Best of Uganda

After Kenya, I headed to Uganda to spend a few days working at the CURE hospital in Mbale (eastern Uganda) before taking a few days off and going on a trek to see some of the last mountain gorillas in the world located in the tri-country area between Uganda, Rwanda, and the DR Congo.

So freakin’ expensive, but no regrets!

As usual here are the comparisons between the photos I loved from this trip and the photos you collectively loved via instagram:

Instagram Hivemind Top 3           My Top 3

#1

#2

#3

More Best Ofs:

Best of Kenya

I had the chance to go back to Kenya at the end of March along with a group from Christian radio station WAY-FM. They’ll be doing an on air fundraiser for CURE so this trip was to give them a feel for what CURE does by seeing it first hand. The vast majority of the time was obviously spent at the hospital, but we had some home visits and then a little fun time at the Nairobi National Park and the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi!

Instagram Hivemind Top 3           My Top 3

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#2

#3

More Best Ofs:

The Best of Scotland

Now that I’m reasonably settled, I’m once again able to sort through my experiences, process, and compare my favourite photos to what you, the internet, have told me my best photos are via fake instagram points.

So here I present the Scotland version:

Instagram Hivemind Top 3           My Top 3

#1

#2

#3

Some notes:

The daytime shot of the Old Man of Storr (Instagram Hivemind #1 and My #3) is the closest I’ve ever come to going viral with well over 1000 fake internet points. Don’t worry, I’m not letting it go to my head, but I wish I understood how these things work. It is a good photograph, but I by no means think it’s the best I’ve ever taken …

Both Instagram Hivemind #2 and My #2 are the same because who doesn’t love the beautiful hairiness that are highland cows, but as Steve Carter pointed out via @insta_repeat, I’m by no means original with this shot.

I still love it though.

You can’t tell me what to do.

In case you’re super bored, you can visit my other “best of” posts here:

Everything is a lie. Trust nothing. Pt. II.

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A while back I posted this image on my instagram and it is my second installment in Everything is a lie. Trust nothing.

Back in November, I had a twenty hour layover in Iceland and while I’ve been to Iceland twice before, this was my first time outside of the summer months and their 24 hours of daylight every day. Having never experienced night in Iceland and having heard so much about the northern lights, I had no choice but to give finding them a shot. I also decided to search for them over the mountain and waterfall combo of Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellfoss. Somehow, in both of my previous trips to this stunning island, I had not managed to see this wonder and it was high time.

I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t see the northern lights at all as I’ve heard stories of people who have spent weeks in Iceland and never seen the lights due to unfortunate combinations of lulls in solar activity and persistent cloud cover. I figured if I didn’t manage to see the lights, at least I would get to see a landscape I had long been dreaming of.

Joke’s on me because I got to see the sights AND the lights!

I detailed more of the adventure in this instagram post, but the spark notes are that I set up my camera and spent a lot of the night in the same spot shooting. As such, I managed to capture a lot of pretty rad, different highlights throughout the night which I then combined into the above photo which brings us back to why this photo is a lie.

This is the original image.

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I shot this frame as a couple was walking from the carpark (off to the right) to the waterfall, using their headlamps to pick their way up the wet and slippy path. I love the floating highlight their headlamps made as well as the squiggly nature of the lights in the sky at that exact moment.

At some other point during the night, a car had driven past the base of the mountain giving me another nice highlight which I felt added some depth to the image. You can see the extracted highlight on the left and the combined image on the right.

When the couple reached the top of the waterfall, they paused for a brief second, adding yet another highlight for me to make use of.

So there you have it. From A to B.

Everything in the image did indeed happen, but none of it at the same time.

Everything is a lie. Trust nothing.

Everything is a lie. Trust nothing.

I recently spent a week on the Isle of Skye in northwest Scotland (expect a Best of Scotland post similar to my Best of Norway and Best of Morocco posts soon) where I captured this photo that I’m quite proud of.

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I’ve titled it Goodnight, Old Man because it’s of the Old Man of Storr and it’s a nighttime shot.

I’m hysterical. I know.

Thing is though, it’s a lie.

It’s actually a composite photo – two photos combined into one.

