ARCHIVE 434 – HOUSE ON A FARM

 

 


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House on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

These are Luo people who live in the immensely fertile far west of Kenya, not far from Lake Victoria – a vast body of water that supplies them with vast quantities of fish, and with frequent thunder storms which keep their land totally green.

The structure consists of mud walls, above which a conical thatched roof is mounted on a great mass of wooden poles. There is quite a gap between the roof and the walls but, in this hot, equatorial area, cold weather is not an issue. This hut has at least two rooms: the doorway to a second room is to the left of the people. The mud walls have decorations drawn straight onto them, and there is an oil lamp hanging up. Notice how everything, including the chest of drawers and some of the pictures hanging on the walls, has cloth covers.

Food and water are not an issue for these people, they live in a wonderfully fecund landscape. But there are diseases – it was here that malaria first got its claws into me, despite my using nets and prophylactics.

Click onto the image to see a slightly enlarged version.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 433 – THE WATERFRONT AT LAMU

 

 


.The waterfront at Lamu, an island off the Kenyan coast; Jul 1978.

The white battlements of the town’s small fort can be seen just left of the sail, and coconut palms line the horizon.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 432 – LANDSCAPE IN THE NORTHERN DESERTS

 

 


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Nomadic tribeswoman leading tethered camels through the Dida Galgalla Desert in northern Kenya; June 1978.

Recent rains brought on a green flush of grass and other plants, which have now died and turned to straw as the desert returns to its usual hot, arid state.

Digital manipulation has turned the golden brown of this dead vegetation into pure white, as would be achieved by using infra-red monochrome film. The reduction of this landscape to mainly black (lava flows and boulders) and white (dessicated vegetation) tones has served to simplify the scene, and to show the woman and her animals virtually in silhouette.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.
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ARCHIVE 431 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA

 

 


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Sub-Saharan Africa’s love affair with bright colour: Luo woman on a farm near Akala, in western Kenya; April 1979.

She is sitting in front of the wooden door of a mud hut with a thatched roof.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO to further saturate colour.
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ARCHIVE 430 – MT KENYA: NELION AT SUNRISE

 

 


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Looking up at sunrise from Top Hut on Mt Kenya towards Nelion, one of the twin peaks of Mt Kenya; August 1978.

Almost the roof of Africa!  Nelion stands at 17,021 feet, while the other peak, Batian, rises to 17,057 feet. These two peaks are separated by the wonderfully named Gate of the Mists, and they are the tallest peaks in Africa second only to Mt Kilimanjaro, which is nearby in neighbouring Tanzania, and which soars to over 19,000 feet.

What was it like being up there on Mt Kenya? Well, taking this photo, it was extremely cold – I remember having trouble changing the lenses on my Olympus OM-1 SLR; they were very stiff to twist off, presumably due to the intense cold having slightly contracted the metal. Getting up to this altitude on the mountain required no rock climbing skills, it was simply a long walk, made more strenuous in its later stages by the decreasing oxygen content of the air – but after a day or so at these altitudes, breathing became easier. We were up there for several nights, sleeping in the various mountaineering huts around the peaks; and my abiding memories of those huts concern the rats which ran over and around us every night as we slept!

Click onto the image to open another copy in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.

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ARCHIVE 429 – THE VIEW SOUTH FROM RATTLEDOWN FARM

 

 


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The view south from Rattledown Farm, looking out over the Chew Valley in Somerset, with Chew Valley Lake in the background; 12 July 2013.

Another slice of the English countryside, on a beautiful morning.  I think that the line of taller trees take my eye up through the picture to the lake’s blue, which then pulls my gaze right.  And I like the wedge of vivid pale green cutting across the image, just about along the upper horizontal third.

Chew Valley Lake is an artificial reservoir, flooded in the early 1950s – Google tells me it is the 5th largest artificial lake in the UK.  It has something of a special place in my life in that it was around its shores, in 1967, that I took my first, hesitant steps to becoming a birdwatcher – “with a little help from my friends”!

