November 8, 2011

Purple Explosion

Jacaranda trees in Rosebank, Johannesburg at the end of October

I recently visited Pretoria for the first time since we moved here, partly with the idea of taking pictures of the beautiful jacaranda trees that are currently in bloom. But it turns out Johannesburg has plenty of jacarandas as well, equally stunning. In fact, things have conspired so that I just happen to have gotten an excellent Photoshop tutorial by my friend and fellow blogger Bing, and I've applied a little bit of what she taught me to the pictures in this post. So now you'll think the Joburg jacarandas are much more beautiful than the ones in Pretoria.

I love everything about these trees: The purple canopy, the gnarly limbs, and the
carpet of purple they spread on the street after a storm

To shoot these pictures, I joined the Joburg Photowalkers for the very first time, and we took a stroll around Rosebank. The Photowalkers are a great way to explore Joburg, especially if you're a bit apprehensive about some areas of town and want to tag along with people who know their way. And they'll also share the odd photography tip with you!

When everyone started taking pictures of reflections, I found this puddle. I love the result!

An interesting tidbit: did you know that jacarandas are not indigenous to South Africa? They were imported from South America in the 1880s but through their sheer numbers have become a South African icon. In an attempt to limit invasive species, the South African government has banned certain plants, and the jacaranda sadly is on that list. But at least it's not forcefully removed, as some other species (I think if anyone ever tried to remove jacarandas from our beautiful cities there would probably be serious civil unrest). You are simply not permitted to plant any new ones. Sigh - one of these would look beautiful in our yard!

I love how these blossoms were crowded on a little puddle, thanks to an earlier rain
Lucky timing - a blossom had just fallen in; we were throwing lots of blossoms from
then on but none of my pictures came out as nice as this first one

Looking back at these pictures, I must admit Photoshop (I got the student version, much cheaper) makes a huge difference. I've only just scratched the surface of all the amazing things you can do with it, but I'm also a bit reluctant to delve into it any deeper because I can sense a new passion taking over my life! Where to take the time? 

BEFORE: This is a jacaranda picture from my Pretoria post; the lighting wasn't great

AFTER: I didn't think a few tricks in Photoshop would make such a difference!

My friend Bing will probably smile at these because I either didn't do enough (can't figure out how to nudge that lamp post out of the picture), or, more likely, too much (so that on her Macbook - another thing I've now got my eye on - the colors will be screaming). Anyway, if you're interested in learning any tricks of your own, visit her blog here. And here is where you can get Photoshop, if you're willing to see the next 1000 hours be sucked away from your life:

Self-portrait of our Photowalkers group


Bing said...

Great job with the photos! I love the shot of the ripples!

Better shoot more of the trees. They'll be gone in no time!

Anonymous said...

There is a lovely story associated with the Jacaranda. November is exam time in South Africa. It is said that if you are a student and one of the purple blooms falls on your head as you make your way under their shady canopies, you will pass any exams coming your way. That is, if you make it to the exam hall on time after tarrying long enough to give fate the opportunity. Don't ask me what happens if you're in one of the cities which are less blessed by these colourful trees. Lovely photos.

Jenna said...

I love this post - your pictures came out wonderfully :) I also did a post on the jacarandas recently, but your pics came out much better!


Sine said...

Well, give credit to Bing and Photoshop for that - maybe I'll get you to buy it:-)

I love the story about passing your exams and am now tempted to send my boys into town. Do the grades get better the more blossoms fall on you? We might have to do lots of walking...

cat said...

Beautiful pics! I am planning to post some Pretoria Jacaranda panoramas today if I get to it. And did shoots with the kids amongst the trees last week - made great pics. And I wanted to tell you the same story... said...

Beautiful! I'm very sad I didn't make that photowalk. The reflection pics are great.

W. A. Jeffrey said...

These have to be some of the pretties trees in the entire world.