ARCHIVE KENYA 114 – LAKE MAGADI

 

 

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View southwards across Lake Magadi, in southern Kenya; Oct 1978.

There are many things to see here.  First, the eastern side of Africa is disintegrating, and the cracks along which this break up is taking place are the rift valleys.  Here we are on the fairly flat floor of one of the rifts, and the hills in the far distance, right of centre, are the Nguruman Escarpment, which is the rift valley’s western wall.  Everything in the landscape between us and those distant hills is new crust – volcanic lavas and ashes – that has been forced up from inside the Earth to seal the widening cracks in its surface.

To the left of Nguruman is a very distinctively shaped hill – it looks as if its had a chunk bitten out of it: this is Shombole volcano, near the border with Tanzania.

Just in front of the left hand side of Shombole some smoke is rising from a promontory.    The lake’s soda is mined, and this smoke is rising from the soda factory in Magadi town.  The volcanic rocks of the area are rich in soda, which is leached out of these rocks by rain.  This soda is carried in solution down into the lake by streams and springs.  But, since the lake has no outlet, its waters are lost only by evaporation, leaving the soda to accumulate and form a solid crust on the lake’s surface.  The redness of the soda near the lake’s shore is caused by red algae that thrive in the highly alkaline water – the water is so alkaline that it starts to dissolve human skin when in contact with it – fingers dipped into the water start immediately to feel soapy as their skin dissolves!

This photo was taken in the dry season, and the foreground is occupied by dry, brown acacia bush.  After rain, this landscape will become temporarily green again.

I very much enjoyed Lake Magadi.  It was an easy day’s drive from Nairobi, it was fascinating geologically, and it was a very wild and exotic area (though I have a feeling it is rather less wild now).  Its at low altitude, and it was always very dry and very hot – and the air was always pervaded by the acrid stink of the lake’s soda.  A wonderful and very, very real place; when I was there, all those years ago, there was absolutely no advertising, no hype, simply raw and really quite exotic nature.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens and polarising filter; 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 113 – WATERS FROM KILIMANJARO

 

 

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Freshwater springs in Amboseli Game Reserve; late 1970s.  This water originates in the snow and ice on the top of nearby Mt Kilimanjaro, and flows underground to emerge as springs in Amboseli’s dry bush country.  It is a great draw to large animals, especially elephants.

Amboseli is an especially good place to see elephants because Cynthia Moss and other scientists have studied them there for decades.  Hence they are semi-accustomed to humans, and not disturbed by their (considerate) presence. As always, whenever I visited Amboseli, it paid to be very wary of lone bull elephants, especially when they were in musth (akin to being in heat), which was often shown by seepage from glands on the sides of their heads. 

But the big herds of females and young (led by a matriarch) were far more placid – when taking clients on safari to Amboseli, I would often stop our vehicle in the path of a long line of females and young and, completely still and silent, we would watch them passing slowly around us, like slow-moving water flowing around a small island in a stream.  Once, one took some vegetation that had become attached to our front bumper.  We never had any problem doing this – although my hand was always on the ignition key – and it was really one of Life’s great experiences.  So slow, so quiet and so massive they were, but with a deep gentleness too, that often had a perceptible effect on those in the vehicle.

Elephants are one of those animals that are far more intelligent than they seem.  Examples?  A definite attitude to death, resulting in their fondling and trying to bury dead elephants; a very low frequency communication system that works over vast distances; and the ability, apparently, to smell (and remember) each individual occupant of a vehicle.  The word “awe” is used far too frequently these days, it has become devalued.  However, quite simply, awe is an emotion that elephants never fail to evoke in me.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm 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 112 – MAASAI (MONO)

 

 

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Maasai woman in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya; April 1979.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens;  Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO, converted to  mono in Capture NX2.

