After a long days driving from Centurion we eventually arrived in Smithfield at about 4h30 on a Saturday afternoon in December last year.
Smithfield is on the main route to Port Elizabeth and a popular stopover. The are numerous b&b establishments and even a few restaurants etc. We stayed in 'Rusties place' for the night and we had a very unique two bedroom apartment all to ourselves . . .
The entrance to our apartment was right on the street and there were some chairs on the grass pavement where we could sit and watch the passing parade. As soon as I saw someone interesting walk by on the gravel road,I would just get up and walk over and ask if I could take their photograph. I carried a whole bag filled with small packets of potato chips and I used these as 'bribes'. It worked like a charm and no one said 'no'. Thus I took some photographs of a very fashionable David and Bridget, Stefan the ER guy with his partner, Anthony that had already driven twice from Aliwal North because of vehicle accidents and Vusi, Tshidiso and Joseph.
The main road through town had just been re-opened after a two year upgrade. Because of all the trafic and the bankrupt municipality the road was build by SANRAL, the national roads agency with concrete. The concrete strip through town is thus were durable and can carry all the heavy trucks without too much maintenance needed, which the municipality cant afford..
The only problem, according to the locals was that the main road was closed for traffic for the duration and it had a devastating effect on local business. The town did look tired and with all the road works still in progress decidedly unattractive, and it was quite dirty...which was something that we noticed of many a small town, such a pity because many of the small Karoo 'dorpies' are actually quite beautiful. Many municipalities, unfortunately lack the will, skills and resources to manage the towns properly....
I used my Leica X1 to photograph the people images posted here. The fixed 35mm equivalent lens has become my 'standard' lens. I prefer using a wider lens for portraits and people because it shows something of their environment, as opposed to the tighter crop of a 'classical' portrait lens like the 80/90/100 and 135mm focal lengths.
The rest of the photographs of the buildings were made with my Canon 5D2 and 1 24 Tilt and shift lens as well as a few with my 40mm pancake. sometimes its just too dangerous to stand in the middle of the road, even very early in the morning when most people are still asleep and then the 24mm is just too wide and then the 40mm pancake works well to photograph 'across' the street. the pancake has no shift facility but i have ordered a lens adapter from amazon to be able to fit my 50mm Mamiya shift lens on my Canon. Its in the post and I am looking forward to see how it pairs with my Canon 5D2.
I always use a tripod whenever I can. I very seldom carry a bunch of lenses with me and for these photographs I only used, as mentioned, two. I mount the camera with lens on the tripod, with an extra lens in my pocket, or if its too big, in the pocket of a camera jacket. I just put the tripod fully extended over my shoulder when I walk, it saves having to collapse and extend the tripod all the time, which is normally the case when I am driving. Its one of the reasons why I prefer walking and photographing as opposed to driving and photographing...
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