Last month Megan and myself were brain storming nearby locations to shoot and she mentioned the Taal Monument being a place she wanted to do a fashion shoot at, so we decided we’d make the 40km trip from Somerset West on the Sunday morning and scout out the Taal Monument’s possibilities. The Taal Monument (Afrikaans Language Monument), is located on the edge of Paarl near the Paarl Nature Reserve and is easily accessible, it provides a great viewpoint of the Paarl and surrounding areas while also offering picnic areas around the monument for those that so desire.
The Taal Monument was built to celebrate the recognition of the Afrikaans language as an official language of South Africa, and being recognized as independent from the Dutch language. The unique and unusual shape of the monument are representations of various aspects of culture that were said to have been influential to Afrikaans.
After arriving and paying the small entrance fee, we walked up the stairs towards the monument. Despite all the contours of the monument, it actually makes it a bit difficult to get your compositions good, as there’s always another line from another aspect that seems to interrupt the flow of the rest of the lines. However, we did manage to find a few compositions that worked alright. It’s not only the monument that is of interest in the area though, and you’ll find some interesting animal life around too. While walking around the monument we saw some Bar-Throated Apalis feeding near the rocks, as well as several Southern Rock Agamas.
While wandering around the area, I heard the distinct sound of a Woodpecker hammering into a tree trunk in the vegetation near us. I assumed that like all my other Woodpecker encounters, that it would be an Olive Woodpecker – but still needing a Cardinal Woodpecker for my lifelist, I was determined to just make sure. The brush was fairly thick and it was difficult to locate the bird, so I knocked a bit on a tree trunk near me to simulate another Woodpecker in its territory and it worked almost instantly with the bird moving quickly towards us, and lo and behold upon first sight I could quickly see that contrary to my assumptions, it was in fact a beautiful Cardinal Woodpecker. We stood and watched as he hopped between the trees, not making the photographic side of things easy.
After we were satisfied with our views of the Cardinal, we moved onwards up the mountain a bit and into the Fynbos in search of other birds and some different views. Despite no real views of other species being seen, we did find ourselves a nice viewpoint for the area which included the Taal Monument in the frame.
It was then back to the monument as we messed around a bit some more with compositions and just enjoying the sunlight and warmth of the autumn day.