A summary of the conditions at the Equator

Kenya sits on the equator, creating an interesting atmosphere on the horizon both at sunrise and sunset. Somehow the sun seems larger and redder, creating the illusion of a very large ball of glowing red.  If you can place this huge ball of fire behind an interesting subject, you have the recipe for an amazing sunrise or sunset photo.

But the recipe is complicated by the preparation requirements of a few key ingredients. One of those is time. At the equator you have the quickest sunrises and likewise the quickest sunsets. There are other challenges too. The best way to illustrate these is to describe a “typical” landscape photography outing and a “game drive” landscape photo opportunity. 

For a “Typical” Landscape Photography Outing , I might:

  • Research the iconic location ahead of time and obtain ideas on composition
  • Look at maps to see location, terrain and accessibility
  • Use PhotoPills to determine the exact location, angle and time of sunrise and /or sunset
  • Arrive at least 40-60 minutes early at the scene, walk around to determine the ideal spot for my composition, setup my tripod and await the sunrise/sunset
  • Adjust location / composition as sun comes up or sets

For Landscape Photography in Kenya (while on a game drive), I did the following:

Skip all “typical” steps noted above

  • Determine where the sun is coming by looking for a rose colored glow in the sky. You now have <10 minutes before sunrise to find a subject
  • Frantically search for a subject – This means coaching the driver to exceed a normal speed over very rough terrain as you scan the horizon for something suitable such as a tree or animal.
  • Try to align the rose glow behind the newly found subject given limitations that you can’t leave the vehicle and the vehicle can’t leave the road. This involves detail instructions “on the fly” to the driver whose Swahili is better than his English.  
  • Adjust my composition by moving around in the vehicle –  bumping and tripping over my fellow photographers and their gear

Tree full of birds (Vultures?) on the horizon. (Sometime you take what you can get.)

Tree over Rhinoceros graveyard in Sweetwater Conservancy

This Topi made an excellent model and we didn’t have to tip him. For 10 minutes he held still only turning his head to admire the sunrise.

The sun highlights the weaver’s nests in the tree

I love how the tree is silhouetted against both the sky and the purple mountain.

Each stage of the sun rising behind this tree and through the clouds created a whole new composition.

Perhaps my favorite composition as the clouds moved over the sun to add more interest, and I love the shades of purple towards the horizon.

Although we weren’t able to locate an “ideal” subject every time, our new recipe was not a complete disaster. I enjoyed the challenge and even ended up with a few amazing images, don’t you think?