My mother's "Leopard in a Tree" picture

connloyalist

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Not really micro four thirds related, but a story I wanted to share with someone.

As long as I can remember we have had a framed picture that my mother took in either 1963 or 1964 while on safari in East Africa. If I am not mistaken she might have developed it herself. The picture is of a leopard in a tree. Black and white of course, although by now more brown and white. That picture now hangs in my bedroom, in a shaded spot to prevent it from fading too much. I love that picture. On and off for years I have been keeping an eye out for the negative of that picture. Never found.

Until today. I was looking through a large envelope with negatives. Mostly color negatives, some black and white and all medium format. I still have my mother's Rolleiflex camera that she was so proud of. Then in the bottom of this envelope I spot a black and white strip of 35mm negative film. So I think "What's this? Mom didn't use 35mm?". You guessed it: 6 pictures of that safari, 5 of which are the leopard in a tree. And yes, one of those 5 pictures is "the" picture. I don't know what camera she was using in those days, but obviously this predated the Rolleiflex. I immediately scanned the negatives on my Epson V200. Might go to the photography store in town one of these days to ask them if they have better equipment with which to do this. If they have to send out to get it done, no deal. These negatives are not leaving my sight.

This is cropped the same way the original is cropped. The actual picture is larger to the left. Resized a bit to make the file smaller for the forum. With a touch of sharpening and a little bit lighter than the negative. The original print is a lot lighter than this.

Leopard in a tree 600 -  009 smaller.jpg
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MichailK

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Wife also says whoa!!”

Christine, could your mother have used some safari Leica rig for that trip?
Even cropped, given the fact that wild animals back then were even less accustomed to humans, It looks so close that I guess it must have been a pretty long lens, maybe the longer than 135mm Visoflex Leica system? I have a feeling that most other long lenses of that age were pretty big and required a tripod.
 

John King

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Wonderful and serendipitous, Christine. Ripper photo!

FWIW, I've used a Leica 200mm on a Visoflex housing/adapter. IIRC Leica also made 400/560mm lenses for the Visoflex system, and maybe an 800mm, but it's nearly 55 years since I used it.

However, also FWIW my Rolleiflex 2.8f can also use 35mm film with a Rolleiflex adapter kit. That would make its 80mm lens effectively about a 160mm lens.
 

connloyalist

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Mom's Rolleiflex is a Rolleimagic II. It's a TLR desgin, for those who don't know it. It makes 6 x 6 cm negatives, hence my assumption that it is a medium format camera. Specs for the Rolleimagic I and II:
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Rollei_Magic#Specifications_Rollei_magic_II

Mom's looks exactly like the Rolleimagic II when you scroll down the page, including the brown leather case.

I am not aware of Mom ever owning a 35mm adapter kit, which doesn't mean she didn't. I am pretty sure these pictures were taken in 1964, so she could have owned the Rolleiflex then since it was in production from 1962 to 1968.

Could this picture be turned into a color? I suppose, but that would be a manual job all the way. A lot of work.

By the way Brownie / Tim: I see you are from SE Michigan. My mother was from Washtenaw county, Michigan.

Could she have borrowed or hired a Leica safari rig? Yes, it's possible. Unfortunately I don't think I have any way of verifying that.

To give a bit better idea of the perspective, here is another picture from the same strip of negatives. Here you can see that she is inside a car. East Africa, so right hand drive. I am assuming she is in the passenger seat. So why then can you read the Caltex sticker unless it is on the inside of the window? Don't know. Either way, this matches the orientation of the way Mom originally printed the picture.

Leopard in a tree -  005.jpg
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Regards, Christine
 
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So why then can you read the Caltex sticker unless it is on the inside of the window?

Regards, Christine
Perhaps, and this is just a guess, passengers in the left hand seat tended to put stickers where they could, especially if the window was closed a lot of the time. I think having clients snatched out of cars even back then was a no-no :D

Great story, too, Christine. My mother had photos of safaris in Africa from this period too. I shall have to look them out.
 
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