ARCHIVE KENYA 64 – PREDATOR

 

 

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Gecko with moth, Tsavo West National Park; Dec 1977.

Geckos are common in Kenya, and often seen on the walls and ceilings of dwellings.  In my earlier years in Kenya – soon after this photo was taken – I lived in a downstairs flat that had no phone or TV and it was utter bliss! 

Sunset is always around 6pm or so on the equator, and I passed many quiet evenings reading.  My living room was home to at least two of these small lizards, and I shall never forget relaxing in my armchair, listening to them calling to each other, back and fore across the room – to call the scene peaceful would be vast understatement!

The one shown above is on the interior wall of a small hut in Tsavo’s dry bush country – a place teeming with insects and so absolute heaven for these little predators. Having them around was not only interesting, but they helped control the insect population in the home too.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens and TTL flash; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 63 – WOMEN ON A FARM

 

 


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

On the left is the girlfriend of my travelling companion.  This was taken on his father’s farm, where I received much hospitality and friendliness.  Everybody was curious about my camera: that it was a fairly compact and unimposing Olympus OM-1, which I mostly used with an equally unimposing 50mm lens, was helpful – it didn’t scare people off! 

And so to this relaxed picture: I especially like the straight and open gaze of the woman on the right.

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Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 62 – REFLECTION AT MAGADI (MONO)

 

 


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Skyscape reflected in an alkaline lagoon at Lake Magadi, in the rift valley in southern Kenya; November 1977.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono, and toned, in Silver Efex Pro 2.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.
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ARCHIVE KENYA 61 – MAASAI (MONO)

 

 

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Young Maasai men, below the Nguruman Escarpment (the western wall of the rift valley), near Lake Magadi in southern Kenya; March 1979.

We had set up camp for a long weekend and these young men came to see us every day. Both are armed with the long spears used, amongst other things, to ward off or kill lions.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

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

UPDATE: as always, I regret not taking more photographs of Kenyan people during my years in that interesting and hospitable country; I treasure those pictures that I do have.  And I am not referring only to traditionally dressed people like these, but really to all people.  However, in those days I was a different photographic animal – primarily a birder (tho taking very few photos of birds), professionally a geologist – and photographing lots of landscapes amongst other things.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 60 – NAKURU SUNRISE, WITH MARABOU AND CORMORANTS

 

 


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Marabou Storks and cormorants silhouetted in the sunrise at Lake Nakuru, Kenya; Jan 1978.

Lake Nakuru is a soda lake located over a  mile above sea level in the floor of Kenya’s rift valley.  It is most famous for the vast flocks of flamingos – flocks that can be over a million strong – that periodically reside on the alkaline waters.

Here are two other resident members of the lake’s teeming birdlife.  The Marabou is a huge stork – five feet from beak to tail – and a very successful scavenger of anything at all eatable,  and also an opportunistic killer of anything small and defenceless.  It frequently attends kills of large mammals alongside vultures, and has a similarly unfeathered head for retrieving entrails etc from deep inside carcasses.

The cormorants are the same bird that we have here in Britain: they exist on a diet of fish which they catch underwater.  Despite the fact that they are predominantly waterbirds, their feathers are not waterproofed like those of ducks so that they must be dried out after underwater sorties – and the bird top right is doing just that – standing in the warming sun, with wings out to dry.  (The bird bottom right appears to have a beak protruding from the back of its head, but this is in fact the beak of another individual, swimming on the water behind it.)

This shot might very well have been presented in monochrome, but the gold of the sunrise is not to be abandoned!

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: 400mm telephoto on Olympus OM SLR, mounted on a tripod; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 59 – THE KAISUT DESERT AND MT MARSABIT

 

 


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A small settlement in northern Kenya’s Kaisut Desert, looking northwards towards the distant highlands of Mt Marsabit; 1981.

The settlement consists of a few buildings with mud walls and corrugated iron roofs and some hemispherical mud huts.  Each group of buildings is surrounded by a fence of dead thornbush, within which stock animals are kept at night.

The desert is unusually green after recent rains.  Each conical hill in the distance is a small volcano, and the massif on the horizon is Mt Marsabit, a national park of entirely volcanic origin.  Marsabit rises over a thousand metres above the surrounding plains and, in its higher reaches, supports dense forests that derive their moisture from the clouds that frequently cloak the high ground.

I love the colours in this picture.  Agfa CT18 was an excellent but quite slow film which tended if anything to err towards brownish hues perfect for many Kenyan landscapes.  I used to slightly underexpose it to further saturate the colours.

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

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

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 58 – MT KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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Mt Kenya, seen from the gate of Mt Kenya National Park; August 1978.

