Nigeria Express (3 of 4): Exploring Lagos

For all of its well-publicized foibles, Lagos is still a sight to behold. Beneath its rough exterior lies a city perpetually on the verge of either greatness or complete chaos. It’s this dichotomy that makes Lagos such a fascinating destination, especially for those brave souls who seek a different type of adventure. I took to the city streets, and ventured out to Lagos’ suburbs and countryside, in an effort to capture the unique characteristics that makes this oft-maligned metropolis a must-visit destination in West Africa.

Seen here from Ikoyi, street lights reflect off the persistent haze hanging over Lagos, giving the city’s skyline a violet hue.

Lagos Night Panorama
35mm @ 6s, f/4, ISO 320

A vendor carries bottles in pallets atop her head at a street market in the business district of Lagos Island.

Bottle Service in Lagos
24mm @ 1/200, f/4, ISO 100

A boatman guides a pirogue through one of the dense forest swamps surrounding Lekki Lagoon.

Lekki Jungle
24mm @ 1/6, f/11, ISO 100

A vendor hawks cucumbers and green tomatoes at a street market on Lagos Island.

Downtown Lagos Market
105mm @ 1/640, f/4, ISO 100

When you pair Lagos’ dilapidated, underdeveloped infrastructure with the fact that automobiles are the primary form of transportation for the city’s 21 million residents you end up with a traffic nightmare. Crumbling roads, aggressive driving and non-existent adherence to traffic laws give Africa’s largest city the ignominious distinction of being one of the world’s most dangerous and frustrating places to drive.

Mainland Lagos Traffic
105mm @ 1/250, f/8, ISO 100

The mirror-like surface of a tributary leading to Lekki Lagoon reflects the surrounding landscape. Decomposing vegetation in the river makes the water appear black.

Lekki Lagoon Waterway
14mm @ 1/400, f/5, ISO 100

A vibrantly clad woman blends in with the surrounding market as she checks her phone in downtown Lagos.

Lagos Island Camouflage
105mm @ 1/640, f/4, ISO 100

A sand miner punts his patchwork boat through Lagos Lagoon on his way to manually dredge a portion of the polluted waterway. Sand miners gather enormous loads of sand, one dive at a time, which they later sell as aggregate to concrete manufacturers.

Sand Collector in Lagos Lagoon
200mm @ 1/200, f/4, ISO 200

Children peer through a window at visitors to the Brazilian Barracoon in Badagry, a historic site west of Lagos where slaves were imprisoned until being traded for money and goods and shipped abroad.

Children at Brazilian Baracoon in Badagry
200mm @ 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 200

Senior brokers process the day’s final trades as closing bell nears on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Nigerian Stock Exchange Floor
24mm @ 1/100, f/3.5, ISO 800

The sun casts its waning golden light over Five Cowries Creek as it sets over Lagos Island, seen here from Victoria Island.

Sunset over Lagos
5-frame HDR @ 100mm, f/4.5, ISO 100

Check out all the high-resolution shots from my trip to Nigeria in my album on Flickr.

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