Corn/Maize; the life of an important produce: Photographic excursion

Corn, some people call it maize, is an important farm produce that is not only used for food but also a source for a variety of other very important items. These items include processed foods such as cereals, popcorn, oil for frying, and starch. In some countries, it is part of the energy that drives the nation in fuel (ethanol) additive to gasoline. It also finds its way into animal feeds, liquor such as whiskey, high fructose corn syrup used in processed foods, soft drinks and medicines, and in bioplastic, glue etc. Corn is also present in cosmetics, soap, paper, chewing gum, crayon and other industrial products.

No wonder it is grown in large quantities all over the world.

This project is a photographic excursion into how corn or maize is produced from preparing the soil to the young plant and the immature corn that serves as food, the mature dry corn used for industrial purposes and what happens to the field after the harvest.

I have tried to showcase the various components of the plant from the young to the old, the stalk, leaves to the tassel, the corn ears, corn husk and silk to the kernel and the cob, and the post-harvest stumps and stalks. I have incorporated the living and storage spaces as well; without them growing corn in large quantity would be a futile effort.

Above all, I have tried to document the pleasantness I feel visiting, driving by and taking in the ambience of these farms. The cycle of life; starting from nothing to the green rolling fields, the brown fields and the final take down at the harvest with residual rubbish.

Watching sunset with the intense colors of the sky over the corn fields gives me a feeling like no other! There could be pleasure in mundane things?

So, enjoy. Let the images speak!

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Omaha Nebraska

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge links two cities, Omaha Nebraska and Council Bluffs Iowa, in two states Nebraska and Iowa in the United States. It is a 3000ft long S shaped cable stayed or suspension foot bridge over the Missouri river from the Omaha Nebraska riverfront to Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Plaza in Council Bluffs Iowa. 

This post can also be seen at https://www.behance.net/gallery/82333769/Bob-Kerrey-Pedestrian-Bridge-Omaha-Nebraska

Street Foods in Lagos Nigeria West Africa

Street foods are popular in most cosmopolitan metropolis. Lagos, the commercial nerve center of Nigeria West Africa, is no exception. Unlike food trucks that exist on the streets of New York City, the roadside food vendors in Lagos operate from makeshift facilities ranging from an open charcoal grill on a small bench or table or a wheelbarrow full of fruits and vegetables to umbrella facilities tucked either directly on the street or on a sidewalk with sizzling grilled meats, vegetables or pastries sending their aroma all over the place.

Most often, these makeshift facilities obstruct not only pedestrian traffic but also vehicular traffic and contribute to some of the notorious traffic problems of Lagos. Street trading is very popular in Lagos. It is said that you could actually buy ‘anything’ you want in traffic or on the streets in Lagos.

These foods however fill a niche in the sense that street foods are cheaper than restaurant foods. They are fast, available on the go, and often affordable. You can make a choice of the size or portion of the food that you want. Restaurants are usually far away from most road traffic or offices and could be time consuming to order and sit down for a prepared meal. Street foods are usually on ‘the go’ and consumed as you walk away or in the car ensnared in traffic!

There is hygiene issue with these foods. They may be covered but most are open to the elements allowing dust, splashed mud and water particularly during the rains, flies and insects to settle on the foods. People touch them to find what they need thereby transferring germs from their hands to the food. Vendors tend to use their bare hands to receive the cash and handle the food simultaneously which forms a real potential for germ transfer. The surroundings are usually dirty.

It is a brisk business and some of the vendors swear about their ‘substantial’ income from these businesses. There is very little or no overhead. They generally transfer their makeshift facilities back to their homes or a nearby storage at the end of the day only to bring them back the following day. Some hawk their wares on their heads and go from store to store to ply their foods. They may carry a small stool allowing them some comfort as they move from station to station. I understand that there is some harassment by local law enforcement and health officials.

Foods sold this way include but not limited to fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, Agbalumo (African star apples), bananas, Ube (African or bush pear), Kola Nuts, bitter kola etc, fried foods such as Akara and Dodo, pastries or dessert foods such as the famous ‘puff puff’, donuts or doughnuts, meat and fish pies, fish, eja kika, shawarma, hotdogs or sausages, grilled foods on local grills such as chicken, Bole or roasted plantains, roasted corn or maize, yam, sweet potatoes, Ube (African or bush pear), suya (grilled meat on stick or kebab), fully cooked rice and beans with stew and Ewa Agoyin or local brown beans with stew. These foods are nutritious with careful selections but be suspicious of the hygiene!   

I have chosen to present a few of these street foods so that you can have an idea of what goes on, on the streets of Lagos.

Each of these foods are appropriately labeled on my dreamstime site https://www.dreamstime.com/mfomojola_info under street foods lagos. Enjoy!   

