vision? His solo Hits like Shine, You don't stop turning me on and Beautiful Mistake have made him a household name.

(More artist info? www.jamesonline.co.za)

After 3 sell out shows on the coast, hear James pay tribute to one of his biggest influences THE POLICE & Sting - featuring Johnny Clegg's drummer Barry van Zyl.

Where : The Suikerbossie / Hout Bay

When : 3pm - Sunday 27th December 2009

How much : R80 pp (children under 12 free)

Booking : on 021 790 1450 | dave@suikerbossie.co.za

James Stewart : Vocals | Bass Guitar | Keyboard

Barry van Zyl : Drums | Percussion | Shaky things

Lee Radmall : Guitar | Backing vocals | Bass Guitar

Monday, December 21, 2009

So I shot something today...


with an air-fun. In fact, my wife gave it a severely disabilitating shot in the lower back. Then I gave it another 4 shots. When it finally fell out of the tree, Lucky (who spot it the whole time and kept us supplied with ammo, and who has the best eyes by far), whacked it with a pool cleaning pole. The hunt took 2.5 hours. It was hot. It was humid. It was strenuous. The adversary was dangerous. In fact, the most feared of its size in Africa.

Today, I shot something. I shot a black mamba who was playing in the trees above my kids' swing at my in-laws' house. It was hard work. It needed focus. It needed teamwork. It seriously needed more caliber than the air-gun we had. We seriously needed to improve our aim. But after almost 3 hours, we conquered the serpent.


Generally the Black Mamba is shy and won't attack humans. However, as it will remain in a tree for days if there are enough birds to hunt, it poses a serious threat if that tree overhangs a balcony and you pass under it every time you leave the house. Black mambas become very aggressive when cornered or threatened, and as the most poisonous serpent in Africa, it's better not to risk the lives of the inhabitants of the yard. Generally these animals perform a great task in keeping rodents and pests under control. But they are dangerous, and especially to my kids. And then, I'm sorry, it's going down.



Lucky has amazing snake spotting skills, because to follow the movement of a brown snake at about 6m in a tree, perfectly camouflaged like a branch itself, is not easy. My eyes started watering seriously after a while and my neck nearly broke off backwards with all the craning my head up, but eventually, after 5 direct hits (one courtesy of Nellie, my wife, who used to be a competitive markswoman in school)  it decided to come down to the ground where Lucky finished it off with a pole. I stayed clear. Even in the pic above I was still nervous.

More of Libya, our amazing 3 day road-trip through the Karoo, Eastern Free State and Mpumalanga and all the other adventures at Danie Nel Photography cc... next time.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy holidays

So, did a shoot this morning on the Clifton 4th with brave lifesavers, and now to some portraits, and then off off off. I'll be checking in now and again, but let me take the oppurtunity to wish you the best holiday and may the spirit of community, love and friendship make this a memorable time.
Also, please travel safe!

Philip is on the Orange River already, river rafting, and I'm off to Barberton. I will be checking on my blog, and mails, so do contact me. Expect about 24 hours for a reply, though.

Also for the holidays, I recommend this book:



Monday, December 07, 2009

Our Xmas Greeting Card

Philip and myself thought it should be a good idea to do some Christmas cards this year. So we ended up doing this one. Tell us what you think, because you might be receiving your copy soon!


We're still here till the 17th of December, and should be back around the 7th or so. I'll be checking mails and will be in Cape Town from about New Year, so do phone if you need anything.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Libya Day II Part 1

Leptis Magna. Unesco World Heritage Site. Roman Ruins. The oldest blinking buildings I have ever seen. Things predating Christ by quite a margin. East of Tripoli, about 110km. Buried under sand for a millenia or so, excavated by Musselini in the 20's. Apart from his dubious associations in the WWII, he seemed to have accomplished one or two worthwhile feats, like unearthing the most prestine and well-kept ruins you'll live to see. 3km sq of cobble stone, marble, granite, ruins of such quality, it leaves you astounded pretty much the whole time.

But first we drove east towards Egypt on the highway. It's amazing. Tripoli is one sprawling, stretched out peace of urban development, all along the coast. You never actually leave urban or suburban areas. For more than a hundred km's it's just buildings. You pass into Al Khoms and other towns without realizing you left Tripoli. More on Al Khoms later.

