ARCHIVE 326 – IN A FIELD IN SOUTH BRISTOL (MONO)

 

 


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In a field in south Bristol; 28 Aug 2010.

This was one of a group of these beautiful animals that lived in a nearby field.  Our neighbours used to love feeding them – carrots were a firm favourite.  One day I went along with them, and took a few shots.

Once again, I like to get close in to large animals, filling the frame with them.  This isn’t the whole of the horse’s head, but I like the way the rough, tough and very textured harness frames the upper part of the face – this could be a picture of Nature bridled or firmly restrained.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 75mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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ARCHIVE 325 – ELEPHANT (MONO)

 

 


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Elephant at The Ark, a game viewing lodge in the Aberdare Mountains, Kenya; June 1980.

I particularly like the effect produced when a large animal completely fills the frame; there is something of the abstract about it, and also something massive and impressive.

Here the textures of this elephant’s hide have purposely been exaggerated by Nik Software’s SEP to help emphasise the vast strength of its huge, looming, rough presence.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-2 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

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ARCHIVE 324 – STRUGGLING UP TO THE LIGHT (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Plant, in Boscastle, Cornwall; 10 Sept 2013.

Just as I emerged from the Witchcraft Museum, full of intrigued and surreal thoughts, this appeared at my feet.

All else is harsh black and white, manmade, angular and strong, but these few green leaves – soft and eminently vulnerable – are pushing up through it all, into the light.

Click onto the image to see a larger version in a separate window.

D800 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 40mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro’s Film Noir 1 preset.

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ARCHIVE 323 – A CONTINENT SPLITS APART

 

 

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In today’s cheap and superficial hype – too often the triumph of style over substance –  many things are marketed as having various specified advantages “and so much more”.  Well, here is a photograph that really does have “so much more”.  It was taken from the eastern wall of the rift valley, near Kijabe in Kenya, looking down westwards towards the rift’s floor, sometime in the late 1970s.  The rift wall here is not a single escarpment, but a series of small escarpments that gradually descend to the rift’s floor like a flight of huge steps.

This photo was taken from the top of the escarpment, looking down upon the top of the first of these steps which, because it still has sufficient altitude to attract rain and mist, is green and fertile.  This green but restricted area of land is covered in a close patchwork of cultivated plots, and dwellings roofed with thatch or corrugated iron. Beyond this step, the floor of the rift can be seen, browner and drier, many hundreds of feet below. Rising from these pale, dry lowlands is the dark and jagged bulk of Mt Longonot, a dormant volcano which last erupted around 1860. In the far distance, behind Longonot, the abrupt line of hills is the rift valley’s western wall.

So far so good, but there really is so much more here, for the fact is that the eastern edge of the African continent has been breaking apart for a long time.  The island of Madagascar broke away from the rest of Africa many millions of years ago and, during this lengthy isolation from the mainland, many unique (i.e. endemic) forms of life have evolved there, e.g. the Lemurs.

But that is not all. The Eastern Rift Valley (the one in Kenya) and and the Western Rift constitute further incipient splits in the eastern side of the African continent and, as I took this picture, I was standing on the western edge of another part of the continent that may split away to become an island like Madagascar in (the millions of) years to come.  The rift’s western wall, that misty escarpment in the background of the shot, might then become Africa’s east coast.

The floor of the rift is new crust that has moved upwards from the Earth’s extremely hot interior to ‘seal up the cracks’ in the disintegrating continent.  And hence the reason for the many volcanoes (including Mt Longonot) in this area – these were formed where the molten rock (magma) moving up from the Earth’s interior burst out (erupted) onto the Earth’s surface, as lava.  There are also numerous natural steam vents on the rift valley floor – these are the result of rainwater and groundwater coming into contact with the extremely hot rocks present not far below the surface of the ground.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

UPDATE: I became an enthusiastic collector of rocks, minerals and fossils from somewhere around the age of five and went on to become a professional geologist – lecturing and research.  I’m very grateful for that background because it has given me a very solid idea of who, where and what I am in what might be termed “The Grand Scheme Of Things”.  To put it another way, if I’ve reached the “grand old age of 67”, then the Earth’s lifespan of 4,500,000,000 years make my lifetime seem like less than the blink of an eyelid – which is exactly what it is.  A knowledge of geology  also makes for new insights into landscapes.

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ARCHIVE 322 – FLAMINGOS AT DAWN

 

 


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Dawn at Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; July 1978.

At around 6,000 feet above sea level, even this close to the equator, it was a cold dawn, and especially so for those of us who, living in Kenya, were becoming acclimatised to the place.  I had taken many pictures and was feeling the cold and sleepy, when suddenly this flamingo flock glided down over birds already in the water – and I just fired at them –  a very lucky, single snapshot with a 400mm telephoto.  I very much like the combination of the pale blues of the early morning light with the whites and pinks of the flamingos’ plumage.

