Let’s take better waves in your seascape photographs: here’s three tips

As featured on Conservation Mag:

High waves at Kalk Bay, Cape Town. 1/1000th second at f5.6 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

As a working photographer, nothing quite beats being out in nature with a seascape in front of you and a camera in hand.  Whether the ocean is wild with thundering white waves or standing peacefully still so clear that you can stare into its depths, I feel a deep connection with the spaces where land and water meet.

Believe me, capturing a seascape is as challenging as they get – there’s sea spray, there’s slippery rocks, and to top it all off, if you aren’t looking a rogue wave can leave you drenched with a flooded camera.

When looking at those waves in front of you it makes a huge difference to think about what type of shots you would like to get.

Seascapes are all about capturing waves in motion, and for that, controlling your shutter speed is critical – so now is the perfect time to cast off your reliance on auto and turn your dial to shutter priority and manual modes.

Once you start understanding that certain waves can produce certain shots, it makes approaching your compositions much easier. I like to divide the types of ocean shots into 3 categories: long wispy exposures, wave trails (mid-level exposures) and freeze motion (fast exposures)

Key to this is going out and taking a few minutes to really look at what the ocean is doing. As you notice ocean is in constant flux and depending on the season and tide a coastline can change quite dramatically. From where the water is touching to where the light is touching the waves can be doing completely different.

Since I started thinking more about what the waves are doing, and how I can use shutter speeds to enhance that motion, my images took a leap in quality – so give it a go with these helpful strategies to improve your shooting waves.

Freeze Motion

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High waves at Kalk Bay, Cape Town. 1/1000th second at f5.6 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

These are fast shutter speeds anywhere 1/60 to 1/2000 and faster. At these speeds, you wouldn’t need a tripod. These are perfect speeds for catching massive waves as they roll harbour walls and lighthouses.

Timing for these shots is essential. Try to capture the wave at its apex for that wow moment and look for objects that can provide a sense of scale for maximum effect. Don’t be afraid to set your camera onto burst mode and shoot dozens of frames.

Wave trails – mid-level exposures

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Low tide at Banty Bay, Cape Town. 0,8 second at f8 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

Wave trail wave-type shots require shorter exposures but still require a tripod. You can typically get them shooting at shutter speeds of 1/20 – 2 seconds, depending on how ferocious the waves are. These types of shots are perfect for capturing waves as they swirl in-between rocks or up long empty beaches.

I typically shoot seascapes in these zones convey a sense of motion and a sense of power. Pay attention to the where foam flows to make for one-of-a-kind abstract shapes as they swirl around objects.

Long exposure shutter speed for wispy waves

Long exposure shutter speed for wispy waves

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Long exposure at Camps Bay Tidal pool, Cape Town. 30 second at f11 on ISO 50. Photo Jay Caboz

It’s one of the questions you get asked quite a lot as a landscape photographer – how do I get those cool wispy waves? – and it’s not as difficult to replicate as people think.

These types of shots are perfect for capturing minimalist piers and isolated boats and perfect reflections in tidal pools.  

The trick is you need a tripod or solid place to balance your camera because you are going to be dealing with very slow shutter speeds and don’t want your camera to move at all.

Once you’ve found a good perch, set your ISO down to 100 and then start working your shutter speed to 5 seconds and/or longer. Then balance out your aperture. At sunset, you should be able to shoot at f-stops of f8-f16, depending on the light.  

What you are trying to do is capture the movement of the waves over these long exposure times which gives the waves their wispy movement. Because the rest of the elements in your image are for the most part stationary, the waves will move in and out of the shot and create abstract motions.

Depending on the capabilities of your camera you typically push this to 30 seconds. But you can go way beyond that if you shoot on BULB mode and hook your phone up to a remote trigger. Most cameras these days come with an in-built wi-fi so you can even hook your camera up to your phone to do the same thing.  

