Posted by Joe Lategan on Thursday, November 10, 2011 Under: Stories behind Fine art Images from my Platinum collection
Description of last ranger.
I wanted to do a portrait of a camelthorn tree but it is always difficult to get a single tree or a situation where the background and foreground does not detract from it. At this specific point in the dunes and central part of the Kgalagadi
Transfrontier park the opportunity was there including the backround that enhanced the message of the Camelthorn I tried to bring across. The Camelthorn is the major reason for the abundant micro habitats along the desert riverbeds that stimulate the chain reaction that attracts the mega predators to the riverbeds which in turn ultimately attracts the tourists. They are the only large trees that can survive in the Kalahari temperatures and aridness and allow the large birds of prey to nest as well as for Leopards to ambush rest and feed in. The specimens that die are visible for thousands of years. The juxtaposition between dead camelthorn and the mocking rains that bring life around the thunderstorm in the
distance as if the camelthorn is saying to the clouds "Why now, do you drop the water when Im already dead" is the overwhelming message . !In those days getting to this spot was a long 4x4 trek over the dunes and dangerous territory and no tourist was allowed there. Today there's a tented camp buildt on the site as well as many other tented camps towering from the dunes to "increase profitablity". In many ways it also symbolises the death of the old Kgalagadi Transfrontier park built and managed by three generations of the Le Riche family and Dawie De Villiers the "Mata Mata" ranger that invited me to Bitterpan and one of the last of the "old rangers". The image was digitally Scanned from fujichrome film. As the clouds and rain started colouring I set the camera on a tripod and Started guessing the expose. I decided on 30 seconds and exposed two frames. The other one at around 40 seconds at f22 with a 28 mm lens. During the exposure I burst two flashes onto the dead camelthorn tree manually with a flash pack. I remembered that I actually made a snappy prayer at the time so bad I wanted to capture the scene. Two weeks later I left the park and handed the rolls of fujicrome in in a well know Prolab in Cape town.Big was the moment I received the slides back and both were correctly exposed. The extended exposure actually enhanced the colours. A few weeks later I was shocked when the image appeared in the Dutch Reformed churchs' national newspaper as a double spread. The image was copied, stolen and sold by the employee at the lab. I wondered to how many other persons he sold the image and other images to. The image won a few prizes in the days that I tested my work this way.It has been named the last ranger as I believe that besides the resignation of Elias Le Riche Dawie De Villiers was the last of the veteran rangers of the park prior to the "maximisation of profits" era.
The image has for long been my no 1 image and is currently selling for $740 /R9400 on A1 size canvas or photo paper.
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