The birds in the water are mainly Greater Flamingos, which are a little larger than the Lesser Flamingo, with less stridently pink plumage and paler bills.  A few Lesser Flamingos, very pink, are at the left hand end of the flock in the water.  The dark bills of the birds coming down to join those in the water identify them all as Lesser Flamingos.

Two dark Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) are flying right to left, low over the water, behind all the flamingos.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: haha! can’t remember! >>> except that the great hulk of a 400mm telephoto, which I still have, was made by Vivitar.
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ARCHIVE 321 – LAGOON AT MAGADI (MONO)

 

 


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Alkaline lagoon at Lake Magadi, on the floor of the rift valley in southern Kenya; Nov 1977.

The water is made alkaline by high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate which have been leached out of the rift valley’s volcanic rocks.   This water is so alkaline that it feels soapy to the touch, i.e. it starts to dissolve skin on contact, and its high soda content gives it an awfully rank, chemical odour.  Add to that the fact that this is a very hot, low lying area of the rift, and Magadi becomes something of an acquired taste.  But, to anyone interested in the Natural World – wildlife, geology, landscape –  it is also a fascinating place.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens;  Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO;  converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

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ARCHIVE 320 – LIONESSES AT MIDDAY – AND AN ANNIVERSARY

 

 


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Lionesses in the baking heat of the equatorial midday at Amboseli Game Reserve in southwest Kenya; Jul 1978.

Click onto the image to view an enlarged version in a separate window.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: forgetting what day this is, I looked through my archives and found this – and then remembered that I first arrived in Kenya 40 years ago, which seems forever.  This shot brings three things quickly to mind.

First that it was taken from a vehicle, obviously – although the usual reaction of a lion to a human is to retreat, you don’t mess around with these babies even when, as here, they’ve probably had a good meal and are sleeping it off in the midday heat.

Second, that in terms of sheer beauty and style, the spotted cats – Cheetah and Leopard – always did it most for me.  But, for all of these big cats, staring long into their amber eyes, drowning in those eyes (from the safety of a vehicle of course), was a profound spiritual experience for me.  Well, I grew up alongside a cat, maybe that had something to do with it; and I do of course still find cats extremely beautiful, even mystical perhaps, now.

And lastly, the camera, the Olympus OM-1, that was also a thing of great and somewhat Minimal beauty, combined exquisitely with function.  And, after all these years, sitting here beside me, it still is.

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ARCHIVE 319 – MEADOW WITH WILDFLOWERS (MONO)

 

 


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Meadow with wildflowers beside North Chine Drove, southeast of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 27 Jul 2011.

The uncut grass with its abundance of tall yellow wildflowers first caught my eye and, and I was looking at how it might best be photographed when the sun broke through the clouds, producing this beautiful (and very lucky) shaft of light across the scene.

The photo is in three layers.  In the foreground there are more of the yellow flowers, but in the shade and unfocused.  Above this, the shaft of sunlight cuts across the shot, illuminating both the tall grasses and another grove of the wildflowers.  Finally, the third and upper layer contains the trees and bushes behind the field which (luckily again) are partly caught by the sun’s rays, so that this background is not wholly dark.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; converted to monochrome, and slightly tinted very pale yellow, with Silver Efex Pro.

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ARCHIVE 318 – CATHEDRAL (MONO)

 

 


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The West Front of Wells Cathedral, Somerset; 17 Sept 2009.

I’m at home in Somerset – I’m Somerset born and bred – and one of the good things about now living in Bristol is that its within quite easy reach of Wells, Glastonbury and Bath, all places that I’m very fond of.

I like Wells in particular for its antiquity and its small and very accessible size, for its absolutely glorious cathedral – and of course for its vicinity to the Somerset Levels – for me it is the gateway to the Levels.  I often visit Wells, and am never less than thrilled by the cathedral’s West Front, as seen from the large green out in front of it.   This towering, cliff-like face of the cathedral was originally painted in bright colours, to further impress the populace with their god’s majesty and beauty – a TV reconstruction of it as it originally was, hundreds of years ago, was simply stupefying.

One day I was standing down at the foot of this stupendous cliff of masonry, holding the F6 with the 12-24 attached and set at 12mm – and I clearly remember putting the camera to my eye and looking up – and being sent reeling by the epic vision above me!  This is the picture you see here.  There are absolutely no thoughts about correcting the converging verticals  – they make the shot, giving the effect of this powerful, stupendous, towering  mass of masonry reaching up into the heavens.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm (122 degrees field of view); Ilford Delta 3200 black and white film rated at 6400 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 317 – SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BLUE LORRY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Self-portrait with blue lorry, near Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 Jul 2012.

I’m sitting very upright in the driving seat of my car, using a wideangle zoom to record both the scene in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead as seen through the windscreen.  Back home, I’ve converted the shot to mono using Capture NX2, but retained original colour – and added some brightness too – for the scene in the mirror.

The rows of small dots above the mirror are a device to help prevent dazzle when looking up at the mirror.

Click onto the image to open a (slightly) larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 800 ISO; manipulated with Capture NX2.

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