Bonus advice – look at purchasing ND filters

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Sunset at Slangkop lighthouse, Cape Town. 1,3 second at f13 on ISO 100. Photo Jay Caboz

One thing you will immediately notice when attempting wave trails or wispy waves is that your photos will come out white and overexposed, especially during the day. Why? Well, it’s too bright and your camera might not be able to make its aperture small enough to reduce the amount of light hitting your sensor. 

If you are having trouble with that, it’s time for you to invest in ND filters, which will help reduce the light the camera sensors pick up, as a pair of sunglasses do on a sunny day at the beach.

You can buy them at your local camera shop, but they are a pricey investment, I would recommend as a starting point looking for 3 stops – ND filter and even a 0.9 soft graduated filter if you can. I would recommend visiting ORMS or else Landscape Gear if you are based in Cape Town or Kameraz in JHB for more.

As someone that doesn’t like editing my images in Photoshop investing in a decent set of filters was one of the single best investments I have ever made.

Still, if you aren’t shooting during the day, shooting at sunset or into the evening are great times to experiment with long exposure shutter speeds.

5 of the best tidal pools in Cape Town

St James tidal pool – Photo Jay Caboz

As you may know I am quite obsessed with tidal pools. So I made a list of some of my favourite ones.

If you are interested in seeing more image please visit my website, which has a whole gallery dedicated to the tidal pools of Cape Town.

Story featured on Conservation Mag:

Source: Conservation Mag

As any Capetonian worth their salt will tell you, Cape Town, or the Mother City as locals call it, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world for holiday goers seeking adventure outdoors. Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

Within just a few minutes’ drive visitors and locals alike can access some of the most spectacular vistas nature has to offer from vibrant fynbos on Table Mountain all the way to Clifton’s pristine white beaches.

Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

The tidal pools offer a refuge for swimmers that want to escape the wild waves of the Atlantic as well as its notorious gusty south easter winds.

Here on summer days locals gather for a cool refreshing dip and are the perfect spot for families to grab a snorkel and mask to swim alongside small schools of fish, plenty of anemones, nudibranchs and starfish hanging about on its walls.

Even in winter, when the weather is cooler, you can find a host of swim-risers, that take morning dips before work. In fact, winter is one of the best seasons to check out the marine life, as the pools are less disturbed allowing small ecosystems to thrive. 

What makes Cape Town’s pools even more unique is that many of them are environmentally managed and by the end of 2020, all tidal pools managed by the City of Cape Town will be cleaned using eco-friendly methods – primarily high-pressure hoses and chalk paint, Business Insider South Africa reports.

This follows a project spearheaded by local free diver Lisa Beasley, the founder of Cape Town Tidal Pools, who has been experimenting with eco-friendly cleaning methods at the Dalebrook, St James, Kalk Bay and Woolley’s tidal pools since 2016.

So, whilst you contemplate sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the fresh salty ocean breezes and sounds of squawking seagulls, here are some tidal pools we recommend you check out:

Dalebrook, Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Dalebrook tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Dalebrook can be found in Kalk Bay and is accessible by public parking off Main Road on the False Bay side of Cap Town. This was one of the first tidal pools in Cape Town to be cleaned using environmentally friendly methods.

It is ideally located to protect swimmers from the Cape’s notorious gusty ‘south easter’ making it a popular bathing spot for locals in the area. It also features benches and a small beach for picnics, with plenty of rock pools to explore.

Because it is East facing, it is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic.

St James, Main Road, St James

St James tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Like Dalebrook, St James is also cleaned using environmentally friendly methods. The pool is one of the larger pools in the Kalk Bay area and a popular spot for swimmers throughout the day. It is a well-known photographer hotspot thanks to its colourful beach houses.

Wooley’s, Kalk Bay

Wooley’s Tidal Pool – Jay Caboz

Wooley’s offers a clear view across to Fish Hoek and is one of the lesser known tidal pools in Cape Town, partly because it is hard to spot from the road.

The pool is divided into two parts – a small splash pool for children and a deeper dipping pool for adults.

