On one of our Photography Holidays for beginners, there’s little doubt that a visit to one of the local souks is a feast for the eyes. Souk Had Draa offers quite a spectacle: camels reluctantly being loaded onto trucks for their journey south into the Moroccan Sahara, an assortment of meat sellers, vegetable stalls and the ubiquitous cooking dens spouting charcoal smoke. Taking photos is a challenge but one that really tests the senses and the 3 guys and 4 ladies who visited during December really enjoyed seeing something exceptionally vivid that will live long in the memory. Photographically, Sarah’s abundance of high quality images of the regions’ menfolk takes some beating and is the best collection of photographs from the souk to date. Her Nikon D700 and superb Nikon 24-70 offer an unrivaled clarity for the price. A selection of her photos can be seen here.
Meanwhile December also offered a chance to explore the geology around Sidi M’Bark, part of our Photography Tour on Wednesdays. Successful landscape photography in these parts requires attention to texture and form. Foreground interest and the juxtaposition with distance scenes offers the viewer something more than a wide view where it’s difficult to pick out detail. Wide angle lenses whilst seemingly ideal for landscape work can produce photos that look a little like snaps. If using one, it’s much better to get close to your first subject and create a large depth of field. Above all seek out texture and form within your landscape and also think about using telephotos and shooting with the portrait format. Stephen, Guy and Himal all capitialised on the abstract possibilities offered on the beach at M’ Bark. Their complete galleries can be seen here. If you’re choosing from the vast range of photography holidays for beginners with any supplier always look to find examples of course participants work to give you some idea of what you can achieve with a week’s learning.
Photography is all about finding the light and here in Essaouira it’s usually in abundance but on a photographic holiday you want to explore the range of photographic opportunities. Night time photography offers something completely different when street lighting is the only source of illumination. Both Jackie and Ciaran were keen in the last week of September to take some photos of Essaouira’s atmospheric backstreets and alleys. The old fortifications combined with the night time sea air are suggestive of a town unchanging and of course this is part of Essaouira’s charm. The main challenge of night time imagery is firstly to be able to see what one is doing so at the very least always take a small penlight with you. Most DSLRs have an illuminated LCD screen but that can be tricky to see when your camera is positioned at head height so a torch will help you see the camera’s screen at the back. Of course you’ll also be using a tripod and this helps both steady the camera for slow shutter speeds and also slows down your working processes which can help you think about better compositions.
Many photographers always work with a tripod. It’s a much more Zen way of working. Whilst a tripod steadies the camera you’ll also need to use your self timer setting which also helps to eradicate image blurring as your finger is not engaged in pressing the button which can transmit vibrations. Secondly you may also have the option of mirror lock-up which can further prevent camera shake. In terms of exposure, cameras are set to give you an average reading so a dark subject will appear slightly lighter and a bright subject vice versa. To get naturalism and often the desired moodiness at night time, under-expose by a stop or so to see the shadows fall nicely into shade. Jackie and Ciaran came at for a photography holiday in the last week of September flying with Easyjet. Their galleries can be seen here.
Negotiating the local customs and craziness is all part of the creative photography holiday experience and surely it beats any photography course in the UK for a shot in the arm…
Cat and Linda were out this week and as far as activity holidays for ladies go this one surely provided no end of entertainment. Linda, well travelled had yet to visit Morocco and she enjoyed herself immensely, quite the adventurer that she is what with over zealous Hammans with the buckets of water and the kind-hearted attention of the local shopkeepers, her 7 days were full of spice. The two ladies experienced a Henna tattoo each plus some beach photography in some of the strongest winds I’ve experienced here. Linda also started her week with a cooking class.
Rather fittingly Cat was rather keen on the local moggies who aside from sleeping and receiving their generous fishy titbits are numerous in the streets of Essaouira. She also took a shine to Mika at Cafe SidiM’Bark. The cat calendar, which I keep threatening to subject past course attendees to, is nearing its best 10 images of feline dispositions within Essaouira. Cat is currently studying for a degree in art at Bolton University and the galleries here specialising in African art perfectly complemented her emerging photography.
The night with the Gnawa at the Malak Restaurant was one of the week’s highlights with the girls dancing their way into the memories of the staff followed closely by Cat being led astray at the Wednesday country market by one man intent of selling her a necklace. In a case of bad cop even worse cop, the man’s accomplice – he claimed his wife – was more persuasive shall we say. However Cat’s bargaining tools were a match and she snatched a good price for some local silver. 100DH (about £8). Linda and Cat flew BMI and Easyjet respectively and stayed at the Maison du Sud as featured in the Times in August.
Both their galleries can been viewed here.
Post Ramadan and more galleries are coming together in the first few days of September. Jay as seen left produced 4 outstanding galleries of photographs, particularly in architectural subjects and at the fishing port here in Essaouira, probably the best collection of port photos yet. His active participation at the Argan co-operative shows the perils of not using the histogram to check over exposure(note the hotspot on Jay’s shoulder). No fault of Jay, but yours truly. Jay’s work can be seen via this link. Jurgens also tripped into town with his wife and had a one-day workshop bringing a truly South African, fearless demeanour to his photography with the kind of interpersonal skills that the best doctors are renowned for. He simply got closer winning people over with his enthusiasm. He also had a great eye for colour. I was slightly envious of his Canon 7D and Sigma wide angle check but managed to put that to one side selecting a collection from the many great photos he took that day. His gallery can be seen here.
September sees the launch of our new course offering a week’s cooking and photography here in Essaouira Morocco. Moroccan food is a mild spicy delight and surely one of the world’s great cuisines. Using the best fresh ingredients from the fish stocks and locally grown vegetables around Essaouira ensures the pastillas, tagines and couscous can all be cooked to taste perfection which I can certainly vouch for. So now we’re combining a week’s holiday to include food and photography staying in the Maison du Sud. The week comprises of 2 Moroccan cooking workshops and 4 Photography workshops. Take a look at the page cooking with Naima under Offers for more details.
We’ve been selected by the Times as the prize for their latest Photography Competition so to win a week’s holiday in Essaouira learning photography, whilst staying at the wonderful Riad Maison du Sud then you’ll need to visit the Mytimes website. Alternatively take a look at holidays in Morocco and grab a bargain.