Learning in Lagos

I remember this thing, I thought to myself, rambling around my office storage closet. I pulled out my DSLR camera and sat down at my desk.

Inspired, I began to look through the tons of cupcake photos that I had taken with it. I purchased it a couple of years ago to get into food photography. At that time, I was beginning to tread lightly on the path to owning a bakery. I am sure that life will lead me back to that path one day; Lagos is just a short diversion.

After learning to manipulate the manual camera settings a little bit, I used to rush home after work to bake and set up my makeshift photo studio on my balcony. My treacherously narrow, but long, little balcony made for a great place to set my white backdrop, an artful arrangement of cupcakes, and perhaps a fork or something photogenic yet utilitarian, you know, to add to the artistic flair of my cupcake photography.

But here, in Lagos, I don’t feel comfortable walking around with a big DSLR camera around my neck. All of the photos I take when I am “out and about” are from a cell phone camera.

So, I decided to take my DSLR camera out to the backyard, which is meticulously manicured several times a week by the company paid gardener, DeCosta.

I searched around the yard for DeCosta, and after I was relatively sure he was either gone for the day or on a break, I began to snap some photos. A few of the things I had learned from figuring out the hard way how to use the camera started to come back to me. I mostly remembered how to manually adjust the ISO settings, but don’t you dare ask me what ISO stands for or anything else that will stretch my memory beyond it’s sorry capacity.

Here are some of my favorite snaps:

  1. The birds of paradise grow in my backyard just like the grass. This is astonishing to me because these flowers are super expensive to buy in the USA. I once received a bouquet of birds of paradise flowers and R hinted that they were quite expensive.

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2) Whatever these little red berry things are, they sure are cute, aren’t they? Should I eat some or make some tea out of some? Nahhhhh, I’m too far from home to have a possible bout with extreme diarrhea or something, so I will just photograph them, pretend that they’re cranberries, and think about turkeys.

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3) Look at how delicate and cute these little flowers are. They look like they were the inspiration for some spring time prints that might end up on a blouse from Ann Taylor or Anthropologie. Oops…now I’m thinking about online shopping in a country where I can’t do any online shopping. Guess I will go back to thinking about how gosh darn cute these little beauties are.

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4) The holy grail of photography: Capturing water movement. I am no where near a professional photographer, but a real professional photographer once told me that you know you’re worth your salt when you can capture a beautiful photo of moving water. I adjusted the ISO settings a bit to get this picture to come out this way. I got so excited that I remembered enough to get the photo to show a little water detail; I became satisfied with my results and happily skipped back into the house to upload the photos. I will try again one day soon, but in the meantime, I am still quite thrilled with how this photo turned out.

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Lastly, the featured photo, at the beginning of this post, was a happy accident. I took the photo when I first exited the house, stepping out from the extremely air conditioned and cooled air of the kitchen into the steamy outdoors of Lagos in the rainy season. Of course, the lenses of both the camera and my eye glasses fogged up immediately. I took a photo anyway, and when I looked at the photo later I thought it looked cool.

Whether you are far away from home or lying on your mother’s couch right now, what things are you learning and relearning?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

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