Tantyi By Night

We live in an unusual place … it’s rare for a South African city to have the suburbs and townships facing each other across a valley as we do. Of course that helps photographers take unusual pictures like this view of Tantyi by night. 

Down in the foreground are the jacarandas and leafy streets of Sunnyside – the oldest suburb in Grahamstown. Up at the very top of the picture, on the skyline, is Extension 10 Mayfield and that’s the newest township of RDP houses. In between is Tantyi which is one of the oldest townships. The two parallel roads beyond the jacarandas are Raglan Road and Cobden Street. The picture’s a five minute exposure taken early on a Friday evening when lots of cars are out and about.


Roddy is a self taught photographer whose first camera, a Zeiss Ikon, was bought in 1974 from a second hand dealer in Glasgow. Through the forty years since then, he's taken landscape photographs with Pentax, Olympus and FujiFilm systems for his teaching and research as a geography academic at Kenyatta and Rhodes Universities. He has always been inspired by great nature and landscape photographers such as Nick Brandt, Beth Moon, Obie Oberholzer and Hans Strand. Since taking early retirement he has been able to pursue his passion for photography, published a photobook ’Symmetry in Nature and held three solo exhibitions at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa. 

His landscape photography is about light: often at low angles, of forests, mist and clouds, the night sky and lightning. He prints on different media depending on the affects he wants to produce: brushed aluminium for reflecting angled light; Hahnemühle German Etching paper for soft diffusion; Ilford Metallic Gloss for vibrant night pictures.

His conceptual photography uses mirroring and merging of layers to explore patterns, motifs and the feminine in nature.