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.

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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 603 – THIS MAN IS PHOTOGRAPHING YOU! (MONO)

 

 


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Selfie with spiral staircase; 5 Nov 2014.  I’m photographing my reflection in the window of a shop that is empty save for a metallic spiral staircase.  The staircase is given prominence and I’m edged out to the side, such that I appear to be sneaking a shot of you around the edge of the image’s frame – sneaking a shot of you from out of the window perhaps. 

Personal ensemble?  Well a rather natty outfit, even if I do say so myself, comprising a battered old cap, which has variously been described as making me look like an engine driver or a Japanese soldier or, for all I know, a Japanese engine driver.  And then specs, a mostly untidy beard and a grubby old jacket that has definitely seen better days, much like its owner.  Oh and a penchant for trying to keep a low profile  – probably deriving from decades of birding and other wildlife observation but still useful photographically in these more modern and enlightened times.

Clicking onto the image will open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 640 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Architectural preset.

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ARCHIVE 592 – LOOKING INTO AN EMPTY BUILDING

 

 

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The FATman has you in his (actually rather wonderful) electronic viewfinder!

Or, then again, I’m pointing my camera into an empty building.  There’s really not much here.  My (double) reflection is given substance by a dark pillar in the building’s interior, and the rest of the picture shows a desolate and completely empty room – left by a business that has moved on –  with a large window on the left through which a building in the next street can be faintly be seen.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Quay Street, central Bristol; 20 Apr 2018.

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ARCHIVE 588 – SELFIE ON A BRIDGE

 

 


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Selfie on a footbridge, Lynmouth, Devon; 24 Sept 2009.

The striking shadow and backdrop were too good to miss, and I angled the camera so that, instead of being horizontal, the footbridge’s shadow cuts a powerful, stark diagonal right across the photo, more or less from top left to bottom right. The background, a dry overspill channel, is quite rugged and textured, and also variously green – this shot also works in black and white.

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

Technique: F6 with 24-120 Nikkor lens; Fuji Provia 400X colour slide film rated at 800 ISO.

2016 UPDATE: its almost unreal to see that this photo was originally taken as a colour slide/transparency – taken on 35mm FILM!!!   And I was having the film push processed, which means that although the film was rated at 400 ISO, I asked the company who were going to develop it to treat it as if it had a speed of 800 ISO.  The firm were (and still are, I think) based in Cheltenham in the UK, and sending the exposed film to them – and receiving back the developed colour slides in a neat plastic box – all took place via the UK postal system. 

Provia 400X was a wonderful film, excellent colours, fine grain, and I had no hesitation in having it push processed up to 3200 ISO or even higher on occasion.  Had digital photography not come onto the scene, I would certainly still be using 400X (or its descendants) now (but see below).

And film?  Well its only 7 years since this photo was taken, but all that seems such a long time ago.  Would I ever go back to using film?  Definitely not, absolutely certainly not.  The creative advantages provided by digital photography simply cannot be ignored.

2020 UPDATE: regarding Provia 400X colour slide film, time moves on and I now read that it is no longer produced, and that all existing stocks are past their expirey date – this does not of course make them anything like unusable but, as I say, time moves on …

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ARCHIVE: LOOKING AT CARS 28 – A CAR, WATER AND ME

 

 


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Leaning over the wet bonnet of a car I’ll never be able to afford – and, increasingly eschewing materialism as I am – which I’m totally happy not to own.  I’m on the left, glorying as I often do in the TG-5’s f2 wide angle lens, the equivalent of 25mm in full-frame format.  I’m holding my glasses as well as the camera because I can’t see well through the camera’s screen with them on >>> LOL! getting old!  And I’m looking along the slightly curving streaks of water towards the car’s windscreen wipers at far right.

The picture is rotated 90 degrees clockwise.  Occidental eyes enter images on the left and move towards the right, so that my eyes move along the water streaks towards to the darker wipers and (hopefully!) stay on them, rather than exiting the image.

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 separated window – certainly recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Modern 01 profile; rotated; south Bristol; 19 July 2020.

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 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 .  Each post will open in a separate window.

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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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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 506 – SHADES, SCOOBIE’S AND ME (MONO + COLOUR)

 

 


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Selfie in the main street of Perranporth, Cornwall; 14 Apr 2016.

A rack of trendy sunglasses outside one of this seaside town’s many gift shops and The FATman – forever vain! – snapping his reflection.

And although we didn’t go in there and get our snouts in their trough, google tells me that Scoobie’s is a diner.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Harsh preset and selectively restoring colour; flipped to provide readable reflections.

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ARCHIVE 504 – THREE VIEWS OF ME

 

 


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Three views of me, in mirrors for sale outside a seaside gift shop in Mevagissey, Cornwall; 24 Oct 2012.

Landmarks?  Well, my cap, which is actually a designer piece (tho not bought with any knowledge of that), and which I’m told makes me look like either a train driver or a Japanese soldier.

And then the lens that I’m wedded to – the 70-300.  And lastly, left of center, my trademark paunch, without which I’d have to change my name – actually I do have to lose weight but that’s another thing!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate windows – but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the nightmares!

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 70mm; 1600 ISO.

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ARCHIVE 481 – SELFIE OF YOUNG LOVE (MONO)

 

 


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Something heartwarming, something very good to see; West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Strolling on the harbour wall at the diminutive Dorset resort of West Bay, with the damned great Nikon and zoom perched on my paunch – when over left a selfie was fired off – and I was just not quick enough to capture the action, although I did get a shot of them examining the result immediately afterwards.

And so, and not for the first time, I cursed my lack of alertness and speed – when they squared up for another shot at it – I mean, them – and this time I was ready.

Well, its truly candid, and as an image I like it.  Presentation in black and white removes the distractions of colour and takes us in solely to them and what they’re about.

But those thoughts only scratch the surface on this one.  I started off by describing it as heartwarming and I stick by that.  Its a moment of togetherness and affection, a moment shared – and that’s good to see.  Who knows what the future will bring for them?  Not knowing them at all, I wish them good luck and happiness.

See?  Underneath … well, actually, really quite deep underneath … I’m just something of an Old Softy ….

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Spectrum preset.

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