Category Archives: Architecture

Chasing Light In Johannesburg

A few weeks ago my friend Kyle and I woke up at 4:00a.m. to and made our way to Ghandi Square in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, to chase the sunrise. This is what happened.

First light. The morning after the night before.

First light. The morning after the night before.

Kyle. Find him on jozilifestylephotography.wordpress.com

Kyle in the Square. Find him on jozilifestylephotography.wordpress.com

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The Nelson Mandela Bridge.

The Nelson Mandela Bridge.

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A city awakens.

A city awakens.

Photo of me by Kyle Matthews at the old Rail Station in Newtown, Johannesburg.

Photo of me by Kyle Matthews at the old Rail Station in Newtown, Johannesburg.

All shots and edits on my iPhone 5 using the native camera and editing app.

I’ve met some really cool people through Instagram and a few months ago a group of us formed a photography collective. If you’re on Instagram check out #BangBangJHBCollective to see more of our photography.

When Not To Stop Aim And Shoot In Bulawayo

Whilst in Bulawayo Zimbabwe last week I spent a few days photographing sites and scenes around the city. I recently posted a blog of my visit to Centenary Park but today’s post will have no photographs.

On Sunday morning I went to the iconic Bulawayo Railway station, a place I had not visited since I was in high school some twenty years ago. On arrival I was impressed at how well maintained the main station entrance area is and it photographed really well in the morning light. I walked onto the platform and as I expected I found it in dire need of attention but much of the original structure is still intact.

The platform is a budding photographer’s dream with combinations of colonial and art deco architecture that have blended together over the decades as the station grew from it’s original structures. The long views down the railway lines as they disappear out the station to far off destinations. The iron struts that hold up the platform roof look like they have been there an eternity and will be there for an eternity still.

The faded advertising boards feature products that have not been seen anywhere in Zimbabwe for years, some since the eighties. Whilst quaint and photogenic, none of the advertising light boxes work anymore and I wonder when last anyone paid rent for the advertising space they still take up. There are no engines on the platform today, just fully loaded coal wagons and a few closed wagons possibly loaded, possibly empty. As I photograph a concrete pillar a passer-by says to me, “don’t get caught” I look up but he is already moved on so I continue with what I am doing.

I walk to the end of the tracks looking for the shot that will make my day and notice a guard sunning himself on a bench with his back to me. Not sure I have found what I wanted I make my way out of the station only to be stopped by a now wide awake security guard who asks me what I am doing. I tell him and he asks me to come with him, I ask why I should if I have done nothing wrong but he is insistent, politely so. After sparring for a few minutes like this I realise this will end badly if I continue to resist so I get in the car and we go to his office a short distance away.

At the office he asks to see my photographs so I show him, it is at this point that he tells me I have broken the law. He points to a notice on his wall which states there will be no unauthorised photography of any national railways structure or property and violation will result in a fine or jail time or both. Lucky for me we had had a cordial discussion so he allowed me to leave with a warning and advised me who I should seek permission from in future, a Mr. Masikati at the NRZ Head Office in town.

This was not the first time I had been stopped from taking photographs at a train station, a few months earlier at Johannesburg’s Park Station the guards there had threatened to take my phone but let me go when they realised I was a tourist.

Still reeling from that close shave I went across the road to shoot the power station who’s cooling towers are a famous Bulawayo landmark. No sooner had I taken my first shot a security guard comes across the road to usher me into the station’s guard house. Turns out it is a criminal offence to photograph any power installation punishable by a prison sentence, a US$2000,00 fine or both. Mr. Banda, the guard, told me i had broken the law and that he was required to call state security, known locally as the President’s Office, believe me, these are the last people you ver want to deal with. I asked why this was so serious an offence he explained thus:

If Zimbabwe was to ever come under attack the two places to first be neutralised would be the power and fuel supplies therefore all such installations are regarded as national key points requiring the highest security. He then asked to see my photographs and asked me to delete them as he watched. I was gutted but grateful the situation didn’t go further than it did, I may not have been here today to write this.

You know how they say bad things happen in threes? Turns out fate was not done with me yet, fast forward to Friday, my last morning in Bulawayo. After shooting in Centenary Park I walked to the council buildings looking for unique angles for my blogpost. I hand’t taken five shots before a security guard approached me and the now familiar dance began. “Who are you, where are you from and what are you doing? Let me see your photographs because what you’re doing is not allowed. Ok last warning, don’t do it again, be gone.” After a great morning shoot in the park this was deeply frustrating, to make matters worse, the guard told me they were simply enforcing a verbal instruction from some superior and he was not even sure if it was enforceable.

Whilst I can appreciate national security concerns I find barring tourists from taking photographs of state structures is an archaic and unenforceable regulation. You would think the station in a city that suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in history would have the most restrictive measures but no, New York City’s Grand Central Station has an Instagram account and hundreds of photos are uploaded daily by travellers passing through it. Johannesburg’s Gautrain has no problem with photographers at it’s stations or on it’s trains as long as they don’t cause a danger to themselves or others.

