Photograph Work - Geography Form 2 Notes

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  • A photograph is an image of an object, person or scene recorded by a camera on a light sensitive film or paper.

Types of Photographs

  1. Ground Photographs
    - Taken from the ground. They are of 2 types:
    • Ground Horizontals- taken with the camera at the same level as the object. They are of 2 types.
      • Ground close ups/particular view photographs - taken from the ground with a camera focused on one particular object.
      • Ground General View Photographs-taken from the ground with camera focused on general scenery.
    • Ground Obliques - taken from the ground with a camera slanting/held at an angle.
  1. Aerial Photographs
    -Taken from the air e.g. from aircrafts, balloons or satellites. They are of 2 types:
    • Aerial Obliques-taken from the air with camera tilted towards the ground.
    • Vertical Aerial Photographs-taken from the air with the camera directly above the object or scenery.

Parts of a Photograph

Left back ground

Centre background

Right background

Left middle ground

Centre middle ground

Left middle ground

Left foreground

Centre foreground

Right foreground

Uses of Photographs

  • Used in learning geography because they bring unfamiliar features in the classroom enabling the students to understand them better.
  • Photographs showing vegetation and human activities can be used to deduce the climate of an area.
  • Aerial photographs show vital information on land use.
  • Photographs showing land forming processes help us to understand those processes.

Limitations in the Use of Photographs

  • Coloured photographs are generally expensive to produce.
  • Black and white photographs don’t show the real colours of objects or scenery e.g. it’s difficult to distinguish ripe coffee berries from green ones.
  • Some aerial photographs have objects which are far away and hence unclear which may lead to the wrong interpretation.
  • Vertical aerial photographs are difficult to interpret without special instruments like stereoscopes.
  • Photographs are difficult to interpret if they are blurred because it’s difficult to distinguish objects which look similar e.g. wheat and barley.

Interpretation of Photographs

  • Means to explain the meaning of the objects or features on a photograph. It involves the following:

Determining the Title

  • Photographs show human activities, physical features, natural catastrophes etc e.g. nomadic pastoralism, drought, flooding, etc.
  • When determining the title examine the photograph carefully and apply the knowledge you have learnt in geography.

Estimating Time

  • In the tropics the shadows are short at noon and longest in the morning and afternoon.
  • If the camera is facing south and the shadow is cast to the right it’s in the morning and if cast to the left it’s in the afternoon.

Estimating Season

Dry season

  • Bright clear skies
  • Dry vegetation
  • harvesting
  • Light clothes e.g. shirts and T-shirts since temperature is high (also an indication of high temperature.

Rainy season

  • Rain clouds
  • Luxuriant vegetation
  • Young crops
  • Flowering plants
  • Weeding
  • Heavy clothing e.g. pullovers or jackets since temps are low (also an indication of cool season).

Determining Compass Direction

  • If it’s in the morning and the shadow of flag pole is cast to the left the photographer is facing north and if cast to the right he was facing south.
  • If it’s in the morning and the shadow is facing towards you the photographer was facing east and it taken in the afternoon and the shadow is facing towards you the photographer was facing west.

Interpretation of Physical Features on Photographs


  • Flat land
    • Rice crop
    • Irrigation
    • Combine harvesters
    • Swamps
    • Meanders
    • Oxbow lakes
    • Inselbergs (isolated hills)
  • Hilly/Mountainous landscape/Highland Area
    • Steep slopes
    • Terraced landscape
    • Tea, wheat crops which grow at high altitude
    • rapids
    • Water falls
    • Interlocking spurs


  • Youthful Stage
    • Rapids
    • Waterfalls
    • Interlocking spurs
  • Middle Stage
    • Meanders
    • Oxbow lakes
  • Lower Stage
    • deltas
    • distributaries
    • meanders and oxbow lakes
    • flood plain


  • Natural
    • Indigenous species
    • Dense undergrowth
    • Trees grow haphazardly
    • Different species of trees
    • Not of the same height
  • Planted
    • Exotic species
    • In rows
    • Little undergrowth
    • Same species
    • Same heights
  • Tropical Rain Forests
    • Trees
    • Broad leaves
    • Umbrella shaped
  • Marshes
    • swamps
  • Savannah Grassland
    • Grass and short trees (woodland).
  • Desert Vegetation
    • Thorny leaves
    • Baobab and acacia
    • Scrub-land covered with shrubs and underdeveloped trees (shrubs).


  • High Temperatures and low rainfall
    • Sugar cane
    • Grass
    • Sisal
    • Scrub and bush land vegetation
    • Dense forests
    • Light clothes
  • Cool Temperature and High rainfall (Sufficient, Reliable and well distributed)
    • Tea
    • Coffee
    • Wheat
    • Dairy farming


  • Acidic and Volcanic Soils
    • Coffee
    • Tea
  • Clay Soils
    • Rice
  • Black Cotton Soils
    • Cotton
    • Rice
  • Loamy Soil
    • Horticultural crops

Human Activities and Evidence

  • Settlement
    • Group of dwellings where people live.

      Rural Settlements
    • Semi permanent houses
    • Farming or fishing activity
    • Uneven distribution of settlements
    • Presence of villages

      Urban Settlements
    • Permanent buildings
    • Storied buildings
    • Heavy traffic presence
    • Regular street patterns
  • Agriculture/Farming
    1. Subsistence Farming
      • Temporary and permanent houses
      • Small pieces of land
      • Mixed cropping
      • Simple implements
      • Local and exotic breeds of livestock
    2. Crop farming
      • Crops
      • People preparing land or weeding or Harvesting
    3. Commercial Crop Farming
      • cash crops
      • machinery
      • feeder routes
      • processing factories
    4. Plantation Farming
      • Single crop on extensive piece of land e.g. tea, coffee, etc.
      • Many labourers
      • Nucleated settlement within farms
    5. Livestock Rearing
      • Nomadic Pastoralism
        - Cattle grazing in a grassland or semi-arid region
      • Dairy Farming
        - Zero grazing
        - Cattle with big udders
      • Ranching
        -Wind mills
  • Mining
    • Quarry
    • Large open pits
    • Large excavators
    • Lorries carrying loads of rocks
  • Industrial Manufacturing
    • Buildings with large chimneys
    • People engaged in a processing activity such as Jua kali artisans.
  • Lumbering
    • People cutting trees using power saws
    • People loading timber into lorries
    • Logs pilled near a saw mill
    • Forests with stumps
    • Logs floating on a river
  • Transport
    Motor transport
    • Vehicles on roads
  • Railway Transport
    • Railway line
    • Trains
  • Air Transport
    • Flat tarmacked piece of land
    • Aircraft
  • Water Transport
    • Boats
    • Ships
    • Ferries
  • Communication
    • Telephone lines
    • Telephone booths
    • Post office
    • Satellite masts
    • V and radio stations

Sketching Diagrams from Photographs

  • Draw a rectangle the same size as the photograph.
  • Divide it into squares using faint lines.
  • Subdivide the photograph into 9 sections.
  • Insert the features in their exact positions using simple lines being guided by the squares.
  • Label the important features e.g. vegetation, land use, prominent buildings, transport, and communication.
  • Give the sketch a suitable title.
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