Miller’s Point tidal pool

Miller’s Point tidal pool. Photo Jay Caboz.

Planning a trip to Miller’s Point tidal pool can be quite tricky, especially since it’s an hour drive out of Cape Town. It’s also not as sheltered as some of the other tidal pools located along the False Bay side of Cape Town. I recommend checking the weather carefully before making your way out here.

That being said, the tidal pool is picturesque and shaped like a heart, and even has a slide for kids. It is well worth making a day trip out to see it and visiting Cape Point as the same time. Because it is so remote, bringing along a mask and snorkel are a must as you’ll be surprised to see how many creatures make it a home.

Maidens Cove, Camps Bay

Maiden’s Cove. Photo Jay Caboz.

Maidens Cove has two tidal pools hidden between enormous granite boulders. It’s nestled under the shadow of Lions Head, on the Camps Bay side of the city which faces West.

It’s a popular spot for sundowners with many people driving here just to watch blazing sunsets as the sun dips behind the Atlantic.

Maidens Cove has a special history as it was one the few beaches where non-white residents of Cape Town could come and enjoy a day at the sea in a whites-only area before 1994, according to Cape Town tidal pools.

There are many more tidal pools to visit inside the Western Cape.

Here is the full list of tidal pools dotted across the Western Cape:

Camps Bay Tidal Pool – Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Dalebrook Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Dalebrook

Glencairn Tidal Pool – Glencairn Beach, Glencairn

Graaff Tidal Pool – Sea Point Beach Front, Beach Road, Sea Point

Harmony Park Tidal Pool – Jan Bruin Street, Strand

Kalk Bay 1 Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay 2 Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Maiden’s Cove 1 Tidal Pool – Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Maiden’s Cove 2 Tidal Pool – Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Milton Tidal Pool – Off Beach Road, Sea Point

Monwabisi Tidal Pool – Off Baden Powell Drive, Khayelitsha

Saunders’ Rock Tidal Pool – Sea Point Promenade, Beach Road, Sea Point

Shelley Point Tidal Pool – M6, Glencairn

Silwerstroom Tidal Pool – Silwerstroom Resort, off Westcoast Road, Silwerstroom

Soetwater 1 Tidal Pool – Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Soetwater 2 Tidal Pool- Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Sparks Tidal Pool – Clarence Drive, R44, Gordon’s Bay

St James Tidal Pool – Main Road, St James

Strand Tidal Pool – Beach Road, Strand

Wooley’s Tidal Pool – Off Main Road, Glencairn, Kalk Bay

Images by Jay Caboz – Available here

If you are interested in seeing more image please visit my website, which has a whole gallery dedicated to the tidal pools of Cape Town.

MAY PRINT SALE — SA is open for e-commerce!

Great news everyone e-commerce has been opened within South Africa – all online shopping is allowed.


To celebrate I’m going to run a print special for any orders made from today for the rest of the month.

Sunset Beach, South Africa. Photo Jay Caboz.

Here’s how much you’ll pay for a matt print:

A4 print – R700
A3 print – R1,000
A2 print – R1,500
A1 print – R2,000

Courier prices need to be confirmed but if its within Cape Town I’ll foot the bill!

If you’d like some more inspiration – be it tidal pools, sunsets or sunrises – check out my website or else visit my instagram page, anything on it it printable.

Millers Point tidal pool, South Africa. Photo Jay Caboz.

I really just want to see my work on people’s walls. AND it;ll go a long way toward helping me set up my freelance career. I want to travel South Africa and bring back amazing inspirational images.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email at jaycaboz@gmail.com.

Support local, get the economy back up again, and also I would love to eat something other than 2 minute Maggie noodles.

Camps Bay tidal pool, South Africa photo Jay Caboz.



How much the Mavic Air 2 costs in SA and why I’m so excited about it.

The launch of DJI’s latest drone, the Mavic Air 2, has got me more than a little excited.

