Morocco- Likes and Dislikes

November 02, 2014  •  3 Comments

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 (  If, on the other hand, I feel like I'm outside of the space or place, the images can seem forced.

On Morroco

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...)


On Cameras

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....



Doug Jepperson(non-registered)
My first blog entry I feel like Captain of the Enterprise, star date Nov. 10, 2014. After looking at the images from Morocco I went back a few times to look at the housing of Medinah in Fes and the Sand Dunes. These two images made me feel the land you saw. The Density of housing seems like the accumulated history of the middle east and the sand dunes the timelessness of the place
Jeff Johnson(non-registered)
Nice work Jeff. I enjoyed looking at Morocco through your eyes.
Claire Desilets(non-registered)
Amazing photos Jeff - congrats. I can't pick a favorite. I am most impressed by your candid people shots, those are extremely challenging. Do you have any tricks you can share on a future blog?
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