ARCHIVE 423 – EARLY MORNING 21

 

 


.

Dawn mists rise above Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; January 1978.  The large, white birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans.  In the lake behind them are the trunks of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters. Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) perch on these dead trunks, and a nest of sticks is also visible.

This lake is over a mile above sea level and so, particularly after a clear night, the whole place can be pretty chilly by first light – standing around taking pictures, waiting for the sunrise, we were well wrapped up!  At altitudes a little above this – and right on the equator – frosts can occur.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 .

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

Technique: Vivitar 400mm telephoto on Olympus SLR, mounted on a tripod; colour slide film.
.
.
.

ARCHIVE 422 – EARLY MORNING 20

 

 


.

Sunrise over stratus cloud, seen from a London-Nairobi flight on 25 Sept 1979.

Back in those days, my (very portable) camera was often with me, and flights to and from Kenya were vast photo opportunities – here I’m flying south, and sitting on the left of the plane to catch the sunrise.

Below, the world is shrouded in a great blanket of stratus cloud, and the low angle light of the sunrise reveals the cotton wool textures on the cloudbank’s upper surface.

Stratus is the name for clouds that form a layer or stratum, whereas clouds that consist of many discrete parts – sometimes looking like lots of balls of cotton wool – are known as cumulus.  Cirrus clouds are the thin veils of vapour that form high up in the atmosphere.  These three cloud types all intergrade to give, for example, stratocumulus, a cloud that is in layers that consist of individual smaller cloudlets.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban settings, and from Kenya too – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 .

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

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4; Dfine 2.

.
.
.

PEOPLE 374 – VERY OLD FRIENDS (MONO)

 

 


.

Life moves on.  As Dylan Thomas so wonderfully put it, in Under Milk Wood, “Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.”

And so to an Italian restaurant in a reasonably run down, seaside town, and five people around a table – already hitting the electric sauce, if only moderately, and good naturedly corralling a waiter into taking a snap of the occasion.  He was somewhat disconcerted by “Focus on the wine bottle!”.  While after “Squeeze yourself right back into that corner to get us all in!”, it had to be explained that we were not in fact all planning to try and get in the corner with him.  Ah, the youth of today …  But, anyway, here is the result.

So just who are these smiling worthies?  Well, as a landmark, something to navigate by when in distress on the sea, the lolling lout front right (magnified by proximity to the TG-5’s wide angle lens I might add) is me >>> does my tum look big in this??? 

Then the two women are the partners of the two blokes opposite me.

But the two blokes opposite me are the thing really, because we three were in the same school in the 1960s.  I’ve been friends with one nearest the camera for 60 years at least, we were in adjacent primary schools.  And the other is one of the two luminaries responsible for getting me into birdwatching in 1967, an interest that was to later take me to Kenya for 12 wonderful years – an experience from which, thank goodness, I’ve never quite recovered.

And although three of us live locally, the other very special thing about this occasion is that the other couple live on the other side of the world, so that we see them only very occasionally.

And so here we three are, back in our home town as it happens, and not a stone’s throw from the primary schools where two of us started out.  And we are all stunned by the fact that, having known each other since our childhoods, we are now all approaching our 70th birthdays.

“Time passes.  Listen.  Time passes.”
.
.
.

ARCHIVE 421 – EARLY MORNING 14

 

 


.

Sunrise over the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, southwest Kenya; Nov 1977.

Well, a 37 year old colour transparency that resided for over a decade in the heat and humidity of the tropics.  The colours are altering slightly, a little too much purple or mauve in there now, I think.

But does this matter, is this important?

I could refrain from posting this image because it is no longer a totally accurate representation of the scene – or simply enjoy it for what it now is.

To me, the former option would be far more than a tad puritanical, somewhere along a long road to nowhere perhaps.  Somewhere I never want to be.

Other images in this Early Morning series – from both rural and urban areas – are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 .

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.

.
.
.

 

 

ARCHIVE 419 – WARBLER AMONGST ACACIA THORNS

 

 


.

Small warbler – perhaps a Cisticola – amongst fearsome Acacia thorns, any one of which could so easily transfix it; probably in Nairobi National Park, in the late 1970s.

The Cisticolas are a group of small warblers that that all look very similar to each other; they are the archetypal “small brown birds”.

