Nowhere To Fish

Photos John Robinson

South Africa’s second quarter 2010 unemployment rate is 25.3%, The government promotes the production of food gardens, the transfer of skills, and is encouraging the development of small scale farmers. The burden of putting food in the mouths of its people is an issue that is not going away any time soon.

Yet, The City of Durban has restricted the access of fishermen to deep water piers along it’s beach front, and the Durban Port authorities have restricted access to the water in and around the port. Durban’s subsistence fishermen have fished both these waters for generations, these people have an inconsistent income at best and it has been the skills passed down from their grandfathers that has consistently put food on their tables. 

The city is promoting the city as a tourist venue of choice, it seems that the fishermen do not fit into this profile, and the port authorities talk of security risks and the national key point act.

These people are not recreational fishermen that go out on the weekends for a bit of stress relief. These fishermen will be found making ends meet every day and night depending on the conditions of the sea.

The subsistence fishermen realise that the sea is the source of their lively hood, they pay their fishing licences, they understand the sea and teach the younger men that to protect the piers is to ensure their future.

The economic woes of South Africa will not just end, “fishing is the only thing left”  says Fog who has put his kids through school with his fishing skills. The access to viable fishing piers is not being resolved, meetings are arraigned between the fishermen and the authorities, and still the authorities do not come. 

The hunger will not go away and because of this the fishermen will find a way to continue catching their fish where ever they are able. 

12 years have past and still Durban’s subsistence fishermen battle to access good fishing waters around Durban.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

In Honour of International Peace Week

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Photo Senlis Margaux

“In honor of the International Day of Peace and Peace Week, Lenscratch has partnered with the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to feature photographic projects highlighting the lasting impacts of war, conflict, and displacement. Lauren Tate Baeza, Director of Exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, is our guest editor.

Since 1981, the International Day of Peace has been observed annually on September 21st. Declared a day of nonviolence and cessation, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted for a holiday to increase public awareness of the perils of war and encourage educational programming on topics related to peace. With a pressing need to pool resources to combat the COVID-19 global health crisis, 2020 carries an added sense of urgency for conflict resolution.”

Lenscratch

The Camera & Coffee Sessions

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The Camera & Coffee Sessions are an ongoing series of accessible, bite-sized one-hour Zoom.us photography lessons hosted by John Robinson. John Robinson has a passion and a long history in telling stories through still photography and photography teaching. John Robinson can be contacted on jr.photog@icloud.com or +27836547789.

  1. Photographic Basics
  2. Depth of Field and Capturing Movement
  3. Working with Light
  4. Visual Devices in Photography
  5. The Camera in the World
  6. Small Cameras
  7. Shooting into the Light
  8. Framing the Moment
  9. Inside my Camera Bag
  10. The Camera that is in Your Hands
  11. About Editing
  12. But is it Art? A history of telling stories through photography.
  13. Fundamentals of Portraiture
  14. Connecting with the Subject
  15. Photographic Perception
  16. Photography versus Videography
  17. JPG, DNG, RAW Files in Photographic Workflow
  18. Aspects of Photographic Reality

Each session costs USD 20.00 and can be paid for through my Pay Pal account at PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

The Plastic Pickers of New England Road Landfill Site

Photos John Robinson

At the New England Road landfill site in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa the plastic pikers continue to pick up things of value in a landscape dominated by a sea of plastic waste.

Through the smog and dust of the New England Road landfill site city waste department trucks are followed around by some of the city’s informal waste recyclers on the landfill site you can ask any of these people that days gold, aluminium or going mild steel price, these people will tell you what it is. These people are here for a purpose and that is to put something to eat in the mouths of families living in informal settlements in the area.

Our thirst for plastic is seen in each step I make through the waves of incoming plastic and other waste that these people pick through for value on this site. Plastic wrappers, foil snack packets that did not make the grade at some fried food maker in the city, spoiled food soft underfoot in yet more plastic and wet in the soft rain and pungent in the heat of the day just after.

Day in and day out the plastic pickers come to sift through what others did not want. Young women that in another’s life could be beauty queens but in this life are pickers of someone else’s house waste and plastic wrappers. A young man who still wears his school passing out shirt with the good wishes from classmates across his back only to wind up on one of life’s literal dump sites. Others take refuge in the inhaling of the sweet smoke of a local cannabis variety.