The dark highland forest surrounding the mountain has mist clouds. Above this forest is a great mass of slightly paler, hummocky country known as the Vertical Bog, a steep and muddy section. Further up again, are bare rock, ice and snow.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; converted into mono with Alien Skin’s Exposure 2.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 57 – AMBOSELI SUNSET (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Sunset over Amboseli Game Reserve, Kenya; July 1978.

With something definitely more striking than natural in mind, I’ve scanned this 34 (now 42!) year old slide into digital and then taken it into SEP2 as a .tiff .  Contrast and structure have been raised, grain added, and then some of the sunset’s wonderful colours restored.  The top of the dark cloud, directly above the sun, shows a nice luminous edge.

The trees are Yellow-barked Acacias or “Fever Trees”, that grow around the lakes in Amboseli’s otherwise very dry (and extremely dusty!) environment.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm;  Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono, and selectively re-coloured, in Silver Efex Pro 2.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 56 – THE THIRD LARGEST LAND MAMMAL AND ME

 

 

Photo credit: Bill Stripling

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Years ago, I used to lead bird and general wildlife/nature safaris in Kenya.  It was hard work, not least because, rather than relying on a driver, I did all my own driving, of which much was either on bad roads or on no roads at all.  But I greatly enjoyed the work, because the company I worked for provided tours for naturalists, and these could be anything from out and out birders, to those wanting to see the large mammals – and especially the large predators – to those who wanted to see and hear about a bit of everything, including geology (my university subject) and Kenyan peoples and history.   We handled a lot of groups from museums and nature/conservation societies.

And sometimes the itinerary took us to Meru National Park, which is situated in low, hot, thornbush country to the northeast of Mt Kenya.  And there in Meru, in those days (the late 1980s), there was a small herd of White Rhinoceros that I think had been given to Kenya by another country – I think South Africa – as a diplomatic, goodwill gesture, and which the Kenyan government kept under the watchful eyes of some armed National Park staff in Meru..

Now there are two types of rhinoceros in Africa, the White and the Black, and they vary vastly in general temperament.  The Black Rhino, which is native to Kenya, is aggressive, violent and extremely dangerous – they kill people, and fiercely attack vehicles.  You really don’t mess about with a Black Rhino, you treat it with enormous respect.  But the White Rhino is really something else.  Its not so aggressive and, living long term under human care, these few animals in Meru were more docile still.

So, on safari, I would take my clients to walk amongst and be with the world’s third largest land mammal (after the African and Indian Elephants), which was a wonderful and intriguing experience.  For their part, the rhinos ignored us completely – to the point of calmly walking through you if you were foolish enough to stand in their way.  But we could touch them – it was like laying your hand on a rock-solid, cold, stone wall – and, being young and stupid, I remember going round to the front end, getting hold of the fabled horn and shaking the creature’s head – whereupon I was unceremoniously tossed me aside very much as you or I might impatiently wave away a nuisance fly – which was, of course, exactly what I deserved.

Amazingly, after all these years (this would have been sometime in the period 1987-1989) I recall the name of the photographer – Bill Stripling.  He took these shots and, after the trip, was kind enough to send me these large prints, and also lots of the other excellent wildlife shots he took during the safari, which I’ve housed in an album and which I treasure.

What else is there to see here?  There’s the younger me, with beer gut already evident, and around my neck the Zeiss 10x40B Dialyt binoculars that took such a hammering on those safaris, and which I still have.  Also the more discerning of you may notice my slightly big-breasted look – I mean, just how fetching could I get? – which resulted from the fact that, for reasons of security, I always used to carry all of the tours’ petty cash, in cash, in the breast pockets of my safari shirts – I was a walking bank, with a chest that slimmed down as the tours went on.  Is that exotic or what???!

And now I suppose, because I try to be honest on this blog, I should tell you the full story of these rhinos.  I apologise in advance for the sadness of what I am about to relate.

I was accompanying a party of British birders, and took them to see these rhinos.  And then, later on on that safari, we bought a local newspaper and learned that, soon after our visit, all of these animals had been killed by poachers, and their horns stolen.  I can imagine the scene.  A few National Park guards, most probably armed with British Lee Enfield .303 rifles of WWII vintage, up against superior numbers of poachers armed with AK47s – I expect the guards ran for their lives.  I would have run too.

But, sad ending though this may be, after all these years I still retain wonderful memories of being able to be so close to those great creatures.

Click onto this image to open a larger version in a separate window

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 55 – COMMON WATERBUCK

 

 


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Female Common Waterbuck, and a male further back on the left; Nairobi National Park; June 1980.

The ‘long’ rains  have produced a lush growth of grass which, in the ensuing drier conditions, is now starting to turn brown and wither.

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

Technique: Kodak Ektachrome colour slide film.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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