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Morocco, what a wild adventure


PCNW

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@@xelas Below is a quick example of what those simple edits that I mentioned can do.

 

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Patsy

I regret not going to the desert but logistics were too hard for the short time frame we had. The only flight I could figure out involved backtracking to Casabanca and waiting several hours before getting to Zagora and given we were mainly in Marrakech and Fes, driving a full day to either one of them on the return.

Look forward to your report on the desert portion of your trip. Again, thanks for sharing your exquisite Moroccan portraiture - my pictures pale by comparison. Brings back lovely memories of the trip.

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PCNW,

I really like this Snapseed processing...and I noticed there is a version for Mac. I need to look into that :)

 

Thanks for the pic example and the post-processing details.

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@@PCNW & @@xyz99

 

I have to apologise to both! Obviously I am so impressed by photos that I see PCNW everywhere :blink: !

 

Anyway, yes, Morocco is long on the list of Apr/May or Oct/Nov shorter trips.

 

 

Thanks for the tips. Lifting shadows from files produced by D800 or D4 is a way to achieve that special look. I need to use this technique more, now that I own a D610.

 

Snapseed ... Zvezda has it on her iPad. I have tried AuroraHDR on Mac but not overly impressed.

 

Looking forward for more great photos!

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A Near Miss

 

Our last day in Fez our riad was to wake us at 3:30am, feed us and take us to the airport at 4:00 for our 5:55am flight so when 4:15 came and we hadn’t seen or heard a soul we figured we were not getting to the desert that day or any day since the next flight was in four days.

 

Thank goodness for adenoids because the night manager who was sleeping in a little room by the front office that we had just ransacked started snoring. We banged and yelled and finally got him up, gathered our suitcases from three flights up, hustled through the medina as fast as my short legs would go and flew through the night to the airport barreling through intersections without slowing much less stopping and only flashing our lights but we made it.

 

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We landed in Zagora, met another driver and headed past the last military post, the last town and where the electrical poles and asphalt road just stopped. It was a three hour drive to the camp over the bumpiest road and to within 60 km of Algeria but we only got stuck once in the thick sand so there is that. Anyone with back issues would blow a gasket I suspect.

 

We slept in big tents with a bathroom but not the kind we're used to. To bathe you put a big bucket outside and the guys fill it with scalding water. You sit on a wooden bench and take a bowl, mix the hot water with cold water from another bucket and pour it over yourself. The toilet is a self contained porta potty that you rinse with water after use from another bucket and bowl.

 

 

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Desert Camp

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Our Bath

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In our tents there are only two electrical outlets so you have to make a decision about light, fan, charging, etc. The elect. is very iffy and if the day is cloudy like one of our days you run out of juice mid afternoon and then eat, bathe and sleep by candle light.

 

The desert was such an awesome place we opted to stay a third night. There were so many things that offered photographic opportunities that two days just wasn't enough. What a really, really cool place.

 

Our Bakery

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Highlights:

 

Watching the Berber ladies make and bake the camp bread in a three sided hut and cooking it in a fire dug into the ground.

 

Riding the camels to watch the sunset only to get caught in a windstorm and hurrying back with grit imbedded everywhere. My camera has really taken a beating.

 

Going to an oasis and seeing an old goat herded that would for the price of a cigarette fake laugh, sounding like a donkey when told to smile for my pics. and that had us braying like donkeys.

 

Meeting a nomadic Berber family and being invited inside their tent for that sweet mint tea. This gentleman broke his hip, was driven 9 hours to Marrakesh and came back to this tent and huts to recover after his surgery.... Not a bed, couch or chair anywhere. Just rugs on the floor.

 

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Oh man @@Alexander33 you're killing me with your Cambodia story. Neither my husband nor three sons are interested in going and Caroline has just started nursing school but I've been eyeballing a photographic trip with Nathan Horton for some time. He now has added another trip that's even more off the beaten path than his usual ones. I just might go by myself.

 

@@xyz99 I'd be glad to share my info.

Casablanca: Hotel Spa Le Doge

Transportation to Chaouen: http://badrane-tours.com

Chaouen: Lina Ryad

Fez: Karawan Riad. I arranged for them to send a driver for us from Chaouen.

