ARCHIVE KENYA 49 – LAGOON AT MAGADI (MONO)

 

 


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Alkaline lagoon at Lake Magadi, on the floor of the rift valley in southern Kenya; Nov 1977.

The water is made alkaline by high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate which have been leached out of the rift valley’s volcanic rocks.   This water is so alkaline that it feels soapy to the touch, i.e. it starts to dissolve skin on contact, and its high soda content gives it an awfully rank, chemical odour.  Add to that the fact that this is a very hot, low lying area of the rift, and Magadi becomes something of an acquired taste.  But, to anyone interested in the Natural World – wildlife, geology, landscape –  it is also a fascinating place.

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;  converted to mono with 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 48 – THE SHORE AT LAKE NAKURU (MONO)

 

 


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Dead trees on the shore of Lake Nakuru, in central Kenya; 27 Apr 1980.  These trees grew beside the lake, but then were killed when the lake’s highly alkaline waters rose and flooded their roots.

Despite the fact that its over 40 years ago now, I can still remember taking this shot, which was originally in colour.  I remember placing the nearest tree on the right of the frame, and liking it because it was partially sunlit, and because it was leaning into the frame.

Looking at it now, my eye is taken from this leaning tree, out across the bright sky reflections in the shallow pools of water, to the tree with a dense canopy, which looks rather like an upside down ice cream cone.  This tree is also leaning into the frame, while being silhouetted against the bright sky, and just about at a compositional strong point in the picture, on the junction of the upper third and the left hand third.

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; converted to monochrome 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 528 – TRACK OVER WANCOMBE HILL (MONO)

 

 


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Track coming up over Wancombe Hill, southwest of Up Cerne, near Cerne Abbas, Dorset; 4 Jul 2003.

This was taken soon after I’d ceased considering birdwatching as my main thing – it had been my raison d’etre since 1967, and the main reason for spending years in Kenya.   I’d been taking photos since around 1960 or before, but they had largely consisted of seeing something nice and recording it with a camera.  Now I wanted to use cameras more as creative tools and, as I mentioned in the Art Wolfe post, to start thinking about John Shaw’s “Photo-Graphics”.

I was still very much wedded to film in those days, and the Olympus OM series SLRs were really something else.  I’d used an OM-1 and an OM-2 in Kenya, but years of use in the tropics had taken their toll, and they were now full of mould.  So, to start photographing again in this new way, I bought an OM-4 second hand via the internet.  On this trip I had this camera, an Olympus (Zuiko) 85-250 telezoom lens, and this simply exquisite little 21mm wide angle; a rickety old birdwatching tripod completed my gear.  And, having heard that Fuji Velvia 50 colour transparencies were the landscape photographer’s film, several rolls of that were in my old rucksack too.

I walked up this track, looked back, and used the 21mm.  The right hand side of the track is probably a little overexposed.

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

Technique: OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; can’t recall how I converted it to black and white.

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ARCHIVE 527 – SWANS, GRAZING (MONO)

 

 


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Swans grazing on pastureland; Westhay Moor, south of Wedmore; 2 April 2015.

Some see swans purely as waterbirds, and on or beside water is where they’re usually encountered, reaching down into the water’s depths with their long necks to feed on aquatic vegetation.  But they are often seen out on the fields of the Somerset Levels, quite at home grazing on short grass.

These are Mute Swans, the UK’s common and often tame, resident bird.  But in the winter they may be joined here by a few Bewick’s and Whooper Swans that have come south to avoid the Arctic’s bitter freeze.

And the pylon?  Well, 15 miles or so west of here, and in stark contrast to the Levels’ rural reaches, there is the Hinkley Point atomic power station, which sends lines of such gaunt metal towers snaking out across the surrounding countryside.  The two reactors there are ageing now, but a third is proposed and construction is underway.

And  – hot question! – am I in favour of nuclear power and especially, in this instance, so close to my favourite haunts?  Well, the jury’s out on nuclear, I guess, my only certainty being that we need to get power from somewhere – news stories talk of our electricity supplies being only just sufficient to cover winter demands.  

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 2,000 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Dramatic preset.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 45 – INFRARED GIRAFFE, NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK (MONO)

 

 


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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.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; 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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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 41 – 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, with a wide base.  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.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 400mm Vivitar telephoto; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, 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 KENYA 40 – RAINBOW

 

 


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Rainbow in Lake Nakuru National Park, in Kenya’s rift valley; June 1980.

A crop from a colour slide and, enlarged, the grain is evident, which is fine by me.  This image is moving towards abstraction, and the presence of grain helps that process along.

And, as always, here are the differing brightnesses of the sky on either side of a rainbow.

Finally, the trees’ colour is accurate.  These are Yellow-barked Acacias – due to their yellow colour, and love of living near fresh water, once thought to be the source of malaria.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 28mm 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 KENYA 39 – AFRICA, BREAKING APART

 

 


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In today’s cheap and superficial hype – too often the triumph of style over substance – many things are marketed as having various specified advantages “and so much more”. Well, here is a photograph that really does have “so much more”. It was taken from the eastern wall of the rift valley, near Kijabe, in Kenya, looking down westwards towards the rift’s floor, sometime in the late 1970s. The rift wall here is not a single escarpment, but a series of small escarpments that gradually descend to the rift’s floor like a flight of huge steps.

This photo was taken from the top of the escarpment, looking down upon the top of the first of these steps which, because it still has sufficient altitude to attract rain and mist, is green and fertile. This green but restricted area of land is covered in a close patchwork of cultivated plots, and dwellings roofed with thatch or corrugated iron. Beyond this step, the floor of the rift can be seen, browner and drier, many hundreds of feet below. Rising from these pale, dry lowlands is the dark and jagged bulk of Mt Longonot, a dormant volcano which last erupted around 1860. In the far distance, behind Longonot, the abrupt line of hills is the rift valley’s western wall.

So far so good, but there really is so much more here, for the fact is that the eastern edge of the African continent has been breaking apart for a long time. The island of Madagascar broke away from the rest of Africa many millions of years ago and, during this lengthy isolation from the mainland, many unique (i.e. endemic) forms of life have evolved there, e.g. the Lemurs (primates, like ourselves) and the Ground-Rollers (birds).

But that is not all. The Eastern Rift Valley (the one in Kenya) and and the Western Rift constitute further incipient splits in the eastern side of the African continent and, as I took this picture, I was standing on the western edge of another part of the continent that may split away to become an island like Madagascar in (the millions of) years to come. The floor of the rift is new crust that has moved upwards from the Earth’s extremely hot, molten interior to ‘seal up the cracks’ in the disintegrating continent, and hence the reason for the many volcanoes (including Mt Longonot) and natural steam vents on the rift valley floor.  Here, in this landscape, are the visible signs of a continent breaking apart.

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

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 515 – A FARMER AND HIS WIFE, OFF TO CHECK THEIR CATTLE AS THE DAWN BREAKS

 

 


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A farmer and his wife, off in their Land Rover to check on their cattle out on Tadham Moor, on the Somerset Levels, after the long, late November night; 27 Nov 2014.

I was having a second breakfast of hot coffee and thick, bitter marmalade sandwiches in the Magic Carpark, when this old couple drove by, waving and smiling in a very friendly way, and made off down the foggy track to make sure that all was well with their cattle after the long, cold night.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 86mm; 6400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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