Stunning Northcliff Sunset with Soweto Smoke on the Horizon

Capturing a beautiful Northcliff sunset with smoke billowing from Soweto across the horizon. This was the last shoot of winter and well worth braving the cold.

Navigating the Wilds of Joburg

It had been awhile since I had been out with the Joburg Photowalkers so I was keen to join them near where I live. The shoot was set on Northcliff hill, the second highest point in Johannesburg. I had been there plenty of times so was used to the location. The cold is something you don’t get used to.

So on a winters afternoon I packed up my camera kit and headed up the winding roads. When I arrived the parking area was packed. The spot is popular with teenagers watching the sunset and enjoying what they can’t enjoy at home. I met a few fellow photographers and grabbed my gear from the car and made our way up.

The entrance to Northcliff hills veld is pretty precarious with a large water tower hovering over head as you step in. There’s a narrow pathway between the water tower on your left and a straight drop down on your right. If you’re scared of heights you’ll want to keep your eyes ahead of you. Because the stunning view could take more than your breath away.

Welcoming Twilight on Northcliff Hill

Once in there’s a hustle and bustle as people from all walks of life make their way around. The area on the hill is actually quite large. It has both open spaces with rocks and boulders and a pathway that navigates around the perimeter.

With the sun slowly setting in the distance I traversed the rocky landscape trying to capture gorgeous sunsets kissing the horizon. I managed to setup the tripod and fire off multiple shots to get HDR images for processing later.

We Didn’t Start the Fire

While facing west capturing the Northcliff sunset, clouds of black smoke snuck up from behind. A fire had been raging in Soweto and the smoke danced across the horizon. Thankfully the smoke began it’s journey North West far in the distance. It left the twilight sky to glow in beautiful purples and blues slowly pushing the oranges and yellows aside.

Check out the video of the Northcliff sunset photowalk and see what happened in the video below and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more.

Photographing Sunsets Made Easy

As always my Canon 5DMII was with me. This time on my tripod and accompanied by my Canon 16-35mm f2.8 for some ultra wide shots. I also used a filter kit with ND grad filters for the setting sun. But I found taking multiple shots and blending with HDR gave me the best results.

With uneven terrain a good tripod was essential but always take care with your valuable kit. There were a few missteps which nearly saw me take a tumble. If you need to move around in uncommon terrain, carrying expensive gear with the light fading, do yourself a favour and take it slow.

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