Meknes the Imperial City

img_4942

I have uploaded the last set of my Morocco travelogue section with photos from Meknes, one of Morocco’s four imperial cities. Meknes is a bit off the beaten track, not as popular and crowded as nearby Fes, but I hugely enjoyed the city, which is relaxed and its people extremely friendly and welcoming, more so than in the larger tourist destinations. It helped that I stayed in a very cute and comfortable Riad with a room on the rooftop, run by a  verg welcoming family.

Meknes doesn’t have that many obvious tourist attractions, which was fine by me as I enjoyed wandering the streets and having a relaxed time photographing the old town, again fascinated by the many colours and textures on display, which is what I tried to capture in the photographs.

Again, all photos taken with a Fujifilm X-T10, except for one or two iPhone photos.

Links:

Colours of Meknes

For more of my photos from Morocco, click [here]

img_4969

Casablanca In (Almost All) White And Black

dscf6959

Casablanca was my fourth stop on my Morocco itinerary. I had allocated only two days for it, mostly on the recommendations of friends and guidebooks who claimed that there was not much to see in Casablanca. They were wrong.

Casablanca is, foremost, a large city, and as such lacks the intimate charm of other Moroccon towns. But one thing it is not is boring. I hope the photos that I selected for the latest Morocco travelogue set reflect this.

There are basically three sections to the set. The first one is a series of photos which I took around and inside the huge Hassan II Mosque, which is the largest mosque outside of Saudi-Arabia, and one of the very few mosques in Morocco where non-Muslims are allowed to enter. It is a fascinating building, and quite an engineering feat. It also understands itself as an inclusive place of worship, incorporating design elements from Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism.

The second group of photos were taken by the seaside, on and near the “corniche” at Anfa. Here I shot the dilapidated, enpty seaside resorts and other once-modern buildings by the sea. These photos are in colour, the rest are in black and white.

dscf7035

The third group of photos I took in the city center, featuring chiefly the art deco buildings from colonial times. Additional photos highlight the new, modern architecture along the sea front.

One of my tourist guidebooks mentioned that people tend to come away disappointed from Casablanca because they associate the city with the movie of the same name, and that the city is nothing like the movie. Apart from the fact that I don’t recall much of the city of Casablanca being shown in the movie (I remember mostly the inside of Rick’s bar and some vague matte paintings of a city in the background), I actually found that the Art Deco buildings reminded me very much of the movie: the vestiges of a passed era, an architecture and style not quite here nor there, i.e. not quite European and not quite Moroccon, and above all, with its emphasis on white and black, best viewed in black and white.

Links:

Casablanca in (Almost All) White and Black

More Morocco travelogue sets

Faces of Morocco: street and portrait photography

dscf7070
Casablanca. Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

Ouarzazate and Beyond


The second set of my Morocco travelogue section is now online. It covers what was actually the last leg of my three week journey through that country: the Southern town of Ouarzazate and the area southeast of it: the Anti-Atlas mountains, the fertile Drâa valley with its date palm plantations, and the Sahara desert.

This part of the trip ended up being my favourite part. I stayed for five days, which some considered long, but I enjoyed the laid back feeling of Ouarzazate and especially the landscape. I don’t normally do landscape photography, but in these parts, I hugely enjoyed photographing the fascinating scenery.

Click here to view Ouarzazate & Beyond. 

Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

 

Marrakesh Colours And Textures


I’m currently still sorting through the hundreds of photos which I took on my three week trip through Morocco, and after the street portrait & photography set, I have now published another set in the Travelogue section of my site, this one focusing on the colours of Marrakesh. Colour is what visitors tend to associate with Moroccon cities: above all the warm reds, but also rich blues, bright yellow and orange offset against white, ochre and other Earth colours. And indeed, the colours are astounding, but even more so are the intricacies of the designs combining the colours, whether they are mosaics, tiles, paintings, reliefs or graffiti.

img_4687-1In Marrakesh, I was staying in a Riad in the heart of the medieval, maze-like medina. I only had to step outside the door and walk down whichever alley I chose to be submerged in the richness of Moroccon design. Haunting the medina in the early hours of the morning and capturing the colours and the textures was certainly a highlight of my stay in Marrakesh.  Quite frankly, this random walking through unknown parts of the city is an activity which I enjoy so much more than sightseeing – even though this activity was lost on the locals, who kept pointing out to me that there were no sights whereever I was heading.

The set of photos I chose to upload focuses mostly on details.  I included the photos that are about what I enjoyed most in Morocco, the unique feeling that emanates from the colourful, playful designs. Apart from the photos from the median,  there are also some taken in the cheerfully blue Jardin Majorelle (erstwhile home of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent), the Menara Garden and the Saadian Tombs. There are some photos from a couple of tanneries where leather is made from cow and goat hide. There are three black and white images from the New City as well. I did include a number of street photographs as did not want the set to solely focus on design. After all, any portrait of a city is only complete with the people in it.