As you may know I am incredibly passionate about my drone photography and I love the way it can change our perspective of the world around us. I’ve even been awarded by DJI for the pictures of Cape Town I take with it. (Shameless punt I know but I am very proud of it.)

DJI’s new Mavic Air 2

I started flying my first drone more than two years ago with the first generation of this model. Back then it managed to tick all the boxes for me out of what I wanted from a drone: it was relatively affordable, and it met the minimum image quality requirements I was looking for as a photographer.

I have almost 48 hours of flight time fly with my own Mavic Air which is quite a lot since you only realistically get about 17 minutes per flight. Yes, my aptly named Red Baroness, so called because of her shiny red exterior, has flown in all sorts for conditions from the calm windless Karoo to pumping gales around Millers Point, Cape Town where she almost disappeared into the ocean.

I’ve never looked back, and it was one of the single best investments I’ve ever made in photography.

Camps Bay by Jay Caboz. Check my website for print inquiries.

Since then the Chinese based DJI has continued to push that technology to the next level and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. They’ve come out with the insane Mavic Pro 2 series which are awesome photography drones, albeit too bulky and expensive for me, as well as the 249-gram Mini, designed specially so that it is 1 gram lighter than US flight regulations which means you don’t have to register it to fly it in the US, and which I probably would have bought if it had had shot images in RAW.   

The Mavic Air 2 sits comfortably in between these two and it shows that DJI is without a doubt leading the forefront of the consumer drone market and it is because of one single thing – they’re listening to their pilots.

Dalebrook Tidal Pool by Jay Caboz. Check my website for print inquiries.

Like for like the Mavic Air 2 is exactly what I am looking for in an upgraded drone. The drone hasn’t even landed in South Africa yet and I’m excited about it.

A new transmission system that is dope.

First, and most importantly of all, they’ve tossed out the drones wi-fi transmission system and replaced it with the much better OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology, the same transmission system that is in the Mavic Pro 2s.

If you’ve flown with me before you’ll know how limiting that wi-fi can be and is the LARGEST complaint I have about the Mavic Air.

As a rule I don’t fly my drone further than I can see it, but I can tell you it is incredibly frustrating flying on the fringes of cities where there is so much signal interference you can barely get 100 metres from your launch site – especially when there are whales and pods of dolphin in Sea Point.

A better camera for those bangers.  

The second most exciting thing is a beefed-up camera.  DJI say the Air 2 is capable of shooting 12mb still (which is the same as the Air) as well as new high resolution 48MB image, which is a massive step-up for image quality. To me this sounds a bit gimmicky, until I can really test it out and vouch for the quality.

A new feature which I am excited to play with is Hyperlight – designed for low-light scenarios, taking multiple photographs and merging them to bring out a clear image with less of the noise which usually occurs in low-light scenes. I typically don’t fly my Air at sunset because the noise is so bad it not worth the effort.

Video improved as well

Video wise, it’s now possible to shoot an 8K Hyperlapse which I’m SO excited to try out.

It is also the first drone in the Mavic series to offer 4K video at 60 fps and 120 Mbps. Additionally, users can record unique content using HDR video. 4X Slow Motion in 1080p at 120 fps or 8X Slow Motion in 1080p at 240 fps.

Weight is heavier than the Air but longer flight times.

The Air 2 comes in at 570g, comparatively the Air weighted 430g and

Longer flight times 34 minutes vs 21 minutes.

The Air 2 features new motors, new electronic speed controllers (ESCs), enhanced battery technology and an aerodynamic design to provide a maximum flight time of up to 34 minutes.

The original Air could fly for up to 21 minutes. In my experience flying my Air this is more realistically 17 minutes under normal conditions. Windy even less.

Flight time is incredibly important when photographing things like surfers when you need to wait for the right set to catch the action.

The price would have been like the Air in 2018, if not for SA’s poor exchange rate and import duties.

Pricewise the Fly More Combo option which includes all items from the standard version (remote and drone and some spare blades) as well as a shoulder bag, ND filters, charging hub, and 3 batteries is retailing for about R22,999.