The New England Road landfill site landfill has a history of mismanagement. The toxic mix of plastic, domestic waste, cardboard, old computer parts burnt for four days from 20 July 2020 engulfing the city of the origin of all this waste in a toxic cloud for days.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Jesus Actions v Jesus Slogans

“The writer James Baldwin stated in 1962, ‘It is, alas, the truth that to be an American writer today means mounting an unending attack on all that Americans believe themselves to hold sacred.’

It is the truth that to be a person of faith in America today is to recognize that America desires Jesus slogans over morally grounded Jesus-inspired action.

America as a nation stands on the precipice of what Rev. William Barber II refers to as “the third reconstruction,” a moment in history when the zeitgeist of the nation clashes with the myth of our history. The nationwide unrest, witnessed from Maine to California, is part of America’s reckoning with a lie this nation has refused to acknowledge. As a nation, racialized thinking and white supremacy is part of not only our history but saturates all of our institutions. I will not bore you with historical details, but scholars such as Michelle Alexander, Ibram X. Kendi, Carol Anderson, and Richard Rothstein make the case powerfully that America has a spiritual malady supported by institutions that either aggressively promotes these ideals or willfully ignore their reality. Our national reckoning and possible reconstruction rest at the epicentre of this myth many today courageously seek to exorcise from our body politic.

Portland and cities such as Chicago, where I live, work and serve, offer an additional challenge to people who want to be free of the lie that comes with loving whiteness over ethnicity and power over democracy.” – Otis Moss III

A Flat Tyre, Muggers and Angels…

I am 36 Kilometres into a 40 plus Bicycle Ride Through the Durban Docklands to the Beachfront and Back. The mid-winter sun had just ducked it’s round behind the Berea ridge, and I first feel the squiggly grind of a flat front tyre on tar as I stop at the Bayhead and South Coast roads intersection.

As I am walking my bike south across the intersection down South Coast Road and home in Woodlands, I am looking for a secluded, lighted space to repair my front tube. I have all the tools for the job. I have a puncture kit, inspection dish (used ice cream container) in my pannier at the back and water in my caged drinking bottle on my Giant Talon frame.

As I walk my bicycle down off the rail overpass at Bayhead and South Coast Road, the road curves to the right and the high arc lights over an entrance to a container depot are a beacon to me. I have repaired many tubes as a cyclist, and here I have light, a workspace and if this tube can be fixed and I will be able to ride away into the night.

I lower the tube valve first, into the water in my ice cream container, the telltale bubbles spew from where the valve and tube intersect. S***, this tube cannot be fixed.

The headlights of trucks bear down on me as I walk on with my ‘cycle at my side, at times I just stop and lean away as trucks rumble past, there is no space for me and oncoming night traffic, across the road there is a pavement. A gap in the traffic allows me to change sides.

Here it is just the bright lights of trucks in route to the harbour and the night glow of the changing shifts of workers in safety gear walking past.

South Coast Road proper is just ahead with its ladies of the night and the Woonga addicts looking for the cash for their next hit. The ladies and I have a mutual respect going from my many night ‘cycle trips through in these parts of the city, the woonga addicts are another thing entirely.

I pass a parked truck on its traffic side, the pavement side is a bit long and dark, as a nightwalker/cyclist I try to make myself a hard target for anyone who has unsociable outcomes in mind. I am now walking on the road as the two young men come out of the shadows I have just detoured from while walking on the traffic side of the truck just now.

“You have nothing to fear here, you cycle past here during the day, you are one of the community” I carry on my way as they keep up with me on the pavement in the bright beam of my bicycle headlight and the soft glow of my iPhone in its pouch fixed to the bike.

“What is that there?” The tall one of my two new friends asks as he notices the glow off my mobile phone, I reply that he actually doesn’t see anything there. I press my hip up against the ‘phone pouch as I get in the way of Number Two as he tries to wrest my phone away from me. Number One threatens to poke me with a knife that I have yet to see in his hands. “I am going to poke you, I am going to poke you with a knife”

I do not care what Number One says about giving me a poke with a knife, my eyes are glued to the hand in his pocket where the said knife is supposed to be. Number Two is having trouble trying to get hold of my phone that is still firmly in its pouch, my hip is still blocking his way. I keep my firm grip on the bike, My headlight comes out of its holder in our joint scuffle and hangs by the cord that is for this very purpose.

The momentary sense of ‘being mugged’ is quickly replaced by a deep awareness of the situation around Number One’s hand in his pocket, of my close surrounds and a sense of my own physical strength and resistance to the endeavours of Number One and Number Two on this dark Durban road.