Five Cowries Creek Lagos Nigeria

 The Five Cowries Creek (FCC) is a sliver of water, perhaps can be described as a distributary of the Lagos lagoon which separates Lagos Island and Ikoyi from Victoria Island (VI) along the South Western Coast of Nigeria, West Africa.

FCC joins the Lagos lagoon in the west along the Lagos Marina and in the East around Lekki Phase 1 Estates in Lekki peninsula with VI to the South abutting the Atlantic Ocean. There are three bridges on the FCC; the link bridges from Lagos Marina and third Mainland Bridge to Ahmadu Bello Way VI, Falomo Bridge from Alfred Rewane Road Ikoyi to Akin Adesola Street in VI and the Lekki Ikoyi link bridge connecting Alexander Road Ikoyi to Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase 1. It is about 10 km long.

Major commercial streets abut the creek on both Ikoyi end and VI end. On the Ikoyi side of the creek are Awolowo Road, Falomo roundabout, Bourdillon Road and Alexander Road with the smaller Queens and Oyinkan Abayomi drives. On the VI side are Ahmadu Bello way, Walter Carrington Crescent, Ozumba Mbadiwe and Maroko Roads, Lekki-Epe expressway extending to Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase 1.

Major clubs, entertainment outfits, restaurants, hotels, churches and commercial and financial establishments are present along these roads. Smaller residential streets are also present. Boats of various sizes are plentiful on this creek and add to the attractions. A major ferry terminal, Five Cowries Terminal, is on the Ikoyi side adjacent to Falomo Bridge. Lagos motor boat club is on Awolowo way. The boat waves on the creek could be very fascinating. These roads and the creek are a beehive of activities at night and a sight to behold when the full power of night light is unleashed.

I have spent some time photographing the major attractions on this creek both during the day, at the blue hour and at night. These streets are more beautiful at night hence the emphasis in this photo blog is on the night along the FCC!

Photos featured here include those of the Marina Ahmadu Bello way link bridge, the Westwood hotel, Lagos Motor Boat Club, Walter Carrington drive, Wings Office Complex Oando PLC headquarters, lagoon restaurant, Radisson Blue hotel, Five Cowries Terminal, the Civic Center, Civic center Towers, Nigeria Law School Lagos, Caverton heliport, 1004 flats, Falomo bridge, Ikoyi Lekki suspension bridge, the Oriental Hotel with lots of other hotels and banking facilities on Maroko and Ozumba roads.

Feed your eyes and enjoy the photos.

My Expanding Butterfly World

Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy my passion for butterflies. I had to revisit one of my old gardens, the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale Arizona AZ. I also visited, for the first time, the Butterfly World, Coconut Creek Florida FL. Both facilities are in the Southern United States US; one in the Arid hot Arizona AZ desert and the other in the semi tropical Florida FL.

The Coconut Creek facility happens to be different from many other butterfly facilities I had visited. It has a mesh wire enclosure both on the sides and in the roof thus allowing natural ventilation and open to direct sunshine and rain. The facilities I had visited previously had been glass or Perspex enclosure and air-conditioned. One of them, in particular, was so humid that it took my camera about fifteen minutes to acclimatize to allow the fog on the lens and the LCD to clear before I could begin to use my camera.

The Coconut Creek Florida FL Butterfly World was airy and naturally well ventilated. It is the largest facility that I have visited; it actually says in the official guide that it is the largest butterfly park in the world! Apart from the butterfly section, there are several aviaries that hold a variety of birds, a number of large gardens for flowers with a variety of Passiflora and many more species of flowers including roses. There is a lake with a walk-on “Tinalandia Suspension Bridge”, a plant nursery and shop, a gift shop and a cafe. There are several other facilities for research and farming of butterflies and plants. I did not have time to visit the museum.

I have included in this blog some of the butterflies and plants that I photographed in these two facilities for your pleasure and enjoyment. I have not attempted to identify them by name in this blog. Some of these are also on my Dreamstime site https://www.dreamstime.com/mfomojola_info where they are well described. You could even buy high resolution images of some of these beautiful ‘things’ on my Dreamstime site.

(https://www.dreamstime.com/mfomojola_info where other photographs can be purchased; most of the photos on this website and more are also available for purchase at this site).

Feed your eyes and have fun.

If there are some specific things or ones you need, please don’t hesitate to contact me at octavephotographers@gmail.com or through the contact site of this website.

The Roads to Yamoussoukro

The thought of going to Yamoussoukro had been on my mind for the past few years. I had learned about the Basilica in Yamoussoukro: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Basilique Notre Dame de la Paix). Yamoussoukro is in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), West Africa and NOT in Japan as one of my friends suggested when I mentioned it to him. It is actually the capital of Ivory Coast, a French speaking West African country.

