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 KENYA 46 – DHOW OFF THE ISLAND OF LAMU (MONO)

 

 

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Dhow off the island of Lamu, on the Kenyan coast; July 1978.

In reality, the sky was a bright, featureless blue and the shore behind the boat was lined with the green foliage of mangroves.  The picture has now become very close to black and white, with the boat’s large lateen sail as the beautiful main subject.

I like the way in which the use of under exposure has brought out the sail’s pale tones.  The only remaining pale tones in the photo are those of (some of) the crew’s white clothes and hats, and the white line along the boat’s side.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; method for conversion to mono – forgotten!

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 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 56 – THOUGHTS FOR THOSE NEW TO PHOTOGRAPHY: 2 – RAW VS JPEG

 

(Click onto any of these images to open a larger version in a separate window)

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.

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EARLIER POSTS IN THIS SERIES

POST 1: The Main Mantra: there are no rights or wrongs in photography, only individual photographers’ differing opinions.

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RAW CAPTURE VERSUS JPEG – THE PROS AND CONS

Many cameras can capture both raw and jpeg image files, even simultaneously, and the debate about their relative merits has rumbled on for years, with die hard supporters on both sides.  However there is a very simple distinction between the two, which really centres on how the resulting images are going to be processed – or not processed –  post-capture.
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Jpegs contain only the information from your camera’s sensor that relates to the actual image at the point of capture.  And so they can provide excellent images of the scenes that you have photographed as the camera saw them at the point of capture, but they cannot be used to significantly alter those images after capture – they simply do not contain the necessary data.  So you might use the jpeg format if you do not want to subject your photos to significant post-capture processing but are happy with the photos your camera produces – which you can then post straight onto the web, or get printed, etc.  And my advice would be to opt for top quality jpegs, to get best quality images.

So jpegs are useful in various situations where:

  • you don’t want to put in a lot of time on post-capture processing of your pictures;
  • or you want to shoot large numbers of images in a short time, including using motorised shooting;
  • or your photos are only going to be used on the internet;
  • or you plan to make only smallish prints, if any.

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In the past, raw files were capable of producing much better quality images than jpegs, but this is no longer the case – many cameras can now produce very good jpeg images, Olympus and Fujifilm in particular being notable for this. 

But raw files contain BOTH the information necessary to create a top quality image of the scene being photographed, AND a lot of OTHER information too – everything that the camera has recorded in fact.  And the point here is that this OTHER information can be used, if desired, to produce a version of the image that differs substantially from what the camera has recorded, and maybe from reality too.  So raw files are really of more use to those who regularly subject their images to post-capture processing, those who are NOT looking for “something nice straight out of the camera” – and the point should be made that raw files, however well captured, can often look dreadful straight out of the camera, they often require some adjustment to make them even look presentable, let alone the work needed to transform their images into “something new”.   

I never shoot any format except raw, simply because I always want to have the maximum possible, post-capture processing flexibility, in case I need it.  Raw is also useful in various situations where:

  • low light levels necessitate the use of high ISOs but image noise needs to be kept to a minimum;
  • or images have particularly high tonal range, i.e. between very dark and very light areas;
  • or adjustments to colour temperature (i.e. white balance) may be made after capture;
  • or high quality black and white conversions are planned;
  • or large, high quality prints are planned.

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ARCHIVE 526 – TREE TRUNK AND LEAF (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Tree in the grounds of Chew Valley Lake, a reservoir in Somerset; 14 Sept 2009.

I’ve taken this image into SEP2, added lots of contrast and structure, and then re-introduced colour into the leaf.  Converting an image to mono and then re-introducing colour to selected elements of it is very easily done in SEP2 and, of course, most easily done where, as in this image, one part of the composition is of a very different colour to the rest.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 210mm; 6400 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2, with selective restoration of colour.

 

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OUTER SUBURBS 244 – PHOTOGRAPHING IN A WORLD OF DIAGONALS (MONO)

 

 


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Walking in the lockdown, and photographing the long shadows thrown across a main road by the rising sun.  A shadow photographer – in both senses of the phrase – caught up in a world of stark diagonals.

There are three types of lines here.  Those running from lower right towards upper left are the shadows of roadside trees and utility poles.  The strong black and white lines running up from the lower middle of the frame towards the top right corner are the road’s pale kerb and gutter and, between the two, the black shadow of the kerb on the gutter.  And finally there are the road markings, a thin, dashed white line along the middle of the road at upper left, and other dashed lines, at a bus stop, towards upper right.

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: TG-5 at 65mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Plate 1 preset; south Bristol; 22 June 2020.
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ARCHIVE 524 – TWO TREES, IVY AND BRAMBLES (MONO)

 

 


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View between two tree trunks – two trees, ivy and brambles –  beside North Chine Drove, on the Somerset Levels southeast of Wedmore; 19 Mar 2012.

I have a thing for stark tree silhouettes, and here my larger telezoom pulled this image right in, to make it frame-filling.  Use of the long focal length also has the benefit of small depth of field, so that the landscape seen through this gap registered as sufficiently hazy and low contrast for SEP2 to block it out completely, leaving the ivy and brambles against a plain backdrop.

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

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 800 ISO; conversion to mono, and toning, with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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