Sadly, thanks to South Africa’s poor exchange rate and high import duties, it’s R4,500 more expensive than the US retail price $988 (roughly R18,400). This same price would have been almost the same price as the first generation which I paid R18,000 for my own model back in 2018.  

It also serves to note that you won’t be able to get the Air 2 for until exports and imports out of China return to some form of normalcy during our Covid-19 lockdown.  

The Air 2 is smarter and can avoid obstacles better.

The Air 2 now has Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) 3.0 to help with object to avoid collision, giving pilots the confidence to fly in more complex situations while focusing on capturing their ideal images.

Additional sensors and auxiliary lights on the bottom of Mavic Air 2 assist with several functions including smooth, automatic landing even in difficult lighting. Mavic Air 2 also comes equipped with our GEO geofencing solution to help keep drones away from the highest-risk locations, such as busy airports.

It should be able to follow and track your movements much better than the original Air – we will see.

It will also include technology which notifies you if planes are around – but you’ll have to wait for it.

Mavic Air 2 is DJI’s first consumer drone designed to include AirSense technology, which provides a warning to drone pilots of other aircraft nearby. As these other aircraft approach the drone, AirSense will warn the drone pilot with messages, sounds and vibrations, enhancing the pilot’s awareness and ability to move the drone safely away.

If this feature appeals to you, you’ll have to wait. Due to supply chain shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic, Mavic Air 2 units equipped with AirSense ADS-B will initially only be available in North America.

For more of my work please visit my website: www.jaycaboz.com.

For print inquiries: email jaycaboz@gmail.com or fill out my contact form on the website.

DJI SKYPIXEL winner – From above: Where land meets sea

It brings me great pleasure to announce that I was a winner of this year’s DJI SKYPIXEL 5th Anniversary Aerial Photo and Video Contest.

I was among 10 other winners in the Best Aerial Story (5th Anniversary Prize) that chose pieces entered from all over the world.

As you may know I am incredibly passionate about my drone photography and I love the way it can change our perspective of the world around us.

For more pictures please visit my website.

From above: where land meets sea

SkyPixel 5th Anniversary Aerial Photo & Video Contest winner.

I feel an incredible fascination with the spaces where land and the ocean meet. Whether the sea is wild with crashing white waves or so peacefully still you can stare into its depths, I believe we have some deep human instinct that draws us to it. Since I picked up my first drone almost 2 and a half years ago drone photography has had an incredible impact in transforming my perspective of the world around me. When I look at the landscape from above it helps to remind me that we are small pieces of this beautiful Earth and often we forget that message in the chaos of life. So, I look for moments of simplicity, where life kind of falls into place among all the chaos.

Jay Caboz – Zimeo Finalist in two Catergories

I am glad to announce that I am a finalist in two categories at the ZIMEO “Excellence in Media” Awards Finalists List. Thanks once again to Forbes Africa for sending me all over the continent to write the stories I want.

Nairobi, 28th October 2015Finalists in the first edition of the Zimeo “excellence in Media” Awards have been announced today following a rigorous judging process led by independent pan-African panels of judges.

This is the first edition of the awards, which were launched by the African Media Initiative (AMI) in June 2015, to recognize excellence in journalism by rewarding stories that demonstrate high standards of professionalism and speak to the continent’s development issues. The awards received a total of 557 entries from 41 countries across the continent, from Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone Africa.

ZIMEO “Excellence in Media” Awards Finalists List

TECHNOLOGY

Jean Pierre Afadhali, The East African, Rwanda

“Rwanda ups measures for Internet to curb the abuse of Children Online”

Jay Caboz, Forbes International, South Africa

“A Rat Race Against Death”

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Wacera Ngunjiri, Africa 24 Media, Kenya

“Cape town Gunshot detection system”

Adeline Tchouakak,  Le Messager, Cameroon

“Les réseaux sociaux pour remplacer les médias classiques ?”

