ARCHIVE 289 – LUO FAMILY

 

 


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

The backdrop is the painted wall of a wattle and daub hut, the smooth surface layer of which is starting to flake off on the far right.  Minor points, maybe that I’ve only really appreciated now, after all these years, are the Vicks poster and the kitten.

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

OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: The people in Kenya were in the main very friendly and hospitable.  I very much enjoyed my years in that country.  Again – once again – I wish that I had photographed more of the people that I met there.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 272 – BOY ON A FARM

 

 

adl364newx
.
Young Luo boy on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; Apr 1979.

He is standing in front of the painted mud wall of a hut and is vastly amused to be having his picture taken – what a pity that those weren’t digital days, so that I could have showed him the result – or that I didn’t carry a polaroid camera with me.

Looking for rare birds – I was an out and out birder in those days, photography was very much a subsidiary thing – I remember entering villages deep in the western countryside where the africans seldom encountered white people, to be greeted by little children running at my VW Beetle, shouting “mzungu, mzungu!” – “white man, white man!”.  They crowded around me, looking at my skin and touching it with wonder and great curiosity – and all around were excited grins and smiles like the one above.

Olympus OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: this picture was taken 38 years ago and, getting older as I am, I find myself looking at this broadly grinning face, a face from my distant past, and wondering what has become of him.  For a start, is he alive, has he survived?  This is after all the Third World, and an area brutally infested by malaria – which I myself was struck down with – so that nothing can be guaranteed.  Assuming that he is still alive, he will now be in his 40s, perhaps with a family of his own.  So has he stayed on these far western farms, or maybe been drawn by the lure of the cities – nearby Kisumu, or even far off Nairobi or Mombasa?  I can have no answers here but am nevertheless left with one certainty: being a geologist and naturalist, most of my Kenyan photography was of the spectacular landscapes and wildlife – but now, with hindsight, I wish that my photographs had a more of a human element, that I’d taken more photographs of the Kenyans themselves.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 228 – BOYS FISHING

 

ADL281X
.
Luo boys fishing at Dunga, near Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya; April 1979.

I love the colours and slightly upturned prow of the boat, and its reflection too, and also the overall feeling of relaxation, with time passing slowly on a hot day by the side of the teeming lake.

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

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 218 – KIKUYU GIRL

 

 

ADL44_2X
.
Little Kikuyu girl at a wedding near Thika, Kenya; late 1970s.

The bottle of Fanta fizzy orange is about 10 inches tall – and evidently her treasure!

She’s chewing the white Fanta bottle top while wondering with horror what this fat mazungu (white man) is about to do to her!

OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko; Kodak colour transparency.

UPDATE: This brings back a lot of memories, not least the day glow colours of much of the local knitwear, which in this case fits so well with the colour of her drink.  Kenya is a land of colour, I remember returning there from visits to England and being visually stunned and uplifted by the blazing brilliance and radiance all around.  There are two factors in this.  First, of course, the country is straddled by the equator, and the sun simply blazes down from high overhead for much of the day – your eyeballs are hammered back into your skull – and especially so on days when the sun is obscured by thin, white stratus clouds.  And to add to this effect, this photo was taken somewhere around a mile above sea level – so not only were we being blasted by the light, but we were somewhere around 5,000 feet up in the clear air – just to make sure we got the full effect!

But the other thing of course are the tropical colours – vegetation, birds, insects, clothes – absolutely wonderful to behold.  There are to be sure drabber places there too, particularly in the wilder and more arid areas, but they still have a wild beauty that stays with me.

.
.
.

PEOPLE 213 – BOY FISHING, ON A STORMY DAY (MONO)

 

 

boy-fishing-on-a-stormy-day-mono
This picture is best viewed enlarged.  Click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window.

Boy fishing, on a stormy day; Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol; 6 Feb 2016.

A young lad, out on a wet and windy morning’s fishing with his dad, who is out of shot.

