About these photographs

National Library of Ireland - National Photographic Archive

I took hundreds of photographs during a 4 year posting to the Middle East in the late 70's. In 2022, I donated 500 photographs (original transparencies) to the National Library of Ireland – National Photographic Archive. Copyright was transferred to the National Library. The gift comprised images taken in Bahrain (116), Egypt (17), Kuwait (2), United Arab Emirates (18), Saudi Arabia (59) and North Yemen (288). This website displays 323 images taken in North Yemen.

Here is a sample of the donated images of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

Bahrain (116)

The Bahrain Gate - Bab al Bahrain. Entrance to the Manama Souq. Circa 1978.

Expatriat life in Bahrain. Rugby in the sand. Circa 1978.

Bahrain Post Office building which housed P.O. Boxes. Circa 1978.

Egypt (17)

Mosque of ibn Tulun, Cairo. Circa 1978.

A view of Cairo. Circa 1978.

Poster above a motorway in Cairo. Muhammad Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt. Assassinated on 6 Oct 1981.

Saudi Arabia (59)

Irish Embassy in Jeddah. Circa 1978. The embassy moved in the '80's to the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

New villas in Jeddah. Circa 1978.

Motorway through the centre of Jeddah. Circa 1978.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai (18)

Dubai, UAE. Circa 1978.

Sea front in Dubai, UAE. Circa 1978.

Sea front in Dubai, UAE. Circa 1978.

...and the camera

Several years previously I'd given the Nikon F2 and lens to a friend who collects vintage cameras. On learning the transparencies were donated to the National Photogrphic Archive, he presented the camera and lens to the Archive. The F2 is part of the collection.

The original 35mm transparencies - Storage and scanning

The photographs were taken with a Nikon F2. Although I had a collection of lens, the ones I favoured were the Nikkor 50mm ƒ1.4 (the standard lens that came with the camera) and a Nikkor 28mm ƒ2.8. I used whatever film I could lay my hands on. Kodak Ektachrome for colour transparencies was available in the Middle East.

Metal boxes and folder used to store the transparencies.

Deterioration of the storage medium. The boxes show signs of rust.

A metal box used for storage. The "black" slides on the right hand side are mounted in glass.

Plastic sleeves and binders used to store transparencies.

The slides were stored in metal boxes and plastic sleeves and banished to an attic of my house. Some 40 years later, I started to go through the boxes and scan the transparencies. Many showed signs of deterioration, not surprising due to the conditions under which they were stored.

A small number of slides had been removed from the original cardboard mount and remounted between two pieces of glass. The sides of the glass mount were sealed with tape. It appeared a good idea at the time. The rationale was glass was more robust than cardboard, and protected the slides from pollution, dust, sand, fingerprints and scratches. Glass was easy to clean. Just rub with a cloth. In retrospect, this was not a good idea, because 40 years later, most of the glass mounted slides showed signs of Newton Rings. Nowadays plastic and glass mounts exist that protect against Newton Rings. They were not available in the 70's.

A slide mounted in glass (left) compared to the original cardboard mount (right). Replacing the original mount with glass was a bad idea.

Digital versions (jpg) were generated using an Epson CanoScan 5600F scanner, subsequently upgraded to an Epson Perfection V600. The scanning utility was SilverFast V9. The jpgs were imported into Adobe Lightroom. Minor adjustments were made to some of the scanned images with Lightroom's Tone Auto preset.

March 2021

Email: Dr Peter Bennett