A throwback 2015: New Beginnings

Today we’re taking it back, waay back…so get your bell bottoms and block heel shoes…okay, not that far back. Just a year ago. I was going through some of my (forgotten) images the other day and this brought back a flood of memories. Grab a drink and come along on this time travel with me.

So I was going over photos on my lesser used memory card, and realised that I had not looked at so many of them since the day they were taken. A crime lots of us photographers are guilty of. Sunday afternoons are my chill out time where I prefer to watch an engaging series/ some photography tutorials. On this day however, it wasn’t possible so I opted to do something else.

Bird bathing.
A little privacy please?

August 2015 began on a particularly low note for me, and looking at these photos reminded me just how hard that time was. A career opportunity I was very excited about came to an unexpected end- and my hopes crashed. I had no plan B. Things were looking up and just as I was getting the hang of that work, the door closed. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. So much was the stress that I suffered a 3 day tummy ache that wouldn’t go away with medicine.

Yet here was my brother about to enter a new exciting phase of life: joining university. Pres. Obama had just visited Kenya and everyone was still ecstatic. In contrast: I had worked hard. I did what I knew and even what I didn’t (after asking others to help). Things weren’t perfect but I strived to give my best in every task. I showed up even when I didn’t feel like it. And yet after all that I felt like I’d worked so hard and there was nothing to celebrate. My best efforts hadn’t mattered. Life was unfair.

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?

Thank God I had photography. Looking back I don’t regret following my dream because, seriously I might have cracked under pressure. Shooting and trying out new things gave me a release. By God’s grace I had managed to save some money from the job, and with this I bought a 75-300mm lens. I had wanted one for quite a long time. This presented a new beginning for me.

A bird looking inquisitively from perch.
A bird looking inquisitively…I was yet to figure out lighting settings.

I could now shoot birds better at a distance, without disturbing them. However, most of the photos came out as silhouettes which was a bit frustrating. You would think this was a bit obvious since I was shooting against the sky as the background but no…I hadn’t grasped the principle yet.

Silhouette bird on tree.
One of the first bird shots I took with the long lens.

Soon I realised that waiting till birds were closer to the ground would solve the problem. Or shooting them against a background of foliage (plant material). I was pleased by the improved results but knew I still had a long way to go. Instagram helps me look at others’ work and keeps me challenged. As you may have read in my previous posts here and here, my home is a treasure trove of birds so thankfully they weren’t hard to find.

Juvenile flycatcher on the ground.
Juvenile flycatcher outside my window. I was yet to figure out focus settings.
Birds in bird bath.
With time I managed to capture some bird bath action.

Monkeys also proved interesting subjects for testing out my new piece of equipment. With this lens I was able to make my subjects fill a larger part of the frame-and I was totally loving it. Various compositions were now so much easier. I could stalk on animals with a higher rate of success.

Monkey looking down from tree.
Hey! My stalking was discovered.

Here is the 3- limbed monkey I talked about in the previous post. I think he could feel my pain, but also had a glimmer of hope in his eyes as he looked for help from above.

Sad male Vervet monkey.
Animals have feelings too.

I had also been itchiiiing to join the Mavuno Downtown (MDT) team to shoot their services. Covering a church service is a whole different ball game. You need to capture people in candid (unposed) moments so you have to be a good stalker, and for the same reason using flash is discouraged. For those familiar with MDT, the darkness in there is a force to be reckoned with. (Hahaa!)  Since my lens could only open up to f3.5-5.6, it was a struggle shooting there to say the least. But the lessons from that were invaluable.

Dark auditorium interior.
Can someone say ‘darkness’!
Dark auditorium interior.
Stalking from the balcony. And that darkness is epic.

Photography has been a solace to me over the past one year. I may not feel like doing anything sometimes but when I pick up the camera, it gets better. Whether deliberately looking for subjects or shooting at random, the results are usually pleasant. It reassures me that I’m at least doing something right.

Bird stretching in tree.
A little neck stretch?
Weaver bird bathing.

I’m in another time of uncertainty at the moment. But looking back, I see there’s always good in every situation for those who trust in God. He makes all things work out somehow. In this I have hope. As one of my favourite photographers said, “What you’re doing now (your passion) may not make sense. But keep doing it, and one day it will all make sense”. And those who dismissed/discouraged you will be telling everyone how they know you. If you’re going through a tough time right now, just remember it’s a season that will pass. This too shall pass.

Bee on flower.
Even in dark times there’s something beautiful.

Thanks for reading.



6 thoughts on “A throwback 2015: New Beginnings

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