Tuesday, September 22, 2015


If you're in the middle of organising a wedding and are looking for an experienced professional photographer with the right investment in skills and cameras, give me a call. I undertake a few weddings each year and the brides, grooms and families are seldom disappointed. 

A word of advice. Book me early, since my calendar is filling up. Shoots are custom made to your wedding programme and your budget. No standard rollout when you hire Gareth Griffiths Imaging and Photography! I would love to help you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


The First Level Course in Photography

By: Gareth Griffiths, BSc (Phys) Full accredited member, Southern African Freelancers’ Association - www.safrea.co.za

Aimed at: Small Group (3 maximum) or individual coaching

Cost: R 1200 payable: R 800 upfront before first lesson and R 400 at the final lesson. Cash or EFT.
Outcomes: Attendees should learn how to work their own camera as efficiently as possible. A basic understanding of the concepts of working with light, with people, with objects and with scenery will be covered. Finally, an understanding of the electronic end of photography; how to best store images, how to prepare for the best prints, how to email your work or how to prepare for upload to the internet. How to store your images.

First Session (60 – 90 minutes): Sit down over coffee and work though the basics and the controls of your camera. Take a few preliminary pics.
Homework: You go off and take a few photographs and email them to me.

Second session (90 minutes) : We crit your pics, in a short session and then we do some field work e.g Noorhoek Common, or the beach. We focus on technique and how to make your pics interesting.

Third session (60 minutes): We study the electronic end of things. How to use the computer to work with pics; free software available; good quality software that can be bought. Preparing for printing, emailing of storage.
Where can I store my images online – for free?

Contact Gareth: 072 905 0252 / 021 680 5245 (leave a message)

Thursday, March 5, 2015


It's obviously tough for the people of the Noordhoek Valley to resume normal life after a traumatic week, but thankfully our valley seems to be safe now. Admittedly, there is not much more to burn, but there remain a few existing hot spots that continue to smolder and emit white smoke. This is not helped by the strong "fresh" South Easterly wind which supplies the embers with copious amounts of oxygen. Gladly, the same wind has assisted in clearing the local air of smoke and ash so our normal clean atmosphere has returned. If only it was not for the grey landscape .....

Mountainside above San Michele / Silvermine - after Monday's fire - at sunset

We are so fortunate that the fire did not spread to our neighbours in Masimpumele and Sun Valley; and also that all of our local farms and businesses survived, thus ensuring continued employment for the people who need it the most.

Today's only negative is that there is a fire approaching from the South. The blaze that started in Cape Point reserve is making its way North, placing Scarborough and surrounding areas at risk. Amazingly, brave volunteers from the Noordhoek crisis centre have volunteered their services to fight the approach of this fire. Here they are, receiving their briefing at the Noordhoek centre from the professional team leaders before setting off South to this new D-Zone late this afternoon.

(Picture by cellphone)

Here's the plume created by this fire, blown out to sea by the SE wind

So, not too much celebration as yet until we can be sure that all People of the South, their animals at home and in the wild are safe.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I was 'up there' with Civair doing some work for a client and snapped this peaceful panorama. Thought you might want to see it.

Chilling to think how much of the green stuff is gone. Thankfully the vineyard survived.

Media: Pics available of Constantia and Tokai bowl - exactly same time. Shout if interested.


Have been out on site since early this morning and here is a photo-story of the situation above Noordhoek Beach area. I have deliberately excluded pics of burned properties because as an ethical journalist I believe that is a time and place for them, but not today.

If you want to report damage to you property for my background information and so I can correct certain highly irregular reporting on the part of some of Cape Town's media, please email me on garethgriffiths.imaging"@"gmail.com   (note I have inserted quotes to the @ to prevent spammers from finding me!)

Are you in the media? I am too. Please contact me if you want to use photos or information. I offer them freely subject to a licence.

So this is the picture as of this morning:

Miracle - the Shark Spotters hut survived - how, I don't know!

 Before sunrise from the Beach. D-Zone area clearly viewable to the right.
Monkey Valley Lodge Okay - despite reports on News24 and others

Monkey Valley from Chappies - Wednesday morning. Glorious Milkwoods (and huts) OKAY

 Athos, coordinator of the crisis control centre for Noordhoek
Athos describes to me taking some time out for supper at the Toad last night, but then realising that - maybe- the Fat Lady had not yet sung - speaking of the fire. How right he was.

A flareup off Chapman's Peak Drive this morning.  Typical of the type of scrub the fire was "working" yesterday.

Also off Chapman's Peak drive around 07h00. A very lucky escape - thanks to all helpers, I would think.

Here's the sun as last, peeping it's bloody eye through the Stone Pines, which are now 2 x survivors - from 2000 and now 2015.


Will give wine tasting a miss for a few hours.

Stone Lions at CPV have seen many a drama along these roads!

This is the kind of smoldering that readily turns to full on fire when the wind rises.

Workers from Cape Point Vineyards assist with water tank and tractor this morning.
Thanks Sybrand vd Spuy.

 This is the area that got the worst of the ash outfall last night. Misleadingly peaceful now.

Incredible job by volunteers who continue to arrive at the Crisis Coordination Ops Room in Village Lane. Pete de Bruin, Franck Dangereaux and Guy of the Foodbarn kindly providing real coffee from a kiosk outside the Farm Village - free as a thank you to the workers.

According to Athos and colleagues at the Crisis Centre, it may not yet be over, but above all panic should be avoided. Keep the Crisis Centre informed. Be sure to put your friends and social media "friends" straight when giving information and encourage people to stay away from the "D-Zone" except when to volunteer. A list of donated items for the centre is still available. Athos can be contacted on 082-606-3726

Athos also confirms that all properties on the De Goede Hoop development survived the fire, which was very bad at the perimeter - as in you could lose sight of your volunteers - barring damage to outhouses and perimeters. I reckon a big vote of thanks owed to those professional fire fighters and volunteers.

The most reliable report we have is that ONE property in the Noordhoek Valley was completely destroyed by the fire, and this due to the hot ash fallout at around midnight last night. Several others suffered limited damage. I will substantiate as soon as possible.

Do you have a story of the fire? You can send it to me at the email address above. It will be handled confidentially.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Living in the Noordhoek Valley the past 36 hours has been rather like being on the set of Apocalypse Now (remember the epic movie?)

Social media reports of the big fire particularly in the Noordhoek Valley have been rather misleading and possibly contributed to panic rather than helped he situation.

A tweet by @vanhaywood that did little to help matters on Monday:

The tweet was picked up by big tweeters such as @KFM and @CapeTown and retweeted without verfication, even by the Lodge itself, which may have retweeted under some pressure.

However, this was the area looked like, via a photo from the beach taken at about the same time as the tweet:

The fire at 6.30 pm Monday. The Chappies road separates the lower Chapman's Peak area from the mountain.

This is how things played out after the arrival of the "Muizenberg Fire" #capefire late on Sunday 1 March.

Living in the area as I do with my family, my first inkling of the big fire was 01h00 Monday morning when I was woken up by the smell of smoke. The fire was approximately 300 metres away and moving relatively slowly. Having stayed where I do long before the really big fire of the year 2000, I can confirm that the fire of 1 March on moved a lot more slowly.

The fire above San Michele - top Topaz Way.

Noordhoek Manor and surrounding area was advised to evacuate and rightly so due to a large infestation of pine on the property of landowner, SA National Parks, which had re-grown there since the big fire of 2000.

The Noordhoek Crisis Centre was convened at the NGK property near the Farm Village by experienced volunteer, Athos. Athos and others were intimately involved as volunteers in fighting the big fires in year 2000 where they were hosted at the Noordhoek Farm Village by then-owner, Jeremy Wiley.

