Just another site

The accidental photographer

If there is one individual who is responsible for me having a lot of adventurous fun, it is my son, Justin, aka my Sonshine. He likes doing fun things and ropes me into doing them with him whenever he can.

I have spoken about our MTB adventures in previous blogs so I won’t go into detail, suffice to say that when I’m with him I feel a li’l bit like a teenage boy – on the inside, mind you, definitely not on the outside!

Now that we live by the sea, we have traded our bikes for boogie boards and canoes. For one thing, it gets flippen hot here, so water sport makes more sense than cycling. Also, this area is hilly, so cycling would entail slogging uphill or holding on for dear life downhill; having to replace the brakes as often as my underwear.

We are surrounded by ocean, seashore, tidal pools, beach, and all of those wonderful things; using them to have fun and stay active makes perfect sense. 

I am, however, a mother, a housewife, and a freelance writer; sometimes day to day chores supersede doing stuff for fun. Today was going to be one of those days. The house needed a bit of TLC. Living so close to the sea means the windows have to be washed fairly often to prevent the household inhabitants from thinking it’s misty outside.

Gavin and I were enjoying our morning coffee, watching dozens of dolphins playing in the waves, when Justin left to go boogie boarding. We could see from home that the waves were huge! He phoned from the beach to say there were dolphins everywhere, we should come down. We were still in our pyjamas and quite happy with the view from our lounge, so we said he should enjoy it without us. Not even 15 minutes later Justin was back to fetch his camera. He changed out of his wetsuit and left all his surf stuff at home.

He called again; please could I bring his board and stuff down? The waves had settled, the dolphins had moved on, and he had FOMO because there were others in the water. My first thought was the untidiness that was glaring at me from every dog-hair-filled corner of the house. I really wanted to get the housework done. But I agreed to drop his things off quickly.

I met him on the beach and we exchanged photographic equipment for boogie boarding paraphernalia. The conditions were perfect. About half a dozen people were in the water and the shark’s board guys were washing nets in the surf. The sun was low, so the light was warm and the shadows were long. Justin was sitting on his boogie board while he donned his fins, a young boy named Cameron chatted next to him; his older brother and dad were already in the water.

I decided to try and take some photos of the activity. Justin’s camera isn’t one of those point and shoot auto-this-and-that jobs. No; he’s studying a course to learn how to use it properly. I didn’t let that phase me though – what’s the worst that can happen? I take a dozen blurry photos? It’s a digital camera; Justin can simply delete everything.

I had no idea how to attach the safety strap to the camera, so I stayed on the wooden deck at Ski-boat Beach so that any possible damage would be minimised (in the dreadful event of me dropping the camera). Unfortunately, the low sun was directly in front of me. Even though I’m not a photographer, I know that photos don’t come out nicely when they are taken into the sun. So without any further thought to safety straps or camera settings, I stepped out onto the beach and walked around the little cove so that the sun was to my left and not directly ahead.

I then proceeded to click away at every action that looked cool. Justin’s words came back to me about the two-thirds rule and focus, and zoom, and what-what, and I tried to remember everything, but I still didn’t know what settings I was working with.

I didn’t have shoes on, so I didn’t mind when the waves splashed around my legs. One problem I encountered was when the backwash rinsed the sand away from under my feet I had to re-establish my footing. Another was how tired and tense my hands and shoulders got from holding the camera and the hefty lens steady (Camera strap, who needs a camera strap?). And last but not least, my nose kept getting in the way while I was looking through the viewfinder. I had to keep reminding myself that I didn’t have to squish the camera against my face.

Having a father and his two sons in the water made for some engaging photo opportunities. The waves were amazing so there was a lot of activity amongst the boarders. Plus, like I said, the shark’s board guys were washing their nets which also made for good shots.

About an hour later the guys had boogied themselves tired and came out of the sea. In the meantime, I had taken more than 150 photographs! Thank technological advancements for digital cameras. I was super excited to see how I’d done. I waited anxiously while Justin quickly clicked through. He was impressed.

Some were out of focus, some were over-exposed, some were taken too late so the action was already over, and most were just okay, not worth keeping. But among them were some gems I tell you. We kept 18 photos, and I tried very hard to pick only the best of the best for this blog.

One day, when I’m big.

A moment of calm as these two make their way in. I love the way the bright colours of green and orange jump out from this photo with the palest of sea-blue background.

Floating on the crest of a wave.

Possibly my favourite photo of the day. The serenity of the moment as Justin bobs on the crest of the wave while heading in his direction, only a few metres away, there is a huge white wall of churning sea foam.

Brothers side by side

There are few blessings greater than an older brother who will look out for you while you enjoy your adventures together.


Father and son

Having a father who not only shares your passion but can participate with you must be such a cool thing for a teenage boy. I love the depth of this photo – the people, so aware of what’s bubbling up nearby, the wave, perfect in form and colour, and in the background a foamy wall looms ominously.

Childlike abandon

The water around him weighs tonnes, and yet he glides blissfully ahead, enjoying the wave energy that is absolutely free. I hope you can see the look of delight on his face.

Taking things one step further.

On days like this, the waves are less than a minute apart. Surfers and boogie boarders have to make a split decision about which wave they are going to catch, and then stick with that decision or face being tumbled by the unforgiving water.  When you pick the right one you make the most of it and enjoy every second.

Washing shark nets

The guys from the Natal Shark’s Board inspect the nets every day – regardless of the weather or the water conditions. Thanks to them, many sharks are untangled and set free to live another day, and bathers can swim safely.

The most important thing about this little adventure was not the wonderful photos – it was the reminder to be spontaneous.

Yes, the dirty windows were waiting for me when I got home, and as a result of my extended stay on the beach I finished the housework a bit later than expected, but I had a renewed energy while I worked because I kept thinking about the fun way my day had begun.

I am reminded of a quote by Terri Guillemets:

“Though the circular round-and-round of routine be the bulk of life’s affairs, make an occasional jutting diversion — of fun, love, or something that will outlast you — so the shape and motion of your life shall resemble the round lifegiving sun with bright rays shining forth from all directions.”







  1. “Sonshine”! I love that.

    • I’m glad you like that 🙂
      Thanks for reading the blog.
      Have a stunning weekend.
      x Toni

      • Thanks Toni. You too.

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