THE MARITIME ECONOMY

Jay Caboz, Forbes Africa Magazine, South Africa

The Dead Port That Rose Again

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Wanjohi Kabukuru, New African Magazine, Kenya

“President Michel: Oceans Fundamental to Africa’s Existence” & “A Parable Of Success

George Sunguh, Our Ports Magazine, Kenya

“PMAESA Ports Increase Capacity Ahead of Demand”

 

Portrait – Ricky Ellis, Swimmer

Portrait – Ricky Ellis, Swimmer

Medals Galore Amid AK-47s On The Floor

Photographer: @JayCaboz for @ForbesAfricaMagazine

Despite seeing assault rifles stranded in the stands, the Africa Games in Brazzaville left swimmer Ricky Ellis impressed.

If you haven’t heard about it, you’ve already missed it. The 2015 Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, came and went without much ado. But, if you were South African swimmer Ricky Ellis, coming back with one gold and three silver medals from the small francophone country, it was a time of his life, in the pool and out.

“Obviously, Africa [swimming] is not considered great. But, the competition wasn’t as easy as we thought. We knew the Egyptians were going to come at us.,” says Ellis.

Buy this months magazine to read more.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Virgin Active, Victory Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, November 2015 edition


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Powerful #FeesMustFall images from South Africa

Location: Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa

On assignment for Forbes Africa Magazine  to cover the #FeesMustFall campaign

We went expecting drama, and we got it. On the back of the growing #FeesMustFall campaign, thousands of University students protested on the banks of the Union Buildings in an effort to reduce fee increases which were set to rise as much as 10%.

As the bangs of of stun grenades met the cheers of students taunting police, Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, met with University officials and student leaders to negotiate terms. It was a case of too little too late as an isolated group of 50 students ran riot, fueled by frustration, setting toilets, cars and tyres alight. The group tore down the fence blockading the national landmark and pelted police with wrenches, rocks and pretty much anything they could find.

By the time tear gas canisters were launched into the air, the president was to announce that an settlement of a 0% fee increase for 2016 was reached. The crowd was yet to be informed.

The scene was bizarre. Among all this violence, the atmosphere beyond was light hearted and  relaxed.  I caught a number of students, standing next to the inferno, with people launching projectiles over the fence,  posing for selfies.

It was unfortunate that the thousands of other students, who were for the most part peacefully attending the protest, were caught in the peppery gas. In my view, the crowd was dispersed in the nick of time: I had seen three students preparing petrol bombs from an the abandoned generator left behind by the TV. Things could have gotten far worse.

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“This was the moment the police line broke and all hell broke loose” says Photojournalist @jaycaboz on his photo taken today at the #UnionBuildings #FeesMustFall protests. This on the back of President Jacob Zuma agreeing to a 0% fee increase for 2016.

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A small group of students led the violence outside the Union Buildings. The tension grew as the crowd got bolder, beginning with burning tyres and throwing projectiles.

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Students then grabbed toilets and set those alight.

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Among the bizarre, were students posing for selfies while behind them more fuel was fed to the inferno.

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More posing for the camera, while the smoke engulfs the hill.

 

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Illustrating my point. Here are students standing with a placard…

 

 

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…next to them are other students throwing rocks at the police.

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This was the moment the police line broke and all hell broke loose. After a wave of rocks, wrenches and bottles were thrown at them the police were forced back. Seconds later, the razor wire barrier came.

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After the students gained their foothold they began to destroy the police vehicles, ultimately leading to the tear gas.

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Students flee from the tear gas.

 




 

 

Anti-Corruption March — Photos

Location: Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa

The Unite Against Corruption march came and went on a hot Pretoria Wednesday. Among 2,000 people were various political leaders, priests and leaders of NGOs prepared to sweat it out in front of the Union Buildings.

According to their website corruption has cost South Africa R700 billion in the last 20 years.

The auditor general has reported in excess of R2,6 billion unauthorized expenditure and a further R62,7 billion in irregular expenditure for the period 2013-14.

