Book Review: Capturing Nigeria’s Cultural Heritage Through the Lens

A critique of Mulikat Onipede Lawal Framing Our Heritage: Preserving Culture Through the Art of Digital Photography by Folorunsho Moshood.

Photography, the process of capturing light with a device called a camera and creating an image, is a means of creative expression and a tool for building skills, creating jobs and wealth around the world. The word photography is derived from two Greek words “photos” (light) and “graphos” (writing), which literally means “to draw with light” and essentially an important tool for documenting and verifying what has been done and realized.

The book, “Framing Our Heritage: Preserving Culture Through the Art of Digital Photography“, lucidly written by Mulikat Onipede Lawal and published in 2021 by OAK Initiative, is a practical guide to building digital photography skills that provides advice essential for cultural preservation through the image. materials. To make sure the user is focused, Mulikat asks a few questions as “catch-ups” at the end of some difficult chapters.

The 81-page book, which is divided into seven separate but interconnected chapters, has a preface and an introduction as a prelude to what the reader should expect from the book. The preface highlights the impact of photography as storytelling material, among other things, while the introduction presents the author’s journey in the field of photography, “It all started towards the end of my second year at the University in 2004. I was a Geology student in the Faculty of Science of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I was planning my first official field trip. This is one of the main requirements for a BSc. in Geology. The tour master gave me a list of things and equipment needed for the field trip and it contained tools like a compass, geo hammers, geo maps, camp tents and bedding, field shoes and sun hats, food, water and another important tool, a camera!’.

The first chapter is sub-divided into three parts, “Photography as a Tool for Promoting Culture”, “Capturing Culture and Traditions” and “Western Nigerian Culture – Dressing”. In “Photography as a tool for promoting culture”, Mulikat emphasizes the importance of photography not only as a tool for promoting global culture, but also as an instrument to connect people , without distinction of tribe, race and color. And as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, Mulikat believes that photography has contributed immensely to the learning process by documenting events and preserving history in a way that writing stories, oral tradition and archeology will never do. In Capturing Culture and Traditions, the author warns that taking random photos will not tell people’s true stories. This should be done thoroughly by reading about the history of a place, the festivals celebrated there, local celebrations and cultural events before taking photos. This, according to the author, will prepare the visual artist to respect the culture and tradition of the people.

Chapter two is divided into two parts, “Camera: what is a camera?” and “Top 10 Parts of a Camera or DSLR”. The camera, according to Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French humanist photographer, is an admirable instrument for capturing life as it presents itself. It is also a tool for cultural preservation. Culture goes beyond life; it includes the whole way of life of a people. The camera could come in various forms by a modern interpretation, including cell phone cameras, digital cameras, and traditional analog cameras.

Chapter Three is divided into four parts, ‘Understanding How the Camera Works’, ‘How the Camera Works’, ‘Zoom Lenses and Primary Lenses’ and ‘Caring for Your Lens’. To understand how the camera works, the author categorizes the camera into two: single-lens digital cameras (DSLR) and compact cameras. A professional photographer, according to the author, will primarily work with DSLR cameras, although the two have similar modes of operation. The second part of this chapter discusses the camera operation mode that starts when a user presses the shutter button to take a photo. The author explains that when the shutter button is pressed, the camera shutter opens, letting in light through the lens. This light passes through the aperture aperture and is then captured by the camera’s image sensor. This sensor converts it into an electronic signal and then sends it to the memory card. It can now be previewed as an image on the LCD screen or downloaded to a computer.

The author uses chapter four to display his great knowledge about the camera aperture, which is the aperture of the camera lens where light enters the camera.

Chapter six covers the ISO sensitivity value, how to set the camera’s ISO sensitivity, steps to select automatic sensitivity control, and maximum sensitivity versus minimum shutter speed. The last chapter presents the user control buttons and their functions in table form.

Painting, drawing and photography are the three basic forms of photographic media known to mankind. Historically, painting and drawing existed long before the invention of photography in 1826 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. As in the words of world renowned photographer, Ron Bailey, “No medium can reach the heart of things – or the human heart itself – with as much immediacy and power as photography”, Mulikat Onipede Lawal not only showed why photography is the most popular medium, but also brought out the simplicity of the complex process of photography. In no time after venturing into the world of photography and with this book, she established herself among top Nigerian photographic icons such as Sunmi Smart-Cole, Uche James-Iroha and Andrew Esiebo to name but a few. only a few. This immense wealth of photography tutorials is highly recommended for professional and amateur photographers as well as photography enthusiasts.

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