A voice calls out to the two parras, (Short for parasites, South African slang for street criminals) “Get away from him.” My guardian looks at me through rimless glasses, he speaks English with a heavy Afrikaans undertone. “Come in here, they won’t follow you in.” Number One and Number Two spring away from me and tumble over themselves into the night. I follow my guardian into the truck washing depot where he works and away from the spot where Number One and Number Two went empty-handed.

In the seclusion of the washing depot, I turn off my ‘phone and headlight, I want to proceed on my way home without calling any more attention to myself. My guardian and a woman who also works at the depot agree to walk with me as far as a tuck shop at the next intersection. Walking as three is better than walking alone. Patience signs to me that this is where she and my guardian stop.

South Coast Road is a dual carriageway here and walking along the centre island makes me a harder target for any others that want to take their chances with the man walking with a flat wheeled bicycle in the night. As I walk I keep a lookout over both shoulders to keep aware of what is around me. There is only one more contender on the pavement to my left but he does not come across the road to the centre island where I am walking. “…I want your bike” he says to me, I just wave back to him and carry on my way.

It is a six-kilometre walk from where I felt something wrong with my front wheel to my room in Woodlands. Apart from a few curious dogs, my walk is just a slog up the hills of this part of Durban. I have plenty of time to think about what has just happened to me.

  • Never ride without a spare tube, tools for simple bicycle repairs, a puncture kit and fruit and water for energy and hydration.
  • Always wear shoes that you can also walk in.
  • Muggers don’t have a plan b, do the unexpected. Give muggers a way out and they will take it.
  • Be calm and stay calm and focused, I don’t know when my angels will come.
  • Dogs on the roads are usually are only curious about what is coming past their territories, don’t take their barking personally.
  • It is always easier to ride up a hill then walk up the same.

 

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

 

3 Important Things in Telling a Story

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When Telling a Story, Intercession, Photography and Writing all Play a Part in Getting the Story Out. 

Intercession |ˌɪntəˈsɛʃ(ə)n| the Action of Intervening on Behalf of Another: he only escaped ruin by the intercession of his peers with the king. The action of doing something on behalf of another: prayers of intercession.

Photograph |ˈfəʊtəɡrɑːf| A Picture Made Using a Camera, in which an image of what is focused on to light-sensitive material and then made visible and permanent by Chemical Treatment, and or digital process: A photograph of what is in front of you.

Writer |ˈrʌɪtə| A Person Who has Written Something or who Writes in a Particular Way: the writer of the article. a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a vocation or occupation: she was a prolific writer | he a writer of short stories.

I got into photography when I saw how I could put some light on some of what I saw around me in the city of Johannesburg in the 1990s. I am a photographer because through it I can tell something of what is around me, I am not a camera or photographic technophile. When I saw how I could go into a situation with a small camera and come away with tangible aspects of what was there I was officially hooked. As a photographer, I don’t feel that there is such a thing as a boring situation but there is such a thing as a boring story told.

I then started to write for myself when I needed extended captions and some short-form writing to go with the pictures I was making. Robin Comley said to me one day that in the perfect world our pictures would talk for themselves, we agreed in the end that writing could add some context but we never should double-speak to the viewer as it were. The picture and the text can work alongside each other but never repeat each other as a writer and a photographer work together on a joint job. As a writer, I am picture strong, I can get the feel of what I want in the text. I love working with a good editor can get that feeling all in line alongside my images.

After many years in this craft and after many years of hardship for many photographers in getting stories published in a ‘visual’ world, I have given much thought to what I might actually be in all this…

I am the go-between, the messenger, a soother and sometimes the grit in a shoe. The intercessor speaks for the other, the intercessor speaks to another too. The intercessor goes in between for two parties or viewpoints. Sometimes my work can be soothing like an applied balm, and at other times these perceptions can be uncomfortable truths that also need some of the light of the day.

Like any craftsman, it is not enough to just make nice chairs, for example. The craftsman has to keep a note of how his ‘chairs’ are fitting into the rooms and doing all the jobs that they were intended to do. As a photog, I have to keep a firm hold on my position-at-work as I frame images and link words for others to view and read.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

 

 

 

Camera & Coffee Sessions, Small Cameras

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SINDI ZILWA Photo John Robinson

When Any Camera Intrudes Into a Person’s Space that Person Becomes Normative or in Other Words, Adopts a Pose That They Feel Is the Right Way for Them to be Perceived

Order coffees.