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

Technique: OM-1 with a Vivitar 400mm telephoto; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.  This would have been taken from the window of my car, from one of the tracks in the National Park.

.
.
.

ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS EIGHT – PLUS SOME PICTURES FROM KENYA

 

 

Maasai woman

.

Well, FATman Photos is eight years old, and once more I marvel at its longevity.  I read that photo blogging is addictive, and think this quite possibly true.  What is certainly true is that I find blogging a wonderful source of creativity and self-expression and a vast motivation for my photography – and that I enjoy the contact with “all of you out there” very much.  As always, thank you for looking at my blog, for adding Likes and making Comments – all of which are responded to.

.

And news?  Well, two things to mention.  First, I’ve taken to carrying the diminutive Olympus TOUGH TG-5 camera with me on my long, relaxing and (hopefully!) waistline-reducing walks around south Bristol – and so to the Outer Suburbs project, which now has over a hundred posts – there is a recent summary of this project here .

.

And second – and perhaps at the other end of the camera/photography spectrum – I’ve started using one of Nikon’s new full-frame, mirrorless cameras, the Z 6, which is a joy to use, and which certainly looks promising.  More details here .

.

Long ago, I lived in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, for 12 years.  I started off lecturing at the University of Nairobi, and then went into tourism, leading bird and general wildlife safaris.  To say that I liked both Kenya and its people, and enjoyed the life there, is vast understatement.  I’ve been back in the UK for 30 years now, but those 12 years in Kenya have undoubtedly affected me, they have given me different ways of looking at and thinking about many things.  I don’t think I was “mainstream” to start with (well, ok, the word on the street might have been that I was getting towards being a complete wacko … 😉 ), but my time in Kenya added other things, and I’ve never really totally fitted in back here >>> and I’m grateful for that.  Its both pointless and intriguing to think how I might have turned out if, rather than going to Kenya, I’d stayed in the UK and “settled down” …

.

So, here are 12 pictures from Kenya, all of which have been posted before – all are colour slides (transparencies – remember them?) that I scanned into digital sometime back; mostly Agfa CT18 slide film, that could be bought and processed in Nairobi; most of these pictures were taken with a simply wonderful and beautiful Olympus OM-1 camera, and others with the more automated OM-2, both with Olympus’s small, excellent Zuiko lenses – and both dearly loved, classic cameras which – old and mouldy now – I still possess.

.

I hope you will like these pictures.  Thank you again for looking at FATman Photos.

.

Adrian

.

Tsavo West National Park
.

Gecko with prey – several of these lived in my flat in Nairobi: I lived a simple life, with no phone or TV, and one of my enduring and very fond memories is of sitting quietly at home with a book in the evenings, and hearing these little lizards chattering back and fore to each other from the walls on either side of my living room.

.

Lion asleep on a track in Maasai Mara

.

Shaft of sunlight in Amboseli Game Reserve, with the dark slopes of Kilimanjaro as a backdrop

.

Rocky semidesert in northern Kenya: the woman is leading the camels, each of which is loaded with baggage and tied to the animal in front

.

The huge skies which I miss so very much, and which I find some memory of when out on the Tealham and Tadham Moors, on the Somerset Levels

.

Luo farmers in Kenya’s far west

.

Settlement in Kenya’s bleak – and vastly attractive – northern deserts; note the rough thornbush fences around each dwelling, to keep the stock animals safe at night; on the horizon is the great volcanic massif of Mt Marsabit, and every hill in this landscape is volcanic in origin; I’d picked up a liking for such empty vastnesses some years before, in Oman

.

Storm over Lake Nakuru, in the rift valley; flamingos in the foreground, and more of them, and pelicans too, in flight further away

.

Sunrise at Lake Nakuru: cormorants (some with their wings spread out to dry) and a great scrum of pelicans; and bare trees, killed by this soda lake’s alkaline waters

.
.
.

.

ARCHIVE 380 – BACK ROAD NEAR AKALA (MONO)

 

 


.

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.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red preset.

.
.
.