There's a flight from Fes that leaves at 5:55 am, goes back to Casa then down to Zagora.

Erg Chigaga/Sahara Desert: Luxury Desert Camp and they will pick you up at the airport or arrange transportation from any location. Nick Garsten is the co owner and can help with all of your trip arrangements if you need him to.

I had the same driver take us to Marrakesh.

Were were going to break up the return trip by staying in Ait Ben but ended up spending an extra night in the desert and driving straight through to Marrakesh.

Marrakesh: La Villa Orangers

Madrid: The Ritz Hotel.

 

For details on the only flight to the desert for anyone who will try and replicate @@PCNW 's trip (and I suspect they will be several after reading this report)

 

The only Air Moroc flight to Zagora (which is the closest airport to the desert) is from Casablanca and this one flights leaves CMN fairly early (9 am?) ONLY twice a week- Mondays and Thursdays and returns back to CMN around noon. More details here:http://wildmorocco.com/flights-to-zagora-airport/

So if flying both ways you need to stay either 3 or 4 days. Alternatively drive to your next destination typically Fes or Marrakech which is a full days drive.

Wish they had Safari type small plane operations so one could go for a couple of days easily, for those with limited time (like me :( )

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Atravelynn

So much beauty! And then there is the donkey wife shot. Perfectly timed and hilarious.That was quite the spa day you had.

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AKR1,

Thanks for that info - now I see why most people drive there, as a destination between Fez and Marrakesh.

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Earthian

The shot of your daughter with the camel: Pure class- you are gifted. Ditto with the dunes.

Missed the photos of the massage though! :)

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@@AKR1 Thank you for the plane info for the others. When I started looking at this trip I wanted to cut out as much travel time as possible like we do when on safari but it's just not possible to do in Morocco. Very few domestic flights and all/most going back through Casa. It's a drive and see the country sort of place. That flight makes sense if you want to miss Marrakesh and fly out of Casablanca and in hind sight we really didn't see anything in Marrakesh that we hadn't seen/photographed before.

 

Thank you @@Earthian and Lynn.

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Desert Camp Cont.

 

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We had all kinds of weather in the desert, hot, cold, windy and rainy but most of the time it was just pleasant, this was late October, a good time to go apparently. We did sit in lounge chairs in the heat one afternoon swatting flies and wondering when, please Lord, will the breeze start again??

 

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Luxury Desert Camp does an all around great job and they’ve found several ways to keep you entertained. One morning we were invited into this hut to watch how this mother daughter team baked bread. And while I suspect it’s mostly for show…..they do have an building where they cook delicious meals… it was entertaining.

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Atravelynn

You mentioned you enjoy taking people photos. The people you took seemed to be enjoying it too. That's fortunate, as it is not always the case.

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You mentioned you enjoy taking people photos. The people you took seemed to be enjoying it too. That's fortunate, as it is not always the case.

My experience attempting to photograph the locals in Morrocco was very different. The only ones I was able to photograph directly were merchants we bought stuff from, food vendors and staff at hotels, drivers etc. I was specifically told not to ask locals if I could take their picture unless you were prepared to pay, and never women and children. My local folks pictures were mostly with a zoom from a distance.

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One day while we traveled around the desert by car we visited with this gentleman and his camels who had walked over an hour each way to collect water from this community well.

 

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On our way into the Sahara we had stopped at a Berber market and our driver bought us a box of sweet dates. Everywhere we went Caroline got his money's worth by offering dates to nomads, camels, donkeys, mules......she made new friends with most of Morocco.

 

 

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This is the goat herded at the oasis that would for the price of a cigarette and when prompted to smile for the camera would fake laugh sounding like a braying donkey.

 

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This is the home and family of the nomadic Berber gentleman that broke his hip and following surgery came back here to recover ….no chairs, beds, couches. Can you imagine how difficult that would be? We were invited in for sweet mint Moroccan tea and although they didn’t speak any English we communicated with hand gestures and smiles.

