ARCHIVE KENYA 97 – HOUSE ON A FARM

 

 


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

These are Luo people who live in the immensely fertile far west of Kenya, not far from Lake Victoria – a vast body of water that supplies them with vast quantities of fish, and with frequent thunder storms which keep their land totally green.

The structure consists of mud walls, above which a conical thatched roof is mounted on a great mass of wooden poles. There is quite a gap between the roof and the walls but, in this hot, equatorial area, cold weather is not an issue. This hut has at least two rooms: the doorway to a second room is to the left of the people. The mud walls have decorations drawn straight onto them, and there is an oil lamp hanging up. Notice how everything, including the chest of drawers and some of the pictures hanging on the walls, has cloth covers.

Food and water are not an issue for these people, they live in a wonderfully fecund landscape. But there are diseases – it was here that malaria first got its claws into me, despite my using mosquito nets and prophylactics.

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 KENYA 96 – BIRDING ON THE ROAD TO MOYALE

 

 

Birding in the Dida Galgalla (or Galgalu) Desert of northern Kenya; June 1978.

This is the main road running northwards from Mt Marsabit in northern Kenya to Ethiopia.  It carries on up through this arid wilderness to the town of Moyale, which is on the border with Ethiopia.

The whole area in this photo is volcanic, and on either side of the road can be seen the large, dark lava boulders that were bulldozed out of the way when the road was made.  Flat, dark lava flows can just be seen on the horizon.

Despite the heat and aridity of this area, faint tinges of green are visible off to the left.  This photo was taken in June, not long after the “long” rains (which are often not long at all), and this area was in the process of rapidly returning to its mixture of brown and maroon surfaces.

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I was much younger and more irresponsible in 1978 – well I suppose we all were! – and I thought this area tremendously exciting.  But it was dangerous and often lawless even then, with periods when all traffic had to be marshalled into convoys with military escort.

Oh, and that’s Bill, a birding friend from long ago >>> wow! we saw a lot of birds in those far off days!

Click onto each 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 571 – THE THREE KINGS ARRIVE IN THE WRAITHS’ CITY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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FANTASY: three tall kings, resplendent in richly coloured robes, enter the spectral city of the Wraiths.  I’m influenced by Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings perhaps – not perhaps >>> most certainly!!!  These three are in Tolkien’s Minas Morgul, the city of his undead Ringwraiths, walking into its deathly glow.

REALITY: three furled sun umbrellas and an old streetlight outside a pub in Perranporth, Cornwall; 25 Oct 2012.  The impression of robed beings was immediate.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; conversion to mono and re-colouring in Silver Efex Pro 2; further processing in Capture NX2.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 87 – FARMER, WESTERN KENYA (MONO)

 

 


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Luo farmer near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.  Because of their dark skin, photographing Africans in anything like bright conditions is fraught with problems.  One option of course is just to go with the conditions and show only the highlights of their faces, leaving the finer details and hints of character smothered in deep shadow.

Another option is to photograph them in deep shade, to minimalise shadows and reveal facial detail – but this requires higher ISO ratings, larger apertures, and so on.  The third option is the one used here, where flash dispels the shadows, and this works well, particularly with today’s automatic flashguns.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens, and flash; 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: LOOKING AT CARS 6 – FIGHTER PILOT

 

 


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Bright sunlight.  Driving seat or cockpit.  Morning commuter or fighter pilot.  Whichever, stationary in Bristol’s morning traffic tangle.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives (and some new images too), I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 3 4 5 .

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Bristol Bridge, in the city centre; 19 July 2016.

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 3 – RIVER OF WHEELED METAL

 

 


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The walk to work, across the slowly moving river of claustrophobically packed, wheeled metal that, edging disconsolately forwards, approaches the unpromised land of work stations and places.

The Looking at Cars series: looking back through the nine years of the FATman Photos archives, I’m posting pictures of cars in various contexts and styles.  Earlier Looking at Cars posts are here: 1 (with context); 2 .

