ARCHIVE 594 – STILL LIFE, IN FLIGHT

 

 


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Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 27 Sept 2013.

A still life?  Really?  Well, one way of looking at this is that, since the camera shutter was only open for 1/1600th of a second, it has effectively frozen this instant in the life and doings of this living being – and so it is “Life”, yes, but it is also “Still” – or, more correctly I suppose, “Stilled”!    And living things e.g. plants can of course be included in still life assemblages – if their movements are too slow to register in the resulting image.

But the real reason for my calling this a still life is that when I looked at the whole of this image and saw this powerfully down-sweeping wing, I was struck by its beauty, and so cropped the image to make it the main feature – with the bird’s head just peeping into the picture to add a little context.  So that, ok, it is a bird in flight, a moving object, but to me it has now become more of a design, or a set piece if you like. 

The fundamental difference between this image and a conventional still life is that it is not supported on anything that we can see, like a table top for example.  All support here is provided by the whirling and invisible air.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 70 – CORMORANT

 

 


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Cormorant leaving its perch and flying off into the sunrise; Lake Nakuru, Kenya; January 1978.

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: Olympus OM-1 or OM-2; and a very quick (and lucky!) grab shot with a 400mm Vivitar telephoto.

UPDATE: a photo that reminds me of cold, clear dawns on the lake edge – yes, cold – although almost on the equator, Lake Nakuru is over a mile above sea level and dawns can be, by Kenyan standards at least, distinctly chilly.  Frosts occur not too far above this, in the mountains.

I forget which colour slide film I used – it might have been Kodak’s High Speed Ektachrome, which attained the dizzy heights of 160 ISO!  And which, if we were really daring, we could have push processed to 640 ISO – heady days indeed!

Sometime back, probably when I first posted this, one viewer remarked upon the similarity between the tree stump’s outspread shape to the bird’s outspread wings – a valuable point.

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 26 – SUNRISE OVER STRATUS CLOUD

 

 


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Top of a blanket of stratus cloud, just starting to be illuminated by the rising sun: photographed from an airliner over northern Kenya, inbound for Nairobi, 25 Sept 1979.

With shots from large aircraft, I just set as high a shutter speed as possible (to reduce vibrations from the plane), focused my lens on infinity, brought the lens as close as possible to the window (to minimalise reflections) – and hoped for the best!

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: Olympus OM-2 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 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 24 – MT KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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Mt Kenya standing proud of a blanket of stratus cloud; photographed from an airliner inbound to Nairobi, 25 Sept 1979.  At 17,057 feet in altitude, this mountain is second in Africa only to Mt Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet), which is just over the border in Tanzania.

The barely seen, ghostly grey shapes in the foreground are the Aberdare (aka Nyandarua) Mountains, a line of volcanoes on the eastern shoulder of the rift valley.    

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

Technique: Olympus OM-2 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 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 9 – BOUND FOR KENYA

 

 

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As we take off from Heathrow, bound for Kenya, the incredible Olympus OM-2 calculates the exposure for the image in real time during the shot, and captures the lights of the airport, blurred by the aircraft’s speed, as we climb up into the night sky; September 1979.

I remember the anticipation of returning to Kenya after periods on leave in the UK.  There were photos like the one above, and I always sat on the left of the aircraft to photograph the sunrise.  And then, having been in the UK for a couple of months – even during beautiful summers – there was once more the intense visual excitement of being back in Nairobi, over a mile above sea level and in that incredible, overhead, equatorial sunlight. The colours were blazing, and by contrast the UK seemed somewhere else, on a visually more drab world.

But one thing that the equator doesn’t have are England’s lovely long summer evenings – sunrises and sets are far faster affairs near the equator!  And the rainfall was convectional so that, often, the day would start fine and clear, and clouds could be seen building up all morning, as the harsh sunlight sucked the moisture back up out of the ground >>> only for the whole lot to come back down again as torrential rain during fierce thunderstorms in the afternoons.

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 1 – FLAMINGOS AT DAWN

 

ARCHIVE KENYA: A NEW CATEGORY ON THIS BLOG

Some have said that they like my pictures from Kenya (which are film images all over 30 years old now) and would like to see them more often, which is very good to hear.  Now, despite my best intentions, I tend to be quite forgetful about such things >>> and so what to do???   I think the best way to remind myself is to set up a Archive Kenya category on my blog, and then to work through all of the Kenyan photos that I have, one by one, in the order in which they were posted (which makes it considerably easier for me) >>> and so to this first post.  I hope you will enjoy seeing these pictures again.  Some have been posted in the main Archive category fairly recently but many others have not seen the light of day for far longer.

