ARCHIVE 607 – YOUNG GIRL (MONO)

 

 


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One of our friends’ daughters; growing up very fast now. 

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 3200 ISO; centre-weighted metering; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Warm Tone Paper preset and adding a moderate coffee tone.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 123 – PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG LUO GIRL (MONO)

 

 


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Young Luo girl on a farm near Akala in western Kenya;  Apr 1979.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; mono conversion and vignetting 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 KENYA 117 – YOUNG GIRL ON A FARM (MONO)

 

 

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

She is leaning against the decorated wall of a thatched hut and, despite her friends and family being close by, she looks concerned and perhaps wary.  This might have been her first close encounter with a white person and, although the OM-1 is wonderfully compact, with anything like a sophisticated modern camera.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm 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 593 – HER VERY FIRST WRITTEN WORDS (MONO)

 

 

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We were visiting friends when their elder daughter, whom we like very much, suddenly started asking her parents about how words are written.  She knew how letters and combinations of letters sound and how they look when written down, but she’d never equated the two before.

A few words of explanation from her parents and –   to the vast astonishment of everyone present – she just started phonetically pronouncing words and then writing them all over large pieces of scrap paper on the floor!

I had my camera to hand, and a unique occasion was recorded.  This is not a good picture photographically, but in this sort of instance that doesn’t worry me at all – and I love her tentative, slightly doubtful expression.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 3200 ISO; south Bristol; 26 Apr 2009.

UPDATE: yes, photographically, in technical terms, this is not a good picture.  But it is nevertheless a very valuable picture, and especially so to the girl and her family – here is a fundamental achievement on her part, a fundamental moment in her life.  Which feeds into one of my core beliefs about photography – that by far the most important aspect of an image is its content – have interesting / striking / meaningful content, and the technicalities come a very, very long way second.

So, ok, let’s turn this on its head.  Here’s a meaningful image that is technically imperfect.  Who would rather have a meaningless image that is technically perfect? .

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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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