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: LOOKING AT CARS 17 – DARK CAR (MONO)

 

 

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An image of three parts.  The two cars, manufactured and highly mobile confections of metal, plastic, rubber and glass, racing away from each other on a road that is certainly not for those more sensitive souls who are forever slowing down to compose poetry or look at the wildflowers.

And then the white line in the road’s center, undulating slightly as it climbs towards the hill’s crest.

And finally the light, spotlighting the dark car as it rushes urgently towards us,  and seen more faintly through the trees on the right, and then more brightly (the light at the end of the tunnel?) on the left.

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 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

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); 400 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset; fast road over the Mendip Hills, above Compton Martin, Somerset; 24 Nov 2017.
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ARCHIVE KENYA 89 – BACK ROAD NEAR AKALA (MONO)

 

 

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Back road through farms near Akala, in the far west of Kenya; April 1979.

The wideangle lens makes the road appear in worse condition than it was – and, in any case, it was dry weather; tackling this in wet conditions would be something else again.

The VW Beetle was wonderful for this sort of thing.  No 4×4, just drive in the two rear wheels, the engine seated over the wheels – which made for very good grip –  and a large metal plate underneath most of the length of the car, to guard against rocks and boulders.

But the car took quite a hammering on this trip and, as I pulled out at the end of my stay for the long drive back to Nairobi, my front wheels had, unbeknown to me, taken such a pounding that they were facing outwards, i.e. away from each other.

This very soon wore both tyres completely bald and, when I came upon a police road block, I had a hard job persuading them to let me through.  Luckily there was an excellent garage specialising in VW repairs in Nairobi, and however badly I damaged the car, they were always able to fix it.

Another thing about this picture is that it was taken in a very fertile, agricultural landscape teeming with people.  I’ve only just stopped for a photo, and already there’s a young lad standing by the car.  If we were really to get stuck or break down, there were always plenty of willing hands to help push and pull us on our way.  They were friendly – and distinctly humorous – people.  Less friendly was the malaria, which initially got its teeth into me during this safari.

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 in Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Red 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: LOOKING AT CARS 9 – SELFIE WITH BLUE LORRY (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Self-portrait with blue lorry, near Peacock Farm, Westhay Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 Jul 2012.

I’m sitting very upright in the driving seat of my car, using a wideangle zoom to record both the scene in the rear view mirror, and the road ahead as seen through the windscreen.  Back home, I’ve converted the shot to mono using Capture NX2, but retained original colour – and added some brightness too – for the scene in the mirror.

The rows of small dots above the mirror are a device to help prevent dazzle when looking up at the mirror.

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 6 7 8 .  

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

Technique: D700 with 16-35 Nikkor lens at 24mm; 800 ISO; manipulated with Capture NX2.

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OUTER SUBURBS 278 – CABLE TV

 

 


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Cable TV inspection cover set in a pavement >>> a scene that I walk over most days >>> but on this day lit by the low angle light of the rising sun.

Towards lower left, starting from nearest the cover, are the pavement’s pale kerbstones, the road’s slightly less pale gutter, and the more roughly textured road surface.

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 61mm (equiv); 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 03 profile; south Bristol; 8 Aug 2020.
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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: LOOKING AT CARS 2 – RAINY MORNING (MONO)

 

 


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On the Somerset Levels: Liberty Moor, east of East Huntspill, looking north to the slightly higher ground around the village of Mark; 29 Apr 2016.

A major road is temporarily closed, so commuters speed down the Levels’ back lanes to get around the blockage.

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).

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Harsh preset.

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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 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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OUTER SUBURBS 240 – I DIDN’T LIKE MY FAMILY SO I MADE A NEW ONE

 

 


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Well, I’m still walking in the lockdown, usually leaving home at 0530.  The lighter summer mornings make early starts easier, and I relish the emptiness the lockdown has brought.  Although there is some traffic about – and with the lockdown loosening that has increased a little – in the course of walking for two hours I may only see 10 or fewer other pedestrians at this early hour.  And the fact that some of us now regularly encounter each other has brought a welcome camaraderie – a greeting, a few words exchanged, always at many yards’ distance – which brings a little more sense of normality, a little less desolation in the midst of all this quiet emptiness.

I’ve mapped out a route for walking along which, in most places, there are spaces that make it easier to distance myself from oncoming people.  Those out running are the main problem, and I am by no means the first to notice that many (but not all) of them simply run straight towards you, spraying out great lungfuls of moist breath and evidently expecting you to get out of their way.  Me being me, I have on a couple of occasions refused to move, and have seen the shocked looks as they veer suddenly to one side at the last moment.  This pandemic has revealed many interesting aspects of human psychology.

But the point of this post is to pass onto you something strange.   For there is one short section of my long walk that I have for some bizarre reason grown to like and welcome each early morning – and it is the scene above.  This is a long, wide, dead straight road, a major thoroughfare, that our really totally inadequate and inept local authority has chosen to place a 20mph speed limit on.  And as I walk out onto this road and look to my left, I see the scene above.  There is a lovely grove of trees on the right that always have squirrels around them, and occasionally foxes too.  And further up on the same side of the road there is a little patch of red, that is a lurid advertisement on the side of a bus shelter.  And beyond are the slopes of Dundry Hill which – on this particular morning – had lovely mist in the treetops along its summit.

And I can’t explain why, but every time I come out onto this big, empty, quiet road, and look up towards the lurid red poster on the bus stop and the green hill behind, I have definite feelings of peace, calm and belonging.  And I also have a feeling that when that poster and the lockdown are gone, that this place will not affect me in the same way.  And so I’ve taken a few photos to remind me of this scene, to help remind me of how these strange days were – and here are some of these pics.  And I’ve remembered that, as always, Life itself can be strange.

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

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended for the first two shots only!!!

Technique: TG-5; Lightroom; south Bristol; June 2020.
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Getting closer to the bus stop: the poster and the misty hilltop now more plainly in view.
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LOL!!! and here is “the artwork” itself.  I have not the slightest idea what its advertising – but I like the lurid red!!!

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