ARCHIVE 310 – ON A FARM IN WESTERN KENYA … AND WITH HOPES FOR A PEACEFUL GENERAL ELECTION

 

 


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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; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro.

UPDATE:  Today there is a general election in Kenya and, regardless of who wins, I can only hope that the whole thing goes off peacefully.  In many instances, the colonising powers of not so long ago drew lines around areas of the Earth’s surface and called them countries, regardless of the often extremely diverse ethnic mixes within those areas.  And so it is in Kenya.  Although I don’t see the fact on any of the news broadcasts, the current Kenyan president and his main challenger are from two very diverse ethnic backgrounds, and the recipe for violence, killing and yet more killing is sitting ready in the mixing bowl.  The current president has called for a peaceful vote and promised to abide by the result of the vote, and I can only hope that everyone listens to him.  Why do I hope this?  Well, I am mortally tired of the endless rounds of violence and killing that regularly break out around the world – I suppose that’s idealism.  On a more practical level, I spent many years in Kenya and found the Kenyans friendly and hospitable.  I can only wish them well – and hope that today’s election is proceeding peacefully, and that it will help improve the lives of everyone in that country.

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PEOPLE 287 – WAITING FOR A BUS (MONO)

 

 


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Conversation at a bus stop.

A busy picture, lots of detail, lots to look at – Let’s go ANYWHERE!  Two people caught in conversation – friends?  – chance acquaintances? – the start of a lifelong thing? – trivialities to pass the time until the bus arrives?

And two other women.  The one passing by on the left has a tumbling mane.  The other, sitting in the shelter, looks unhappy about something – and its either him or me!

There is another black and white picture of people waiting at a bus stop here.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art High Key preset; Broad Quay, Bristol city centre; 14 July 2016.
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PEOPLE 286 – GOING TO WORK 30

 

 


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Upstairs on the bus, early on a cold morning.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28  and 29.   Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; on Bristol Bridge, in the city centre; 11 Nov 2016.
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STILL LIFE 137 – RED, WHITE AND BLUE

 

 


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High Street, central Bristol, 9 Sept 2016.

Door Handle might be an alternative title here, because that and the pock-marked wall left of it are all that is in focus.  But should we always focus on what is in focus, or focus instead (sorry, couldn’t resist the repetition!  Its a Brit thing …) on the larger scene?  Which in this case included the passerby on this warm day, and the red rubbish bin away over on the other side of the road.  There is another photo of a reflection, far more abstract than this one, here.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation.
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PEOPLE 285 – GOING TO WORK 29 (MONO)

 

 


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Going to work.  The bike beats the jams but he’s jammed in – anonymous, wary, vulnerable, claustrophobically picking his way between shifting walls of gleaming metal and glass; lungs poisoned by fumes, ears blasted by engines and horns, and always the thought that he’ll fare worst in any tussle with these mechanised beings.

Oh come, you’ll say, mechanised beings?each has a human driver!  Well, the way things are going, that may not be true for too much longer – so, thinking of the Terminator films – is this Rise Of The Machines???

Technique: this is tight crop, aimed at accentuating how the cyclist is being hemmed in, to accentuate how the “mobile metal monsters” are queuing up to squeeze closely past him.  And these feelings of claustrophobia are (hopefully!) added to by cropping The Man Himself; and especially so his eyes, which at once renders him anonymous and unknown; leaving only his mouth, which looks rather taut, stressed and ready for the worst.

And here also something that I very rarely do – using Lightroom to completely produce a black and white image.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27 and 28.     Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Capture NX2; Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.
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PEOPLE 284 – GOING TO WORK 28

 

 


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Going to work in summer – open-necked shirts, bottled water, shorts, teashirts, and sunny reflections along the side of public transport.

And if we’re thinking about public transport, a very different take on the morning mass migration from those shown in 25 and 26!  A change of season can make all the difference!  Sometimes.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26 and 27Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1000 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Baldwin Street, central Bristol; 19 July 2016.
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PEOPLE 283 – GOING TO WORK 27

 

 


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Because of its format, this image is probably best viewed enlarged – click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window.

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

This image is very different from the previous Going To Work post, the journey to work encompasses many different environments and emotions.  For photography, I think I prefer the mornings of winter – and now its just a question of whether I’ll have the resolve to get out early again into those cold darknesses.  I’m also having vague but recurring thoughts about using a waterproof camera downtown in dark and torrential downpours but, as I’m usually a dry weather photographer, whether that will materialise is an even greater uncertainty!  Still, you know, mad dogs and Englishmen …

But the cleanly shaven jaw of this man brings something else to mind.  As I grow older, I’m looking more and more at the things we humans routinely think and  do, at the things we take for granted, at our prejudices, stigmas and taboos,  and I just end up shaking my head wonderingly – its probably an old man thing!  But to me, shaving the hair off my face in the certain knowledge that I’m going to have to do it again tomorrow, and the next day and all the days after that, is simply not sensible.  And this is not a recent trait either.  For my father’s gift to me, in his genes, had me starting to lose my hair and having to shave at around the age of 16 or so.  Precocious or what?  The early hair loss was a little traumatic, though its quite meaningless and out of mind now.  But (wet) shaving before going to school was just not my cup of meat, I simply couldn’t see the point, and so the day I left school at the age of 18 I started on a beard – and I’ve had that beard ever since.  The previous two posts to this (25 and 26) feature the early morning bus into work, which for me was always a downer, but although the driver featured here has more luxurious transport, I’m not sure that I don’t rate the having to be clean shaven and neat for work thing as being on a par with – as being right down there alongside – the early morning bus.  Bohemianism?  Probably.  In fact, yes, hopefully.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25  and 26Each will open in a separate window.

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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PEOPLE 282 – GOING TO WORK 26 (MONO)

 

 


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She’s in the rush to work, in a winter’s dawn.  Gazing out impassively, from light into darkness, a latter day Mona Lisa in a frame within a frame.

And the D700 is working flat out, wide open at 25,600 ISO – grain, shadow, contrast, darkness –  and yet more grain.

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324 and 25.  Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 25,600 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 23 Dec 2016.
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ARCHIVE 303 – MAN IN A HOTEL ROOM (MONO)

 

 


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Selfie in a hotel room, during my recent few days in the Midlands; 28 Apr 2014.

Someone with a camera, a mirror, and time on his hands.  As I relaxed in my hotel room, there was this large mirror out in front of me, and light pouring in from a narrow window to my right.  I asked myself, “Who’s that old man?”.  And I liked the lighting, the table lamp and the absence of anything else.  And so, the camera, the lamp and me.

The original image does not contain a lot of detail anyway, but I’ve reduced that further by taking it into mono, and using the SEP2 preset named below, which has a strong pale vignette.  The faint, dark structure forming a right angle is part of the mirror’s large frame.

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

Technique: D700 with 24-120 Nikkor lens at 120mm; 6400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Plate II preset, and adding a tone.

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PEOPLE 280 – CITY LIFE

 

 


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City life – faces, images, media, messages, noise; hurrying, multitasking, crowding in close, claustrophobically close; all around.

There are two little bits of the Natural World in this photo.  She is at lower right and hurrying to get through it all, and the sky is at upper right, calm, serene, and tainted only by our fumes and emissions.  And the rest is, well, the rest.

Photographically, I enjoy the city, I love being there with a camera, this human environment has so much of interest to the lens.  But in other terms, to me, the ability to access peace and quiet is one of the most valuable things on this planet.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 30mm (equiv); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 28 Apr 2017.
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