Photographing Hexriver Valley De Doorns


The Hexriver Valley in De Doorns is one of those photographic hotspots that like the Namaqualand flower season must be planned well in advance to be able to capture just at the right time. It was also one o f my photographic target locations for this year. I say planned because one can also only plan to a certain degree depending on one’s work commitments and the weather. Being a professional photographer however makes this easier as one can at the drop of a coin pack the vehicle and leave even midweek.

It is a typical example of a landscape photographer’s life. I had to have inside information and the right locations to photograph from. This was obtained over the last few years visiting the valley. What also help is having a gallery. People from all over the world visit you and that allows one to gather information when to best photograph specific target locations because luckily everyone wants to tell you about his or her most beautiful place on earth. I never discard any information except where I know I have already covered an area and it could be improved much with the same technology.

Working with a topographical maps and information and an invitation by farmers in the Hexriver valley I waited for the weather reports to predict the first snowfalls on the mountains behind the valley and information on the colour of the leaves. What I  strife for in the valley for images are patches of different coloured vineyards with a bit of snow just to add an additional dimension as well as great light play? From green to deep reds make the best images but with the cultivars changing and the older ones being removed the reds are disappearing. Another factor affecting the colours is certain fungus and diseases as well as patches that have been replanted. And then during this period vines are being removed and burned which leaves patches of smoke that has to work around.

Back light on coloured vineyards creates the most saturated colours but it leaves the mountains in this instance with too much contrast and the saturation can always be boosted a little in post production. The other of the advantage of the Hexriver landscape is that you can literally get around 15 to 20 great images from one good vantage point with different lenses. And once you move into the landscape there are many more great locations to photograph from even from the roads. It is private property however and you cannot jump fences or enter private property without permission.

Most people would marvel at the good bright sunshine day to take pictures but I always want some clouds for depth. With clouds moving over and waiting for the light to play on the coloured patches of vineyards and in the mountains at the same time is like watching a movie for me. Every second changes and lights up angles that makes every second or image a unique composition.