Normally I’m not in a picture that often, but because there was a second photographer with me in Nairobi and the people at PeaceTones also were enthusiastic photographers, I suddenly got very well documented. Here are some nice ones. The first is accompanied by the picture I took myself at the very time Ruha Devanesan, Director of Peace Tones, took a photo of me.
These two shots were taken by Joshua, the San Francisco photographer that joined us as well. One is made with his Sony RX1 and the other with Instagram on his Iphone.
One of the things Joshua and I have done in Nairobi is a video/photo workshop with some of the musicians. Peace Tones received five Flip cameras as a donation from Cisco. The older generation Flipcams work on AA batteries, which is very practical for the areas we’re working in. As the workshop attendees had little to no experience, it was just the basics we could teach them. Of course Flip cameras only do video, but some of their phones also shoot photo and because we only stuck with the basics, we could deal with both video and photo.
A quick lesson in composition (rule of thirds), tips to keep the camera steady and how to zoom and pan gently. But probably the most important thing we taught them was: how do you deal with the light. So we shot in front of a window, to see how you can deal with back light and silhouette We shot outside in the shade or in direct sunlight, to see what hard and soft shadows do. We even temporarily created a reflector with our posters to show them how that worked and how to soften the hard shadows that appear in direct sunlight. It’s fun to explain some of the things you’ve been doing on automatic pilot for a while. It actually makes you realise why you do the things in a certain manner or order.
It was amazing how eager and inquisitive the musicians were. They recorded everything. The idea behind teaching these musicians about videography is that, in the future, they will be able to make videos and photos to promote their music. This way they can create a wider fan base and the work of Peace Tones is not only limited to the weeks we were there, but it can continue.
this photo was taken by Joshua
As you all probably know by now, I love my black & white. The Monochrom gives me huge satisfaction every time. Tones are amazing, sharpness is unreal and it delivers the dramatic effect I love. It’s perfect for telling the story with no distractions of color what so ever. For example this short story on one of the people that auditioned this weekend in Kibera, one of the slums the projects of PeaceTones are held. His fluorescent pink shirt would have been a huge distraction. (in my opinion)
But I also brought the M240. First of all, I really wanted to bring two cameras. What would I be doing in Nairobi if I had only one and for some reason it would break down? But it’s nice to be able to shoot some video too. Check my next newsletter for that. Also, sometimes there is a situation where color becomes (part of) the story. For quite some time I’ve been avoiding those moments, or maybe I just didn’t see them. By using Instagram quite often this past week, I have rediscovered color again and I’m loving it. Don’t get me wrong, black & white still has my preference, but at least I’m allowing color in again. These few photo’s were taken in Babandogo, a different slum where we also organised some of the auditions. As I still like to do some postproduction, I’ve also been introduced to “Color effex pro” which works really nice once you’ve got it down. It’s in the same software package as “Silver effex pro” made by Nik software.
So it’s been five days already. Shooting here is quite hard I found out. During the day, light outside is very hard and bright, but shadows are nearly black. I find myself shooting at 1/4000 of a second and still having to stop down to f5.6 or even f8. A lot of the project on the other hand; meetings, rehearsals and video shooting, happens indoors. Then all of a sudden everything is dark. With only one light or a tiny window lighting the place, I find myself shooting at 1/30 or even 1/15 of a second with full opened lens and ISO sometimes up to 2000 or 2500.
The hardest part is when you’re shooting from the outside in or the inside out. The difference is huge and I have to pull all strings to manage and have detail in both. Still the Monochrom is doing an amazing job. Looking at my histogram, I try to shoot with the emphasis on the right side (opposed to what I was used to with my dSLR). As I can get some details back in the dark areas, but if some area is burned out, it’ll stay white and detail is completely lost.
Because of those bizar differences between light and dark, postproduction takes a bit more as wel. Some photo’s I had to shoot with certain settings so I wouldn’t have burned out areas, while the actual subject would then appear to be completely black (for example inside the house). In lightroom I would have to boost the black parts, sometimes with even 2 stops, to get the result I wanted. Sometimes that would meen using noise reduction, but to my surprise the Monochrom did deliver every time!
It’s also good to be here with Joshua, a photographer from San Francisco, who is a huge inspiration. Watching him work and studying his work, made me look at things with a different eye again. Daring to go for unusual angles and with a different perspective, I feel that I again can take things to a next level.
But of course there are also the shots you just want to take because they are there… When you have two Kenyan bands together in this old deserted building, you just have to make a group shot… This is where the 24mm Elmar again proved itself very useful!
So I’m in Kenya now. The crowd funding worked and I have to thank some people for that… First of all Klein Haarlem, a foundation supporting young, creative entrepreneurs, for supporting and pushing me to go on this next journey. But also Aad, Marc, Mark, Ruha, Molly, Guy, Cees, Christine, Dean, Wilco, Remco, Laura, Ewoud, Lorette, Renée and of course my mother.
That being said, lets describe my first day. After a 10 hour flight arriving at 3:45 AM the first day was a day of relaxing and arranging some small stuff. Arranging a local sim card didn’t really work out and the festival we were supposed to visit was cancelled at the last minute. Unfortunately we found out by the time we got to the location.
Also the flat tire that our guide had the day before my arrival was beyond repair. Basically it was a day where everything that could go wrong…. did go wrong. But, for some reason we had fun, the atmosphere was relaxed and we ended up having a wonderful day.
Today was somewhat different. After breakfast, we started with a special visit. Eric Wainaina, one of Kenya’s most famous musicians. We met him at his house and after talking with him he committed to helping Peacetones out with some of the workshops they’re planning in the shantytowns.
In the afternoon we picked up some small video cameras, that were sponsored by a Kenyan security company. Peacetones will donate these to the people joining the musical workshops and tomorrow, Joshua (an American photographer who’s also with us) and I will give a workshop on how to use it. Looking forward to it.
In the afternoon we witnessed a rehearsal of some musicians in Babandogo, one of the shantytowns. During this trip, Transcontinenta was kind enough to provide me a 24 mm Elmar (f3.8), I couldn’t have been more happy that it was in my bag as the room was small end completely filled with people. Even though you’re supposed to use an external viewfinder for this wide angle (which I didn’t bring) it worked like a charm.
After the rehearsal, right during the “golden hour” we walked back through the streets of Babandogo. This is what I love most…. wondering and wandering, talking to the people you meet and taking some great shots.
Next month I’ll be leaving for Nairobi to help out with this beautiful project, initiated by Peacetones.
This trip will also be part of my research for a new business model in which I’ll be able to work “non profit” more often. Giving foundations, institutions and young creative/social entrepreneurs some nice photographic material to help them make this world just a little bit better.
For this I’m asking for your help if you can and if you want. Check out how you can help me here.
Thanks a lot, I’ll keep you all posted!!