Back road through farms near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The wideangle lens makes the road appear in worse condition than it was – and, in any case, it was dry weather; tackling this in wet conditions would be something else again.

The VW Beetle was wonderful for this sort of thing.  No 4×4, just drive in the two rear wheels, the engine seated over the wheels – which made for very good grip –  and a large metal plate underneath most of the length of the car, to guard against rocks and boulders.

But the car took quite a hammering on this trip and, as I pulled out at the end of my stay for the long drive back to Nairobi, my front wheels had, unbeknown to me, taken such a pounding that they were facing outwards, i.e. away from each other.

This very soon wore both tyres completely bald and, when I came upon a police road block, I had a hard job persuading them to let me through.  Luckily there was an excellent garage specialising in VW repairs in Nairobi, and however badly I damaged the car, they were always able to fix it.

Another thing about this picture is that it was taken in a very fertile, agricultural landscape teeming with people.  I’ve only just stopped for a photo, and already there’s a young lad standing by the car.  If we were really to get stuck or break down, there were always plenty of willing hands to help push and pull us on our way.  They were friendly – and distinctly humorous – people.  Less friendly was the malaria, which initially got its teeth into me during this safari.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red preset.


About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.


  1. Sallyann says:

    Ah, no wonder your poor car was in such a mess. Can you see the ugly troll waiting to bite a chunk out of it? 😀
    Bottom left corner, just his head sticks up above the mud, his carrot-like nose points to the right, while his bulging eyes are watching out for his next meal. His body is hidden beneath the soil in the road, he’s ready to jump up and bite a chunk out of the next unsuspecting vehicle which drives over his hideout. 😊 😊 😊


  2. bluebrightly says:

    This tells quite a story, and the processing is perfect for it. Your written narrative makes it even more interesting.
    If the link works, you’ll see another VW bug caught in DEEP mud from a storm we barely dodged last week, in California. We were in Joshua Tree (a national park and a small town) all day and drove home through a rain storm that was too much for the local desert earth to absorb.


  3. I, of course, love any VW beetle photo. I have one jpg with you standing next to this beauty. Great pic and narrative, bud.


  4. I love images like this. NIK does a good job with them also. And of course an image is even better with a good story. Thanks.


  5. Excellent wide-angled!


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