ARCHIVE KENYA 95 – IN LAMU

 

 


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Alley in Lamu; July 1978.

Lamu is a small town on an island just off the coast of Kenya.  It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – see more info here.

When I was there in 1978, Lamu was peaceful, fascinating and a delight.  However the section on modern Lamu in the report linked to above suggests it is threatened; and not least by the fact that, being quite close to the border with Somalia, it has been the scene of terrorist attacks.  I returned from Kenya 31 years ago, and the world has changed much since then.

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.

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ARCHIVE 559 – OUR FRIEND, AGED THREE (MONO)

 

 


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One of the wonderful little girls in our lives – aged three and giving the camera a fleeting look.  9 Sept 2012.

I suppose this is high key mistiness – good old Minimalist “less is more” maybe – and I want to try more images in this vein.

I’ve used the Antique Plate II preset in SEP2 as a starting point, and converted its rectangular vignette to a circular one.  Her eyes were a little too sharp – that 105mm is really something else! – so I’ve reduced their structure and added a little blur.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 6400 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 68 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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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.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that version to enlarge it.

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

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 532 – LOOKING INTO A TABLET – AND A MOMENT OF MAGIC (MONO)

 

 


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Mother and daughter gaze into a tablet computer; 24 Jan 2014.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 3200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Warm Tone Paper preset.

A MOMENT OF MAGIC

We popped over to see our friends and their two wonderful daughters last week.  As usual, I completely let myself go with the two girls, and we went through all sorts of stuff and nonsense.  In common with other parents here, my friends have something called the Thinking Step which, one of the bottom steps of their stairs, is where the girls are sent to sit and think over their behaviour when it oversteps the mark.

And, old friends that we are, when my behaviour became too boisterous, the girls’ mother condemned me to the Thinking Step, and the two girls took me out into the hall, to show me where it is.

And then the moment of magic happened.  As I sat there, the four year old looked at me seriously, went upstairs, and returned with one of her dolls – which she sat on the Step beside me, so that I wouldn’t be lonely sitting there on my own.

I have to say that I was immensely touched by the kindness and simplicity of what she had done – for there, in microcosm, was one of the things that make Life lift and soar, one of the truly great things of this world.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 42 – BODY LANGUAGE

 

 


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OK, so which is the precocious one??? – youngsters on a farm in the far west of Kenya; Apr 1979.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was over in the far west of Kenya – around Akala, Kisumu and Lake Victoria – in 1979, visiting my friend’s father’s farm.  I was an out and out birder in those days, and I was in this area looking for birds only found, in Kenya at least, in the very far west – which birds? >>> Eastern Grey Plantain Eater, Brown Twinspot, Shoebill, Splendid Starling and many more.

I was a curiosity anyway of course, because these far western areas were way off the usual tourist trail, but in particular I attracted droves of children, which was fine with me as I love kids – but not so fine when I was very quietly trying to spot rare and shy birds in dense vegetation.  Ever humorous, my companion let it be known that I liked eating children, but even that had little effect.

Anyway, above are three of this farm’s throng, and which is the forward, lively, cheeky one? (First prize: an evening with me in a top class Bristol restaurant; second prize: two evenings with me in …).

Let’s start with the non-contenders.  They’re seated neatly on either side, arms and legs in, respectful expressions – as if they’re in school maybe, or church.

And between them … limbs insolently wide, provocative, questioning, a slight smile, head forward, big eyes looking up … “Its me … and I’m not afraid of you and your camera … so what are you going to do about that then?! … “.

And after 41 years I can still remember her – always up at the front of the crowd of kids, always questioning, laughing, clamouring for attention – a wonderful character, a lot of fun.  But I wonder if these three made it through to adulthood, life in the Third World can hold uncertainties after all.  I hope they are all fine – they’ll be around 45 now, probably with children of their own.  Time – or, as a friend perceptively puts it, “the conveyor belt” – moves on.  You think about these things more when you’re older.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; Dfine 2; 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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TALKING IMAGES 55 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY: 1 – THE MAIN MANTRA

 


(Click onto any of these images to open a larger version in a separate window)

INTRO

Some years ago, I put out some posts specifically aimed at those just getting interested in photography, just starting out.  I tried to think of things that might be useful to them – and not just in terms of technique, but also in ways of thinking about photography, attitudes, questions that might arise, etc.  I most certainly do not know all there is to know about photography, but I’d like to try something similar again and – as always – I’m happy to take questions >>> with the caveat that, as already mentioned, my knowledge is not exhaustive.

But always remember, these are only my views and opinions: others may well think differently, and equally validly.

And so – there can be no question where to start ->>>>>  its the Main Mantra!

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THE MAIN MANTRA

When thinking about photography, THE main (and very liberating) thing to keep in mind is that we are all different in our attitudes and opinions to it.  We are all individuals.  This does of course apply to probably anything that you like to mention – we all may have different opinions about cheese, the clothes we choose to wear, the houses we like to live in, the books we read, those we choose as partners, those we hate – you name it!

