KENYA 75 – GRANT’S GAZELLE (MONO)

 

 


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Grant’s Gazelle, in the blazing overhead light of the equatorial midday; Nairobi National Park, Kenya; the late 1970s.

Despite being mainly a birder, I shot thousands of photos – mainly colour slides (transparencies) – while living in Kenya.  Some years back now, around the time I was starting up this blog, I scanned many of these photos, and others too, into digital – and now, looking through the folders on my computer, I’m rather taken aback to discover just how many of these scans there are!

Many of these scans have already been posted, but here is one that has yet to see the light of cyberspace – Grant’s Gazelle, one of the common, smaller antelopes on the open plains of Kenya.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and clock onto that image to enlarge it still further.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 2 preset.
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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.

Click onto the image to open a (slightly) larger version in a separate window.
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ARCHIVE 346 – KILIMANJARO (MONO)

 

 


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Mt Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, seen from Kenya’s Amboseli Game Reserve; July 1978.

There is another Kilimanjaro image here .

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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STILL LIFE 205 – LOOKING AT CHAIRS 15

 

 


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I usually post these Looking At Chairs images with only their original text but, in this case, because I’m looking at chairs, I’d like to add a little more.  The post’s original text is down below.

In a way, I suppose, this is a family arranged around a chair.  I don’t know if this is their best chair or if there are more like it in the house behind, but I had just photographed them with an elderly man, this man’s father I think, and this very solid chair had been brought out for him to sit on, whereas this man and his wife are sitting on humbler stools.  In Kenya, the family’s eldest male is accorded special respect, and having him seated on this particular chair no doubt reflected that.

I’m not a great one for symbolism, most of the time I fail to understand what symbols mean, but maybe there is something – intentional or unintentional – here, with the place of eldest male being then used for the youngest.

And, as always with these very valued images, I wonder where these individuals are now, 39 years later.  They have no doubt forgotten me and, were it not for this photo, I would no doubt have forgotten them – which says something very solid about the value of portraits in any medium.

THE ORIGINAL TEXT, AND THE USUAL LINKS, ARE BELOW

Luo family on a farm near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The backdrop is the painted wall of a wattle and daub hut, the smooth surface layer of which is starting to flake off on the far right.  Minor points, maybe that I’ve only really appreciated now, after all these years, are the Vicks poster and the kitten.

The first post in this series on chairs, which contains context and an image, can be found hereSubsequent posts are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  10  11 12 13 14 .  Each will open in a new window.

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.

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ARCHIVE 337 – MAASAI (MONO)

 

 


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Young Maasai men, below the Nguruman Escarpment (the western wall of the rift valley), near Lake Magadi in southern Kenya; March 1979.

We had set up camp for a long weekend and these young men came to see us every day. Both are armed with the long spears used, amongst other things, to ward off or kill lions.

Click onto this 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; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro.

UPDATE: as always, I regret not taking more photographs of Kenyan people during my years in that interesting and hospitable country; I treasure those pictures that I do have.  And I am not referring only to traditionally dressed people like these, but really to all people.  However, in those days I was a different photographic animal – primarily a birder (tho taking very few photos of birds), professionally a geologist – and photographing lots of landscapes amongst other things.
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ARCHIVE 336 – BOATS AT LAMU (MONO)

 

 


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Boats on the beach at Lamu, on the coast of Kenya; July 1978.

This photo has been digitally manipulated (in Silver Efex Pro) to produce a dark, brooding look. The dimly seen white motor boat out on the sea balances the picture – obscure it with your thumb to see what I mean. I also like the repeating patterns of the two boats nearest the camera, which have similar shapes and which are inclined at the same angle.

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

Technique: Olympus OM-1 with 28mm Zuiko lens; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; Silver Efex Pro.
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ARCHIVE 334 – RIFT VALLEY LANDSCAPE, KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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View eastwards across the rift valley in Kenya, showing Lake Elmenteita, 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.

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; converted to mono in Alien Skin’s Exposure 2.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 300 – LOOKING WEST, TEALHAM MOOR

 

 


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Something of a milestone, I suppose, my 300th post from these lush, wet (often very wet!!!) flatlands.  What can I say?  I love the place.  I love the very basic, what-you-see-is-what-you-get simplicity of the place.  There is no advertising hype here, no marketing, no tourism, just a flat landscape, the local farmers, the occasional person walking their dog, the occasional person simply walking, the occasional birdwatcher or photographer, and that’s it.

Many years ago, I recall going into the single shop in Westhay (which has long since closed down) and saying to the shopkeeper “There aren’t many people about this morning”, to which I received the somewhat mournful response “There are never many people about round here”.  Bring it on!  The place is not of course immune from the noise of motor vehicles, but sometimes there are just the sounds of the wind, the birds, the cows, and the soft lapping of water.

And here on Tealham Moor, and on the nearby Tadham Moor too, great big open skies which powerfully remind me of the vast open skies above Africa – actually, more specifically, the skies above Kenya. For me, there are far too many people in England, but that’s not the problem it might be because in the main, and especially so away from tourist areas, most people stay relatively close to their cars.

So, what is pictured here?  Well, flat land, land at or just below sea level, that was underwater in the geologically extremely recent past – I’m talking of only a few hundred years ago – and which will be underwater again in due course, when the coastal defences along the nearby Bristol Channel can no longer totally hold back the sea.  In Roman times, seagoing boats regularly crossed this area, inland to Glastonbury.

As we look at this view, there is slightly higher ground up on the right.  Not long ago, that was an island.  And the dead straight waterway disappearing off towards the horizon on the left is the North Drain – a totally man-made channel vital to the drainage of the area.

The large white birds are Mute Swans, a species whose wings make a beautiful, rhythmic singing sound in flight – birds which I recently portrayed at far closer quarters here and here.

And finally, not far beyond the horizon, along the muddy shores of the Bristol Channel, well, that’s where I come from.  If I have one, that’s my homeland.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 24 June 2016.

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ARCHIVE 330 – BOYS AT A WEDDING (MONO)

 

 


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Young boys – curious, uncertain –  at a wedding near Thika, Kenya, in the late 1970s.

I think I was the only non-African at this ceremony, and so an object of great curiosity to all the youngsters there.

There is another image from this wedding here.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens; Kodak Ektachrome 200 colour slide (I think!); Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Landscape preset.

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ARCHIVE 325 – ELEPHANT (MONO)

 

 


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Elephant at The Ark, a game viewing lodge in the Aberdare Mountains, Kenya; June 1980.

I particularly like the effect produced when a large animal completely fills the frame; there is something of the abstract about it, and also something massive and impressive.

Here the textures of this elephant’s hide have purposely been exaggerated by Nik Software’s SEP to help emphasise the vast strength of its huge, looming, rough presence.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75mm-150mm Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

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