John and Rosamund MacFarlane – Living with the Eagle Hunters of Mongolia and Under and Over Water



Last night our zoom presentation transported us to the wilds of Outer Mongolia! John and Rosamund MacFarlane visited for the 3rd time in 2018, and came back with some stunning images and tales of amazing adventure.


We were taken to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, or UB, which is a city of huge contrasts. From the modern shopping malls, blocks of flats and hotels in the city centre to the communities of Gers on the outskirts, set up by the many Nomads being driven from their home areas by social pressures and those of climate change.


They travelled in very basic looking vehicles across the harsh landscapes of the Steppes, stopping off in the central region of the country where there are no roads; crossing desert landscape and frozen rivers and lakes. They were made to feel very welcome by the locals and were welcomed into their Gers which were far more comfortable inside than they looked from the outside.


They continued their travels to the Altai Mountains in the far west of Mongolia where they found the Eagle Hunters. These Nomads, who are native Kazakh Mongolians, live in mud brick houses, with very basic outdoor bathroom facilities! These people rely on their animals – sheep, goats, horses and cows. They endure long harsh winters but their life is becoming increasingly threatened, particularly by climate change. The winters are becoming colder and harsher and the summers hotter and shorter which has a detrimental effect on the grazing available for their animals; hence the move into the capital.


They met several Eagle Hunters, including Aisholpan Nurgaiu, the first female Eagle Hunter featured in the film ‘The Eagle Huntress’. Numbers of Eagle Hunters were in decline, but in recent years there has been a steady increase and there are now approximately 380. Many brilliant images of the Eagle Hunters and their Golden Eagles were shown.


After the break we came back to Cumbria. Rosamund showed some spectacular images of different types of reflections and how different weather conditions can affect them, and how utilising different camera techniques can produce some very creative images. In many of them it was hard to tell where the landscape ended and the reflection began.


It was then John’s turn to show his ‘Subscape’ images. Images taken underwater, not of the wildlife to be found, but of the amazing rock formations, Some showed the hidden landscape below the water, whilst others were split images showing both under and over the water at the same time. The majority of John’s images were taken in Cumbria, in local mountain rivers, waterfalls and deep pools. Again, some truly inspirational work. A few disadvantages to taking this up – enjoying swimming in cold mountain water and often a long hike up to the waterfall or pool carrying all your equipment with you!


Our thanks go to John and Rosamund for a fascinating and memorable evening.


A reminder that next week Dave Wilson will be judging our 3rd Open Competition, and it is the hand in date for the 4th Open – Creative.


The following week, 11th December Pauline Martindale’s presentation will take us Around the UK.



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