Some musings on the green aspects of Morocco Photography

The forest reclaimed

The phrase Morocco photography doesn’t readily suggest trees and forests but those that cut a swatch through the region of Essaouira are vast and perhaps not the grandest forests they offer exploration. The forests close to where I live provide a source of materials for the local economically challenged rural population. Living off the land with electricity as the only mains connection, harvesting from the surrounding forests is essential to survive; nuts to produce oil, grazing for livestock, rocks to build with and wood to burn.

The forests are government owned and the culling of trees is prohibited and policed by the forestry commission and yet there are few if any alternatives to heat homes and cook with. So trees are partially felled and left to dry, stripped of bark and removed. Scouring the forest reveals trees and branches at various stages of disintegration left to dry out in the summer sun.


North Facing north effects

One of the natural characteristics of the west coast of Morocco particularly in the region of Essaouira is the strident northern winds which despite the southerly location can bring a cold air. Some days in late August can bring the need for a jacket and scarf. whilst

After initial forest outings I began to notice that on the north side of trees there were greater amounts of moss and lichen which when bought into camera view revealed a range of textures and colours. I also noticed the branches of larger trees and tentacles of the smaller shrubs were bending to the wind’s leaving a swirling form ideal to forms compositions with.

50 sqm

The first time I ventured into a largely clear area within the forest I felt there would be photographic possibilities perhaps fuelled by the obvious change in terrain, although it’s standout features are few. I Immediately liked the idea of producing a sequence of images from just this small location, again the setting of boundaries appealed to me and with that a notion of having to look more intently.

As a general observation arriving earlier at a location to scout out possibilities doesn’t work for me as the light is so very different the scene itself offers no inspiration or indication of what to photograph.  Also a delayed return will often mean a potential image is removed. In the case of the lattice work cobweb, the next day it was no longer there. It only caught the light for just a few minutes on the day I photographed it. I didn’t have time to shoot various compositions as the dipping sun fell behind a tree. In fact all the webs were soon to vanish alongside the fallen branch taken for firewood by one of my neighbours soon after.


To the west

It’s one supposed rule of photography to be careful about shooting into or towards the sun not just for the obvious glare and eye damage but because of the contrast differential between the bright and shadow areas. I was always intrigued by the possibilities of shooting in the direction as the light offers a unique quality both with the warmth of the Moroccan sun and with filtering through trees.

Having a camera with dynamic rage of 14 stops or thereabouts allows previously untapped possibilities for recording shadow detail whilst maintaining highlight control. Keeping the camera’s histogram towards the right but not clipping and using software to bring up shadow detail reveals the possibilities of image making towards the sunset. Morocco photography subjects can indeed surprise.