We had hiked up to the Old Man of Storr while it was still light out and waited for the sun to set. This was a dumb idea. Turns out, it’s incredible windy up there and it’s a mite cold just standing around waiting for the sun to disappear which, in turn, only makes it colder. Also, in November, the sun sets very very slowly.

But we made it.

The sun did indeed set.

And then I captured this photo.

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Which isn’t a bad photo (check out that full moon), but it is super silhouettey which I’m not a huge fan of. I would’ve loved to have some more detail in the shot.

Thankfully, a few minutes before the above shot was taken, I had captured the below, zoomed-in shot of my friend checking out the protruding rock out before he climbed it.

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It just needed a little rescaling and a feathered eraser tool.

And then some layering.

And we have a beautiful lie to sell to you.

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In retrospect, this shot could’ve been easily captured in one photo by setting up another headlamp at the base of the rock as my friend made the climb with his, but it was cold and I was tired (aka I’m lazy) so I did this instead.

Never trust me again.

Best of Norway

As it’s easier than writing an actually thoughtful blog post while still allowing me to tell cute girls I’m a “writer,” I’m once again presenting my favourite three photos vs the instagram hivemind’s favourite three photos. This time from a brief trip to Norway where I was to meet my family.

Interestingly enough, they’re almost all the same images between Instagram’s favourites and my favourites, just in a slightly different order.

Click on any one for a closer view.

Instagram Hivemind Top 3 | My Top 3

#1

#2

#3

Honourable Mention

 

I believe the takeaway here is not that I’m becoming a better photographer, but that I’m losing all individuality and uniqueness where the way I see the world is being influenced and dictated by internet strangers.

Tobay Tobay (Rabbit Rabbit)

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During Ramadan, these young boys, painted white with long, cotton beards, started to show up around Niamey, the capital city of Niger. Normally at intersections, they approach cars, shaking water bottles filled with rocks, singing, and, sometimes, dancing.

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It took quite a bit of digging, but it’s a Nigerien tradition called “Tobay Tobay”, or “Rabbit Rabbit” in English, with similar variations happening throughout West Africa and parts of the Muslim world although going under many different names (Quranchasho in Oman, Hag Al Laila in the UAE, Gergaoun in Kuwait and Bahrain). In the Nigerien tradition, the children dress up like rabbits (paint their bodies white, sometimes with a beard, and always a tail made of either a t-shirt or a leafy branch sticking out the back of their shorts). They go from house to house singing and dancing in an attempt to earn change, sweets, and sugar cubes. The simple song goes:

“Rabbit, Rabbit. Give me some sugar.”

With many Nigeriens moving into more urban settings, some children have adapted the tradition to include performing on street corners and at traffic lights.

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As mentioned, there are traditions similar to Tobay Tobay in other Muslim countries around the world and Tobay Tobay most likely shares similar roots, but the animistic heritage of the Sahel has added it’s own unique element in the personification of local animals. No other celebration singularly encourages it’s participants to dress up as animals and none have as deep a connection to rabbits as Tobay Tobay.

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Rumours swirl of some children dressing up as lions or other animals, but it only appears that rabbits emerge on the streets of Niamey. When one child was asked them “Why rabbits?”, he responded, “In the days of our grandfathers, they dressed as rabbits. Our fathers then dressed as rabbits. And now, we dress as rabbits.” Another one simply stated, “We dress as rabbits because that’s how you get the sugar.”

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In the end, the origins of Tobay Tobay are obscured in the memory of most participants, but stories are told of the ancient Nigeriens, here when Islam first arrived in this part of the world. It’s said they struggled to fast during the month of Ramadan. They were tired, hot, hungry, and thirsty due to the demands of fasting in an already inhospitable part of the world. Tobay Tobay is told to have been developed as a way to bring some joy and laughing, through song and dance, back to their lives during this new Islamic festival.

Best of Morocco

Lately I’ve been fascinated by what other people like in my photos vs what I like. So as my trip to Morocco has come to an end, I thought I’d present my top three photos from the trip as ranked by the Instagram hivemind and by myself.

Instagram Hivemind Top 3                                 My Top 3

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#2

#3