In Zimbabwe the people expected to enforce these rules are bored and disinterested, you just have to google these places and you will find hundreds of photos. In an age of drones and spy satellites who would walk up to the front gate of a national key point in broad daylight and start taking photographs in full view of security personnel? This is an example of technology outpacing technology and those who write our laws are woefully ill-equipped to meet this challenge.

Until that day, take this as a word of advice from one who got lucky twice in fifteen minutes on a Sunday morning, you may not be so lucky when next you’re out gramming wherever you are.

Riding on the N1 Freeway

Yesterday at around sunset I spent some time at the intersection of Beyers Naude Drive and the N1 Freeway experimenting with long exposure photography. I took a variety of shots over almost two hours in varying light conditions and at varying speeds.

 

The Wesbank building. I'm told this is one of the most energy efficient buildings in South Africa, I hope to photograph it in detail soon.

The Wesbank building. I’m told this is one of the most energy efficient buildings in South Africa, I hope to photograph it in detail soon.

Pick a road, any road, as long as it leads home.

Pick a road, any road, as long as it leads home.

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Traffic, at the speed of light. I sometimes imagine what it would be like if we could travel at the speed of light.

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The N1 speedway

The N1 speedway

The almost infinite lights.

The almost infinite lights.

As the sun sets the light takes on a totally new life.

As the sun sets the light takes on a totally new life.

Sit. Relax. Save. This is how the biggest city in Africa's most developed economy moves.

Sit. Relax. Save. This is how the biggest city in Africa’s most developed economy moves.

Chasing lights on Beyers Naude.

Chasing lights on Beyers Naude.

These commuters were bemused by the strange man sitting on the ground with his camera and a tripod seemingly oblivious to everything around hi.

These commuters were bemused by the strange man sitting on the ground with his camera and a tripod seemingly oblivious to everything around him.

In the coming weeks I will be exploring other areas of the city of Johannesburg, look out for my graffiti feature coming soon. In the mean time you can see more of my photographs on my Instagram account @RickyEMarima.

The Day I Went To FNB Stadium

On Sunday 18th May 2014 Instagrammers around the world gathered in hundreds of cities for the ninth World-Wide InstaMeet. In Johannesburg this happened at the FNB Stadium and I was there.
Do I need to mention this is the stadium where the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final was played? With that done let us move on. It was a glorious afternoon and over two hundred people came out.
Having never been to the stadium before and being a fan of architecture I was looking forward to this for weeks and I was mightily impressed. I arrived at about 3:00p.m. and immediately started looking for interesting shots. We were soon ushered in and after some housekeeping, group photos and announcement of the rules we were let lose on the stadium. There was a stadium tour and I thought, what better way to see the stadium, a great decision. Here is my story.

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This is probably still my favourite shot from the day. That's @radhiyyah07

This is probably still my favourite shot from the day. That’s @radhiyyah07

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Editing time in Long Exposure.

Editing time in Long Exposure.

The light in here is simply something to marvel at.

The light in here is simply something to marvel at.

 

A black and white edit of my favourite shot.

A black and white edit of my favourite shot.

Made a new friend on the day, this is Nadine, follow her on Instagram @nadeynay.

Made a new friend on the day, this is Nadine, follow her on Instagram @nadeynay.

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The interior orange colour of the stadium symbolises a pumpkin.

The interior orange colour of the stadium symbolises a pumpkin.

Deep in the belly of the calabash.

Deep in the belly of the calabash.

 

My initial take on the stadium facade, one of the most interesting buildings I have ever visited.

My initial take on the stadium facade, one of the most interesting buildings I have ever visited.

The view of the instameet  from way up high in the VIP section.

The view of the instameet from way up high in the VIP section.

Meet our host Ephraim, the most engaging and entertaining man you would ever want to meet. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of FNB Stadium.

Meet our host Ephraim, the most engaging and entertaining man you would ever want to meet. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of FNB Stadium.

Having some dreamy Long Exposure fun in the entrance area.

Having some dreamy Long Exposure fun in the entrance area.

All in all a highly rewarding day hosted by Stadium Management South Africa. They offer guided tours of the stadium available by appointment and also hire out sections of the stadium for events. If you are in Johannesburg and appreciate architecture this is definitely something to add to your list. For more photos from the day on instagram follow the hashtags #wwim9 #SMSA #FNBStadium and #wwim9_jhb. As usual all photos are taken and edited on my Apple iPhone 5, remember to follow me too on @rickyemarima.

 

Sandton City in Long Exposure 1

 

 

 

Last week in the hours of Thursday morning before dawn I went to Sandton City in Northern Johannesburg to try and capture the sunrise in long exposure. These are the results without any editing. All shots are on my iPhone 5 using the SlowShutter app available for 99c in the AppStore. For more of my photography follow me on Instagram on @rickyemarima.

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