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What? Black and white portrait of a Moroccan teapot vendor
Where? Marrakech souks, Morocco, Africa
The shallow depth of field helps draw attention and pull the eye towards the teapot vendor’s beaming smile. I also darkened the background slightly when converting the portrait into black and white in order to remove the distractions from behind. Being critical, perhaps the teapot could be slightly more in focus, although given the level of light in the souks in Marrakech, I didn’t have much room close the aperture.
Nikon d700 and 50mm f/1.4 at 50mm f/2.2 1/60s ISO 400
Unless you are heading to the north of Morocco, Marrakech seems to be unavoidable when heading anywhere. So, before heading up to the High Atlas, I welcomed the opportunity to hit the souks and buy myself a Moroccan teapot from this friendly market stall owner. Gradually running out of space in my bag….
What? Landscape photo of a rainbow in the mountains
Where? High Atlas Mountains, near Marrakech, Morocco, Africa
I was lucky enough to be the only person in the local shared minibus for this stretch of the journey from Marrakech to Oukaimeden so asked the driver to pull over for a minute. This panoramic photo comprises of six vertical images stitched together. Ideally, I would have liked to include the view down the valley, with the rainbow and sunlit mountain on the right of the picture, but the was a massive wall in the way! Just had to do the best with where I could get to!
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/11.0 1/160s ISO 200
Once of the strangest and most unnerving journeys I have taken. After speaking to a hostel owner about the cheapest way to get from Marrakech to Oukaimeden in the High Atlas Mountains, I set off with my new found knowledge and expectations of a trouble free journey feeling quietly smug. Simply catch a bus to Ourika then a shared taxi from Ourika to Oukaimeden. “It’s easy, they go constantly all day”. Boarding the bus out of Marrakech…piece of cake. Where to get off in Ourika…hurdle number one. Realising the bus was slowly emptying, I used a variety of ridiculous facial expressions, patronisingly slow English and incomprehensible sign language to establish that I had missed my stop.
Cost from Marrakech to middle of nowhere = 7 dirham.
“No problem friend, catch a taxi from here to *I wish I spoke Arabic* and then a grand taxi from *maybe its Berber* to Oukaimeden. They go all day”
6 people in a taxi from ‘middle of nowhere’ to ‘random junction in the middle of nowhere’ = 10 dirham.
With clear instructions on what to do, I now just had to wait for the ‘regular’ grand taxi to the ski resort of Oukaimeden which I had been assured would have to turn right at the nondescript junction I had been dumped at. Surprisingly I was joined by one within 30 minutes…unsurprisingly, on seeing a short, young looking tourist abandoned at a random junction in the mountains in Morocco, the price wasn’t the 10 dirham I had been advised to pay! There went all my hopes of travelling the distance for the 30 dirham I had been told it should cost. After a lot of lying that I was more than happy to just wait for the next one and equally inaccurate suggestions from the driver that he was the last grand taxi of the day, we agreed on 60 dirham.
After fending off the unsubtle advances made by the driver after he declined picking up more passengers in favour a romantic drive with just the two of us, I was finally dropped in Oukaimeden. The lively atmosphere full of trekkers excited after a brilliant day trekking in the High Atlas Mountains….did not exist. Being a ski resort in the middle of summer, it was understandably deserted bar two teachers who fortunately were at the end of their walking and passed on their guide to me. Things always work out fine in the end!
What? Cloud shapes forming over Tizi n’Tamatert at sunset
Where? Ouanskra, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco, Africa
As the clouds formed over the ridge on the left, I simply sat patiently waiting, swinging in my hammock watching the sun until the clouds formed an interesting shape.
Nikon d700 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm f/10.0 1/200s ISO 200
Waking up, Oukaimeden felt like the beautiful trekking base in the mountains that I had hoped for but had been absent the night before. The day was spent winding up and down a ruggedly stunning path from Ouakaimeden, passing through Tacheddirt and on to the Berber village of Ouakskra. I spent the afternoon taking photos and swinging in a hammock, which was ideally situated with a view along the valley to watch the sun set over the perfectly conical Tizi n’ Tamatert. Thankfully at this moment in time I still viewed it positively, which was not the view I took the following day during the steep windy ascent.
This is probably the first time in my life I have ever been the only tourist staying somewhere. I passed a couple of people en route, but was the only tourist staying in the village. Pretty awesome feeling! The evening was then spent tucking into a homemade mountain of couscous and chatting with the owner and a group of his friends who mistakenly thought I was working for the national geographic thanks to my freebie fleece that I got for renewing my subscription to the magazine. One day maybe!!