I am not an early morning person. Which is to say, that sunrise photos are few and far between in my portfolio. However, my calculations indicated that we were on a cliff facing east from our accommodation in Zanzibar. It was just step out of bed onto the walk and we were overlooking the ocean. So for several mornings the sunrise would awaken Julia and me. We would run out, shoot the sunrise, and then clamber back for another hour of sleep before breakfast. Yeah that’s about as easy as it gets. Oh, that’s the hotel’s infinity pool in the foreground.
It used to be that after the sun went down, I would hardly take another shot until morning. Tungsten lighting, ASA/ISO speed, and a bunch of other reasons made it near to impossible to adjust. Now that white balance can be adjusted on the fly and IS0 can be made to almost see in the dark, it’s so easy to get night shots. Now the question is to see the image and then capture it. Like everything else sometimes you surprise even yourself.
These are the workboats for this part of the world. But like everything else in a tourist resort, people realize that there is commercial value in giving rides. And there are plenty of tourists to pay to ride. These guys would park on a likely stretch of beach and then beckon to offer a ride. I have looked into the boats and they don’t appear all that seaworthy. We passed on the opportunity.
These are small vessels. They are essentially long narrow wooden canoes with two outriggers and a sail. It is a typical vessel for this area. I saw one on the open ocean between the mainland and Zanzibar many miles from any landfall. Every morning the dhows would ply up and down parallel to the beach. It was a perfect photo op. The only problem is that they were most active at about 5:30AM.
I never did see what it was that these men netted. But they would patiently spread their net and eventually returned with some catch. The tides left many pools. And the shallow waters were warm. I guess not too many large fish were about. But there were enough small ones to make it a worthwhile endeavor to use the net.
This thatched house was part of a resort. There is a bar and a dock well out over the water. The waters are not too deep as the tidal surge is quite large. Many parts of the beach are exposed for hundreds of yards during low tide. The guard was passing the time reading as there were no visitors at this time of day.
Zanzibar, Africa. I won’t begin to tell you what species of birds are in this photo. The word ‘tern’ comes to mind. My daughter and I were walking along the beach as the tide came in behind us. These little guys flew past as I panned and shot. Later we had to backtrack through the high tide and breaking waves. The uneven surface and slippery rocks made it a bit treacherous. I couldn’t swim while holding my camera up and free of the sea. We made it back in time for lunch.
Stone Town, Zanzibar. Julia and I stayed in a small hotel, the Coffee House, near to the central market in Stone Town. It was recommended by the travel agent for its location and as a good example of local culture. The van drove to a crowded square. When the driver couldn’t find a place to park, he turned off the engine in the middle of the square, opened the back hatch, removed our luggage, and beckoned Julia and I to follow. We carried our stuff and followed along a series of narrow winding streets. Julia thought for sure we were being lured to our deaths. I admit I was also a bit nervous. When we came to the hotel, the door was locked and we were permitted entry only after we were screened. The central market is crowded and the vendors sold all manner of goods and produce. It was Ramadan and the crowds were waiting to break their fast. Julia was nervous about me walking around with an expensive camera and ‘tourist’ stamped on my forehead. So, I had to shoot from the hip and get shots with the point and shoot Canon G11. Autofocus, fast f-stop, and no look shooting got me a pile of nice shots. I like the skewed horizons and angles. It gives more edge to the photos. Julia was sure I would be stopped and she was careful not walk near to me. Except for this shot, I think that most of the market crowd ignored us. This was a local market. Though there were some tourist souvenirs, this market was filled with local folks just doing their everyday marketing for meat, fish, produce, furniture, and clothes. Visitors were treated politely but mostly ignored by the shoppers and merchants.
When Julia and I arrived at the Coffee House, a guard opened a peephole and then allowed us entry. After check-in, a slender woman scooped up my heavy bag and marched to the stairs. Julia hefted her heavy backpack. I offered to carry my own bag but the woman waved me off. After three flights, she was bent over hands on knees clearly exhausted by the effort. I think she probably should have left me to carry my own stuff. After we returned from a walk through the market, our room was bathed in this wonderful glow of evening light. We went out later and walked a fair distance to dinner and never felt threatened. I guess being in a strange environment can add to the sense of excitement and danger.
Central market. I got to shoot with the Canon G11 on the first afternoon. The next morning I was up and out before Julia awoke so I used my Nikon and the zoom lens. This shot is a favorite of Julia’s. I used the Canon and otherwise would not have included this photo except that Julia noticed it. The soft focus works here. This is a colorful graphic and the energy of the market action comes through. Because it is without sharp detail the blur adds to the feeling of frenetic activity.
Central market – early morning. Zanzibar is an island and the economy is very much about the sea. All manner of fish are sold at the market. The dhows that ply the waters are often out on the ocean overnight to catch fish. Here, I chanced upon a man hauling a marlin to the fish market only steps away. I wondered if he was the fisherman and whether this was the only fish he caught. When we returned later, Julia and I saw a hammerhead shark in chopped pieces on the ground for sale. Cleanliness appeared to be a casual consideration.
Stone Town. We found an open air food market set up in the park near to the water. Vendors began setting up at dusk. By dark, cooking was in full swing just as the fast for Ramadan ended. We had a dinner reservation in a typical restaurant nearby so Julia did some window-shopping. This vendor made a sugar cane drink. At first I didn’t see the appeal of drinking a sweet beverage of crushed sugar cane juice. But they also add lime and a piece of ginger as the cane is passed through the press. The result is a very refreshing concoction. Julia drank the whole thing barely leaving me a sip.
Shooting Star Resort. I’m not a fan of getting up early for the sunrise. But, as I get older I find that I often awaken early. Of course, it helps if you are sleeping on a bluff overlooking the ocean facing to the east. The sunrises were spectacular. A dhow might sail across the scene for interest and depth. In the lower corner is the reflection from the infinity pool. I just like the mood. Sunrise and sunset can be mistaken for one another because of similarities in the lighting. Rather than correct for the exposure I like the darkened foreground in this photo.
Shooting Star resort. I have many photos of hibiscus flowers made over the years from tropical climes I have visited. My first memory were of the flowers in Hawaii. One early sunrise at the Shooting Star, as I walked by this blossom, I noticed the high key light on the yellow flower. Once home, I edited this photo and converted it to a sepia toned image. It makes stunning graphic interpretation of a flower that I have seen many times before. The conversion tones give the image a surreal glow. I really don’t recall having to do too much post processing. All the elements were just perfectly setup for this image to work.
Shooting Star resort. The dhow is the signature vessel of the sea in these parts. They are rough hewn and narrow. Outriggers are necessary to balance the boat. A sail can be raised and these small craft are quite swift. The boats are used for transport and fishing. Here on the beach, many craft are available to provide rides for visitors. Julia and I declined because we were unsure of their seaworthiness. And, both of us get seasick. I think I got better photos outside the boats than I would have gotten from a ride on board.