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 111 – AGAMA

 

 

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Agama, Tsavo West National Park; late 1970s.  A common lizard in Kenya’s dry bush country.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; 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 110 – FLYING TO KENYA

 

 

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Sunrise over stratus cloud, seen from a London-Nairobi flight on 25 Sept 1979.

Back in those days, my (very portable) camera was often with me, and flights to and from Kenya were vast photo opportunities – here I’m flying south, and sitting on the left of the plane to catch the sunrise.

Below, the world is shrouded in a great blanket of stratus cloud, and the low angle light of the sunrise reveals the cotton wool textures on the cloudbank’s upper surface.

Stratus is the name for clouds that form a layer or stratum, whereas clouds that consist of many discrete parts – sometimes looking like lots of balls of cotton wool – are known as cumulus.  Cirrus clouds are the thin veils of vapour that form high up in the atmosphere.  These three cloud types all intergrade to give, for example, stratocumulus, a cloud that is in layers that consist of individual smaller cloudlets.

Click onto the 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; Color Efex Pro 4; Dfine 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 109 – SAVANNAH GRASSLAND

 

 


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Savannah grassland with scattered Acacia thorn bushes in the south of the Maasai Mara Reserve; April 1979.

The small thorn bushes in the foreground are probably Whistling Thorns.  These bushes have swollen, hollow bases to some of their thorns, in which live symbiotic ants.  The ants make holes in the swollen thorns to get in and out, and the wind blowing through these holes produces a whistling sound that gives the plant its name.

There is some thicker and darker bush just right of centre, along a small and probably seasonal watercourse.

This picture was taken in southern Mara, in extreme southwestern Kenya, and the distant hills are in Tanzania’s Serengeti Reserve.

Use of a polarising filter has greatly increased the definition of the clouds but caused the few patches of visible sky to be an unnaturally dark blue.  I loved using the Olympus OM-1 SLR.  It was light and compact, as were its Zuiko lenses, and the three that I always carried with me – 28mm f3.5, 50mm f1.4 and 75mm-150mm f4 – all used screw in filters of the same diameter – a wonderfully handy, compact and lightweight arrangement!

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; polarising filter; 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 108 – CROWNED CRANE

 

 


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Crowned Crane, the national bird of Uganda – a tame individual in the grounds of the Aberdare Country Club, at Mweiga in central Kenya; late 1970s.

Click onto the 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 107 – 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.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO to further saturate colour.

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 106 – TABLE DECORATION

 

 


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Conversation piece on my Nairobi dining table; Nov 1979.

I would like to be able to say that all of the sophisticated evenings chez moi were black tie and that, as the port decanter made its rounds, this little charmer made the conversation hum and buzz.  But, well, you know … 😉 …

The reality was that, because I was writing a book at the time, my large dining table was perpetually covered in piles of maps, books and papers, together with a portable typewriter (remember typewriters???), a little space where my plate could go when I wanted to eat – and a pot plant that was home to this beauty for awhile.

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

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; extension tubes or close up lenses; 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 105 – GEOTHERMAL STEAM (MONO)

 

 


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Geothermal steam billowing up from below the ground at Olkaria, near Lake Naivasha, in the rift valley; late 1970s.

The eastern side of the African continent is breaking up along cracks that are visible as the rift valley.  As the crust of the Earth splits apart, hot material from deeper within the Earth wells upwards to fill the cracks and, in some places, reaches the Earth’s surface to erupt as volcanoes, which spew out lava (liquid rock) and ash (rock blown apart by volcanic explosions).  Volcanic eruptions in Kenya have occurred as recently as the nineteenth century (i.e., in geological terms, yesterday), and there are active volcanoes in central Africa, in Rwanda.

Where such recent volcanism has occurred, there are still extremely hot rocks not far below the surface of the ground, and water percolating down to these can re-emerge above ground as geothermal steam, as shown here.  Kenya is now utilising this environmentally very clean resource to generate electricity.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2 starting at the High Structure Smooth preset.

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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