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Have you ever wondered why pictures taken by your friends abroad (especially in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom) look better than pictures taken in Nigeria? You are not alone.
Some people have theorised that it is because cameras are made for the weather of these countries, therefore, these cameras perform optimally only in these weathers. Others have suggested that the weather of these countries naturally make pictures brighter, clearer and better. Still others have opined that smartphone companies intentionally dump low quality smartphones with reduced-quality cameras on countries like Nigeria even though they are ostensibly of the same specifications with the ones sold in North America and Europe.
‘ONLY ONE KASH’, (@thekashope), a celebrated professional photographer who has thousands of followers on Twitter, and has taken well-received pictures of his clients in the United Kingdom and in other places has suggested on twitter that:
Pictures taken abroad are cleaner because camera sensors and lenses don’t pick up any dust.
— ONLY ONE KASH (@thekashope) February 13, 2020
To elaborate on what he suggested, camera sensors and lenses don’t pick up any dust because the air quality in the US, Canada, UK and most of European countries are tightly maintained and constantly regulated. There are air quality laws that govern the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere, and air quality standards governing concentrations of air pollutants in the air, both outdoors and indoors are set and maintained by the relevant government agencies. The effect is a clean, bright and healthy atmosphere, which though may not be easily appreciated by the naked eye, comes through in all its glory when taken by a camera.
Countries with strong air quality control laws and high air quality standards are usually countries with high performance orientation. Performance orientation reflects the extent to which a community values, encourages and rewards innovation, high standards, high quality, excellence and improvement.
Countries with high performance orientation have a culture of, and are always in a state of constant improvement. They seek to improve services, processes and products periodically even when there seems to be no need for further improvement. This need for constant improvement is the reason you get asked to rate the quality of your call immediately you finished a WhatsApp call. It’s one of the reasons you get updates to your favourite apps every time and you get new and improved versions of iPhones every year. It is why Video Assistant Referee was introduced to football.
On the other hand, countries with low performance orientations have a culture of “Why fix it if it’s not broken?”. Thus, Nigeria (and other low performance orientation countries) have poor air quality control laws and standards. We do not see a clear and immediate need to improve air quality. For example, according to the World Bank Blogs most vehicles on Lagos roads are over 15 years old using old emission technologies and fuel with high sulfur levels; a pollutant which is a whooping 200 times higher than US standards for diesel.
This is not to mention pollution from industrial emissions which are completely unregulated or at most poorly regulated. The effect is a high concentration of dust and toxic pollutants in the air and the atmosphere which, apart from slowly harming us, also affects the brightness and clarity of your pictures even though you shoot them with the latest high-spec phone camera.
It’s not the quality of the phone camera. It’s the quality of the air.
For a country or an organisation to transition from a low performance orientation culture to a high-performance orientation culture looks like a big ask. Culture is an ingrained way of doing things and it doesn’t change overnight. However, individuals (if they want) can relatively easily switch from a mentality of “why fix if it’s not broken?” or “Why fix it all?” to a mentality that values excellence, high standards, high quality, innovation and constant improvement.
More and more high-performance oriented individuals mean that the culture of a low-performance orientation country or organisation may turn, albeit slowly to one of high-performance orientation. Meticulously measuring previous performance, seeking to improve on it and improving on it even though it may first appear that there is no need to improve are some of the characteristics of a high-performance oriented individual.
‘Gbenga Samuel is trying to be a jack of all knowledge and master of Law. He has deep and highly varied interests from the entertainment industry to geo-politics. He is an associate at the O.V Advisory a full-service law firm based in Lagos State. He can be reached via twitter @gbengasamuel01 and email@example.com.