Volublis, Vespa, Vidi – Travel Photography in Morocco

The Hasselblad SWC/M camera is a strange beast. I never really know what I will capture with it because of the way you need to guess through the viewfinder for focus and framing. Still, this photo of the Fez tanneries is perhaps the only iconic image I was able to capture through this Morocco adventure. Certainly the tanneries are a focal point in the photograph, but what I like is that the thousands of satellite dishes fill the horizon line and there is a bed on the rooftop to the bottom left. The tanneries are an odd place with about ten shops vying for tourist dollars by providing views of the dye baths in return for some time spent looking at their awful quality leather goods. The SWC is a Zeiss 38mm CF version lens, and it is perhaps my favourite camera despite the fact that I miss a lot of shots that I would more easily get with the 501CM and that I would nail with the Canon.

The key to creating superb images with the SWC is to include some foreground that will remain out of focus by proximity, as the bokeh will be super soft and smooth. In the desert mountain images above, I tried to do just that, and I think the results are pretty decent. I am not a landscape photographer, and I found the landscapes in Morocco extremely hard to capture. I might have done better with a 150mm lens to pull it together, but who knows. I would also have needed a tripod for that, and I was already carrying too much in the heat.

Speaking of heat….where we arrived at the ancient Roman ruins of Volublis, it was around 50 degrees Celsius and the sky was blinding: terrible time for photography. Still, we did our best and all I can say is that my metering was WAY, WAY off here. While I thought I might be close to getting a darker column with a bright blue sky, what I ended up with were dark, dark skies and darker columns.

Interesting. Brooding. Perhaps the Roman ghosts preferred me to shoot them this way. For Roman ruins, I rather liked Volublis, but no we did not take the tourist shot filled with various suggestive poses around the temple phallus – our group did enough of that.

Finally, I will end with my last shot of the day: a Vespa-style scooter in the Madrid night. Shooting scooters and motorcycles is always fun, and I like trying to see if I can improve my night shooting, because that is where the most unique lighting comes into play.

I shot this using the Hasselblad 501CM and the 60mm CB lens. On V.’s advice, I took the 60mm as a middle ground between the 50mm and 80mm, but also to give some room from the 38mm SWC. The CB series lenses are great, and I was glad that I bought this one last year. Cheaper that the regular CFi series, but close to the same optically, the CB series is wonderful value to fill in the spaces of a lens set.

Back to work tomorrow. I also need to finish the Paderno catalogue shoot, and then it will be back to school for another year. In some ways I will be glad to get back…I need work for a rest!



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