They aren’t too photogenic. So the color helps. I apologize for the tree sticking out of his head. We had stopped momentarily. You know. …when everyone is running in four directions and the driver will say, “Get back on the bus,” at any moment. So I was standing and just doing a 360 degree click around with my camera. Later we parked again and I had a longer moment to get another shot of another camel. Anyway the color is for the tourists.
Not to be derogatory, this man was offering camel rides to the passersby. And on this busload of eager nurses I heard one exclaim, “It’s been my dream to ride a camel before I’m thirty.” So I guess this was her lucky day. What can I say? When the light is right shoot away. I could have used some fill flash and maybe composed a bit more off center. But this was a constantly changing target rich photo shoot and I was clicking away as fast as I could go.
I was busy with the camels at this roadside stop. So it was a non-sequitur to have this car stop me and ask that I photograph them. Not one to be impolite, I did it. It’s just that at that very moment, I was having camera panic. The settings had changed and I couldn’t figure out why every image was not focusing. In the meantime, I’ve got a prime time moment and tried to manual focus on the run. It’s not quite right, but close enough to get the point. It turned out that the manual focus button had been pushed. But to go through the check on the run, it’s always hard.
It’s an interesting group. You just see the ‘troop’ hanging out…literally… a behind the scenes look. They are fed from the roadside. Otherwise there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to hang by the roadside. I know the argument against feeding the animals and making them dependent on human processed food. It seems that folks are not yet conscientious. Parenthetically, I was surprised when we dove last week and one of the dive masters pleaded for the divers to respect the Red Sea and its coral, which was dying.
This is a whole lot of potatoes…ok maybe some onions. Either way, I don’t really recall that the average Saudi diet is so full of potatoes or of onions. French fries, yes…but I think McD’s brings theirs in from outside. Anyway it got me to thinking about the weight (obesity) problem. The again, I thought who needs so many 50 pound bags of potatoes. I’m telling you that this was a big warehouse and all the bags were stacked with potatoes… lots of potatoes.
Even in the fruit market, things can get a little crazy. They have men with carts who will move sacks of purchased produce. Two guys were fighting. I wasn’t sure who was crazy. But it appears that the big guy took the head scarf from the little guy and was teasing him. Security arrived and separated the two men before real trouble occurred.
You get up at dawn, travel 80 miles, nearly fry in a hot bus that breaks down, and what is a hightlight of your visit? Yup, we stopped in the local wholesale market and everyone stocked up on produce. Really! No fruit for me, just pictures. The string beans were a mistake. My camera had been set all day to shoot at 1/250sec to minimize the bus movement. I couldn’t do this shot again.
“You touched a camel!!” my daughter exclaimed when I shared this photo. We had searched vainly for a camel to photograph when she visited in March. Yes, Julia. I got right up in its face. Actually, the camels, especially this camel, were quite used to people and did not hesitate to come right to the fence and allow me to touch it. This guy has probably been fed by many visitors in the past. I don’t know… but one could guess. No, he wasn’t smelly, and yes, I used a wipe to wash my hands. One of the nurses was carrying one and pressed it into my hand after the shots.
Sometimes I surprise myself. It’s always a problem at the zoo to get a shot without the distracting cage. I like the juxtaposition of the head and tail, obviously not the same porcupine. Call it coming and going. Otherwise this shot would have been in the discard folder.
We arrived at the zoo. Simon and Garfunkel, it ain’t. It was early and we were the only group, the only people, visiting. It was pretty small and to me, pretty lame. I admit that I did not see this picture first. It was on the internet when I was doing my homework on Taif and it’s sights. Dogs!… from USA! Imagine that??!! They do not like dogs in Saudi Arabia! They are considered unclean. Cats, yes; dogs, no! But there was even a cage with cats. Meanwhile a stray cat wandered by… You’ve got to be kidding me, right?? Please don’t stick your fingers inside.
When we finally arrived in Taif, we were lost. I was traveling with 28 nurses, two husbands and our Arabic driver. What with the different languages, I was not privy to the fact that we didn’t know where to go. We just drove up and down like we didn’t know where to go. So, at one stop I turned around. My companions liked to have their picture taken. Everyone was awake and they all smiled… so I took the picture. It’s not supposed to work out this well in an enclosed space at least 15-20 feet in depth. The depth of field on my camera is not that great and everyone keeps saying that the lens isn’t that wonderful. I would have to say that luck played a role. Not bad… not bad at all.