All except two images were captured with a Fujifilm X-T10 camera, the remaining two were captured with the iPhone Hipstamatic app.

Enjoy the Marrakesh Colours and Textures.

Click here for more travelogue galleries.

Faces of Morocco


I recently returned from a three week trip to Morocco, where I visited the towns of Marrakesh, Meknes, Fes, Casablanca and Ouarzazate. I had with me my trusted Fujifilm X-T10 camera, and came back, as usual, with a good many photos. I tend to take two kinds of photos when I do trips: street photography (including street portraits), and photos with which I hope to capture the essence of a city by focusing on details (see my earlier article “Colours and Textures” on this) and on architecture. I seldom take landscape photos, but in Morocco I visited the desert south of Ouarzazate, and also photographed the fascinating landscape there.

I have now gone through the street photos and made a selection which I put up on my site. The 40 images which I selected include both candid shots, and images of people whom I asked to pose. Morocco is not an easy country for street photography. Many people object to having their picture taken by strangers, some energetically so. I was told off a couple of times, and in one instance I saw a young man force a tourist delete a picture she had taken of him. My first instinct was to ask people’s permission. Some agreed to be photographed, but most did not. Some people I got into conversation with and they subsequently agreed to pose, happily so. But even photographing crowds was difficult. Women especially but also men (especially older ones) would turn their head or hide their faces behind a scarf or a hand if I only vaguely pointed the camera their way. In the end I often had to resort to the old trick of seeming to photograph random objects in the street and thereby capturing people who happened to be in the scene at the same time.

The set includes only two black and white photos, the rest are in colour. Colour is an important aspect of Morocco, and it was a joy to capture the country in all its colourful splendour – especially given how well Fujifilm cameras render colour. As I mentioned above, I used a Fujifilm X-T10, primarily with a 35mm lens, but also the 27mm pancake which came in very handy in the narrow alleyways of the medieval medinas.

I will be posting more of the other photos in the weeks to follow but to begin with, here is the link to the street photography set, Faces of Morocco. Enjoy.

My Year 2016 in Pictures

(Note: this is an updated version of a posting I put up on 26 December. Turns out that that was a bit premature for a full round-up of the year)

It’s that time of year again to look back and see what the year has been like. Like many out there, I feel that 2016 has been absolutely disastrous. It started with the death of David Bowie and just got worse. I thought it had reached its lowest point with the election of Donald Trump (a day I think the world will regret for a long time to come), but of course other low points followed: the atrocities committed in Aleppo, the terrorist attacks around the world, including the recent one here in Berlin.

With the world going crazy, in a negative sense, it became important for me to create a space where I connected with people – with new people. Photography allowed me to do that. It started with my intention to capture more portraits of the people around me, my friends; and then on to street portraits, i.e. portraits of strangers that I’d ask on the street. This curiosity also led me to get acquainted with street musicians here in Berlin, which in turn led me to hooking up with a larger circle of people who lead a free-spirited life outside what are deemed social norms. I called them the “Südstern gang”; Südstern being the square in Berlin where we’d meet on an almost daily basis during the late summer months and well into autumn. Describing these experiences (not all of them positive) warrants an article in itself, not one I’m ready to write just yet. Let’s just say for now that it allowed me to experience different life choices, witnessing both the freedoms and the problems that these choices bring with them. With the onset of bad weather, the group dispersed, but the experience resulted in two friendships, one good and one flawed (the flawed one marred by trying to cope with a drug addict, and all the negativity this entails).

On top of these Berlin based experiences, I also took a few trips. Initially just a few short ones, the highlights certainly being Bologna in March and Oslo in early May; however, I’m currently on a three week trip around Morocco, and two of the images taken on this trip conclude the selection, with one image actually having been taken today, on the last day of the year 2016.

Below then are a selection of image for each month, summarizing best what the month stood for. I picked solely people photos, portraits or street photographs, but they also reflect the place and the time of year they were taken in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All photos, except two, were taken using the two Fujifilm cameras, the X-T10 and the X-E2, which have definitely become my cameras of choice, especially the X-T10. Being small and unobtrusive, yet providing high quality images even in low light, they played an important part in my life this year.

City Scape: Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Camera: Fujifilm X-T10

Almost 20 years after it was built, Potsdamer Platz still divides opinions. Some hate it, some shrug it off, some like it. For some, it’s a symbol of Berlin’s post-reunion megolamania, a failed wanna-be Disney-Manhattan. However, for a city that does not take many chances on cutting-edge, innovative architecture, Potsdamer Platz is remarkable in that here at least are a few designs which did not originate in a Lego box. Personnaly, I like it.