The Special Investigating Unit estimated that as much as 20-25% of state procurement expenditure, amounting to around R30 billion a year, is wasted through over payment and corruption.

Only 23 people were convicted of corruption or offences related to corruption where the benefit case is more than R5 million.

 

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Cover Shoot – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union

FWA 2015 Aug-Sep OFC

Portrait – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union by Jay Caboz.

Portrait – Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union.

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – The Radisson, Sandton, South Africa

It isn’t a day like any other when you get to meet the most powerful woman in Africa.

I need to say off the bat that a photoshoot with such a prestigious leader doesn’t happen by chance. The Forbes Africa Woman team try to the best of their ability to plan for shoots and come up with concept that can both emulate the subject matter as well as make them look great.

Politicians, I suppose like most people who are famous, I don’t know why this is, have little time to spare when it comes to photographs. I have lost count the number of times we have dealt with figures in the public eye and they assume we can work magic in five minutes or less.  But we try our best to get what we can.

To reveal a little of what goes on behind the scenes: I had been on standby,  for this shot,  for several months. Literally we were told that this photoshoot could happen at any moment and that we were to drop everything we were doing and get it done. The only other time I have been on standby like this was when Nelson Mandela died. This was the level of importance we placed into this shoot.

Even still, it came as a surprise when at 6pm our editor Methil Renuka, calls us on from her holiday in Kerala, India, to tell us that the photoshoot would happen the next morning. Such is the dedication and drive of this team that we are always on our phones.

Over a scratchy public telephone line, from who knows where in the jungle, Renuka says: “It’s happening Jay, tomorrow. The shoot’s tomorrow.I can’t hear you but she’s coming tomorrow. Can you hear me????? Jay? …
” then line drop — received in a furniture store parking lot as we were closing up shop with the inside fashion shoot and squeezing lights back into the boot of Kris with a K, our art director’s, Renault Megan.

So the Forbes Africa Team had less than 24 hours.  We were to be given 45 minutes. Then the emails and phone calls began.

If you are familiar with the media business, it can take weeks to organize the personnel needed to organize a shoot. It is a near on impossible to organize lights, a stylist, make up artist, venue, snacks, photographer and an assistant in 24 hours. But we did it.

Luckily with such a big name many people are willing to drop what they are doing to collaborate. The Radisson, in Sandton, graciously lent us their penthouse suite for the day to set up lights and plan the shoot.

We were able to get into the venue, set up lights and be ready in time for her excellency. Time is the key word word here.

It took two hours to set up the lights, move the furniture and plan, shot by shot, pose by pose, how we were going to do this to maximize our limited time Dlamini-Zuma.

But no photoshoot goes according to plan. Ever.WP_20150703_001

Remember when I said that we had 45 minutes: Well it took the make up artist 45 minutes. Thus when Dlamini-Zuma came into the room, she should have already have left.

Dlamini-Zuma is wonderful lady, very polite and friendly to talk with. But, it is amazing that someone who is able to stand up in front of millions of people and make a speech can be shy in front of the camera. Our prep work had prepared us for this fact – she’s not a professional model.  That’s part of our job at Forbes Africa, getting the subject to come out of their shell and let their true self shine through.

We introduced ourselves, had a bit of a chit chat to release the tension in the room and got to work. I aim to get the subject to forget about all the people in the room and the bright lights. If you, as the photographer, act professionally, are composed, and act as if  you know what you are doing that confidence will shine through and you can get your subject to relax.

The time flew. We had managed to squeeze a half hour with several poses and interior magazine shots. Dlamini-Zuma shook our hands, said thanks for the photoshoot and ambled out the door.

Time to shoot: 30 minutes

Time to prepare for 30 minute shoot: 2 hours set-up, less than 24 hours to organize a team of helpers, a 45 minute make over and a phone call from India to set it off.

Job done.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, July 2015 edition

Photographer: Jay Caboz on Instagram


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