Unless you take out your camera in front of an inanimate object or a person without any prior knowledge of cameras and photography there will be a change in your subject when they realize they are being photographed. The photographer has always hankered for invisibility.

When any camera intrudes into a person’s space that person becomes normative or in other words adopts a pose that they feel is the right way for them to be perceived by the photographer at hand. Big setups like those with a camera on a tripod and studio lights will give off a more formal feel from the subject while small cameras and less of a studio setup will give off a more informal feel from the subject at hand. In both situations, the intervention of more of the joint humanness shared by both the subject and photographer can lessen the normative behaviour of the person or people photographed.

If the photographer comes away from behind the camera body by using a waist-level viewfinder and or engages more with the subject, the subject will in turn relax and give more of their spirit to the resulting photographic images.

The subject too must be able to trust the photographer to give of their self into the same resulting photographs.

Drink some coffee.

When photography was born, the early cameras were bulky and very noticeable. The image through the lens was transferred onto a large sheet of glass and from this glass plate, a contact print was made. Candid photography was not generally possible. It was only with the start of production of the small rangefinder camera in 1932 and later SLR cameras that it was possible for the photographer to focus accurately and fast candid photography with a small camera was also born.

With the advent of digital photography, the world is awash with the photographic images of everybody and all their neighbours too. The days of many people feeling the need for the services of a person who understood the art of photography are largely over. Everyone now thinks that they are a photographer in their own right. In this wash of people taking pictures of themselves and their friends, the narrative photographer can at last hide in plain sight. The photographer can be invisible in plain sight in this wash of image takers while continuing documenting life as he or she uniquely perceives.

The Leica M6 camera is a small analogue rangefinder camera, it is what I use for most of my personal photographic work. The Leica M6 is a small quiet rangefinder camera and in many ways, it is just like the first rangefinder cameras of 1932 which could be used without much attention called to its self unlike the bulky cameras of those times.

Alongside my Leica M6, I am now starting to use my iPhone 6 phone camera for some of my personal work too.

With the wash of many people taking selfies with mobile phone cameras in public places, I have found out that I can use my mobile phone camera for street photography with drawing close to zero attention to myself while doing my stuff as a narrative photographer.

In many ways, the modern mobile phone camera is the Leica M camera of its day. My iPhone 6 camera is hiding in plain sight in the midst of all the other mobile phone cameras clicking round about…

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

#Dialogue…

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NELSON MANDELA ATTENDS A REUNION OF HIS WITS UNIVERSITY LAW CLASS. 1996 WITS UNIVERSITY JOHANNESBURG SOUTH AFRICA PHOTO/JOHN ROBINSON

One goal Of dialogue Among Cultures And Civilisations Is To Recognise And To Understand Not Only Cultures And Civilisations Of Others, But Those Of “One’s Own.” We could know ourselves by taking a step away from ourselves and embarking on a journey away from self and homeland and eventually attaining a more profound appreciation of our true identity.

It is only through immersion into another existential dimension that we could attain mediated and acquired knowledge of ourselves in addition to the immediate and direct knowledge that we commonly possess. Through seeing others we attain a hitherto impossible knowledge of ourselves. – Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran. (pp 267) Reconciliation, Pocket Books, London.

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer

Covid 19 In South Africa, Coming Through Bitter Experience…

HIV and TB, And Now Covid 19 In South Africa

Photos and Words John Robinson

Gogo, you kept us strong when we were bitten by the whip, and we are still strong. Though we are not a nanny state people, through you our elders, we are strong. Though we are not of orderly streets and straight lines. In this Gogo, we are strong.
We know of viruses and microbes in our midst. The devastation they cause runs deep on our pathways, soaking our fields with premature endings that alter the ways of our left-behinds totally, but Gogo, you have made us strong.
Gogo, you have done your bit, you have been strong for us. If it is your time now, pass with peace of mind, you have made us strong. What you have taught us over the years is with us now in this new thing. All your grandchildren are strong now.
-I have had an inner peace that the people of Africa will come through the Covid 19 pandemic stronger than many others with better resources. The difference is in our collective strength through the bitter experience with the viruses and microbes of our daily lives… John Robinson

If you like what you have seen and read here, you can always buy me a $3.00 coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JohnRobinson or PayPal.Me/jrphotographer