A short guide to flower gazing



A three-hour drive out of Cape Town and you’ll hit the Northern Cape’s wildflower route, a huge carpet of flowers stretching into the horizon. More than 3500 species can be found here, including the iconic Namaqualand daisy. Ann and Steve Toon share their experience of this spectacular area and give some photography hints

The usual rule of thumb is to travel through the flower areas from north to south because those in the north bloom first. We did the opposite, though, and drove up from the Cape, which allowed us to enjoy the Western Cape’s floral highlights, too.

The best time to see this beautiful floral show is in spring (early August to the end of September), from midday to mid-afternoon – when the petals have had lots of sun and the warmth has opened the flower heads fully. Therefore, you can enjoy nice leisurely breakfasts before exploring the area. It’s worth bearing in mind that on cloudy days, the flowers won’t come out because they need the sun, so have some other options available.

The flowers face into the sun, so it’s best to drive or walk with the sun behind you so you can experience the full-on impact of all those heady hues.

For any budding photographer wanting to capture this beautiful phenomenon, here are our top tips:

1. You can give your photos a fresh twist by turning around and shooting the flowers into the sun. The delicate petals look wonderfully ethereal with the sun shining through them.

2. Make sure you have lots of blooms in the foreground, too. Dead space there will lessen the impact of the more distant blooms. Try squatting low and including the flowers nearest to you as well as the distant swathes of intense colour.

3. For something completely different, try a worm’s-eye view by photographing them from a prone position. This will give the viewer the sense that they’re right in there among the blossoms and will allow you to isolate their vivid hues against a contrasting, bright-blue sky.