ARCHIVE KENYA 89 – BACK ROAD NEAR AKALA (MONO)

 

 

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Back road through farms near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The wideangle lens makes the road appear in worse condition than it was – and, in any case, it was dry weather; tackling this in wet conditions would be something else again.

The VW Beetle was wonderful for this sort of thing.  No 4×4, just drive in the two rear wheels, the engine seated over the wheels – which made for very good grip –  and a large metal plate underneath most of the length of the car, to guard against rocks and boulders.

But the car took quite a hammering on this trip and, as I pulled out at the end of my stay for the long drive back to Nairobi, my front wheels had, unbeknown to me, taken such a pounding that they were facing outwards, i.e. away from each other.

This very soon wore both tyres completely bald and, when I came upon a police road block, I had a hard job persuading them to let me through.  Luckily there was an excellent garage specialising in VW repairs in Nairobi, and however badly I damaged the car, they were always able to fix it.

Another thing about this picture is that it was taken in a very fertile, agricultural landscape teeming with people.  I’ve only just stopped for a photo, and already there’s a young lad standing by the car.  If we were really to get stuck or break down, there were always plenty of willing hands to help push and pull us on our way.  They were friendly – and distinctly humorous – people.  Less friendly was the malaria, which initially got its teeth into me during this safari.

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 in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red 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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ARCHIVE KENYA 88 – UNKNOWN SUNRISE

 

 

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Sunrise, somewhere in Kenya, probably in the late 1970s – how’s that for vague?

An Agfa colour slide with absolutely no information on it.  Am I sure its a sunrise? I think so – it has that clean, clear look – but who knows? And where is it taking place? Well, somewhere very flat – the bush country of Tsavo maybe, or perhaps the Maasai Mara grasslands? 

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; 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 87 – FARMER, WESTERN KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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Luo farmer near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.  Because of their dark skin, photographing Africans in anything like bright conditions is fraught with problems.  One option of course is just to go with the conditions and show only the highlights of their faces, leaving the finer details and hints of character smothered in deep shadow.

Another option is to photograph them in deep shade, to minimalise shadows and reveal facial detail – but this requires higher ISO ratings, larger apertures, and so on.  The third option is the one used here, where flash dispels the shadows, and this works well, particularly with today’s automatic flashguns.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens, and 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 86 – EVENING AT THE SAND RIVER GATE (MONO)

 

 


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Evening at the Sand River Gate, Maasai Mara, Kenya; April 1979.

The dark foreground consists of bushed grassland  – dark acacia thorn bushes set in a sea of straw-coloured, savanna grassland.  Further back there are low and very rounded hills – and they’re in the Serengeti Game Reserve, in Tanzania.

I remember that there were three of us – myself and a married couple – on safari in their VW Kombi.  Kombis and VW Beetles too – with their rear-mounted, air cooled engines, rear wheel drive, high clearance and protective metal underbellies –  were excellent for rough roads and for off road too.  The couple slept in the van and I had a tent outside – I recall hearing Lion grumbling around nearby in the night.

And the great thing about camping in places like this was that we were always out and about at first and last light.  Sunrises and sets happen very quickly on the equator, far more quickly than at temperate latitudes, and you’ve got to be quick!  One of the things I missed about dear old England were the long summer evenings – on the equator, days are always something like 6am-6pm, with very little twilight either side.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens and polarising filter; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in 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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ARCHIVE KENYA 85 – KILIMANJARO (MONO)

 

 


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Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, seen from Kenya’s Amboseli Game Reserve; July 1978.

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 to mono 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 84 – SOMETIME EARLIER IN THE WORLD

 

 


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Sunrise at the mouth of the Njoro River at Lake Nakuru, Kenya; Jan 1978.

Early morning mists rise above the lake and, as the sun appears, everything is flooded by warm, golden light – a scene seemingly from long ago in the world that has always fascinated me.  Here is something primeval, here we are an irrelevance.

The gaunt skeletons of trees out in the lake are Yellow-barked Acacias that were killed as the lake’s soda-rich waters rose up around them.

There are two types of birds here.  Those holding their wings out to dry, and those perching on the dead trees, and those very faintly seen bottom right, are Cormorants – the same species as found in Europe.  The dark scrum of larger birds at the lake’s edge are White Pelicans – one great head and neck can be seen as, preening, a bird reaches deep into its plumage.

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 – recommended.

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-2 with 400mm Vivitar; Agfa CT 18 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 83 – THE EASTERN RIFT VALLEY AND THE MAU ESCARPMENT

 

 


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View westwards across the rift valley floor in Kenya, with the dark hills of the Mau Escarpment, the rift’s western wall, in the far distance; June 1978.

The eastern side of the African continent is breaking up and the Eastern Rift Valley, which runs through Kenya, is one of the vast fractures along which this fragmentation is occurring. 

The Mau Escarpment, seen in the distance, is the main part of the African continent, which stretches from there westwards right across to the Atlantic coast.

The terrain between the camera and those far away hills is the floor of the rift valley – a vast fracture in this ancient landmass –  and all of this land between the camera and that far range of hills has been created relatively recently by molten rock welling up from within the Earth to fill the fractures in the fragmenting continent – like blood filling and healing a cut in our skin.

When below ground, molten rock is known as magma.  Magma can be erupted out onto the Earth’s surface, when it is called lava – and lava is erupted through volcanoes.  There is an obvious volcano lower left in this scene, quite a small cone, and the undulating ground further away has many more.  The presence of hot springs and steam jets shows that there is still vast amounts of heat not far below the surface of the ground here – the volcanism here is not extinct, it is dormant and it might restart at any time.

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.

UPDATE: love those blue hills receding off into the distance.  Wish I was still there, clutching a camera – though sadly realising that, to me at least, it might no longer be the same place that I left those 31 years ago.

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 82 – KILIMANJARO

 

 


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Sunrise touching Mt Kilimanjaro: the view from Amboseli Game Reserve in southwest Kenya; Nov 1977.

At over 19,000 feet, this is Africa’s highest mountain and snow can be seen around the top.  But both the snow and the glaciers there may be gone within a few decades – they are melting fast.

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 – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko at 150mm lens; Agfa CT 18 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 81 – LIONESSES AT MIDDAY

 

 


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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 – recommended.

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

UPDATE: This shot brings three things 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.

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 80 – THE WATERFRONT AT LAMU

 

 


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.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 – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko lens; 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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