Immediately after I spent almost a week photographing Camp Jabulani, I set off for another five days to photograph Mount Anderson Ranch.
The Golden Cottage is situated in a water catchment reserve just outside Lydenburg, in the dramatic Highveld of the Drakensburg Mountains. Being in a valley, you are surrounded by majestic mountains and the deep silence rejuvenates your soul.
Mount Anderson is literally built on a gold mine – the relics of the gold mining era of the 1920s and 1930s still remain on the property. Old miners’ houses, a mining press and deep level shafts bear witness to the harshness of the conditions in which the pioneers worked. Guests may explore these old gold mine workings and shafts and may even try their hand at panning for gold.
When I arrived there after a four-and-a-half hour drive, I was welcomed by management couple, Trent and Monika, their two delightful girls and of course Tessi, the tame meerkat that was fascinated with my camera bag!
Trent drove me to the cottage in the high clearance game vehicle, and once I had unpacked the boot-load of equipment, we set out to capture the cottage while it was still bathed in the soft, golden light of sunset.
At all the lodges I have photographed so far, there have been other guests and my client staying there at the same time. However, at Mount Anderson Ranch, I had the entire cottage to myself. Once Trent and his family had left in the evenings, it took a while to get used to my own company, no mobile reception or Internet access. Nevertheless, the utter silence of the country – only broken by the sound of the water running down the 24 weirs and the occasional barking of baboons from the cliff tops – reminded me why one needs to get into the country every so often.
Seeking game and exploring the valleys and mountains, which reach 2286m, one experiences spectacular weather changes. One moment it’s hot and sunny and seconds later a cloud drifts by, suddenly bringing rolling mist, completely transforming the landscape.
I photographed all the interior images with portable studio lighting to ensure perfectly balanced lighting. I also styled the interiors to remove any clutter, and ensured the elements in the frame were equally spaced, symmetrical and formed a balanced and harmonious composition.
Host and experienced ranger Trent, was my ‘assistant’ for the five days. He helped me carry my heavy equipment from room to room, built fires in the rooms that had fireplaces, and also reminded me to eat lunch!
Photo shoots like this one are extremely labour intensive (I have no need to join a gym!) but the enjoyment and experiences I gain are worth every bead of sweat.
The gorgeous main bedroom, the room I stayed in
The Billiard Room
Warm & cozy lounge
The dining room, where I enjoyed meals made with love by Chef Lemos
Wild flowers and Proteas in the entrance foyer
The side cottage – a favourite for fly fishermen
Covered patio at the side cottage
A bonfire set up – the sound of the fire blazing and water flowing down the weirs completes the setting