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: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Temple Gate, Bristol; 2 Feb 2018.
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ARCHIVE KENYA 75 – LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY, WITH A VERY, VERY DEAR FRIEND …

 

 

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Out birdwatching in Kenya, on the rift valley floor behind the Ngong Hills, I think; probably late 1970s.

What to see?  Well, the absolutely wonderful VW Beetle that I drove throughout my years in Kenya.  It was so good at negotiating mud (it often had mud tyres on the rear wheels), and also off-road – and it survived more punishment than I’d ever have believed possible.  Luckily, soon after acquiring this wonder, I was put in touch with a specialist VW garage, and however bad a hammering this car took, they fixed it.

Such was my disregard for such things in my younger days, that there was water in the passenger compartment for several weeks during one wet season.  Every time I accelerated it sloshed down to the back and got the passengers’ feet wet, and when I braked the tide came back in up the front … I mean … what was I like in those days? ….  And saying goodbye to this absolutely wonderful car when I left Kenya was one of the great wrenches of my life – the moment remains sharp, and painful, in my mind.

And so to the environment.  Sometime mid-morning I would guess – and look at my shadow, its almost non-existent.  This is just south of the equator, and the blazing sun is almost directly overhead.  Returning to Kenya after my few visits to England, I was always struck by the brightness of the light and the almost unnaturally vivid colours.

And then the accoutrements of an out and out birder.  Around my neck, treasured 10x40B Zeiss Dialyt binoculars, which also took a lot of punishment and which I still have.  Over my shoulder, the binoculars’ case.  And my finger is in the page of a bird guide >>> we’d obviously just seen something interesting and piled out of the car to get a better look at it – and “it” had disappeared, leaving us with the leisure for my (unknown) companion to use my OM-1 to take a picture of me.

And finally, the place.  I mean, only a few miles outside the capital, Nairobi, and just look at it.  Open country, wild, with thornbushes and other scrub, not at all on the tourist track – but with this good dirt road going through it, and with the possibility of exploring off this road, motorised or on foot, wherever we wanted – a naturalist’s dream!

I miss those African days very much, but still find some of the solace of open, rough country below big skies out on the Somerset Levels, especially on the Tadham and Tealham Moors.

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

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 554 – ME, A LONG TIME AGO

 

 


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Self portrait, aged about 19, retouching a print made in the university darkroom – what a poser! – dark framed glasses a la Manfred Mann (remember them?), and student beard derived the from the fact that I could never for the life of me see the purpose in shaving off my facial hair each day –  and so on the day that I left school in 1968 I started growing the beard that I’ve had all my life .

This is a digital photograph of a black and white print, made with the D700.  The original photo was taken with an Ilford Sportsman 35mm camera mounted on a  tripod.  I’d started black and white darkroom printing at school and did more at university, before going over almost entirely to colour slides when I got my first SLR, a Praktica LTL, in the 1970s.  The subject of the photo being retouched is another student, with whom I shared accommodation.  The dark retouching liquid is in the saucer, which is resting on a box of of the light-sensitive paper used to make black and white prints.

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

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ARCHIVE 553 – FIGURE WITH RUCKSACK, DRAINPIPE, STAIRS AND TWO SKYLIGHTS (MONO)

 

 


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Off the main street in Penzance, Cornwall; 8 Oct 2013.

This photo consists of a number of discreet segments that fit together like a rectilinear collage.  It was a case of waiting at the bottom of this intriguing corridor, somewhere I’ve photographed before, until a figure walked into that square of featureless white brightness.

The figure is anonymous.  We see quite a bit of him – he appears not too old, and used to toting his bag – and we see the illuminated, horizontal rectangle of his world – he is walking in the open air, along a side street. He may be aware of the steps on his right, but he cannot see them as we do, nor can he see the skylights, though he may be aware of the dull light they cast in the otherwise windowless corridor.

We are looking up through a tunnel into his world and can see parts of it as he does, but he cannot see our’s as we do.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 1600 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Yellowed 2 preset.

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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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