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Dawn at Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; July 1978.

At around 6,000 feet above sea level, even this close to the equator, it was a cold dawn, and especially so for those of us who, living in Kenya, were becoming acclimatised to the place.  I had taken many pictures and was feeling the cold and sleepy, when suddenly this flamingo flock glided down over birds already in the water – and I just fired at them –  a very lucky, single snapshot with a 400mm telephoto.  I very much like the combination of the pale blues of the early morning light with the whites and pinks of the flamingos’ plumage.

The birds in the water are mainly Greater Flamingos, which are a little larger than the Lesser Flamingo, with less stridently pink plumage and paler bills.  A few Lesser Flamingos, very pink, are at the left hand end of the flock in the water.  The dark bills of the birds coming down to join those in the water identify them all as Lesser Flamingos.

Two dark Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) are flying right to left, low over the water, behind all the flamingos.

This is the first image in this new series, but as more are posted, click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these images from Kenya.

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

Technique: hahaha! can’t remember! >>> except that the great hulk of a 400mm telephoto, which I still have, was made by Vivitar.

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ARCHIVE 456 – SWANS OVER TEALHAM

 

 


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Mute Swans about to land on flooded Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore, on the Somerset Levels; 7 Feb 2014.

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

Much against good sense, I ventured down onto the Levels recently, to my habitual haunts on Tealham and Tadham Moors.  Not daring to take my usual cross-country route because of the many places where even small amounts of flooding might cut it, I drove down the main A38 road south from Bristol to Highbridge, and then went eastwards into the flatlands along another, relatively large road.  All was well on these main roads, but as soon as I got onto the smaller lanes, problems with water appeared.

Tealham and Tadham were mostly submerged, with just just the roads sticking up above the waters and little traffic about, but the floods in this more northerly part of the Levels are nothing like those further south, south of the Polden Hills, where whole villages are being overwhelmed, main roads have been cut for weeks, cutting edge pumping technology has been brought in from Holland, and the Army has been called in to help the local people.

This image is starting to look rather unphotographic, more like a painting maybe, and I always feel good when this happens.  Henrietta Richer and Dave Battarbee have both made suggestions about this image, which I’ve incorporated.  

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO. 

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BIRDS 129 – BLACK-HEADED GULL 2

 

 


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Breeding plumage Black-headed Gull over Chew Valley Lake, not far south of Bristol.  This is a relatively small gull, easily identified in this plumage by the white blaze on the forewing, the chocolate brown (not black!) hood, the white eye ring and the red bill.

There is another picture of a Black-headed Gull here .

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Provia/Standard profile; Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 4 July 2016.
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BIRDS 126 – FERAL PIGEON 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Feral Pigeons on a church roof.  It was a dark morning, and so (even at 3200 ISO) to a shutter speed of 1/40 second, which resulted in the blurring of the flying bird’s wings, which I like.

There is another image of these birds, and some more context, here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Weston-super-Mare, Somerset; 3 Jan 2020.
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BIRDS 124 – JACKDAW (MONO)

 


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Walking in the early morning of New Year’s Day in south Bristol, and being suddenly delighted by a storm of black bodies and whirling wings close overhead. They were Jackdaws, small crows, and this large group had recently emerged from a communal roost where they’d spent the long winter night and – garrulous, sociable, busy, noisy – they were off around Bristol’s rooftops in search of the day’s first meal. They landed on the roof of a nearby factory but, active as they were, I knew that they’d soon be aloft again in a noisy, wheeling black cloud.

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LOL!!! >>> and so to one of photography’s great sayings >>> that the best camera for the job is the one you have with you >>> and so, from my pocket, I produced something really totally unsuitable for the job ahead, the only camera I was carrying, the Olympus TOUGH TG-5.

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But the birds were on the move again even quicker than I’d anticipated, and any “photographic technique” on my part was reduced to managing to get the zoom to it longest length (100mm equivalent), pointing the little camera at the whirling flock and firing five quick, single frames.  The camera was set for spot metering, thankfully at 3200 ISO, but on this dark morning that still only gave me 1/30 second at f4.9.

I’m also a great believer in “any picture is better than no picture at all”, and in this case the slow shutter speed blurred the flailing wings to give a real sense of movement – and so to high contrast black and white processing in Lightroom and something of an impressionistic result.
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