Anyways, we arrived at Leptis Magna sort of suddenly. Most of us needed a toilet rather urgently and was surprised to find that the toilet facility cost us 1 LD. That is R6.50. The other option was having your hand chopped off for urinating in public or public indecency charges in a Muslim country, so we all sort of paid willingly. Then we encountered the charming ablution facilities. Libya's public toilet systems still leave a lot to be desired. In South Africa we're used to clean toilet facilities, especially at UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Well, here they seem to still argue, your crap, your problem.

Anyways, enough about the Leptis Magna tourism corridor, and more about the really really cool ruins.

Marc Anthony, I think, was responsible for a lot of these buildings. The arches in the back are still standing after two thousand years. The road leading through it extends for 1.5km right to the beach, where later I had an illegal swim. What is amazing of these ruins and its uncommercialised nature, is that you can still touch everything, get onto whatever you like, and really experience it. In the court area, I was able to go and stand still in the judge's chair. Inscriptions in marble, still as clear and refined as daylight, clearly showing the name "Marcus Antonius" is scattered through the area.

There is so much to see there, it is amazing. I was clicking away at like a madman. Finally we made it to the ocean-side, 1.5km down the site. Here someone had the idea to catch a quick swim. Only to be met by security after we got out to say it was illegal. But they were really nice about it. I've always wanted to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. I never thought I would do it from the African side. Well, I did, and the water was amazing. The rocks under the surface was scathing. After the quick refreshment, we went on to the slosh slosh to the rest of this huge site.

After seeing the main site, we moved on to the Amphiteatre, about 2km's away. But more about that, and the really nice little lunch we had in-between next time.

In "Long Way Round" with Ewan McGreggor, you can see some awesome footage of this site. Really it was amazing. 80 000 people living and working in this area. What became apparent to me walking among the ruins and the marble and granite and HUGE buildings, was that we have little grasp of how powerful and rich the Roman empire must've been. We don't have a modern equivalent to the ridiculous amount of money, man power and man-hours they had to their disposal to build such place, so far from Rome. The details in the walls and decorations, the mosaic floors, the incredible architectural details..., it gives me the impression the Romans must've been an exremely proud, and probably very obnoxious and arrogant, but very successful people. Their God-syndrome is very evident.

I wish I can post more images, but it's better that you go and see at nelimages.com.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Libya Day 1 Part II

I'm so sorry I haven't been able to get the next chapter of my Libya trip up - I've been snowed under, and finding my way under the thousands of images, converting them etc, has been heavy! As we're speaking uploads are going onto my gallery site, slaughtering my bandwidth! Also, work didn't stand still in my absence, so it's been hectic catching up again.

Anyways, so here we finished at the museum with really old stuff inside, except for Cadaffi's moderately old cars.

So, onto the Medina (old walled city) next to the museum. Well, actually we went back that evening, but I thought I'll just throw the images together. There is an old bronze- and silverware market, where the smiths are actually sitting and working on their products. This is one of the more authentic parts of the market as the gold and jewellery generally comes from India or China. Not even Libya is immune to the Chinese trading giant.

Oh, first we had to go and change money elsewhere, at a hotel or somewhere, where 1 USD got you 1.23 Libyan Denarii. Roughly R6.50 to a Libyan Denarii. That's what oil does for you, baby. Anyways, on to the Medina and markets.

I haven't travelled much, but according to the experienced travellers in our group, in the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa, you get mobbed in the markets and streets by heckling shop owners who'll be ready to barter button-holes to t-shirts. My experience here was rather different. Most traders just sat or stood outside their doorways, waiting for people to come in and see their wares. This was pleasant, as I don't like having to say no all the time.

So we're walking and walking and walking deeper and deeper into this maze of little alleyways and narrow streets of the Medina, surrounded by wares and flavours. Some of the group wanted to see more food and smells, others wanted to see more clothing. Everyone had a short shopping list. I was intent on buying myself a Cadaffi T-shirt. Just for the heck of it.

