I do not think of Africa in black and white, and when we lived there during the 1990s it was still in the days of conventional photography, and only colour film was readily available. So I am rather intrigued by these monochrome edits from the old Africa photo file.
They were taken in August – in the cool, dry, gloomy season, and the time of the wildebeest migration. We had driven down to the Maasai Mara from Nairobi under lowering skies, taking our visitors, Chris and Les, on safari. The roads were dusty and the bush country parched and dreary looking for mile after mile.
Amongst other things, the first photo shows how empty the landscape can be of wildlife, or indeed of people. In the distance is the Oloololo Escarpment which forms the north west boundary of the Mara Triangle. The tented camp where we were staying was on the Mara River outside the park, and part of the Mara Conservancy, a reserve managed by the Maasai themselves.
The lone tree is a Desert Date (Balanites aegyptiaca ), and is typical of the open savannah where its presence is highly valued by humans and grazing animals alike. It fruits under the driest conditions. The tree has also long provided traditional healers with remedies; like the baobab, Balanites is one of Africa’s tree pharmacies. The fruit’s outer flesh was used for treating skin diseases, and preparations of the root and bark were used to combat malaria.
The oil within the fruit in fact has a host of remarkable properties. It has long been known that it kills the freshwater snails that carry bilharzia and the water fleas that are vectors of guinea-worm disease (Trees of Kenya Tim Noad and Ann Birnie). It has also been studied more recently by Egyptian scientists who reported their findings in the the 2010 Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Their laboratory tests revealed anticancer properties for certain human carcinoma cell lines, as well as demonstrating selected antimicrobial, anthelmintic, and antiviral activity.
An all round useful tree then.
The shape of the trees in the photos is also typical. The result of having their canopies nibbled by passing giraffes, although there are none in sight here – only wildebeest and Thomson’s gazelle.
39 thoughts on “Maasailand In Black & White”
That last image is so arresting, Tish
I love both shots, Tish, and enjoyed reading about the trees. There are so many useful things in nature.
I think it probably provides everything we need 😉
“I do not think of Africa in black and white.” It’s almost a metaphor.😊
And yes, your depiction of Maasailand is fresh and arresting!
Thank you, Cocoa.
I love your posts about Africa and the last shot is beautiful, typical trees and gazelles gazing at your camera. I must admit is was rare for me to put a black and white film in the camera.
I think I only did it when I was 7 and had a Kodak Brownie given to me 🙂
The trouble was that once you had put one in the camera you then had to take the whole of the film in b&w and films lasted ages then!
You are absolutely right 😦
Same with panoramic prints. Cheaper to take the entire roll in panoramic mode than to mix it up. But that meant you really needed two cameras!
I’m really fascinated by both photos , even if so different one from the other…
More mysterious the first one , with those sunbeams piercing out from the clouds , while more typically African the second , where you can perceive the real colours of the landscape , through the monochrome version…..
Both exceptional anyway!
Thanks for your thoughts on both images, Anna.
I love these images Tish.
Thanks, Gilly 🙂
I didn’t know this shape was the result of grooming by giraffes! It’s certainly a tree that says Africa. And you sound so plaintive: ONLY wildebeest and Thompson’s gazelle indeed. I love your African posts (and all your others too of course)
I did indeed want there to be a giraffe in the scene 🙂
These b&w edits are lovely Tish. I particularly like the first shot; the light is wonderful.
Thank you, Su.
Beautiful atmospheric vistas in black-and-white, Tish!
Thank you, Dries. Do you ever venture into B & W?
At times I do convert a very special photo to b&w, but I am not always as impressed with the results as I am with yours!
Oh that’s a very sweet thing to say. Thank you 🙂
They look like photos from an old movies, especially the first one with the rays of light coming from the clouds.
It’s beginning to seem like an old movie in real life 🙂
That was going to be my question for you – whether you remember Africa in colour or monochrome. The season might have been arid, but the stark contrasts in your shot make it look very appealing. Beautiful photographs, Tish.
Thank you, Paula.
I agree with the old movie thinking – really beautiful. Interesting about the tree – there are so many good things of old that we have forgotten or do not use enough in today’s world.
Absolutely right, Leya. We need to re-learn and/or discover those things fast 🙂
It’s totally irrelevant but I love dates, Tish 🙂 🙂 And these luminescent photos too.
Anything B/W is the 50’s and any image of Africa is the grasslands of Kenya, parchment and wind-blown. Neither is true. Portraiture, for example, is brilliant in B/W and Africa is a vast continent; my own experience, Equatorial West Africa forests and laterite.
The savannah in these black and white edits looks even more dramatic than in color! Really like both pictures.
I was surprised how much I liked the transformation. Glad they struck a chord with you too 🙂
I love those trees Tish. Great black and white photos 🙂
Interesting that you should not think of Africa in Black&white. 🙂 But then in the 90’s all photos were colour films if I recall.
Back in the 60’s, a good share of our films still were B&W. Cheaper than the colour ones.
Thank you for the Safari Memsahib.
Yes, you could only get colour film in Nairobi. And definitely our 60s family photos tended to be b & w, mostly taken by me. When I was seven or eight a family friend gave me a Box Brownie – oh, the joy! Though only around 8 shots to the film. We’re spoiled with our snap-happy digitals.
We are. 🙂
(And I also got a brownie around 7 or 8. Had to change the roll inside a closet)
Be good my dear.