Through the Lens – Jonathan Swart

Jonathan Swart developed his wildlife hobby into a profession and moved from a career in electronics into conservation starting as a field guide, becoming a researcher, completing a MSc on Pangolins and is currently the Research Ecologist for the Welgevonden Game Reserve.

Throughout this time Jonathan has enjoyed photography and has always pursued this hobby sporadically. Like all amateur photographers, the era of digital photography has opened the doors to expand on the passion and take the photography to new limits due to the large number of photographs that can be taken and processed without having to physically send a film in for processing. The results of a shot can also be evaluated immediately and changes made in situ. The artistic manipulation of photographs is also a challenging aspect that is possible.

Jonathan’s interest in photography developed before the digital camera era when all his photography was shot on film, mainly transparencies (slides). Then came the pangolin study, which resulted in his photography taking a backseat for a while and by the time he completed his MSc on pangolins, film cameras were almost obsolete and digital cameras were well entrenched in the market. Camera prices had dropped by this stage and the time was right to switch to digital format. The transition was not flawless, but the basic principles of photography remained the same except with a few added parameters and endless possibilities with the advancement of technology. For example, techniques that could only be applied in the darkroom can now be done in-camera.

Jonathan enjoys the technical aspects of photography mainly in the fields of landscape and macrophotography, from using techniques to create serene scenes to increasing depth of focus in small subjects such as flowers. His keen interest in macrophotography was inspired by his fascination for the lesser majority, particularly the wild flowers. Jonathan has been identifying and photographing wild flowers on Welgevonden in his spare time over the past five years to compile the species list for the reserve and while doing so has come across an interesting and diverse array of wild flowers. “Photographing the lesser majority opens a whole new world unseen by the naked eye”.

The combination of Jonathan’s passion for all species and desire to learn as much as possible about each plant and animal together with his passion for photography, and especially macrophotography, has resulted in a collation of a large portion of the flowers occurring on Welgevonden being photographed and identified. To share the product of dedication and many hours of work, on a relatively unknown aspect of the environment, Jonathan recently published a website – Welgevonden Wild Flowers. (See box in the right column)

“I created the website to be a visual experience, so I hope you enjoy it.” – Jonathan Swart

There are currently 270 species of flowers on the Welgevonden Game Reserve Flower list (click here for the list) 213 thereof have been photographed with more to be added in the near future. As with species lists, especially of the smaller more diverse groups, these grow constantly which makes the identification of different “new” species interesting.
Jonathan has become a regular contributor of photographs for Welgevonden in all spheres.