In order to enter a competition (National Geographic – I may as well aim for the stars), I recently sorted through and chose some of my favourite images for a portfolio.
My portfolio is an ongoing project to which I constantly add and cull. Narrowing down thousands of pictures to my top 100 was tough. Down to ten was painful and to choose one…almost impossible. And I’m not sure I’m the best judge – I often post photos to the blog and to my facebook page (click to add me) and invariably it’s the ones I least expect that garner the best reception. Then of course there’re the baby and puppy images that transcend photographic quality in terms of popularity. There’re a few shots I’ve historically considered my best, which have never been commented upon or gained any attention when I’ve entered other competitions, so I’ve removed them from the portfolio. Maybe, sometimes the back story and experience is required to appreciate it in the way I do?
I’ve posted ten images below, in no order, with a brief story and some technical info for the geeks. Perhaps if I do this again tomorrow, I’d choose a different ten?
1. Fishing Pirogues in Saint Louis, Senegal
Image at top of the page.
One of those photos I didn’t pay much attention to at the time. Hundreds of these boats, were moored at a fishing port or dragged up on the local beach. I took many images, but there was too much going on and they looked like a jumbled mess. Only when I focused in on this lad, did a nice image emerge from the chaos.
173mm, ISO100, f18, 1/100
2. Flamingos near Ziguinchor, Senegal
Not long after meeting, Khady and I took a little boat trip on the Casamance river in Ziguinchor. We circled a small island and saw large pelicans and many other varieties of bird. Then I glimpsed these flamingos posing in perfect formation on mud flats. Due to the light, the colour was very washed out, so I thought the image suited black and white.
200mm, ISO 100, f22, 1/50, converted to B&W with silver efex2
3. Crocodile in Bakau, The Gambia
When I posted photos of myself, and then my baby son, stroking crocodiles, I received a bit of flak, akin to Michael Jackson dangling a baby over the balcony. The reality is these creatures reside at a sacred pool, where local women visit and bathe to solve fertility issues. A family has been feeding these crocodiles (1/4 ton fish every day) for 400 years or more and there’s never been an attack. Well, that’s what they told me.
50mm, ISO100, f11, 1/60
4. Boys in the rain, Madina Dafe, Senegal
I had been trying to capture an image of the monsoonal rains, but failing. Each picture just looked dreary and damp without capturing the downpour, where a one meter high bin can fill up in minutes and houses fall over. Then, whilst in Khady’s parents home, as we sheltered, I noticed her brother and his friends dancing in the rain. Huddling together for warmth, they posed for this shot.
63mm, ISO1000 (it was very dark), f5, 1/15, converted to B&W with silver efex2
5. Young Girl, Madina Dafe, Senegal
This is the daughter of Khady’s cousin and I was immediately struck by the size of her eyes. She was very shy and stared at the floor – this was taken as she stole a glance at me.
173mm, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/40
6. Baby Monkey, Bijoli forest, The Gambia
Minutes from the main tourist drag on the Gambia’s smiling coast, is this pocket of Guinea Savannah forest – one of the few remaining spots in the region. It’s full of vervet and colobus monkeys as well as bird life and a few snakes.
200mm, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/100
7. Kids, Madina Dafe, Senegal
Taken whilst lounging on a matt at Khady’s parents and being surrounded for the day by curious kids who all wanted their photos taken. I love the kid in the backgrounds expression.
63mm, ISO 250, f6.3, 1/25 converted to B&W with silver efex2
8. The Lion Man, Diouloulou, Senegal
Simba the lion man, is a dancer who was geeing up the crowd between matches at a traditional lutte (wrestling) tournament. When he spotted me, he immediately danced over and posed. I have another shot of a Simba banging a 10cm nail up his nose, but it was getting dark and is a little blurry. Shortly after arriving in Senegal, my parents witnessed a Simba, who jumped on to the side of Kermit and hissed through the window – the kind of introduction to Africa everyone should have!
96mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/100
9. Njaya dancing, Abene, Senegal
Njaya is the granddaughter of Diatou, my African mother. Here, we were spinning on the beach, holding with one hands as I took the shot with the other, blurring the background.
51mm, ISO 100, f7.1, 1/160
10. N’yass, Bignona, Senegal
This is a masked devil dancer who I’ve often seen at Koumpo dances. He scares children. This was my favourite image of him, with the background singers and dancers.
18mm, ISO 640 (it was getting dark), f4.5, 1/400