Retirees take to the air to photograph the Wild Coast

2011-06-23 00:00

FOR the past several years my wife, Edith, and I have been exploring and photographing the Wild Coast. We found, however, that some places cannot be effectively photographed from the ground — for example, the Bashee River, which just looks like a lake when photographed from ground level.

This led us to take to the air in our microlight to continue with our photography mission.

A microlight provides a good platform for aerial photography, as it flies slowly and there is little in the way.

However, it has taken us a number of trips (each with its logistical problems) to get the pictures we wanted, as we had to learn the art by a process of trial and error.

First, we had to contend with the weather and sometimes the microlight simply could make no progress against the coastal winds, but thank goodness for a GPS, which gives a continuous read-out of ground speed.

Next we had to find the best height. At first we flew too low — a few hundred feet — but eventually we found that about 1 000 feet gives the best photos. Then we learnt that the best pictures are taken flying down the coast in the morning.

Flying up the coast, the sun reflects strongly off the sea and whites-out the picture.

There were other trials, such as a gearbox failure between Maclear and Umtata on one trip (long story), and having to get a new wing fabric for the microlight — proving that there is no such thing as cheap flying.

However, everything came together this past Easter when everything was “go” and the weather was perfect. We flew from The Haven, up to Port St Johns and down to the Kei Mouth and now have pictures of the whole length of the Wild Coast.

From thousands, we have selected 170 ground and aerial pictures covering the shoreline between the Umtamvuna and Kei rivers and which provide a unique perspective on the Wild Coast. At once they reveal places that you may never have seen, while providing unexpected detail of places you might know well.

We assembled the pictures onto a DVD, but then started on another learning curve — we discovered that a DVD burnt on a computer doesn’t last and that, for sale, DVDs must be injection moulded from a glass master copy.

The end result of the enterprise is that we now have professionally made copies of our DVD for sale.

It is not a video DVD, but makes an excellent and unique computer-based slide show. It is available from me in Ashburton (dennison2 and from BookWorld at Cascades

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