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Friday, March 23, 2012


Some of the finest photographs I have ever seen. (Review by Caroline Smart)

On the flyleaf of The Best of Getaway Gallery, Cameron Ewart-Smith (Getaway’s Editor) pays credit to “all the photographers who brave hot and cold, rain and shine, early mornings and late nights to capture the unbelievable pictures that are submitted to Getaway every month.”

What started in 1989 as a simple idea – a space for readers to share their best images – has developed over the years to become the foremost African travel wildlife photography competition in South Africa. From a photographic viewpoint, nearly all the images submitted are taken by pure amateur enthusiasts. Although, as Ewart-Smith proudly remarks, Getaway Gallery has helped launch several of the big names in South African photography circles.

More than 500 images are received by Getaway each month for possible inclusion in the Gallery. The selectors must have had a daunting but extremely fulfilling experience when they created this showcase of the work of Gallery winners over the past seven years.

From the opening pic of an elephant resting its trunk on another’s back to the magnificent photograph of a Malachite kingfisher and a donkey with a cheeky grin on the Index page, this book contains some of the finest photographs I have ever seen.

Judges are committed firmly to choosing only photographs of the highest calibre. So I decided to put myself, family members and friends in a judging position to force a choice of images - an almost impossible task, given the stunning and wide-ranging subjects to choose from.

Among the favourites were: Angel Wings an image of a seagull landing by Isak Pretorius; a dramatic shot of a dragonfly in Perfect Symmetry by Devin Alexander depicts and the magnificent shot of massive waves crashing into False Bay in Last Line of Defence by Lee Slabber.

Another image by Lee Slabber chosen by my “judges” was Contemplating, a photograph of a baboon caught in the dying rays of the sun. Also selected was an early morning sunshine image with the delightful Meerkat by PeDee Osthuizen. Landscape vistas abound and Augrabies Falls by Elma Venter; as well as two Drakensberg images Dawn from the Witches by Emil van Maltitz and Autumn Lane, by Francois Loubser caught their attention as did Moon in the Arch by Stuart Apsey (Wolfberg Arch in the Cederberg)

High on the rating scale were the adorable Camera-Shy Lion by Jan KolbĂ©; the incredibly long feelers of a long-horned grasshopper in Feeling Antsy by Vida van der Walt, and Stuart Bowie’s Three of a Kind of three white-fronted bee-eaters on a branch, each with a catch in its beak.

Biggest and Tallest by Dean Polley is a glorious pic of an elephant surrounded by egrets with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, a sight often seen in my childhood growing up in beautiful Kenya.

The reality of killing in order to survive is brilliantly caught in Surprise Attack by Mario Milani, capturing a dramatic moment when a lioness attacked a zebra. A blue-cheeked bee-eater catches a dragonfly in Caught by Louis Boezaart. In gentler contrast, there are superb shots of flowers and plants, butterflies and birds - even the eyes of an octopus or a crocodile.

Each photograph contains technical information from the photographers as well as the process of capturing the images, many of which are the result of pure chance.

The Best of Getaway Gallery offers wonderful therapy for anyone who leads a stressful life. Keep the book close at hand, sit back and simply get lost in the images.

The Best of Getaway Gallery is edited by Cameron Ewart-Smith. Published in hardcover with full-page colour images, it retails at R275 (World Rights) ISBN 978-1-4314-0261-8 – Caroline Smart