According to Athos, this morning, 3 March at the Crisis Management Centre, a considerable number of "mistruths have been perpetuated" by large media groups, apparently based on erroneous social media reports. In fact, there was anger among certain of the volunteers interviewed, in this regard (especially about a Facebook message that stated the Lodge has burned to the ground). Admittedly, access to the Far South was severly limited on March 2nd, with huge grid locks on the Main Road Kalk Bay and all the other roads closed. However there is palpable concern in the crisis centre that panic was seeded by, among others, the following reports:

  • Monkey Valley Resort "was evacuated". According to house front staff there, a conference was moved to a lodge in Simon's Town yesterday owing to reasonable concerns, but the Lodge remained open.

The Lodge - Tuesday morning 09h00. Conference was moved to Simon's Town

  • Lodge appealed for "urgent assistance". According to Lodge staff and PRO, Jenny, a call was put out this morning for water bombing assistance from fire helicopters.  At that stage the fire was still 200 metres away and there were four fire tenders from CCT on patrol immediately above the Lodge on Chapman's peak.
  • Four houses were burned in Noordhoek. One of them was the "former Chaplin Estate", Noordhoek Estate. In fact, Athos explains that no houses were raised or even burned, although there was some damage to fences and external perimeters.
The Crisis Control Centre "wishes that somebody would have spoken to them first" because the misinformation panicked a number of Beach Road residents, who came to the Centre in alarm. Volunteers were however excellent and a highly efficient operation was set up.

Noordhoek's Crisis Centre, located at the NGK Hall, opposite Noordhoek Farm Village. Coordinator, Athos, on the right.

Fire control at the Monkey Valley Lodge:

Shortly after 8 a.m., helicopters were diverted back to Noordhoek Valley and resumed assistance in slowing the progress of the fire, which was burning slowly through (mainly indigenous) brush above Chapman's Peak.

From the roof of the closest Monkey Valley unit to Chapman's Peak. Smouldering brush. Water bombing in progress.

Significantly, sea water has been used for the first time, as far as I am aware in fire control by helicopter in the Cape Town area.

Here are my photographic  impressions of this fire:- (please do not use without contacting me first for licence)

San Michele Fire

 Volunteers fighting the fire above Noordhoek Manor, Monday 08h45 Monday 2 March

 One of three San Michele houses under threat - 05h00 Monday 2 March
 A pile of wood, ironically cleared from the waste of the Yr 2000 Fires, catches alight.
 Emergency fire fighting tenders finally arrive from the Noordhoek Manor side 05h00.
 Water bombing in the TM National Parks area near their regional office 08h00 Monday.
 Recollections of Apocalypse Now

Water was uplifted from the pond at Silvermine Retirement Village.

Fire from bottom Silvermine Road and Noordhoek Beach - Monday 2 March c 19h00

 Tranquil scene with turbulence in the backdrop.

A bloody sunset at the end of a bloody day.
From Noordhoek Beach - the bloody sunset

Last night
Above Chapman's Peak - slow moving - thanks to volunteers and wind dying down - 9 pm
11.30 pm Burning above TM National Park's local office near Silvermine / Ou Kaapse Weg intersection. Sorry no tripod!

Today: Tuesday 3 March
Fire largely under control although helicopters continued to water bomb - in some cases using sea water. "no homes burned (down) confirmed coordinator of crisis centre in the Valley.

From Noordhoek Beach parking area - 08.30 a.m.

Main residence, Monkey Valley Resort - survived

The arrival of Working for Fire helicopters, bombing commences and a mixture of staff and volunteers celebrates - from the roof of the most vulnerable structure at Monkey Valley.

 Jenny, the Hotel PR is on the left.

So, Cape Town and its citizens, especially those in Far South, owe a large debt of thanks to our hugely professional fire fighters, pilots, fire volunteers, citizen volunteers and responsible social media community who helped keep things together.

About Gareth Griffiths

Gareth Griffiths is a senior member of the Southern Africa Freelancers' Association, a professional photographer living in Noordhoek and Editor of To Build magazine. www.tobuild.co.za