"My aim is to capture the beauty of the moment of any situation."
June 7, 2012 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Kindly enjoy these and look at your world differently. We live in a beautiful country people. Enjoy that.
Mutua Matheka is a Kenyan photographer out to change perceptions of Nairobi and Kenya, for Kenyans and foreigners alike. (via)
posted by ChuraChura (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
His selection of his and other users' Instagram photos is also nice. [Now following]
posted by romanb at 7:07 AM on June 7, 2012


Beautiful framing, but the reliance on HDR and post-processing in the urban photos leaves me cold. The landscapes are stunning, though, and let the environment do the heavy lifting for the most part.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 7:36 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah. I'm pretty done with HDR. There is a fine line between technique that extends the media in a new direction and tired cliche.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:59 AM on June 7, 2012


Usually I'd agree with you two, but I find his composition compelling all on its own. Given that these aren't relying on HDR and supersaturation to be good photos, I can accept and appreciate his processing choices as an artistic statement, not a shortcut to "ooh! purty!".
posted by IAmBroom at 8:20 AM on June 7, 2012


Sweet. I actually don't care for most of the photography, but the site layout is really nice.

Also, while "We live in a beautiful country people." might be truly said of tapeworms, this sentence needs a vocative comma to make it mean what it clearly does mean.

*runs away*
posted by resurrexit at 8:32 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Daily Struggle on tumblr is another Kenyan photographer, Louis Majanja. I enjoy following his photos...
posted by infini at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2012


Gack. Nairobi does not look like that. Death to HDR.
posted by rodii at 8:39 AM on June 7, 2012


(I wonder how much of the treatment to photos is due to the challenge of the sunshine, the shadows and the light here in Nairobi. I use a point and shoot for documentation, not fine art, and there are times when what I see, what the camera sees and what the final shot is like is so vastly different that my ignoramus has no way to clear it up for a project report)
posted by infini at 8:40 AM on June 7, 2012


Well, now i know there are people who love gaudy HDR in Kenya.
Given that these aren't relying on HDR and supersaturation to be good photos
Maybe they would be good photos without the HDR. But with HDR they are not.

In theory it's possible for people to do "good" HDR that doesn't look like crap but it's very rare.
I wonder how much of the treatment to photos is due to the challenge of the sunshine, the shadows and the light here in Nairobi.
No, it's a thing. That people do. that is terrible.

Obviously some people like those shots. And some of them might be OK but the problem is there's so much crap HDR out there that the whole over-saturated HDR "look" just automatically makes me think of it as crap.
posted by delmoi at 9:00 AM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know much about photography, but having lived in Nairobi about half a decade now, I was blown away by that first picture in the first link because I honestly didn't think the CBD could ever look that clean and crisp. So I guess I'm left wondering just how much post-processing went into it, and speculating a lot.

I like the train car photo the most, but I also agree that Nairobi doesn't really look like how he's painting it.

Also, given the rains lately, he either found the clearest day in a hundred+, or these were taken quite a while back.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:01 AM on June 7, 2012


I wonder how much of the treatment to photos is due to the challenge of the sunshine, the shadows and the light here in Nairobi.

No, it's a thing. That people do. that is terrible.


But doesn't the photographer running the Daily Struggle tumblr I linked to earlier also "do things" to his photos?
posted by infini at 9:22 AM on June 7, 2012


I thought the pictures were interesting, some of them are beautiful, and I like his motives.

I don’t think it’s a great idea to come in and just bitch about the process here. I’m not going to come into every music post and tell you how your favorite band recorded everything crappy and wrong. Either you like it or you don’t. Besides, it’s not like it’s that stupid "make everything look 70’s" filter.
posted by bongo_x at 10:19 AM on June 7, 2012


Besides, it’s not like it’s that stupid "make everything look 70’s" filter.

No, in a decade, it'll be called the "make everything look 2000s" filter.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 11:03 AM on June 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


But doesn't the photographer running the Daily Struggle tumblr I linked to earlier also "do things" to his photos?

