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Enactment

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Then there are encounters in which you are invited to take photos. Do so. Just don’t make a big deal over it. Therefore, no flash please. I was in the old city – Balad – and it was heritage time. The area is lit and has been renovated and people are invited to see old Arabic life before cell phones. This group was having a loud animated conversation. Hey, it’s why I went over. It looked like a fight. But they were just having a friendly loud discussion and the intent was to draw attention to themselves. The guy in the middle has an old iron, you know, the kind they heat – no electricity. It was animated and made for a good photo op. You settle for less than ideal exposure. And no, a movie would not have added anything. The acting wasn’t that good.

Encounter

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What did I just say a day ago? There are concrete benches along the corniche. About six foot in length I do what everyone does, I sit in the middle and basically transmit body language, go away, this is my turf. Three Egyptian guys eyed me. Then they sat on either side with the third guy standing to my left. They proceeded to have a conversation around me talking right to left and left to right passing their phone back and forth. I was virtually engaged unwillingly. Anyone else might have risen but I was in my own phone messaging in a conversation 6000 miles away to home. I was oblivious to the Arabic conversation and they could not read my texts. They bought seeds from a vendor and proceeded to munch. Eventually, one guy offered me some seeds. I declined. And then, they asked where I was from. This led to the guy on my left pulling his phone and asking me to listen to a recorded phone call from Canada. He had been contacted about immigrating to Canada. He spoke no English and wanted me to tell him what it meant. Well, this bordered on the absurd since I speak little Arabic. He showed me an internet ad promising immigration for $70 – scam! I was able to shake my head and warn them. Who, I mean really, who, records their phone conversations. You get a call. It doesn’t say, “We are the Canadian embassy.” But you record it? Anyway the three guys were done siting. They left but not before one asked me to take his picture. Ok. Done. What am I supposed to do with the picture? The other two declined to join. Odd. I realize I don’t understand the culture. But this was odd in almost any way I look at it. I’m sitting in the middle of the bench. I’m from New York. Back off! This is my space. Yeah, it was pretty funny.

Street Photography

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I confess I’m too shy to stop and ask to take a picture. There are those who say the spontaneous moment is lost as soon as someone poses. I’m shy. So just point and shoot. Remember, shutter 1/100. Wide angle setting and the autofocus will save you, mostly. You end up with lots of duds. And then there are interesting keepers. Here and there you take a little time to compose. Not much time, remember, I’m shy and I don’t want a confrontation. Interestingly I stand out as a foreigner. And I am ignored. I walk invisibly and observe a foreign culture and am largely ignored. Nighttime is when the market is hopping. Smartphones are pretty much everywhere.

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Wallet? I think that my wallets are all from street vendors – under $10 – my price.

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As to legality, you are legally an unwilling target whenever you are in public. However, you do not want to be confrontational. The caveat, don’t be noticed, and don’t invite controversy.

What’s This?

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Ah, an interesting question for the young. I know and I suppose it’s not too much of a mystery if you are of a certain age. I guess that I have not been in a store looking for such a device in a very long time. The last I remember was as a kid, we kept one in the garage. Then I didn’t have a garage for about fifty years. So, it’s entirely possible you don’t know this thing. It is an aerosol sprayer. Add insecticide and spray away whatever, mosquitoes, I guess. What happened to the cans of Raid. And while I’m on the subject, it is very popular to come through my compound with a fog spray device and bomb the bushes and trees. Once again this is for mosquitoes. Is it dangerous? I would not breathe the stuff. Apparently the workers don’t think to much of breathing the stuff. But it is toxic, otherwise why use is on bugs. Dose dependent? And toxic. They spray pretty regularly. No water? No mosquitoes. But apparently there is enough standing water to be a problem. I like the brand – “Lucky.” Oh yeah!

Rush Hour

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The cornice is very popular. It’s a strip of sea front park that has been renovated and made people friendly with grass and walkways. I was surprised that it was pretty empty on a weekend afternoon. The place in the background is a royal construction and the tower behind it is said to be for six star guests of the kingdom. I was told that it means that mortals are not welcome. There is a lot of foot traffic in the park, so much so that there is virtually no grass, hence the brown dirt surface.

