ARCHIVE 56 – DEAD TREES AT NAKURU (MONO)

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Dead trees on the shore of Lake Nakuru, in central Kenya; 27 Apr 1980.

These trees grew beside the lake, but then were killed when the lake’s highly alkaline waters rose and flooded their roots.  They are Yellow-barked Acacias, the Fever Trees so-called because they were thought to be the source of malaria.

Despite the fact that its over 30 years ago now, I can still remember taking this shot, which was originally in colour.  I remember placing the nearest tree on the right of the frame, and liking it because it was partially sunlit, and because it was leaning into the frame.

Looking at it now, my eye is taken from this leaning tree, out across the bright sky reflections in the shallow pools of water, to the tree with a dense canopy, which looks rather like an upside down ice cream cone.  This tree is also leaning into the frame, while being silhouetted against the bright sky, and just about at a compositional strong point in the picture, on the junction of the upper third and the left hand third.

OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; converted to monochrome in Silver Efex Pro.

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I first posted this picture in August 2011.  Subsequent to that, someone pointed out that I had been careless in not cropping out those untidy branches half-way up the frame’s left edge.  Yes, they could be removed, but I’m leaving them in – they are untidy, but maybe they add closure to that edge of the shot – what do you think?

Also I see that I used Silver Efex Pro on this image; that’s been an absolutely invaluable friend and accomplice for sometime now.
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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

35 Responses to ARCHIVE 56 – DEAD TREES AT NAKURU (MONO)

  1. Malin H says:

    I wrote a comment here earlier, and I still love this image. 🙂

    Like

  2. Oh, I love that! What great atmosphere!

    Like

  3. Malin H says:

    An image to look at, in silence. I’m looking at this a long moment and I’m reading your text… This image makes one think in perspective.

    And these words came to me;

    Vulnerable
    Awaiting
    On
    Something
    Or
    Nothing

    Death.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Good words for this image, Malin, thank you, you are very sensitive to these sorts of things. This is certainly death but, of course, whether it is in fact the end of trees here is another question.

      I have never returned to Kenya, I prefer to remember it as I knew it, and not to see the stamp of yet more modernity upon it. And here is a case in point, because – possibly due to drilling works in the area – these soda lakes and risen to very high levels – such that not only is this site now deep underwater, but the nearby road has also disappeared.

      I was of course a geologist, and I have always thought along geological timescales – and in those timescales, this scene was the blink of an eyelid. Adrian

      Like

  4. Sonali Dalal says:

    wow! No other words will suffice. Mood and mystery in plenty in this image.

    At last, I bought Nik Software 🙂 I used to see your pictures and felt envious…lolll

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      I am EXCEEDINGLY glad to hear that you’ve got Nik!!! 🙂 If you need any help, or have any questions – please ask!!!

      Intro – use it as a plug-in to Photoshop, or Elements, or Lightroom. This is what I do – if I have a photo I think will look good in mono, before I read it into Nik, I carry out cropping, adjust Levels and Curves, and also adjust sharpness. Then I save it as a TIFF, open it in Elements, and then select Nik Collection (or something like that) from the Filter menu, and SEP2.

      The photo opens in SEP2. Then get approximately the look you want from the preset images on the left – and don’t forget to download the extra available presets too! Then, when you have something like the look you want, make more adjustments using the controls on the right – then save the TIFF to a new name.

      Colour Efex Pro 4 is also very useful. Good luck!!! Adrian

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      • Sonali Dalal says:

        Thanks for the first lesson :). From where do I get extra presets? Rupee being very weak against dollar, it has proved to be very costly! 😦

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          I originally bought SEP on its own, on a disk, and with came a booklet about how to use this software, and the details of how to obtain the extra presets are in there. They are free. Here are the details from the booklet –

          Visit http://www.niksoftware.com/presets. In the Product pull down menu, select Silver Efex Pro 2 to display only SEP2 presets. There you will find SEP1 presets, new SEP2 presets, SEP2 preset packs, and presets created by other photographers.

          To install at preset, click onto the preset you would like to download. Click on the Download This Preset Button – place the downloaded preset in a location you will be able to easily access. Launch SEP2 via it host software eg Elements, and import the preset into SEP2 from that location – use the Import Button. Navigate to the location and click OK. Using Shift and click, you can import multiple presets in one operation. The imports will be available in the Custom section in the Imported Presets area.

          Like

  5. VeronicaBud says:

    I don’t mind the branches half way on the frame on the left (if those are the ones the person referred to). It lets me know that the damage to the trees and the area was more extended, and it builds curiosity like there is more to see and more to know. There is always more to the story.
    Cheers!

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hello Veronica – thanks for your thoughts too! Yes, those are the branches – and I like the way you think about them – ie that there’s more to the story, and adding curiosity. Adrian

      Like

  6. LensScaper says:

    At first glance I was unaware of any ‘untidy branches’ on the left edge – they are immaterial, in my opinion. The content is strong and holds the eye. Those pools of light draw the eye past that cone tree to the water beyond. The slight toning gives the image a timeless feel which is so apt, because this view might not have changed for centuries. What scanner so you use, Adrian?

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Andy – and for the back up re the “offending branches”! Oh yes, absolutely, this is a timeless view, although not a constant one, as the lake’s level fluctuates – and at the moment I understand it has risen considerably.

      My scanner is a plustech OpticFilm 7600i slide scanner – not fast and it chugs away, but it delivers the goods. I leave it on one setting, and then attack the resulting tiffs with Nikon’s Capture NX2, and with Nik Software. A

      Like

  7. Amazing, and so spooky too. I came across these photos recently…thought you may like http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/calcified-animals_n_4032659.html

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thanks for these pictures, James – I’ve been there, or almost there – we often visited Lake Magadi, which is Natron’s (much smaller) equivalent in southern Kenya, and once I walked over the Tanzanian border to see Natron spreading out to the south – but never saw anything like this. I think these photos are very eerie and very good too – and placing them on perches is a master stroke. I have a couple of Nick Brandt’s books of photos – a very talented photographer. Thanks for your kind thoughts! Adrian

      Like

  8. I totally agree with you. The ‘untidy’ needs to be there. It finishes off that side nicely.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      You’re a gem, Gem >>> thank you! I hope you’re blossoming today. My right elbow is playing up again – another visit to the quack I think.

      BTW, have you ever watched any Rab C Nesbitt, or even heard of the great man? – try google. An old BBC comedy series, set in Govan, Glasgow – and many people I know can’t understand a word of it – but it would be great for you to see an episode – I just can’t imagine what you’d think of it 🙂

      Like

  9. krikitarts says:

    I would not say at all that you’d been careless in including the few extra tree bits at the left of the frame, or that they appear untidy. If you were to crop them out, you would also lose at lest part of that black rock out in the water and half of the dark clouds peeking in from the edge, both of which add to the completeness of the overall image. My eye is not drawn away from the main elements by their inclusion, but when really looking at the whole picture, they do add another point of interest. In short, I’d leave them in!

    Like

  10. RobynG says:

    Mysterious and dramatic!

    Like

  11. bananabatman says:

    A beautiful image Adrian. Isn’t it is remarkable, how we can remember our thoughts from 30 years ago, but can’t remember why we went upstairs when we get there.

    I always used to crop or clone out branches poking into the frame, and some photographic judges still seem to expect that, but increasingly I am tending to try to use them to’frame’the spot, when I remember. 🙂

    Like

  12. iosatel says:

    and about branches half-way up the frame’s – don’t listen! It’s a perfect work!

    Like

  13. iosatel says:

    Gloomy and beautiful, fantastic image!

    Like

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