ARCHIVE 350 – MAASAI GIRAFFE (MONO)

 

 


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Maasai Giraffe, Nairobi National Park, Kenya; probably late 1970s.

Although this is a portrait of a wild animal, and so a representation of the natural world, it is also partly abstract.  The animal is (more or less!) in focus, but behind it, even close behind it, the landscape is only diffusely visible.  Looking at this very limited depth of focus, I think this must have been taken with an old Vivitar 400mm telephoto that I had in those far off days.

Composition: in terms of the “rule” of thirds, the giraffe occupies the right vertical third of the photo (i.e. the vertical line about one third of the way into the image from the right margin), which is a visually strong position in which to be.  The thornbushes immediately behind the giraffe are out of focus, and those further out towards the (just about visible) horizon are more diffuse still.  This gives a sense of distance and depth.

Technique:  use of Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro has added a slightly bluish tint to the image, and rendered the out of focus areas still more diffuse.  These effects are enhanced by the addition of a pale vignette, a quite thick zone of pale diffusion right around the image’s borders, the effects of which are best seen to the right of the bush immediately behind the giraffe, and on the distant bushes in the image’s top left corner.

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SELF-INDULGENCE 50 – GIRAFFE IN INFRARED (MONO)

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Maasai Giraffe in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, probably in the late 1970s.

This image has been given the look of infrared monochrome film using Silver Efex Pro, and I think the resulting pallor suits the subject.  The giraffe looks just about natural, but of course all of the greenery – the bushes and the grassy plain – are very pale.

OM-1 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

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SELF-INDULGENCE 15 – MAASAI GIRAFFE (MONO)

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I was going to say that I posted this picture ages ago – but this blog is only 11 months old.  But that seems a very long time ago now.  Have I enjoyed blogging?  Definitely, absolutely, although at times it can be quite a lot of work.  Have I met good people?  Yes, definitely, and more continue to appear – which is excellent.  Have I learnt anything?  Yes again, a lot, and I value that greatly.  So, the picture –

Maasai Giraffe in Nairobi National Park, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya; late 1970s.

The photo has been digitally manipulated in SEP to be slightly bluish and softly out of focus, to give it a slightly unreal, painterly feel.  In particular, I like the way this softening has affected the bushes on this savannah grassland, which become more and more diffuse and stylised as their distance from the camera increases.

OM-1 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono and toned in Silver Efex Pro.
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KENYA (14) – INFRARED GIRAFFE IN NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK – MONOCHROME

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Maasai Giraffe in Nairobi National Park, probably in the late 1970s.  This image has been given the look of infrared monochrome film using Silver Efex Pro, and I think the resulting pallor suits the subject.  The giraffe looks just about natural, but of course all of the greenery – the bushes and the grassy plain – are very pale.

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

KENYA (11) – SAVANNAH GRASSLAND WITH FLAT-TOPPED ACACIAS

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Savannah grassland with flat-topped acacia trees in Nairobi National Park; Nov 1979.  This picture has been manipulated to resemble a painting or pencil sketch.  First, it was taken with a 400mm telephoto, which magnifies the scene 8x, and which tends to compress perspective, so that far objects are brought closer to those in the foreground – and hence a landscape of grassland with trees right out to the horizon.  Then I have worked on the shot in Silver Efex Pro, lightly tinting it, and giving it a pale vignette.

A point of interest: just about at the crossing of the picture’s lower horizontal third and right vertical third, there is a large, dark and rather squat bush or tree.  Directly above this is a smaller but taller tree that has a peculiar shape.  This strange bush seems to have had large bites taken out of each of its sides – and this exactly the case.  This tree shows the reach of the area’s tallest browser, the giraffe, which can take greenery from parts of trees far above the reach of other animals.

OM-1 with 400mm Vivitar telephoto; Agfa CT18 colour slides, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

KENYA (1)

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I lived in Kenya from 1977 to 1989, first teaching at the University of Nairobi and then quitting academia to lead tourists on wildlife safaris.  Very much primarily a birdwatcher and only secondarily a photographer in those days, birds were the reason I was in Kenya in the first place.  Since 1967 I had been birdwatching in Europe and the Middle East, in the Palearctic Region of the Earth,  and I longed to see birds from another of the Earth’s biological regions.  A lecturing job arose in Nairobi – in the Afrotropical Region – and I applied at once.  Later,  I wrote Mammals of the World – an overview to accompany safaris in Kenya (East African Ornithological Safaris Ltd; a booklet still available in Nairobi), and co-authored A Bird Atlas Of Kenya (Balkema 1989; out of print).

All of the pictures here have been scanned from colour transparencies, some of which are beginning to show colour changes, due to age and to spending long periods in an equatorial climate.  Mostly I shot with Agfa CT18 (uprated from 50 to 64 ISO to improve colour saturation) as that film produced a faint brownish cast, which suited the landscapes which were often my subjects.  I also used a little High Speed Etchachrome (some push processed for night photography) and Kodachrome.  My cameras were Olympus OM-1 and OM-2 SLRs.

View eastwards across the rift valley, showing Lake Elmentaita, a soda lake in the rift floor, with the eastern escarpment of the rift dimly seen in the far distance; probably late 1970s.  Each of the small cones on the far side of the lake, and the slightly higher ground immediately left of the lake, is a separate volcano.  The whole of the rift floor is volcanic, with liquid rock (magma) pushing up from deep inside the Earth through the fracture in the Earth’s crust that is the rift valley.  Magma erupting onto the Earth’s surface is known as lava.  A very dark and moody landscape this.  It is not of course a true representation of the scene captured by the camera, but rather my interpretation of that scene.

Dawn at Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; July 1978.  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 was a very lucky, single snapshot!  I saw the birds flying in and just fired at them –  a single frame 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. (the details alluded to in this picture are rather small – click onto the picture to see a much larger version, and then use your computer’s Back button to get back into the body of the blog). 

 

One of two Maasai women that we met as they walked together across the open grasslands of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, amidst the large mammals – Elephant, Lion, Hyaena, Buffalo, Hippopotamus, Leopard, Aardvark, Cheetah, Gazelle, Baboon, Giraffe, Black Rhinoceros and so on –  that are an integral and accepted part of their everyday lives; April 1979.  Inevitably being effected by western culture to some extent, many Maasai still lead fairly traditional lives. I have lightened the whites of her eyes, to give the photo more punch.

Spotted Stone Curlew, freezing motionless to avoid detection as I very gently draw my VW Beetle to a halt close beside it in Nairobi National Park; October 1980.  Stone Curlews, also known as Thicknees, have large eyes because they are mostly active at night.  They spend the day motionless in cover, like the one pictured here.  Another species, the Stone Curlew, breeds in precariously small numbers in the UK.  Nairobi National Park is right on the outskirts of the city, and ideal for quick visits.

Maasai Giraffe in Nairobi National Park; date unknown.   The giraffe occupies most of the right vertical third of the photo and is in focus (or virtually so).  The remainder of the  photo has been digitally manipulated in Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro to be slightly bluish and softly out of focus, to give it a slightly painterly feel.

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