No expert by any means - but looks like a mixture of filters and some serious sharpening (giving the figures that "cut out" look). Near every photo you see anywhere has "things" done to them nowadays - but the HDR (High Dynamic Range) and heavy saturation look was massive a couple of years ago - guess it just feels a little old hat.

On the other hand - 'shopped your link may be - but at least it's the Nairobi I live in. The main links just aren't NBI at all - they don't capture the feel of the city - in fact, I'd say they try and hide the city as it really is.

I don’t think it’s a great idea to come in and just bitch about the process here. I’m not going to come into every music post and tell you how your favorite band recorded everything crappy and wrong. Either you like it or you don’t.

Which is what we are discussing, no? Whether we like it or not - and, more interestingly, why we like it or not? This isn't Flickr - it's not all thumbs up and group hugs.
posted by Hobo at 11:55 AM on June 7, 2012


I think it's interesting that several comments have been "This isn't the Nairobi I know." I think Mutua Matheka addresses that in the Daily Nation interview:
All it took for Matheka was a visit atop Nairobi’s landmark, the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where he saw a different side of Nairobi that he wanted to capture for himself... He decided that those were the pictures he would take of the city, and not traffic or other things that make it a nightmare.
It seems to me that he's taking pictures of a Nairobi people don't see ... specifically because he wants to show a side of Nairobi nobody ever sees.

He also has something to say about photoshop and filtures:
“Make up cannot make an ugly person beautiful. A bad picture won’t become a masterpiece because of Photoshop. It only helps accentuate the picture,” he says.
I know nothing about photography, so I can't comment on how true that is ... but it's interesting.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:39 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is what we are discussing, no? Whether we like it or not - and, more interestingly, why we like it or not? This isn't Flickr - it's not all thumbs up and group hugs.

I get that, but to me all the armchair film and photo process and technique critic that goes on here would be comparable to you posting something about a song you love and me saying "it sucks, there’s too much reverb and the bass sounds phasey". That’s just not what you’re interested in about the song.

This is part of my being fed up with discussion in general these days being all "behind the scenes" and never about the subject. I am overly sensitive to it and apologize if I’m going to far.
posted by bongo_x at 1:48 PM on June 7, 2012


ChuraChura: "“Make up cannot make an ugly person beautiful. A bad picture won’t become a masterpiece because of Photoshop. It only helps accentuate the picture,” he says."

It's a pleasant epigram, but incorrect. It is in fact the exact reason that makeup exists - to make a person seem more desirable than they do without the makeup.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2012


Not taking a photo of the traffic in Nairobi is like not taking a photo of a canal in Venice. There is something not right about that kind of presentation.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:11 PM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get that, but to me all the armchair film and photo process and technique critic that goes on here would be comparable to you posting something about a song you love and me saying "it sucks, there’s too much reverb and the bass sounds phasey". That’s just not what you’re interested in about the song.

I get what you're saying entirely.

On the other hand, there's any number of albums that I like the music - but hate the production. I'd genuinely appreciate the insight from someone who could tell me why that is.

In this case, I'd liken it to my dislike of autotuning, it's over processed and doesn't let you see/hear the artist at work.
posted by Hobo at 5:28 AM on June 8, 2012


In this case, I'd liken it to my dislike of autotuning, it's over processed and doesn't let you see/hear the artist at work.

That’s a good comparison, because these days a majority of singers are tuned, even the ones you’re sure aren’t. Sometimes it's done well and sometimes not. It’s not the process that people hate, it’s the way the process is sometimes done that they don’t like; either purposely for an effect, overdone out of necessity because the singer is so out of tune, or poor technique on the part of the person doing the tuning. Not knowing the difference most people will just say "I don’t like AutoTuning". This falls under the "I can always spot fake boobs" fallacy.
posted by bongo_x at 10:28 AM on June 8, 2012


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