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And there are rugs laid out in different spots. And periodically people gather to pray. They are aiming east. But, it looks so incongruous. People march about. Men pray.

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Women may not be near. They stay to themselves. And everyone looks to me to be praying to the god of traffic parking spots.

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Concrete or dirt? It’s like the question paper or plastic in the grocery. In Jeddah it is all plastic (bags). But where to sit? Concrete or dirt. …or a little of each?

Old and New

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Hoverboard is a term and phenomenon that exploded into my consciousness recently. It was a mythical device shown in the movie Back to the Future. Kids are now on it all over the place. Where have I been? Under a rock, obviously…. And they are dangerous, lots of orthopedic fractures have resulted. There’s video where they explode – unintended of course. But, I digress. I’m catching the sunset at the cornice and there are two guys (yeah, large kids ride these things sometimes) in my frame complete with sunset afterglow and the world’s tallest fountain. Yes, an interesting commentary starts. Old vs new, make way for the modern. Two cultures are clashing, each oblivious to the other. Smart phone in hand, it’s another way of showing that you are cool and ignore the world around you. Sunsets are a dime a dozen. The guys are looking in different directions. The old and the new, someday oil will be exhausted and then what? Yeah, then what? Meanwhile, kids are short because the fall to the ground off a hoverboard is less. I guess I’m too old for this. Or, it’s a long way to fall…

Noise

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This is a technical point to make about shooting. And it is probably not relevant to the smart phone/iPhone crowd because you don’t have a real camera. Noise is what the purists complain about when the ISO is too high and the image is grainy. And I say, you could not even hope to get an image before digital was in wide use. Right now the cameras are able to get a decent image in virtual darkness. What latitude and opportunity! This image is at ISO 6400. Don’t bother if you don’t know what ISO means. It’s an old film term. And then I let the camera pick its settings. All I did was set the parameter that the minimum shutter speed needed to be at least 1/100 sec. And then I enlarged the image. Yeah, pretty neat! Sometimes I surprise myself. So this image in virtual darkness will not make purists happy. Sure zoom and shoot with flash and so forth. Street photography in the dark is an art. And this cat was not waiting around for me to set up things. Right tool right place, cameras rule!

Covered Mall

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A long continuous awning…It’s for the heat of the day. At night they turn on the lights. Women sit on blankets and sell wares. Tiny shops line this alley. During the day you need the shade. At night this is just a throughway.

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There’s plenty of action. But as far as traditional stores this is far from organized. But the real reason for the images is that at night the lighting is conducive to get a decent exposure. During the day shade is deep and lighting is poor.

Seen In The Marketplace

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Sticks, I gotta ask. I have no idea. They sell bundles. Can’t you just get sticks in the bushes and make your own. Not toothpicks. Not walking sticks. Not firewood. Sorry, I shouldn’t post something I have not researched. Hey, it’s a photography blog. I’m not a historian. While we’re on the subject…tomatoes. How’d we switch to tomatoes? …because it’s my blog and I have a picture of tomatoes for sale.

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They are not good tomatoes. It’s a neatly stacked pile. They are orange. They are hard. They are tasteless. And while I watched a bunch of them dropped to the ground. They picked them up and continued business. People buy them up. And how would you ever know they hit the ground?

Invisible

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Here’s an image that is at once interesting and controversial. She was crawling up the street. She’s not Saudi – the dress is not Saudi. And she’s crippled. She has a spinal deformity. And it appears there are contractures. Sorry, this may not be a PC image. However, something I often do is observe gait and then try to guess the disease. People go by with cervical collars. Are they recovering from and accident or from surgery? So this poor young woman is suffering from a chronic ailment and has no access to healthcare. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to offer free care. Yeah, it’s sad. People cleared a space around her as she crawled. They otherwise ignored her. Invisible, how very sad.

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