 

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And while we sipped a bottle of wine in the shade of a thorny acacia tree the guys gathered firewood for a fire, cooked us beef and chicken kabobs and we had a picnic lunch. Then like a Disney movie about 30 baby goats suddenly came running over a hill bleating their pleasure at finding the well of water that was nearby. And once again our dates came in handy.

 

 

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@@PCNW

 

A real story from today. I have asked Zvezda (my wife & the photographer in our family) to look at your photos, in an attempt to put Morocco more firmly on our travel list.

 

After she finished she said: "Great! See, that lady knows how to get the right photo."

I looked at her: "How do you mean ... lady?!"

Zvezda: "This is obvious a women photographer. You can see that from her photos. No man would ever choose the same moments and the same angles."

 

Honestly, although a bit perplexed by the hammam story, I was under impression this was a father-daughter trip :huh: . Anyway, compliments also from her side.

 

 

And, I need to stop reading about the cameras and lenses, and start working on my PP skills. Maybe it is finally time to exchange the ViewNX with Lightroom.

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Oh my gosh @@xelas you have me laughing at your story. Zvezda is correct......mother/daughter. And I get it that most aren't interested in so many photos (and believe me I've restrained myself) of Caroline but those photos are so much apart of our trip and my story so I can't help myself. Thanks for following along. Almost done.

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@@PCNW

 

Patsy, I am so sorry, I should really do some research first (because obviously I cannot rely on my memory due to age etc :huh:) and not jumping into conclusions.

 

And Zvezda did not mention the photos of Caroline per se (BTW, that "distant future" was in reality quite near - Predators of Montana, post #1 ... you see, I did do my research, finally :P ) but she referred to the overall aspect (or perspective) of your photos, and the message they are giving to a viewer.

 

Not one photo too may, IMO. Specially the portraits are true works of art!

 

 

After re-reading the hammam part again, I was having a good laugh at myself ... obviously I need some extra lessons in English language ... or Urban Dictionary ... :)

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Atravelynn

@@PCNW

 

A real story from today. I have asked Zvezda (my wife & the photographer in our family) to look at your photos, in an attempt to put Morocco more firmly on our travel list.

 

After she finished she said: "Great! See, that lady knows how to get the right photo."

I looked at her: "How do you mean ... lady?!"

Zvezda: "This is obvious a women photographer. You can see that from her photos. No man would ever choose the same moments and the same angles."

Fascinating. Your photos are causing a stir PCNW. Back to my comment on the subjects enjoying the experience, I must expand that to the goats and camel. The photo of your daughter, right after the sentence where you mention goats streaming onto the scene, looks like a magazine photoshoot that took careful arrangement.

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@@Atravelynn Too funny you mentioned the arrangement because what I should have done IS arrange the wine glasses behind the bowl of fruit, remove the water bottle, turned the wine bottle label facing the camera and waited until Caroline's mouth wasn't full. That's what I would normally do when thinking but the wine was mostly gone by this time.

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Last of the Desert…I promise

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We met some folks that came all the way out for one day and I just couldn’t understand that. But I guess if it were more about the journey than the destination this would make sense. But for someone that enjoyed photography, experimenting with light and had a reluctant but willing model 3 days would be about right….I don’t like wasting time moving and packing so 4 days would have been great.

 

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This camel was acting like a donkey by being an ass…..

 

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Highlights cont.

 

Sitting on a dune having a sundowner with the camp co-owner, Bobo, a nomad himself who has never been to school, while watching the sunset.

 

Cuddling a newborn goat. Seeing herds of camels, donkeys, goats and sheep roaming free across the desert followed by a herder.

 

Bathing out of buckets by candlelight as the staff sang and played their drums by the fire outside our tent one night.

 

Waking in the middle of the night to total darkness and thinking my eyeballs were broken.

 

I could go on and on.....

 

http://www.desertcampmorocco.com

 

There are actually two camps by this same name. Nick Garsten is the co owner and can help you plan a trip if you want some help.

 

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I love, love, love your pics....more, please. More pics and stories :)

 

I was wondering, what about the stars at night in the desert? No night photography?

 

How was riding a camel? How long is the ride? Any funny stories about that?

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