What is amazing about markets and streets is the relative calm of the bustle. I was always under the impression that where you have hundreds of people milling in a small confined space it would be noisy, but here everyone was calm, quietly seeing about the offers. I don't know if this had to do with the fact the woman in Libya are very modest, quiet and soft-spoken, and that the markets are mostly frequented by them.  I like it there. It was cool in the shade of the overhanging power-cables (not unlike the power cable lines in many townships where everyone helps themselves to some juice) and clothing and awnings making a canopy over all the little alleys. People were friendly, and a "Sabrach Anoor" (good morning in Arabic) was instantly met with a return greeting or a Salaam Maleikhum (Peace be to you). We were a tad disappointed to see the amount of Chinese wares scattered everywhere, and you couldn't help but doubt the authenticity of some of the local wares. Then again, in South Africa it's the same.

Libya has a population of 6 million inhabitants, of which 2 million are Arabs and ex-pats from neighbouring countries, notably Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Chad. The colours, smells and dress reflects this to create a beautiful palette of cultures if you took the time to notice. But when you're carrying a 17kg camerabag (I wasn't sure what I'd need at this point yet), you just got of a 12 hour flight 2 hours before, and it is about 30 deg C, you start missing some things as well. So I chose to focus on taking pics and making sure I can remember it later.

Photographing woman in Libya can lend you in some hot water. Although most Libyan locals are not as conservative as some of the Middle Eastern Muslims, it is still considered rude to take pictures of woman, and especially some of the more fundamentalist Muslim woman who comes from Somalia or Arabia. I was able to take a picture of this Somali trader, but I was warned later by our tour-guide to tread carefully when photographing women. Some husbands or men might take offense. He didn't explain what taking offense implied, but I wasn't keen to find out. Carrying around a NIV Bible in my back-pocket could've compounded problems for me should said husband "take offense".

At this point (of taking the pic of the Somali woman), I started noticing the amazing array of doors in the Medina. Those who have visited Zanzibar claims that that is the city of doors, but it must be said that the beauty and intricacy, yet organic rusticness, of the Tripoli doors mesmerised me. From this point on I would barely be able to walk past a door without taking pics of the doors. I've always had a fascination with taking picture of open doors and doorways, but here it went to another level. It seemed like the absence of space or means to decorate the exterior of your house, most opted to decorate their door. I noticed later that even garage doors in the more industrial parts of town had intricate steel frills and designs.

After about an hour in the market (or probably much longer - dehydration was getting to me), we headed back to the hotel for some shut-eye and lunch. I'll skip over the afternoon sleep and take you back to our dusk return to the Medina. This pleased me, because barring the slightly low light, the shadows and harsh highlights of the Medina was more tempered. Also, there were kids and the streets, and an even more peaceful atmosphere. We entered the Medina via the Marcus Aurelius Arch, a magnificent Roman ruin from 160 AD. Here Marcus Brewster and I started the Marcus Brewster Arch project, where we attempted a portrait of Marcus at any suitable arch. The Marcus Aurelius Arch seemed like the best place to start.

There is a really cool little restaurant right next to the arch. On the other side we found a really awesome little hotel (R700 per night) which shouts Libya. It even has shisha room. I'd say if you come to Libya, find this hotel rather than the brand name monsters, and get the real Libyan feel. I also found my Cadaffi T-shirt at the curious outside the little hotel,  which on return to South Africa at a shoot at University of the Western Cape, got a serious amount of quizzical looks and even one annoyed Muslim.


Next to this hotel we were taken int oa really old Mosque, where the old janitor/steward of the establishment was very surprised to find out we were South African. He had served in the Second World War with South African soldiers during the campaigns against Rommel and the German invasion. He was really bright still for someone who must be in his eighties.

The mosque is filled with ...arches, and the most beautiful mosaic work. We were allowed in only if our shoes were taken off, reason actually being hygiene, and not religion.

At this time we ventured into the markets again, this time in the soft light of dusk.

As darkness came, the magic of the Medina came more and more apparent to me. In the balmy evening air, artificial lights getting switched on and the locals getting to their shopping after a day of work, the colours became even more intense.

Here I found some beautiful Persian shoes for my daughter (pink with gold sequence....) and a bag for my wife. I was still looking for a gift for my son, but this I would find later.

After browzing we were taken back to the hotel for a delcious dinner. Next time I'll tell you more about the ruins, Leptis Magna and Al Khoms.

To see ALL the pics of my trip, you can now go to the gallery here: http://nelimages.com/gallery.php?gid=81 Editing on keywords are still happening and the odd images might be removed. Also these images are unedited and simply as-is. Retouched and treated images will be added later.