And the road signs warn drivers about… something you don’t see in the USA. I have to say that I have braked for moose after I saw the sign in Maine. I never saw a moose on the road in Maine. But there was a moment when I realized that hitting a moose would be like hitting a truck. I got the wise notion while driving in the fog in Maine, that the GPS device gave you good forward idea of the road and its curves ahead. The rub is that if you happen upon a moose at high speed, you will hurt yourself. I slowed down and got cautious. So far no sign of any stray camels. I tend to doubt there are any wild ones about. And like moose, for me, any sighting is worth a photograph.
Well, I haven’t been out of town too much. But the nurses organized a trip to Taif and invited me. You cannot not go to Macca as a non-Muslim. So to get to Taif is a round about road. It’s slow… 80 miles, 4 hours. We left at dawn; it was still very dark. I was honorably put into the front ‘shotgun’ seat of the bus next to the motor and the driver. As the dawn lightened, I got the early morning light as it gave me an overlapping view of the mountains. This was shot through the tinted bus windshield, in poor light, and from a bouncing moving vehicle. You don’t always get a shot you can keep, but sometimes…
I was invited to go to Taif. Twenty eight nurses, two husbands, and me. We got to a mountain called Al Hada and were greeted by a tribe of baboons which sit along the roadside and wait to be fed from the passing cars. If you look on google earth there are lots of photos of the area and the baboons.
There’s a difference in taking a picture and looking at one. I don’t think I have taken anything unique, but it is mine. I shot it. And, I was there. That, I guess is all the difference.
We stopped here for about 15 minutes. Most of the nurses were too timid to get off the bus. They were afraid of the wild baboons. I cajoled and some of them got down. We had (at least I did) a great photo op. You could approach so closely that there was no need for a telephoto lens. Earlier at the zoo in Taif we had seen baboons behind two layers of fence. There was no photo op there. But here we were face to face. I just didn’t have the nerve to try and pet one.
The New York Times listed 10 travel sites to bookmark. At the bottom was the Expats Blog that lists 393 blogs by destination. They invite contributors. So all you folks who’ve been traveling and blogging, here’s your chance to link up. It’s cool. It takes a minute. And even better I’m the first blog on the site blogging Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
I digress for a few days. I haven’t dived since Ramadan. It’s experiment day. White balance is a nightmare underwater. My dive instructor took some nice shots and was using the same equipment without flash. He white balanced from a white clipboard. The shots were pretty good. I’ve used flash but a lot of shots were overexposed. Underwater setting produced too much blue green tint. The problem is hard because the color changes as you go deeper. It kind of takes away the spontaneity of the moment. And with fish it’s a 3D world with camera, photographer, and fish in motion at the same time. I used custom white balance and utilized the white underwater flash card on the camera. The main problem is the shutter speed tends to be too slow to stop motion. There are lots of other variables. The lionfish wasn’t moving so that helped here in this image. The color is not quite what I had hoped for. And the original image was upside down because that’s how the fish hoovers. It’s not bad but could use some punch in the color. Flash might have helped. We were moving along too quickly to take more than one or two images.
This would be a ray in the class of flat fish. And after further casual search online, it would be a spotted ray. Duh? We found this guy under a rock. Ha! And since I have seen rays on National Geographic special, I knew the general class. But colorful and with spots, that was special. He didn’t flee. So I was able to get a few shots. Unlike a zoo that has everything all neatly labeled, a coral reef is always full of surprises. This is the only time so far that I have seen a ray.
By the way, my dive instruction has gotten me to the point of advanced open water diver. Mainly that means I have been down to 40 meters and not panicked from nitrogen narcosis. To commemorate the event I took a self portrait with my camera. Having the strap in my right hand I simply shot the image upside down rather than switch hands. On the surface my dive master accused me of confusion. But it wasn’t narcosis, just my usual crazy way of doing things. Upside down comes right side up easily enough in Photoshop.
For a while, I will post to all three of my blogs regarding Saudi Arabia. My secret/insanity/mid life crisis will be now be revealed. I realize that I won’t live past one hundred. What fun would it be to say that I had lived in one place all my life? After letting you all know of my initial cultural shock and adjustment, I will continue the Saudi adventure on the Imaged Event blog, for which my posting has been fairly quiet. Like a diary I will provide observations of life and living in a foreign country. I am sympathetic but not so good on the empathetic side. My experience is giving me a new perspective as someone who is no longer language (English) proficient in learning how to adjust to different customs, food, and culture. I arrived on June 3, 2012, but have delayed posting until I have been in country long enough to get my bearings. My time zones remain completely discombobulated. To repeat, Photo Back Story will chronicle my photographic experience and Imaged Event will transition to my Suadi experience.
Today’s image is of the King. He is old and in poor health according to sources. His heirs apparent have both died and the line of succession is being determined. This seemed like a good place to start.