I was useless at birdwatching in those days.  I was (and am) short sighted, wore glasses, and had only a small telescope bought for me by my parents many years earlier.  So, a bird would appear, I’d see it and whip off my glasses so as to be able to use my telescope – and then totally lose sight of it, casting blindly about with the scope.  For Christmas that year, my impecunious mother bought me a pair of 10×50 binoculars that could be used with my glasses on and – no pun intended – I never looked back.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give a focal length of 450mm; 400 ISO;  final manipulation in Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 428 – EARLY MORNING 36

 

 


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Sunrise over Glastonbury Tor, seen from Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 22 Nov 2013.

I’ve lightened the centre section to bring interest to the mid-ground with the two cows – but I’m sure they should have shadows … oh dear, digital … not always quite up to it are you?  Or maybe I’m not quite up to it – its probably me ….

And of course I’m pointing my magnificent if distinctly weighty telezoom straight into the sun’s glare, and so to a second, orange sun low down in the frame, and also some rather fiery glows between that sun and the real one.  I could have gone at it with software to try and make good these optical artefacts but, first, I can’t be bothered, and second, I think they add to the atmosphere and feeling of the shot – I mean, I’m pointing a x6 telephoto directly into Our Star’s incandescent face, so what do I expect, perfect and pristine optical rendition?

I like the 80-400 (but – Jan 2020 – have sold it now).  Large and unwieldy it may be and its not one of Nikon’s very quick AF-S lenses, but it is image stabilised and I can hand hold it, and it gives such reach and flexibility.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 .  All will open in separate windows.  You can also search on the “early morning” tag.

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 427 – A TORTOISE, FUNCTIONAL HEADGEAR, AND ME

 

 


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Tortoise at Lake Bogoria, in the Kenya rift valley; November 1979.

These reptiles are helpless when lifted up from the ground but, in this situation, their last ditch, shock tactic is to eject great spurts of urine – hence when picking one up it pays to keep its rear end pointed away from yourself and anyone you are friendly with!

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

And below is a decidedly slimmer version of me taking the photo – this shot courtesy of an old friend in The States.  I’m using the OM-1 with a 50mm F1.4 silvernose Zuiko llens – and sporting the legend that was Photographic Hat. This hat was originally bright orange, and I’d bought it to shield my hairless dome from the sun during fieldwork in the Middle East. Later, bleached and sunblasted, it accompanied me to Kenya.

The hat’s crown was fast getting too thin to be an effective sun blocker so, to help matters, I hacked a circle of denim from an old pair of jeans and very crudely “sewed” it over the hat’s decaying top. I was of course wearing a faded rag on my head, but the great thing that drew me to it – and the origin of its name – was that its limp brim fell down just nicely over the gap between my glasses and my camera’s viewfinder, so that I could always see well to photograph, even in the blazing, overhead sunlight of the equatorial midday.
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ARCHIVE 426 – GOING TO WORK 6

 

 


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Rush hour in central Bristol; Baldwin Street choked with traffic and people.  A bus passes, inbound to the city centre.  I see a moment and have just time for one shot before that moment has rushed on by.

She’s asleep, its summer and the interior of the bus is probably warm and close – and maybe getting up early is not her thing anyway.  Perhaps sleep has taken her, temporarily, to a nicer place, but what is she dreaming off?

Details.  What details are here?  False eyelashes, lipstick, smart earrings – equipped to meet the day, and other beings too.  Going out without those accoutrements may well arouse the same uneasy feelings of undress as I feel if I forget my old cap.

Then, slumped against a window and marred at least by reflections and maybe by city grime too, and with the tip of her shoulder flattened against the glass.

And lastly, the light from the rising sun, blasting in through the back of the bus, catching her braided hair and turning her left ear into a translucent splash of warm colour.

Earlier images from this series can be found here.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; 19 July 2016.

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ARCHIVE 425 – FLOODS ON TADHAM MOOR (MONO)

 

 


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Floods on Tadham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 20 Jan 2008.

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

Technique: F6 with Sigma 12-24 lens at 12mm; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide rated at 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Tin Type preset.

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