ARCHIVE KENYA 124 – THE FINAL IMAGE IN THIS SERIES

 

 


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I’ve been re-posting film photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago, and this is the final image in this series.  I have hundreds more colour slides from Kenya but I doubt that I will get around to scanning or re-photographing them now.  So here is the final image – and its my reflection in the enormous light on the front of one of the steam locomotives stored in Nairobi’s railway yards – my late cousin was a steam railway fanatic, and so I and a lady friend wangled our way into the railway yards and had a delightfully Health And Safety-free day clambering all over these metal monsters.

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

Here is the text for the original post:

A selfie –  taken in an age before selfies were ever called that –  in the railway yards at Nairobi, Kenya; probably 1979..

Kenya has a great history of steam railways, because the British colonial authorities decided to open up the interior of the country, and Uganda too, by building a railway from the Indian Ocean coast at Mombasa, up through Kenya to Nairobi, and thence westwards to Kampala, in Uganda.  And many will have heard of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo, two lions who took to dragging off and devouring railway workers, as the line pushed its way inland across Tsavo’s arid bush country, in 1898.

My cousin has had a passion for steam railways all his life so that, when I mentioned that the marshalling yards in Nairobi held large numbers of old steam engines, he urged me to photograph them.  As often happened in Kenya, knowing someone did the trick, open access to the railway yards was agreed, and my girlfriend and I spent a baking day clambering about over the old engines and other derelict ironwork there.

And, as opposed to the nanny state that cossets and suffocates me today, Kenya had (and no doubt still has) a refreshing absence of Health & Safety regulations – everyone was simply expected to use their common sense –  so that the two of us were left free to scramble over whatever derelict ironwork structures we could find, with not a thought for our safety – wonderful!  Oh, irresponsible, yes, but what a breath of fresh air!  My Kenyan years have certainly affected many of my attitudes to life in general, for which I am very grateful.

Anyway, I climbed these hulks with my girlfriend, which makes her sound rather like a grappling hook I suppose, but that’s unintended, tho I have to admit that she was instrumental in getting my already portly person up and over some of the steeper bits.  She was a farmer’s daughter, used to manhandling livestock.

And so what does the picture show?  Well, its a reflection in one of the large lamps that were mounted on the front of the steam engines, to help the driver see large animals – anything up to the size of hippo, elephants and giraffe –  on the tracks at night.  Bare armed and bronzed(!), I’m wearing a safari shirt along with Photographic Hat, and levelling my wonderful OM-1 at my reflection.  Another big engine looms behind me, and either side of that there are nicely converging buildings and railway tracks, all baking in the glare of the equatorial midday.

Photographic Hat was an accessory I’d originally used in Arabia, where it had been severely scorched and bleached to not far off white.  Its crown had given up the ghost and disintegrated, so I crudely sewed a patch of old blue denim in its place.  I was of course wearing a rag on my head, but the endearing thing about it, as can be seen in this photo, was that its floppy brim came down over the gaps between my face, my glasses and the OM-1’s viewfinder, to provide shade which was extremely useful in overhead glare like this.

And what was an OM-1???  It was a truly revolutionary 35mm camera, small, easy to carry, and a masterpiece of Minimalist design – and it was supported by a veritable horde of similarly small, and excellent, lenses – Zuiko lenses!  In an old military gasmask bag, I could carry an OM-1, and three diminutive lenses – 28mm, 50mm, and 75mm-150mm – and these were my basic photographic kit in Kenya, they went everywhere with me.

And I suppose that it says something about my visual tastes, that the vast majority of my Kenyan photographs were taken at either 28mm or 150mm – I was always working at the boundaries of what I had.  Now I’m luckier, with 12mm-400mm to hand – but this would have been of little use in Kenya, as it would have been far too heavy and bulky to easily carry around, especially when on foot

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 121 – WARBLER AMONGST ACACIA THORNS

 

 


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Small warbler – perhaps a Cisticola – amongst fearsome Acacia thorns, any one of which could so easily transfix it; probably in Nairobi National Park, in the late 1970s.

The Cisticolas are a group of small warblers that that all look very similar to each other; they are the archetypal “small brown birds”.

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

Technique: OM-1 with a Vivitar 400mm telephoto; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.  This would have been taken from the window of my car, from one of the tracks in the National Park.

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 116 – 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.

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; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Cool Tones 2 preset.

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 106 – TABLE DECORATION

 

 


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Conversation piece on my Nairobi dining table; Nov 1979.

I would like to be able to say that all of the sophisticated evenings chez moi were black tie and that, as the port decanter made its rounds, this little charmer made the conversation hum and buzz.  But, well, you know … 😉 …

The reality was that, because I was writing a book at the time, my large dining table was perpetually covered in piles of maps, books and papers, together with a portable typewriter (remember typewriters???), a little space where my plate could go when I wanted to eat – and a pot plant that was home to this beauty for awhile.

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

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens; extension tubes or close up lenses; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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 71 – THOMSON’S GAZELLE

 

 


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Thomson’s Gazelles at the Hyaena Dam, at the southern end of Nairobi National Park, Kenya; the late 1970s.

The animal on the right is an adult female, with fully grown horns.  On the left is a well grown youngster.

I enjoyed the environs of this dam.  It was a quiet and completely open area where you could (against National Park regulations) get out of the vehicle without any risk to life and limb, and there were often interesting birds around the water’s edge.  This very small national park is right on the city’s edge, and I hear that it is now threatened by urban sprawl.

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

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT 18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

UPDATE: when I originally posted this, one viewer drew my notice to the way in which the composition “flows” from upper left to lower right – we start at the youngster’s head, move down its neck and up its back, and then up over the mother’s rump and down her head and neck to the water.  The shallow diagonal between the shore and the water also echoes this “downwards towards the right” feel.

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 65 – WHITE-BELLIED BUSTARD

 

 


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White-bellied Bustard moving through parched grassland in Nairobi National Park; 20 Oct 1977.

Although capable of sustained flight, bustards breed in a nest on the ground and spend most of their lives walking through fairly open country, feeding on invertebrates and seeds.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Kodak Ektachrome colour slide.

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 55 – COMMON WATERBUCK

 

 


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Female Common Waterbuck, and a male further back on the left; Nairobi National Park; June 1980.

The ‘long’ rains  have produced a lush growth of grass which, in the ensuing drier conditions, is now starting to turn brown and wither.

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

Technique: Kodak Ektachrome colour slide film.

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 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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ARCHIVE KENYA 44 – TORTOISE AT THE HIPPO POOLS (MONO)

 

 


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Aquatic tortoise at the Hippo Pools, Nairobi National Park, Kenya; Oct 1979.

This colour slide has been converted to monochrome because this is a graphic image, its all about structure, and this is best shown in mono.

There are three compositional ingredients. First and most prominent are the sunlit trunks of the fallen tree, which make a bold texture right across the image.  Then there is oval area of sunlit water.  Finally, there is the tortoise, which is at a compositional strong point on the conjunction of the picture’s thirds and also within the halo of the milky, sunlit water.

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; 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 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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