My Photography

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A pretty little puppy puzzle

This summer Othman engaged in two different but very American activities— garage saleing and making puzzles. While I guess Americans don't have the exclusive monopoly on either of those activities, they do both often. He snagged the puzzle below at a garage sale one day in August for free, because it the owners didn't have the accompanying picture, and just wanted to get rid of it. 

We brought it back to Morocco for some puzzle time fun. I knew it was greenery and an animal or two from the start, and at first I thought it might be a horse. Once I got this far I thought kitten.

I periodically Whatsapped my mom photos of the progress, complaining about how crazily difficult it was without the picture. Progress was slow and this went on for many weeks.

One day during my fall break I got down to business and spent about 3 hours on the puzzle while listening to my book on Audible. (I honestly can't remember what book it was perhaps Turgenev's Fathers and Sons? Or maybe it was Awakenings by Oliver Sacks. Not sure.) Halfway through I was thinking the kittens might be guinea pigs after all, but not long after I realized they were...

Puppies! And then I spent another hour or so on it.

Othman, who had been distinctly unhelpful for the month or so I worked on it, did help a lot with the final push, and we finally finished it! One piece flew out the window or otherwise lot itself lost in the process, but I was sure happy to have it done.

Plus now I have a picture for the next time anyone wants to do it! Friends in Morocco any takers?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mountain air, mountain streams

Living in Casablanca doesn't provide many opportunities to get out my camera, so I was determined that during our little vacation I'd have fun with my Canon!

My project for the weekend was to experiment with long exposure. On Saturday morning when we asked at the hotel for some ideas of good outings one of the suggestions was the Setti Fatma waterfalls. Deep in the foothills there is a hiking trail that leads to seven waterfalls, which consecutively get bigger and prettier. Although the gloomy skies threatened imminent rain, we decided to go for it.

The hike was rather more intense than we expected (to be honest we didn't realize it was a hike at all and weren't exactly dressed for one), and was very bizarre in a Swiss-Family-Robinson kind of way (as a colleague who visited that same day put it). All along the rocky, steep trail were restaurants, trinket vendors, snack places, and more... it was surreal. We stopped for an orange juice that costs 4dh in Marrakech, and there it was 10dh. Why? They have to lug the oranges all the way up there! I don't have any pictures of the stands though, because the close quarters would have made my big camera feel very intrusive.

We made it to the first little waterfall and I hopped over the stream to some big rocks on which to set up my camera, having forgot my tripod. Othman was very patient as I fiddled endlessly with the settings and waited (rather more impatiently) for the endless groups of people to get out of my shots. It was fun and I was rather pleased with my attempts!

Soon it began raining in earnest and we decided that the 20-25 minutes we had hiked up was enough for us. We headed back down the path, stopping quickly for one more picture.

The roads in the area, despite being somewhat terrifying and despite the gloomy weather, remained spectacular.

On the way to Setti Fatma we had decided to eat at one of the restaurants that littered the side of the road, sitting right on the water. We knew that the food would be essentially the same at each of them (tagine, tagine, and more tagine), so we waited for a pretty one to stop:

Not a bad lunch spot eh?? We loved the bridges. The rain was steady and the wind was cold, so our piping hot tagine and mint tea were well appreciated as we listened to the rain and the water and drank in all the nature we crave when stuck in Casa.

Plus, who wouldn't want to eat at an outdoor restaurant that has a pleather couch in the river?? 

I was just sad it was cold and rainy so we couldn't enjoy prime seats like these. I'm sure in the summer they're delicious.

Overall, it was one satisfying outing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A breath of fresh air

Finally, finally, last weekend this happy guy and I got to take a little vacation from our industrial city,

trading exhaust fumes for fresh mountain air, and the endless noise of humanity for a silence broken only by bugs, birds, and wind.

We stayed in a hotel which lay between dry, desert-y Marrakech,

 and the refreshing foothills of Oukaimden, one of the few mountains in Morocco with year-round snow.

The hotel had a huge rooftop terrace which allowed for endless phototaking opportunities...

including old-fashioned selfies (read: timer function on my DSLR),

and silly ones.

The hotel also boasted a nice pool,

and even a peacock wandering the grounds which made me feel a bit like a nature photographer! 

As Othman napped one afternoon I sat on the balcony with my telephoto lens and snapped about a hundred photos of this bird. It wasn't particularly cooperative.

As is evident from some of the above pictures, it rained quite a bit while we were there. But that meant I got to see this:

Plus the thinning clouds made for a breathtaking sunset,

and the view the next morning from our room window was crystal clear.

Breakfast outside the next morning was lovely as well.

The weekend was full of time to appreciate the little moments, the forgotten corners, the silent details.

And it was just what we needed.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A party fit for a prince

 Last Sunday Othman and I attended a party in honor of his cousin Hind's first baby. Little Jalil, now 6 months old, is the first in his generation of babies, and was the prince of the party! I had certainly never been to such a party before, so for those of you not familiar with Moroccan culture this will be an interesting post!

From the very beginning there was a band playing, and the aunties clapped and danced to the music...

along with the proud new grandma!

I took a moment to snap a few family photos of O with his two siblings...

and with his sister and mom!

Around the room, the finery was fine,

and there were waiters and videographers and a full, live band.

Pretty soon Hind and Othmane (same name, different spelling, different guy) paraded in with baby Jalil.

Momma and baby looked amazingly relaxed and at ease as they were carried on the shoulders of four women who danced as they paraded in front of the many guests.

Layers and textures underneath the above scene:

I love this sweet mother-son moment:

The little boys watched entranced...

while more dancing and clapping ensued...

This little princess had the time of her life...

but her more timid cousin wasn't quite as impressed.

Little Jalil shared a few special moments with his great-grandfather,

and the little family posed with Hind's twin siblings.

We wish all health and happiness to this beautiful little family!