The wind is blowing up his hair and, rather than have him looming large in the shot, I’ve kept in those tall, windblown weeds and the bare winter sapling, which add to the overall cold and blustery feel.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset and adding a tone.
.
.
.

PEOPLE 211 – MOTHER AND CHILD (MONO)

 

 

mother-and-child-mono
.
A mother comforts her child;  26 Nov 2009.

They are both old friends of our’s.

In the emotion of the moment, the mother’s eyes close and her lips part slightly to murmur soft comfort and reassurance.

And, to me, the baby’s anguish is reflected in the widely splayed hand that desperately clutches her mother’s neck – and especially in that little thumb. 

D700 with 24-120 Nikkor at 120mm; 25,600 ISO; Dfine 2; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Soft Sepia preset.
.
.
.

ARCHIVE 191 – FATHER AND DAUGHTER (MONO)

 

 

_DSC0531X
.
A good friend with his baby daughter, 5 April 2009.

The baby’s mother loves the direct and very vital connection between the baby’s rapt gaze and the father’s smiling face and she’s totally right.  I also like the apparently huge size of the father’s hand as it rests on his daughter’s diminutive shoulder.

I don’t have a lot of confidence with people pictures, but luck has won out here – and this sort of close, intimate shot is one of the things that, for me, monochrome is all about.

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 6400 ISO.  I was very new to both digital photography and the D700 when I took this, and I have a vague recollection of frantically raising the ISO to 6400 to keep pace with the faltering light conditions, and of then setting matrix metering and trusting to autofocus – with a lucky outcome!
.
.

.

ARCHIVE 190 – YOUNG VIOLINIST (MONO)

 

 

daw_235aX
.

Young violinist; 9 Sept 2012.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m fortunate in having four darling little girls in my life.  Two are our granddaughters, the other two the children of friends.  Yesterday we went to visit those friends, so that my wife could measure the kids for knitware that she is giving them for Christmas.

As is usual when I get together with these little ones, who are now aged 7 and 2, mayhem and anarchy reigned!  Within minutes of arriving, I was down on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, giving a ride to the two delighted and squealing monsters, and things just got better from there on in.  But I have no aches or pains this morning – must be tougher than I thought!

And the family have a beautiful new cat, who seems to have a very calm and friendly personality.

Rather than high structure and contrast, I was looking for a softer, more delicate image here – something to suit a young girl bathed in window light.  I’ve never used it before but the Gold Toner does it – the result is rather like a sepia tone.

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 1250 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, using the Gold Toner preset.

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 175 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA (MONO)

 

 

ADL266bX
.
Luo people on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

I love these portraits.  The man is at ease with me and my camera, he knows me well, and in his expression we see nothing contrived, just a calm and direct gaze.  The little boy is nervous, but is being reassured by the man’s closeness – while the little girl’s radiant smile is a delight.

This smile reminds me powerfully of African children in general!  I was often in out of the way areas in Kenya, often far off the well beaten tourist tracks, searching for unusual birdlife.  And I can remember entering villages where white people were only infrequently seen – and being beset by a tide of brightly smiling little children like these, chanting “mazungu, mazungu!” – swahili for “white man, white man!”. 

And sometimes they were so curious to see me, maybe not having had close contact with a european before, that they came and wondered at the pale hair on my pale arms – and touched my arms and head as if they couldn’t quite believe what they were seeing – it was a real, uninhibited examination!

I like children anyway, I vastly enjoy interacting with them – and especially so when they can talk – and these were simply wonderful and fascinating experiences.  And I also want to mention here how friendly Kenyan people were in general, throughout my years there – friendly, hospitable and humorous.

On the negative side of things though, it was on this trip that I first contracted malaria – and that is something truly unpleasant.

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

.
.
.

ARCHIVE 164 – PORTRAIT OF A LITTLE GIRL (MONO)

 

 

yrt_100cX
.
A  friend, aged two; 30 Aug 2011. 

To say that we value the friendship of this little girl is one of life’s vast understatements.

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

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 12,800 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

.
.
.

%d bloggers like this: