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.

2. 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.

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 brulled 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


Heavy clothing e.g. pullovers or jackets since temps are low (also an indication of cool season).

Determining Compass Direction

It 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.

It 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 Relief

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



Interlocking spurs

Middle Stage


oxbow lakes

Lower Stage

  • deltas
  • distributaries
  • meanders and oxbow lakes
  • flood plain



  • Indigenous species
  • Dense undergrowth
  • Trees grow haphazardly
  • Different species of trees
  • Not of the same height


  • Exotic species
  • In rows
  • Little undergrowth
  • Same species
  • Same heights

Tropical Rain Forests

  • Trees
  • Broad leaves
  • Umbrella shaped


  • 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


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


Subsistence Farming

  • Temporary and permanent houses
  • Small pieces of land
  • Mixed cropping
  • Simple implements
  • Local and exotic breeds of livestock

Crop farming

  • Crops
  • People preparing land or weeding or Harvesting

Commercial Crop Farming

  • cash crops
  • machinery
  • feeder routes
  • processing factories

Plantation Farming

  • Single crop on extensive piece of land e.g. tea, coffee, etc.
  • Many labourers
  • Nucleated settlement within farms

Livestock Rearing

Nomadic Pastoralism

  • Cattle grazing in a grassland or semi-arid region

Daily Farming

  • Zero grazing
  • Cattle with big udders


  • Paddocks
  • Wind mills


  • 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.


  • 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


Motor transport

  • Vehicles on roads

Railway Transport

  • Railway line
  • Trains

Air Transport

  • Flat tarmacked piece of land
  • Aircraft

Water Transport

  • Boats
  • Ships
  • Ferries


  • 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.


2 dimensional drawings which show relationships between 2 types of data representing two items also called variables. These are dependent variable which is affected by the other e.g. temperature (on y axis) and independent variable whose change is not affected by the other e.g. altitude (on x axis).


Draw x and y axis.

  • Choose suitable scale to accommodate the highest and lowest value.
  • Plot the values accurately using faint dots.
  • Join the dots using curved line. If it’s a bar graph the dots should be at the middle of the top line. Years should also be at the middle. You should have also decided on the width of the bars.
  • In data without continuity e.g. crop production there should be gaps between bars and for one with continuity e.g. rainfall bars should not have gaps.
  • Draw vertical lines on either side of the dot then draw horizontal line to join them with the dot.
  • Shade uniformly if they are representing only one type of data and differently if representing one type of data.
  • In combined line and bar graph temperature figures are plotted on the right hand side of y-axis while rainfall on the left
  • Don’t start exactly at zero.
  • Include temperature and rainfall scales.
  • Start where the longest bar ends.

What a Well Drawn Graph Should Have

  • Title
  • Scale/scales
  • Labelled and marked x and y axis starting at zero.
  • Key if required e.g. in comparative bar graph.
  • Accurately plotted and lines, curves or bars properly drawn.

Simple Line graph Advantages

  • Easy to construct
  • Easy to interpret
  • Easy to read/estimate exact values.
  • Shows trend or movement overtime.


  • Doesn’t give a clear impression on the quantity of data.
  • May give false impression on the quantity especially when there was no production.
  • Poor choice of vertical scale may exaggerate fluctuations in values.
  • Difficult to find exact values by interpolation.

Simple Bar Graph/histogram


  • Easy to construct.
  • Easy to interpret.
  • Easy to read.
  • Gives a clear visual impression on the quantity of data.


  • Poor choice of vertical scale may cause exaggeration of bars.
  • Doesn’t show continuity/ variation of data overtime.
  • Unsuitable technique when values exist in continuity.
  • Not possible to obtain intermediate values from the graph.

Combined Line and bar Graph


Easy to construct.

Easy to read.

It shows relationship between two sets of data.


  • Difficult to choose suitable scale when values of variables differ by great magnitude.
  • Considerable variation of data represented by the line may cause the line the bars thus obscuring the relationship.
  • Doesn’t show relationship between the same sets of data of more than one place.

Analysis and Interpretation

  • The month with heaviest rainfall is May.
  • The month with lowest rainfall is July.
  • The hottest month was January and February.

The months with lowest temperature were June and July.

Crop Production in Kenya in the Years 2001 and 2002

If the data has large figures e.g. 195262 plot in 1000s=195, 184,988=185.

You can draw comparative/group/multiple line and bar graphs from the data.

Comparative/Group/Multiple Line Graph


  • Simple to construct
  • Suitable when comparing trends or movements
  • Comparison of items is easy because the graphs are drawn using common axis
  • Its easy to read exact values from each graph


  • Number of items which can be represented are limited
  • Crossing of lines may make interpretation and comparison difficult and confusing.
  • Total amount of variable cant be established at a glance.

Comparative Bar Graph Advantages

  • Easy to construct
  • Easy to read and interpret
  • Easy to compare similar components within different bars.
  • Gives a good impression of totality.
  • Individual contribution made by each component is clearly seen.
  • Differences in quantity of components are clearly seen.


  • Doesn’t show trend of components over time.
  • Not easy to compare components where bars are many
  • Not suitable for many components.

Look for a convenient scale say 1cm rep 100000 visitors

  • Draw a divided rectangle 10 cm long to represent the data.
  • Show your calculations.

It should have the following:

  • Title
  • Different shades
  • Key
  • Width of 2cm

Analysis and Interpretation

To get the meaning of

  • Factory leading in sugar production is Mumias.
  • The 2nd leading is Muhoroni.
  • Factory with the lowest production of sugar is Sony.
  • Calculation of %s.


  • Easy to construct
  • Easy to compare components because they are arranged in ascending or descending order.
  • Takes less space than when the data is presented using graphs.
  • Each component proportion to the total can easily be seen at a glance.


  • Can’t be used for a large data.
  • Only one unit of measurement can be used.
  • Difficult to asses values of individual component
  • The visual impression isn’t as good as pie charts.


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