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The Voortrekker Monument – Part 2

This time I say “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” to this wonderful monument. I will need to return to redo the main room and maybe some photographs for the top, I have a slight fear of heights that could prohibit the latter though.

There are things I learned for this project and I thought I would share them with you.

  1. I had pre-visualised and planed the Panoramic HDR of the Cenotaph Room and it shows in the final image.
  2. Organise with the caretaker to be able to enter with your tripod before hand, maybe even to get in at a time where the monument is empty.
  3. Do not be in a rush, if you need to do the photo again, do it.
  4. Think up, down and both ways the Cenotaph fisheye photograph came about that way.
  5. Take your time looking and planning on site too, something I need to learn.
  6. Take your time with the post processing, redo it if you feel you need to.

And finally a big tank you to the staff of the Voortrekker Monument for their support.

Voortrekker Monument Cenotaph Room
As you enter the Voortrekker Monument
The flower and the monument

The Voortrekker Monument

I have often heard people say that the Voortrekker Monument is an ugly monolith representing the shame of the Apartheid era.  After many visits, I can not help but disagree.

It might have become a symbol of a system of government that did not work for or represent the greater good of all South Africans in the country’s infancy. It might not be the prettiest or most photogenic of monuments I have ever encountered, however it speaks. It might be ugly on the outside, but it has a heartbeat – a life and story of struggle, of creation. It’s a part of the fabric that gives us our heritage.

It speaks of the hardships of the Afrikaner people and reminds us of one viewpoint on the historical events of our beloved rainbow nation. The Voortrekker Monument is no more a relic of the apartheid regime than the Castle of Bastille would be to the French Revolution. It’s a reminder of how the combined stories of many nations have collectively made up the multi-coloured tapestry that is the country we call home.

Thanks to Geraldine Paulsen, custodian at the Voortrekker Monument, who provided the necessary permission that allowed me to use my camera and tripod. I spent three very short hours preparing for a few HDR’s that I will post on Flickr over the next few weeks. I can only hope that I my offerings showcase and give the credit to each of the artists that painstakingly carved this monument’s beautiful interior.

For more information:

Text edited and reviewed by Michelle Ashburner from South Africans You Should Meet

Then and now photography evolved, Blyde River Canyon


Blyde Canyon

This is a panoramic composite view of Blydepoort Dam and the 3 Rondavels at Blyde River Canyon I took in June of 2005. Except for the merging of the photos using Canon PhotoStich no other post-processing was done, in fact if you look carefully you will see the lines where the photographs are joined.

Fast-forward to 2011, I decided to have a look at this panoramic photograph again and see what I can do with today’s tools.

Step 1, merging the same 5 JPGs using Adobe Photoshop CS 5 and adding some content fill for good measure.

Step 2, Adjusting the merged photograph in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.3 (I am too lazy to do it in CS5)

The result

Blyde River Canyon 2011

A far cry from what I did 5 years ago.

Some post-processing comparisons

I am by no means a post-processing master, I have only started to do post-processing in the last few months an found it more then necessary on most images I take, not that the photo is bad. Post-processing allows to add so much more vibrance to photos, some may call it cheating, I used to, I do not believe it anymore.

For example take this photo (all photos have been resized to 600×400 pixels):

No post-processing

No post-processing

High Pass Sharpening with Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2

High Pass Sharpened

Post-processed with Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 all automatic, maybe a little too sharp


Post-processed with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.4 all automatic

Lightroom post-processing

Tone-mapped with High Dynamic Range in Photomatix Pro 3.2 using 3 photos.

Tone Mapped HDR

Exposure Fusion with Photomatix Pro 3.2 using 3 photos.

Exposure Fused

Personally the Exposure Fusion and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 are my favourite, however for Exposure Fusion as for High Dynamic Range  it takes at least 2 identical photos at different exposure like HDR to achieve any results, that means using a tripod and ideally taking 3 to 7 photos at different exposure to get the best results and I will need to buy Photomatix Pro 3 as i am only running the trial at this time, see the watermarks?

I would also love to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 but the premium is preventing me right now, the demo is great though, I love it.

I still have so much to learn from post-processing, next thing you know I’ll be using Photoshop 😉