This collection comes from three weeks we recently spent in Rome and southern Italy, in the Puglia region. While the world clearly doesn't "need" more images of Rome, it's such a visual place, it's really impossible to resist. And Puglia, less traveled, rural and ancient, is one of the last relatively untrammeled areas in Europe. It is my hope that these images at least touch the feel of these people and this timeless, worn and beautiful land.
The music I've chosen for this Collection is "Wishful Thinking" from the Album Chiaroscuro by Ralph Towner and noted Italian jazz trumpeter Paulo Fresu. (I claim no rights to this music, and use it here under "fair use"...)
This collection is a selection of images of people and their places taken on various travels in recent years. I've been fortunate to see some amazing parts of this troubled world of ours, and it's the faces of the people that linger, that form the essential sense of place. These are some of my favorites.
This collection is best viewed, I think, in full screen (there's a button in upper right after the slideshow button has been pushed) I've also added a piece of music that I admire, "On the Nature of Daylight" by Max Richter from his album The Blue Notebooks. There is a sound button in the lower right corner of the slideshow (I claim no rights to the music and use it here under "fair use"...)
March 30, 2016
So, it's taken me about six weeks to get some images up from a recent trip to Morocco. This was a complicated trip and, interestingly, this continued into the process of viewing and editing images. We spent about a week in country; the visit began with a creepy, somewhat threatening interaction as we arrived into the medinah in Marrakech at 3 am, and probably never got back onto an even plane after that. This was also my first trip to a muslim country, and encountering the oppressive side of that faith, the patriarchial energy, was different (our guide, Achmed, in explaining the differences in the veiling of the women around Marrakech, points to a woman at a bus stop who's hair is uncovered, and barks in emphatic tones, "that, that is forbidden!!)
Anyway, I'm always interested in how my attitude affects my images. If I feel immediately drawn to a scene, I tend to make better images, "fresher" as my miksang buddies would say (http://miksang.org/m/index.html) If, on the other hand, I feel like I'm outside of the space or place, the images can seem forced.
As I said, we were in country only for a week, not a lot to cover the geography of a place as diverse as Morocco. From the ancient quarters of the medinahs in Marrakech and Fes (each quite different from the other), to the bright whites and blues of the ocean-side Essaouira, to the Atlas mountains to the emptiness of the black desert and the boundary dunes of the Sahara (in rain of all things, and a "minor" sandstorm.) Most of the locals don't care to have their photos taken (excluding those who see it as a career opportunity, like the snake charmers, etc.) This was more true in Marrakech than elsewhere, and as a consequence, my images of Fes are more "populated" than the Marrakech pics.
On balance, a trip I'm glad we made. Not all adventures "feel good", not all important trips are "fun." I couldn't shake the feeling that "Morocco" is a very layered place and that seeing anything close to the true country beneath the veneer is nearly impossible (as it is, I suppose, in any place with a distinctive and somewhat "alien" culture as witnessed from my western perspective...)
A short note on gear. I carried two cameras on this trip. Most of the images were made using the first generation mirrorless system, the Fuji E-X1. This allowed me to carry multiple lenses in an easier format than a full bodied DSLR. This was really very handy in doing candid street photography as I was able to "shoot from the hip" without garnering undue attention (see "Angry Man" in the gallery.) I love the image quality of this camera, though I find there's a lot of white balance shift in each image (I shoot raw, generally aperture priority.) By this I mean that the whites are underrepresented in the raw file and need a consistent adjustment frame to frame. I hate the autofocus of this camera though -- it doesn't permit single point focusing and, as a result, there's a loss of a certain number of photos each time to missed focus points (I want the face, the camera selects the flower...) I'm told by the local camera shop guys that is being fixed in the next generation of the X-series, so we'll see.
I also carried a Canon G16. I bought this camera as a replacement for a G12 that I used and loved until the software glitches accumulated and made it unusable. Unfortunately, the G16 is a worse camera than it's ancient predecessor. It's still very slow to fire (slow shutter) a problem reputedly fixed in this camera. Of greater concern, I find at any ISO above about 400 or maybe 800, the files are really grainy. In an era of super fast point and shoots (see the latest Sony point and shoots and the mirrorless A7), this is really unacceptable. This is the first camera I've owned that I really wish I hadn't bought. Poor job Canon....
These images are the second part of those taken is Asia in 2008 (along with India/Varanassi), this time in Kathmandu and on a Trek into the "Lost Kingdom of Mustang." Mustang was one of the last Nepalese kingdom to be opened to westerners, though its since become a massively popular tourist destination. Looking back at my originals for this trip, I can only say I've learned a lot since 2008! For starters, I shot JPEG in those days (I'm sure I'd never heard of raw files.) As a result, you kinda get what you have, with no real way to correct any errors in exposure, etc. And second, there were a lot basic photo errors, like shooting high ISO in bright sun- a lot of blown out skies. These were taken with an early generation Canon Rebel digital camera, and it seems to me that the dynamic range of the sensors in those days wasn't nearly what we have today. In any case, Mustang itself is astounding and its ancient capital of Lo Manthang is a true medieval walled city having been founded in 1380. Well worth the walk....
Last week, I had a chance to head out into the western desert in Utah to try and track down one of the several herds of wild mustangs in the state. About 50 miles west of Salt Lake City, the two lane blacktop road maintained by the army turns to gravel. Another 30 or so miles of dust later, we came across a group of maybe 50 horses. These individuals are part of local herd that numbers close to 400 and is said to have originated in the 1800's, mainly escapees from local ranches and the army.
The BLM monitors the herd and many carry brands, both as identification and as aids to one of several research studies that have been done on the herd in recent years. Even though they've been handled some, they are still quite wild. The body of the group was composed of a mix of mares, stallions and colts, some as young as a couple of days old. There was also a group of "bachelor" stallions that move with the group, but stand off a bit, either by choice or by force. The young bachelors all have numerous bite marks on their hides and they constantly harrass one another, a lot like a pack of high school boys, but with more intensity.
It was a joy to be near these animals, and a bigger joy to photograph them.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I did