PEOPLE 338 – WRITING A BOOK

 

 


.
I used to be an highly enthusiastic birder.  School friends had awoken this interest in me in 1967, and 10 years later I left the UK for Kenya – to lecture on geology and to grab eyeful after eyefull of African birdlife.  And not just African birdlife, but Afrotropical birdlife, the Afrotropical Region being Africa to the south of the Sahara, one of the great biological regions of the world, with many unique or highly distinctive flora and fauna.

And the plan – ah, the plans of mice and men! – was to stay in Kenya for two or three years, do a lot of birdwatching, and then move on elsewhere.  Sure enough, I met up with other birders there, and went birding in many national parks and areas further off the beaten track.  But then, in 1981, a chance remark informed me that there was a project in hand to map the distributions of Kenya’s 1,000+ bird species – and from that moment on there was for simply nothing else worth doing in Life.

In a nutshell, I worked on A Bird Atlas of Kenya for over eight years – it really was a vast amount of hard but very often enthralling work, funded by the World Wildlife Fund and many others, and relying on hundreds of volunteers – and the book was published in 1989.  It was never going to be a best seller, it was not an identification guide (fieldguide), it was a fairly academic explanation of the distributions and seasonalities of Kenya’s (then) 1,065 bird species. My co-author was a zoology professor at Makerere University, in neighbouring Uganda.

And here I am, probably about 1983 or so, writing it.  The photo is an indifferent scan of a small print but it conveys the overall idea, that I was awash in a sea of paper.  For in the 1980s the developed world was developing IT technology apace, but here in the Third World it was a far rarer commodity, and especially so for those outside the world of business.  We had no email and no computers.  All correspondence was carried out by snail mail – and air letters, thousands of them, were the preferred thing because, since they could not contain anything, they were less prone to theft.  We did enquire re the cost of producing the book by word processing but, in those days, in Kenya, it was completely prohibitive.  In the end, an absolutely wonderful typist produced the whole thing, 600+ pages, on an electric golfball typewriter, ready to be photographed by our Dutch publishers.

So, here is the leafy Spring Valley suburb of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, around a mile or so above sea level.  The equatorial sun is beating down, the large window beside me is open to admit fresh, warm air, and the great mass of greenery seen vaguely through  the window are the tops of banana trees.  Also, local roads were some distance away, and there was nothing but the sounds of birds, the rustling, swaying trees and the breeze  – what better place to write a book?  And although I do seem to be awash in a sea of paper, there was a very simple design to it all – all the most useful texts, maps and notes were arranged in a circle  around me, all within instant, easy reach – it was a simple design that worked very well.

And as well as being enthralling, the bird atlas project had its exciting moments too.  Flights in small aircraft to record the birds of very poorly known areas of the country were exciting, yes, they held a real sense of exploration.  But my co-author was working in Uganda at just the time when the dictator Idi Amin was being ousted from Uganda by the present president, Yoweri Museveni.  As the fighting moved up towards Kampala, Uganda’s capital, I strongly urged my co-author to flee – and I can recall his comment that it was only “a bit of bush warfare”, and that there was nothing to worry about.  But, the fighting swept on through Kampala, he spent a long time on his floor of his house, sheltering from small arms fire, and a soldier was killed in his garden.  How writing a book on birds stacks up against all that (and other) violence, I have always been unsure.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.
.
.
.

KENYA 80 – THE LUSH FARMLANDS OF THE WEST

 

 


.

This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Farms between Kisumu and Kakamega in the lush and fertile, far west of Kenya; April 1979.

This western part of Kenya lies just to the east of Lake Victoria, and benefits from the big storms that form over the lake and then drift eastwards, bringing plentiful rain.  Add all this water to fertile soils and high, year-round temperatures, and this is wonderfully productive farming country.  But on the downside there is malaria here, and this is where it first got its claws into me.

The tall plants in the foreground are bananas – there were many varieties of bananas of all sizes and colours here, including simply delicious ones used for cooking.  It may be more a dish from Uganda, but I simply adored cooked banana – matoke, I think it was called – with groundnut sauce.

Some of the local people can just be seen, up to the left of the two houses with metal roofs in the foreground.

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.
.
.
.

KENYA 79 – YOUNG WOMAN FROM UGANDA (MONO)

 

 


.

Young woman from Uganda, living in Nairobi; 1978/9.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Warm Tone Paper preset.
.
.
.

%d bloggers like this: