Thursday, July 31, 2014

Goats in Trees

On the drive from Marrakech to Essaouira, I asked Najib if we were going to be able to see something I had seen pictures of but found hard to believe: goats sitting calmly in trees and munching away on the leaves or whatever they enjoy. He said we could probably see them on our way back to Marrakech. While disappointed, I had to muster some patience and just wait a few days. So, about a half hour into the drive, there they were. Najib pulled over, we spilled out of the car and raced excitedly over the median to the other side of the highway. The goats were accompanied by their goatherds who are completely used to strange tourists wanting pictures of their charges. Not only that, they want money for the honor of taking pictures. I tossed the first guy a Moroccan note worth about five dollars and began to merrily click away. This didn't seem to be enough for the guy, but I rebuffed further attempts to extract cash from me, a poor tourist. After getting back in the van, a busload of more tourists pulled up, sending the goatherds into a frenzy. They were frantically carrying more goats toward the tree and attempting to lift them into the branches. It was hilarious to say the least. The trees are called Argan trees, and the goats feed on the fruit, dropping the kernels on the ground from which rich oil is extracted, used in cosmetics, cooking, and medicine, as well as fuel for lamps.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cafe Society, Paris

Parisians love to go to cafes and restaurants. Well, most of us do, but the Parisians have seemingly endless choices of ridiculously quaint, cute, charming, atmospheric and any other adjective you can think of, places to dine. I never get tired of photographing them, not to mention eating in them as well. We ate lunch at the cafe in the first photograph which is located on Rue Cler, a pedestrian-only street that is travel guru Rick Steves' favorite street in Paris. At the bottom is the interior of Chartier, our personal favorite restaurant. It's been around for over a hundred years, is inexpensive, and very informal. Occasionally, one feels a little rushed because there's virtually no wait until the food starts arriving. Although no Michelin star establishment, the atmosphere more than compensates. No reservations...just show up, stand in line for a few minutes, and you're in. All photographs taken with the Sony RX 100 3.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sir, Your Camel is Waiting

In planning our trip to Morocco, there was one thing my wife, Margaret, insisted on: a camel ride in the Sahara. And so, after a nine hour drive from Fes, another hour by four wheel drive to the staging area hotel, and a fifteen minute drive to where the camels were awaiting our arrival, we saddled up, sort of, and rode the beasts an hour into the desert and to our encampment. The photographs are in chronological order, beginning with the drive out to the hotel (not much to see), chairs sitting outside the hotel at the edge of the desert, the waiting camels, the ride itself, two photos of the camp which was luxurious and included a toilet and shower in each room, sunrise at 4:45 am after the 4 am wake-up, and finally the ride back to the hotel where we had breakfast. Our camel driver/cook was knackered! It was the first day of Ramadan and he was thirsty and very, very hungry. An hour on the back of a camel is more than enough. It was an interesting and enjoyable experience despite the soreness after de-cameling. 

The Louvre at Night

I was seriously doubting my decision to lug my tripod around Morocco, where I used it one time, until we got to Paris. Our hotel was about a three minute walk from the Louvre so I was able to go over there at night to do some photography. Even after ten at night, there are still other tourists hanging around. Fortunately, at a shutter speeds of 30 seconds, anyone who isn't perfectly still either disappears altogether or becomes a ghostly blur. People walking by are not a problem unless they stand directly in front of the camera while the exposure is being made. That happened a few times. Except for the vertical photograph in the middle, which was taken another day with the Sony RX 100 III, the shots were taken with the Sony A7 full-frame camera with the Sony 10-18 wide angle lens. I haven't spent a lot of time actually in the Louvre, but I never get tired of the Pyramid by I. M. Pei, from all angles.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Street Photography in Morocco

For me, street photography almost always involves people. I'm not particularly adept at asking strangers if I can take their picture, so I rely on the tilting screen of my Sony RX 100 3 to feign looking down at my pictures when I'm actually trying to frame a shot. These were taken in Casablanca, Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira. The souk in Marrakech was my favorite place to shoot, with the light streaming in from above during the middle of the day and casting long shadows on the floor. One of the specialities in Marrakech is the freshly squeezed orange juice sold everywhere, but I got my first delicious glass in the Place Jemaa el-Fna, the massive outdoor showplace that is the cultural hub of the city.

Paris After the Rain

After Morocco, since we were already close to Europe, we took a four day trip to Paris. We had rain every day, and that led to some spectacular skies at night. The sun sets about ten pm in the summer, so that gave me something to do in the evening after dinner. The light this particular evening was as good as it gets. The photographs were taken with the Sony NEX 7 and the new Sony RX 100 3, a remarkable camera. I gave my wife the RX 100 and she was thrilled with the results, since she had recently taken to using her Samsung Galaxy as her main camera.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Tanneries of Fes

In the center of the medina in Fes, the hides of sheep, goats, cows, and camels undergo several processes, including the removal of hair and flesh, followed by soaking in vats, then drying and rinsing, before they are ready to be dyed and then handed over to leatherworkers. We were given a sprig of mint to ward off the powerful, unpleasant odors emanating from the vats. Pigeon droppings used in the process contribute to the stench. We had a guide, a woman who had lived in the medina all her life, to get us to the tanneries. Otherwise we would never have found it. 

Morocco Blue

Blue seemed to me to be the dominant color in Morocco. Since it's my favorite color, I had no problem with that. These photographs were taken all over the country; Fes, Marrakech, Essaouira and Rabat.