Nikon Ambassador David Yarrow photographs the animals and people that call Kenya home

New image series juxtaposes two very different sides of the fascinating African country

New image series juxtaposes two very different sides of the fascinating African country

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 18th October 2018 – A new photography project from Nikon European Ambassador and fine art photographer David Yarrow captures the two different sides of Kenya – from Amboseli’s colossal elephants, otherwise known as ‘big tuskers’, to the gang culture of the country’s bustling capital, Nairobi.

With the Nikon D850 and a range of prime NIKKOR lenses in hand, David set out to juxtapose these vivid elements of East Africa, profiling the elephants from Amboseli National Park against carefully staged images of local gangsters from Dandora, Nairobi – home to one of the largest rubbish sites in the world.

The Walk of Life - Nikon D850 | 1/1600 sec | f/5 | 400mm | ISO 160 | AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VRII

Colossus - Nikon D850 | 1/1250 sec. | f/8 | 200mm | ISO 200 | AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II

The Big Tuskers – Amboseli National Park

The vast savannah of Amboseli National Park is home to an array of wildlife, most notably its herds of free ranging African bush elephants. The park hosts some of the largest elephants in the world – the Big Tuskers – whose tusks are so long they reach the ground. These giant mammals have the ‘right of way’ in the reserve and are protected, yet undisturbed, by humans. Having visited the park several times prior to this project, David wanted to capture the magnificence of Kenya’s special creatures from the ground, going closer than any photographer has gone before.

David Yarrow comments, “Amboseli is my favourite place in the world to photograph these incredible animals. It’s a raw, elemental, amphitheater, home to over two thousand elephants and the perfect location to photograph the Big Tuskers in their natural surroundings. Once you see an elephant of this size you know you will never see anything like it again in your career. I am, and will always be, in awe of their power, size, and that human-like intelligence they hold so clearly in their eyes.”

As part of this project, David followed the movements of Tim, one of the park’s largest Big Tuskers. Having photographed elephants of this size before, David used the Nikon D850 with the AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f2G ED VR II lenses to intimately profile these creatures, with the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens guaranteeing edge-to-edge sharpness within a landscape image of the elephant herd walking into the distance. 

Street life in Dandora, Nairobi

For the second part of his trip David travelled to Dandora, an eastern suburb of Nairobi perhaps best known for its large rubbish dump, which sprawls over 3,000 acres. This offered a different subject for David – no less wild than Amboseli’s National Park – a bustling, urban city where gang culture and environmental difficulties co-exist.

David comments, “The Dandoran suburb of Nairobi was a world away from Amboseli but equally challenging and fascinating to photograph. The rubbish dump was of a different scale to anything I had ever seen and was rife with chemical waste. Gang culture is still common in this area too, so photographing can be dangerous. I had to tread carefully.”

Like Amboseli, David wanted to photograph a scene far removed from the Western world. Having made contact in advance with members of a local gang who agreed to be subjects, David positioned the members in contrast to their surroundings, each wearing a smart black suit – a stark contrast to the backdrop of the rubbish site. 

The Debt Collector- Nikon D850 | 1/200 sec. | f/3.5 | 35mm | ISO 500 | AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G

Dandora - Nikon D850 | 1/2000 sec. | f/10 | 105mm | ISO 500 | AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED

Juxtaposing staged portraits with the most natural of subjects, David’s images demonstrates how different techniques can be used to capture a cohesive, powerful series: “With wildlife photography you need to ensure you are in the perfect position to capture that authoritative, emotive shot, but you are not in control. If an animal doesn’t allow you to photograph it, there is nothing you can do. With staged photography you can follow a linear journey, from preconception right through to conception. It is a real test of your ability as a photographer to see if you can capture that perfect moment you had planned. Both styles are hugely important to me, as was profiling these two vastly different areas of Kenya, connecting the humans and wild animals that call this place home.

Throughout his trip, David used the Nikon D850, paired with the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4GAF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II and AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR.

Read the full story here

The Nikon European Ambassador Program

The Nikon European Ambassador Program consists of talented and influential visual artists, who use the industry's latest technologies and an awareness of social trends to represent the current age. Nikon challenged David to realise his dream photography project, based on his global recognition as a fine art photographer.

For more information about David’s project please visit his Special Project page.

The kit

During his project, David used the following equipment:

• Nikon D850
• AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED
• AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G    
• AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II    
• AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR

About David

David Yarrow was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1966. He took up photography at an early age and, as a 20-year-old, found himself working as a photographer for The Times on the pitch at the World Cup Final in Mexico City. On that day, David took the famous picture of Diego Maradona holding the World Cup and, as a result, he was subsequently asked to cover the Olympics and numerous other sporting events. It was only many years later that he found his true comfort zone in documenting the natural world, with his evocative and immersive photography of life on earth earning him an ever-growing following amongst art collectors. In 2018, David has firmly established himself as one of the bestselling fine art photographers in the world.

All images are subject to copyright of David Yarrow.

For more information about Nikon’s European Ambassador Program, please visit www.europe-nikon.com