Cape Town

Destination Introduction

Table Bay
A view of Table Bay from Robben Island

Cape Town itself is a divided city between the Cape flats and the more classy water front. With the famous back drop of the towering Table Mountain, Cape Town offers an interesting photographic mix. In the urban areas, you can photograph different cultures and societies in Townships whilst in the rural areas of the cape there are the striking cliffs and beaches which are well-known for their historical context. The Cape Floral kingdom is located around Cape Town and is one the richest but smallest plant kingdoms on the planet. It holds a unique range of small wildlife which interacts closely with the surrounding vegetation.

Photographic Subjects

A woman from a Township
Woman preparing a goat in the Cape Flats

In the city, it is possible to arrange guided trips into the Townships of the Cape flats which allow the opportunity for photography. It is possible to capture intimate insights into the peoples’ interesting way of life through the camera lens. The busy waterfront offers very different subjects such as the boats in the docks. But perhaps one of the best ways to photograph the city is from Table Mountain which can be accessed via a cable car. It presents panoramic views of the city and ocean. Although extremely numerous, rock hyrax that live on top of the mountain are also photogenic if they can be framed with some of the wild flowers that grow there. However, possibly the best way to photograph the city and table mountain itself is to take the boat to Robben Island where the ‘picture-postcard’ view can be found. Just outside Cape Town is the Cape of Good Hope which juts out into the cold Atlantic Ocean in the form of a spectacular cliff peninsular. The vegetation along the cape is called Fynbos and is home to tortoises, antelope, birds, insects and many more fascinating creatures. In nearby Simon’s Town you can even photograph the small African penguin. The more adventurous photographers may wish to venture into the local waters to try to photograph the Great White Shark in its natural habitat!

Photography Tips

Photo of penguins using a slow exposure

Experienced guides are strongly recommended for the Township visits as many of the areas should be avoided. A long lens avoids the need to invade privacy. A wide-angle lens is recommended for the other city photography situations. Often, it is a good idea to look at the postcards or books that are for sale – just to pick up some ideas of where the best angles are or times of day to photograph. You might want to invest in a polarizing filter which will add saturation to your images, especially for the sky. A macro lens is good for photographing many of the flowers in the Fynbos, the majority of which are blooming in autumn. When photographing the African penguins, try to look for interesting composition or creative effects that will make your photographs more attractive – sunset or sunrise are good time to visit them for the light.