Morocco photos close to home

morocco photographyMorocco Photos

The forest reclaimed

For an alternative take on Morocco photos visit the hard wood forests in the region of Essaouira close to my home offer a source fuel for the local rural population who get by on subsistence income in many cases. Harvesting from these forests is very much accepted as a right for them; nuts produce their Argan dipping oil, grazing for animals, the abundance of rocks to construct house foundations with and wood to burn for heat and bread making.

The forests are owned by the government and chopping down trees is policed by the forestry commission but what are the cheap alternatives? So trees are felled and left out in the sun to dry and stripped of bark. To my wandering and roving camera eye, the forest reveals trees and branches at various stages of disintegration. Morocco photos off the beaten track.

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.

To see more of my Morocco photos then visit my personal website

Guedra at Goulmine

Morocco Photography workshops

Annually we venture to new parts of Morocco in search of future tour locations for our Morocco photography workshops. This year it was to Goulmine in Morocco’s south west where we wanted to see and indeed booked a Guedra performance. Guedra is a form of dance, a ritual usually found in the southern desert towns of Goulmine and Tan Tan. For followers of Led Zeppelin, their hard rock classic Kashmir was penned near Tan Tan.  Guedra is an evening time custom, normally held around a fire with a group of men up to 10 providing the rhythm using hands and drums and the Guedra a female dancer staging different evocations of a ritualised performance.

Guedra dance is about the hands and fingers. Possibly a sorrowful face is also in keeping. Wearing black and ornate jewellery the Guedra’s hands and fingers are kept under wraps until she feels the time is correct, then with hand-to-head motions, she salutes the four corners: north, south, east and west, to represent the elements  fire (the sun), earth, wind and water. The Guedra uses fingers to communicate, the lines to the spirit and energy fields, she touches her stomach, heart and head, at that point rapidly flicks her fingers towards all others introduce, in life or soul, sending gifts to them from the profundities of her spirit’s vitality. The men are joyful and provide a high octane atmosphere.

More images of the Guedra and Goulmine can be found here. The photos initially in colour were cropped to square format and were shot at high ISO’s of up to 6400 and with wide angle lenses. Our Morocco photography workshops can be booked all year round and include tours to Fez, Meknes and Chefchaouen. We also run landscape tours to Andalusia in Spain focusing on photographing forest, rivers and coastline.