This being the case, there are never any rights or wrongs in photography, there are only differences of opinion.  I may think my photos are wonderful, and someone else may think them dreadful.  Photography is a very subjective activity, it depends upon our personal opinions – and that is something I’ll touch on more in later posts.

And so to Stuffed Shirts.

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STUFFED SHIRTS

How YOU choose to approach photography, how you take your photographs, is entirely YOUR choice. And so, if you never take anything else away from these posts, never, ever, let anyone else – any Stuffed Shirt –  tell you that you are not a “proper” photographer because you do not do something which he or she thinks “proper” photographers should do.  We’ve all heard it – that we must/ must not use a particular make of camera; or NOT use a mobile phone; or always/never work in black and white; or always/never use a tripod;  or always/never use our camera on manual settings; or always/never use certain processing software; or only photograph in the blue and golden hours; or always/never obey the photographic “rules” >>> on and on and on >>> ad nauseam!

LOL! >>> David Noton, a photographer that I certainly admire, once said, in print, something at once both hugely important and really quite rude – “ignore all the bo**ocks, get out there and expose.  Take your camera for a walk. Use your eyes.“.  Very simple, very blunt and hugely relevant.

And so to one way forward.

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ONE WAY FORWARD

Take photographs, and then look at them and think if you like them and are satisfied with them.  If you are NOT satisfied with them, try to think – to articulate/explain to yourself – why this is so >>>>> and then learn from that.

By all means look at other photographers’ pictures and try to learn from them – what is there in them that you would like to see in your pictures?  But note that simply copying others’ photographs – e.g. by simply standing on the same spot as they did to photograph Stonehenge – is unlikely to bring lasting satisfaction or expertise.

But there are many resources to help you, e.g. looking at images in museums, art galleries and books, and on the internet; joining tours and workshops led by expert photographers (see for example the link to David Noton, above); joining a camera club; reading photographic magazines; searching for info on the internet, including youtube; watching the (relatively few) photography programs on TV, etc.  Generally speaking, the more images that you can see, the more you will add to the “photographic library” – the visual experience – within your mind.  And do keep in mind that these can be images in all media – photographs, paintings, pencil/charcoal drawings, computer-generated graphics, advertising pictures, pictures on Cornflakes packets (naturally, I admit all links to the firm …) – all types of images!

First, you ought to like/ be satisfied with your own pictures.  And second – if you choose to go in this direction/ if this matters to you –  it would be nice if (at least some) others liked them too.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 6 – KIKUYU GIRL WITH FANTA

 

 


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Little Kikuyu girl at a wedding near Thika; 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) with his camera is about to do to her!

I enjoyed my years in Kenya.  The people were hospitable and friendly, and humorous too.  And the children were an especial delight.  I was often off the beaten track, far from the tourist areas, collecting bird records for the bird atlas I was later to write, and for many of these small children I may have been the first white person they had ever seen – or at least seen closely.  When I neared habitation, they would rush out and swarm around me – “Mazungu, mazungu!” – brimming over with vitality and fun, and vast curiosity too.  I remember them touching my skin, and especially my hairy arms, with great wonder.  Very human moments; certainly moments to treasure, all these years later.

And, as always, “all these later years” brings thoughts.  Let’s say this was 1980 for ease of maths (never my strong point, despite having worked in data management and analysis for 20 years …), so that’s 40 years ago so, if she has survived – always that big if … –  she will now be a woman of 43 or so, with her own children probably.  I wonder if she will still remember that far off wedding day? Probably not but, anyway, here she is.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens; colour slide film.

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 465 – ASSAULT BY COMPACT CAMERA

 

 


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Assault by compact camera; 24 Mar 2012.

At a party recently, our little friend – now aged three – got hold of her dad’s camera and started taking flash pictures of me.  At which point, still being quite a child myself, I started pretending that each of her camera’s flashes was almost knocking me off my chair – which she loved and found hilarious.

So here she is, simply delightful – and maybe one of tomorrow’s photographic movers and shakers.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 400 ISO; bounced, diffused flash.

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ARCHIVE 439 – A YOUNG FRIEND (MONO)

 

 


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A  little friend, aged two; 30 Aug 2011.

Who is she?  She is the younger daughter of friends, and we love her – and regard her friendship – very dearly.  People discuss the really worthwhile things in life, the things that life is all about, and our friendship with this little girl – and her big sister too – fits squarely into that category.  And I am doubly blessed because not only am I allowed totally unrestricted photographic access to these two sisters, but their parents have no problems at all with my publishing the resulting images here – not such common attitudes in England these days!.

And why is this image very special to me?  It is unposed; it is simple, candid and completely uncontrived.  Its is just a little girl – she was two at the time – glancing round at me with a perhaps questioning look.  I can’t get enough of it.

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

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

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ARCHIVE 399 – MAYHEM AND VIOLIN

 

 


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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.

So, here is the elder sister with her new violin and a pensive expression.  She can’t play it yet but these are early days, and she is now playing pieces on the piano.

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 1250 ISO.

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