Oppikoppi turned sixteen this year and it was only my second visit. Should I feel ashamed or embarassed? Probably. Do I? Not really, but I have promised myself that I’ll make the small effort needed to join flocks of like minded South Africans again, for a dusty weekend of celebrating some of our cultural fruits.
I made my decision to go on the Friday when the festival had officially opened and drove through late that afternoon afternoon. By the time I got there it was already dark , cars were queuing , but the mood was as chilled out with a brewing excitement — the guy in front of me hopped out his car to grab some beers packed in the boot and offered me a Black Label. What a champion. .. Once inside, I realised things were in full swing and recalled how we had arrived a day early the first time I came to Oppikoppi, so I definitely felt like my arrival this time was fashionably late.
There is an underlying compulsion by many at Oppikoppi to scream “Oppi! … Koppi!” at least once between swigs of their preferred drink(s). I lost count of how many times I was greeted driving around for a spot to camp and felt a little detached from their jovial efforts, so I kicked open my Smirnoff Vodka and sipped away while snailing along in first gear. I eventually gave up to the dust, human traffic, distant music and complete darkness by parking in the next gap I came across. My car remained there all weekend getting a dust make-over. I later found out people recognised my car as the one with newspaper in the windows — I did this to keep out the sun in the morning as I had no space for a tent and slept in my car. It turned out to be rather comfortable and will definitely use this tactic in national(?) garage parking lots while travelling around South Africa.
My main goal for this weekend was to explore photography and gain a little experience in event/live photography — it was the reason I came to this festival alone. With this in my mind and the stage music booming, I grabbed my camera gear and left my car’s nondescript parking spot trying to make mental notes of the route. This didn’t help… I got lost every time I went back to my car over the weekend. Every. Time. I wasn’t alone either, a large portion of drunken ramble I heard during the three nights was made up of: “v*k, where is our camp!?”, “Sorry, is this Boom Straat? You Sure? Sh*t man, ha ha, later!”
Using my fixed focal 35mm lens on the first night, I was full of excitement over it’s potential to capture in low light. Well, it was pretty good but I couldn’t get close enough — the stage guards were very particular about letting only media registered photographers into the area in front of the stage. No amount of BS on my part helped either. Here are some images from an Australian band called Philadelphia Grand Jury who played on the main stage.
I switched over to my bigger 18-200mm lens for the rest of the weekend, which I thought might help make me look like a professional to the guards but had no real persuasive power as found out. I got much better shots overall using this lens and was happy with the results. Other music fans also were surprisingly obliging in giving up some of their precious space and think my professional ruse worked better on them. Rock on.
The rest of the weekend rolled on with interesting conversation, awesome photo opportunities and great music. I haven’t a single complaint and can only praise the fine people of our beautiful country.
Here are some spatters from my Oppikoppi 2010 collection and hope you enjoy. You can view the full set here on Flickr: Oppikoppi Festival 2010 – Sexy.Crooked.Teeth
I hope to see you all at Oppikoppi 2011!
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