This Basilica is said to be the largest church in the world! It was built by Felix Houphouet Boigny, the first president of Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II. It was supposedly controversial and perhaps unusual considering its cost, the motivation for building it and its location! I really wanted to see it.

It has variously been compared to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I had spent a few days some years back exploring St. Peter’s. You can read about my experience of St. Peter’s at (https://www.octavephotographers.com/blog/2017/3/11/looking-up-at-the-vatican-mesmerized)

There were several reasons why I had failed to make the trip in the past. These included the ongoing political instability in the country and the fact that I did not and still don’t speak French. There was no airport in Yamoussoukro. You had to travel by road from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro; a distance of about 240 km.

When I finally made up my mind to do the trip this time, those fears were still there. The urge however was such that I could not resist! I had to go. LESSON 1, whatever you want to do, do it in your own good time as long as it is not a matter of life and death. As the saying goes ‘whenever you wake up is your own good morning!’

I wanted to be there during one of the Catholic festivals so as to have some spiritual feel to the visit. Easter was the choice! I started by making a hotel reservation on-line at the President Hotel in Yamoussoukro. Then I made a flight reservation into Abidjan. There were several airlines flying to Abidjan. I planned to arrange local transportation when I got there.

Abidjan airport was small but very efficient and clean. I was impressed with the Immigration and Custom services. They were orderly, polite and professional. The information kiosk at the airport was very helpful with local hotel and transportation arrangement. I was really grateful to the information kiosk staff for their help.

I made transportation arrangement at the hotel for my trip to Yamoussoukro for the following morning. The taxi driver (who spoke English) was a no-show in the morning but had arranged for a French speaking driver to take his place! One big mistake I made was not to confirm the taxi fare with the new driver before we left Abidjan. That was a really big mistake which I paid dearly for once we got to Yamoussoukro. LESSON 2, always confirm prior arrangement with new drivers!

Bus transportation was suggested but would not give me the flexibility to do photography of the country side. The trip took over 3 hours on a fantastic smooth dual carriage way.  I was impressed by the agriculturally scenic road; huge farms mainly rubber plantations, plantain/banana plantations, Gmelina tree plantations etc.

I arrived the President Hotel in Yamoussoukro thinking I had a reservation. I intended to stay 4 days for the Easter weekend. It was a shock that the online reservation was not valid. The hotel had no access to the online reservation! The hotel could provide accommodation for the first two days. It was a holiday weekend, the hotel was fully booked. I tried a few other hotels in town with the same result. Virtually all the good hotels in town were solidly booked. LESSON 3, always confirm your hotel reservations directly with the hotel!

I was not disappointed when I finally saw the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace! The environment was serene, really peaceful! The reception staff was very friendly. I paid the usual entrance fee and an additional fees for permission to take commercial photos.

My guide (Philip) was knowledgeable and helpful. He helped carry my tripod throughout his assignment. I realized that this was not part of his job; perhaps, that innate African culture of a younger person respecting and helping an older folk! I was grateful for his help!

I wrote a blog about my experience at the basilica which could be read at https://www.octavephotographers.com/blog/2018/5/2/the-basilica-of-our-lady-of-peace-basilique-notre-dame-de-la-paix-yamoussoukro

Yamoussoukro was well laid out. It seemed there was the new and the old parts of town. The roads were wide but unfortunately full of pot holes at the time of my visit. There were several lakes which I understand were man-made. The people were very hospitable. They smiled readily and were eager to help except for one taxi driver who took advantage of me! It was easy to get permission to take photographs of people and places.

There were other major attractions such as the palace of President Felix Houphouet Boigny, the coconut farm (I had my first natural coconut water drink there), the Crocodile Lake, the local cathedral and mosque, the Foundation for peace research and academic institutions.

The country was peaceful at the time of my visit. Actually, my inability to speak French did not significantly impact my overall enjoyment of the trip. Fortunately, a lot of Ivoirians spoke English and were eager to help. I met a lot of interesting people.  LESSON 4, our fears are just that, fears. If we rise above them and plan appropriately we will just be fine!

It was a worthwhile trip. I hope to be back at the Basilica sometime in the future. I feel I had not fully enriched myself of the spiritual aspect of the visit.

Enjoy some of my photos from Cote d’Ivoire.

Further information could be obtained here (I do not necessarily agree with some of the statements in these writings. I did my own fact findings during my visit);

1.      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Our_Lady_of_Peace

2.      https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/yamoussoukro

4.       N’Guessan KA et al in Procedia Environmental Sciences 2011; 9:140-147