Nicholas Ashby Photography

Reflections, One Shot, Flipped

Natural & urban landscape reflections on surfaces of Cape mountain & seawater pools, turned upside down.



'Seeing comes before words, says John Berger. 'The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.'

saunders rock man

Some years back I heard of an oil spill up the road. Cleaners were using strewn sand and chemicals to mop up the mess, and were flushing it down a storm drain.

I knew where it would end up.

I went down to the nearby beach. The gunk was spewing from a pipe into the sea. This is a popular site where people jump in from granite boulders, and is home to beds of anemones.

I calmed my frustration by going over and staring into the uncontaminated water at the nearby tidal pool.

It was one of those rare windless days. Its water was crystal clear. On the surface floated a small butterfly. I took a picture.

saunders rock man

Back home, unsatisfied with the photo, I flipped it 180 degrees, to make it seem that the butterfly was still in flight.

A more interesting scene appeared, with a new and strange, though not-entirely-unfamiliar sky.

On subsequent seaside and mountain walks I began playing, and once home flipping the results. By turning some of the Cape's less visible biodiversity into the firmament, I noticed the floors of inter-tidal zones or streams now came into an unusually stronger focus; the water surface reflected landscapes, sometimes architecture and living beings.

As a guide on local mountains I often feel bound to mention the celebrated biological richness of the region to hiking companions - who are often visitors to the Cape. The trouble is, the more I try to ‘get’ biodiversity, the trickier I find it to define, without trotting out usual dictionary or text-bookish axioms about it being "the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable."

So, where words failed me, these photos are a personal reflection of all that.


On still days, when lying at strange angles, on wet and uneven surfaces, I can no more ask permission to shoot the subject of a photograph, than a hunter can of his or her prey.


on hunt

hunting, the hunter

- limited edition -

That I have ended up photographing reflections of people on the rocks of Cape Town's littorals and mountains has evolved through personal traits, like my aversion to posed photos. Also it's an interest in water, its moods and sensations. And the ancient pull o' the hunt.

(Info about South African legal issues of public photos here.)


dog in fynbos

fyn dog, bos


Saunders Tidal Pool Bantry Bay

Emerson, Saunders


restio reflected, good hope nature reserve

restio, good hope


Signal hill from Green point urban park

signal hill


Lion's head hiking sunrise

lockdown, deep


lions head reflected, floor of sanders pool

deeper, dawn

- limited -


saunders rock man

Saunders Rock, man

- limited -


anemone reflection nicholas ashby

beach road, Actiniaria

- limited -


frog  table mountain

upper disa


upper disa gorg

upper disa too


beach road sea point reflected

asteroidea, beach road


sea point homo sapiens

follow me home


starfish seapoint



pond green point

green point


foam table mountain


- limited -


woman sea point littoral

lions head


false bay coast

the other side


reflected man in companys garden

Francisco Motta


man reflected seapoint

sea point contact

- limited -


wooly's pool, reflecting house where Capital Radio 604 conceived

... all the hits ...


moiuntain frogs

table mountain bush, frogs

- limited -


girl ball games

granite, girl


Alaya Ashby Let me Take this picture under protest

Taken, under protest


mouile point


kasteelspoort quarry



doggy eye dog

eyes, canine


post fire

post fire, silvermine

4 stripe moon nicholas ashby

four stripe moon

- limited -

The images are not superimposed; they're composed entirely in the camera, and remain un-cropped & unedited.

All prints are signed. They are approximately 42x54cm.

Unlimited prints are on Heavy Coated Hi-White 230gsm paper.

Limited editions of 7 are printed on Hahnemuhle German Etching 310gsm.