Set against the vast and empty Plains of Camdeboo, abutted by the Valley of Desolation and surrounding mountains, the small Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet seems dwarfed, vulnerable, a fragile human outpost, more so when storm clouds gather.
Yet there is a beauty in the landscape, something stark and wonderful.
To wrap up the series on Paternoster, here is the first photograph I took, around 5.30 that morning, on my way to the beach: a row of cottages at the end of the road, the rain still glistening on the tarmac, a silver sliver of moon showing between the hurrying clouds.
We drove up the steep hill into Olvera, one of the ‘white towns‘ or pueblos blancosof Andalucia; parked, climbed higher, to the monumental bulk of the Iglesia de la Encarnacion from where we could look across to the Moorish Keep on a rocky outcrop opposite; looked out over the roofs into the streets below and the olive-clad hills in the distance, and then descended once more into the town, where we came across this group of men, retired one guessed, gossiping in the shade.
The Cathedral and the Keep tomorrow or Sunday; but here is my tableaux of old men, today.
As with the other pueblos blancos we visited, Ronda, with its cobbled narrow streets, its whitewashed walls, its tiled roofs, its plazas and churches, its sun-soaked vistas, lends itself both to colour photography and to black and white.
Partly it’s a matter of taste and preference; more importantly, it’s a choice of expression. These images, for instance, worked just fine in colour, but in black and white have something quite different to say to us – or to me, at least.
I wrote in an earlier post that the decision to present an image in colour or in black-and-white was partly, perhaps, a matter of taste and preference, but more profoundly, a question of interpretation.
Here are two otherwise identical images of the Plaza de Toros – the bull-ring – in Ronda, which illustrate the point. Which do you prefer – and more importantly, why?