Photography tips by Moroccomama

Tip #1:  There’s never a bad time to take a picture.  Let go of perfectionism.  I used to think that the only time to take a picture was early morning or late afternoon (when the light is warm and very yellowy).  Certainly never at high noon.  I used to hold back from taking pictures, because someone’s face wasn’t washed, or because we were in the car and it would be blurry or have a glare.

But you know, I’ve never regretted taking a picture, no matter how harsh, messy, blurry or glare-marred.

For example: on our trip to the desert, I was somewhat despondent because the sky was hazy, in fact it was the exact same hue as the asphalt ribbon that unspooled before us for hours.  I also kept thinking, let’s wait until we stop and I’ll take some pics.

However, in the end, I realized that I’d better just go for it.

I’m thankful that I took these pictures, even from a moving car, even with the ashen sky.

Tip #2: Pictures of people are always interesting.

Tip #3: Get some perspective, and a focal point. I like photos with some lines that draw you in and take you somewhere.

Tip #4:  Find something incongruous. Like this Dodger’s fan on his moped, about to drive through an elaborate gate in the desert town of (I’m guessing here) Rissani.  Ok, I know he’s not a real Dodger’s fan. Judging from the things  I’ve seen written on shirts here, I’m guessing most people don’t know what their shirts say.

Tip #5: Don’t discount the obvious. When I was in the desert, everything was so picture perfect I didn’t know where to start.  So, this captures the basics: some full-length palm trees, the sky, the dunes, the tents.

I don’t have a tip for this one.  Maybe something about shadow and light.  These were all the camel guides in their tent eating breakfast.  Remember that while the rest of us rode on camels for 1.5 hours, these guys walked it.   Sometimes they make the trek several times a day.  The camels know and follow only their own guide.

Tip # 6:  Closeups are good.  And don’t be shy. This young man was dressed in a jellaba and turban, selling some pretty geodes and necklaces.  Living in Morocco, I have an aversion to many of the people trying to sell stuff to tourists.  I always check out the person’s vibe before approaching.  If he is too eager or aggressive, I don’t bother.  I look to the person first, merchandise second.  This guy passed my very stringent judgement of character.  We weren’t looking to buy anything though.

I hope these tips are useful.  In full disclosure I must add that I only came up with them just now.

Do you have any tips to share?


Desert journey

As alluded to in my previous post, I’ve been to the desert this past week.  For only the second time in my twenty some years living in Morocco.  What’s up with that.

I can’t even begin describing what an experience it was for me.   Looking through the photos is almost painful.  I can’t remember having such a deeply and effortlessly spiritual journey.  We left busy, crowded Marrakesh, full of spring break revelers.   Marrakesh, the city that is growing with no vision, trading its soul one bit at a time for luxury apartment blocks, hotels, and now, the biggest mall in all of north Africa.  Do you know that Joni Mitchell song “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”.  Well she wrote that about Marrakesh.  Almost.  What I’m saying is, I’m exhausted and I need to flee.

So, we fled to the east, over the Atlas mountains, or somehow through them, via the Tizintichka pass.  Along the switchbacks, past the desert outpost of Ouarzazate.  The landscape changes from lush and mountainous, to dry and plain.  The further I got from Marrakesh, the more layers I felt falling away.  My eyes rested from visual pollution, as only beautiful and natural things filled my gaze.  Eventually even that natural beauty became more raw, more plain.  In the vastness and emptiness of the desert, my mind finally ran out of endless thoughts and ceaseless chatter.  I chewed all my cud until there was nothing left.  Nothing, really? Well, you know, a very little trickling stream of thought, not the usual torrent.  I like to have “nothing” flowing through me, like the very essence of creation.  And this is what seems to happen when you align yourself with the natural world.  You become a resonance, along with everything else,  you live, for an instant, your full potential as a natural creation.

Yes, words are indeed inadequate, at least mine are.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures, which make for a condensed photojournal of our trip.

This little slice of paradise lies on the Marrakesh side of the Atlas mountains (ok, the west side).  You won’t believe it, but the desert is just beyond those mountains.

Now we’ve passed through the mountains, see them in the distance?  We’re on the east side.  This is the valley of Ait Ben Haddou.  It’s an old caravan trading outpost.  The RV’s add a touch of realism.

After that, you only have to drive 8 more hours (or according to my husband, 6 hours), to get to actual sand dunes.  We then rode 1.5 hours into the desert by camel.  If that sounds impressive, our guide actually walked it, leading his camels the whole way.

Then, way out there, in a sea of sand, a tiny patch of trees appeared.  An oasis!  Water is only 5 feet underground. We will camp here.  So will about 100 other people, much to our surprise.

My son forms bonds very freely with people he meets.  At the end of our trip, he told me that he loves our camel guide, Moha, more than his own brother!