The day began early as is usually the case when you are chasing the sunrise. That precious moment when the sun is peeking above the horizon and emitting a series of resplendent rays that refresh the mind ahead of a brand new day may last a few minutes, but the feeling that comes with it stays long after the phenomenon passes. No wonder sunrise photography is such a darling affair. We all want to capture that magical moment, to become a part of it, share with others.   

Light brings life into the city.

    We arrived a few minutes past 6 am on Sunday the 1st of September, just in time to capture the exact moment from the Uhuru Park Viewpoint where you get a perfect panorama of Nairobi’s cityscape. Most of us had not had the experience before, standing on a platform overlooking a city half-cloaked in darkness with skyscrapers looming as silhouettes against a gloomy sky. It was a sight to behold and we began clicking as soon as we arrived. Sunrise didn’t keep us waiting. The exact moment when the sun’s rays split through the city’s skyline came a few minutes past the half-hour mark, and each of us, holding on to our cameras stood in awe, taking shot after shot to capture the beauty of the moment.

Nairobi Nature
The beauty of water is enhanced by the fact that it flows with ease every day. Likewise, we must keep flowing, polishing our skills every day.

   It was a delightful and enlightening experience as tutor Mr. Gibson Maina, of Gibsphotography, took us through the basic and advanced tips of sunrise photography as well as taking the best photos under certain conditions. We practiced every tip he taught, and the excitement of learning and applying something new at the same time made the moment more enjoyable. At some point, he taught about tonal range in photography, how it can dramatically alter the general feel of an image. Without a good tonal range, you get flat, boring images. He emphasized on mid-tones, which are very essential in getting the best exposure for photographs, especially when shooting in Aperture Priority.

Outdoor Photography
In outdoor photography, a scrim is used to soften harsh light. It difuses the sunlight and creates appealing, proportional lighting on the subject. This eliminates the harsh light that causes over-exposure in pictures.

  Later, at Uhuru Park, the lessons ranged from freezing a jet of water and movement to capturing the moment when a stone hits the water and causes a brisk ripple. Again, the practical nature of learning made us active participants, simplifying the erstwhile complex terms that sometimes characterize photography in theory. Breakfast by the courteous lady, Rose, was sumptuous, heavy, enough to energize us through a day of learning photography outdoors at Evergreen Gardens, a manicured haven set in the most serene setting along Kiambu Road. The sprawling artificial lake, variety of trees, and towering buildings in the distance made this the perfect place to practice some terrific photography.

Reflector lesson
A reflector is used to fill in light when the subject’s face is partially cast in shadow.

The learning process continued, this time covering the entire topic of outdoor photography under different conditions. The session was interactive and fun. It was a defining moment for all of us as this was the first practical lesson of outdoor photography. Every one of us learned something new and when we dispersed to take pictures, we discussed and practiced the new tips. From macro photography to portraits, to landscape photography, every outdoor genre was taught and practiced to the maximum.

Reflector lesson
A trained assistant holds the scrim or reflector as the proffesional photographer takes angles to get the most interesting shots.

   During the afternoon session, we were honoured to be tutored by renowned professional photographer Mr. David Macharia. Other than his indisputable prowess in photography, his wisdom enriched and challenged us to work harder and aim higher. He asked all the participants to go out of our way to disrupt the industry, sharing some inspiring guidance on pursuing photography as a business. Mr. Macharia’s passion for sharing knowledge, his insight and expertise with young, aspiring photographers was clear. He spoke of his desire to see them grow into successful photographers and business people, urging them to play the part by working hard on their portfolios and grabbing every opportunity to make the best out of it, for this was the only way to make it.

Outdoor Photography
Mastering outdoor photography tips is one of the best steps towards becoming experienced photographers because it helps understand lighting, the most crucial aspect in photography.

    We left Evergreen Gardens feeling very enlightened, on our way back talked about the many things we’d learned, about how good the experience, the food, the place. And later, as we reviewed our images in the studio, we had another moment of discovery as Mr. Gibson took his time to critique our images, congratulate and guide us on how to take better pictures. This was no doubt the best day of photography ever. Most valuable lesson learned? Keep at it until you become perfect!