There are certain places, certain names, that just have a resonance and conjure up all kinds of images in our heads, associations with stories of far away places that we've carried with us all our lives. The Amazon. The Himalayas. Patagonia. The Sahara.
Whilst I'm lucky enough to have spent time in and photographed the Amazon, there are still many other evocative places on my list of trips I want to make, so I'm really excited to be visiting one of those places, one of those names, next week.
We've packed up the car, and tomorrow morning we'll set off on a 3300km round trip to the edge of the Sahara and back. First through Portugal to southern Spain, then across the mouth of the Mediterranean, and into Morocco. Our first stop there will be Fez, where I'm hoping to do lots of street shooting in the Medina and the souks. I've got a vague kind of agenda, I want to shoot the tanneries, the silk dyers district and some craftsmen at work.
I always find it's mistake to go to a new place with fixed ideas of what you want to shoot though, so I'm trying to keep an open mind, and just see what opportunities arise.
I visited Marrakech a few years ago, back when photography was a new thing for me, and although I'm happy with some of the shots I took (I've included some of them on this blog), they display my then fixation with only shooting wide angle (something I've now moved on from) and they're all quite static, not really capturing the movement and freneticism of the souks. So this time I'm hoping to shoot with a much wider range of focal lengths, and to do lots of panning and blurring, and really attempt to capture the soul and dynamism of the city.
After Fez, we make the long trip down through Morocco, across the Atlas mountains, out onto the stone desert around Rissani, and then to Erg Chebbi, the "head of the dunes" and the beginning of the Sahara. I'm looking forward to shooting abstact dune images, taking advantage of the clear, dry skies with no light pollution for star trails and night time shots, and of course, I'm hoping to get some environmental portraits of the Berber people. We'll spend a couple of nights at a stone kasbah at the edge of the dunes, and then a night in tents in the desert itself (with a guide and a cook of course).
After leaving the Sahara, we'll head back north, stopping off at the Roman site of Volubilis before arriving in Chefchaouen, the "blue town". Again, lots of street shooting around the medinas, taking advantage of the strong colours is on the agenda here. A couple of days there, and then back across the water to Spain, and then back home to Lisbon to give the car a well deserved rest.
For this trip I've kacked the usual gear (D3, 17-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 80-400mm and 50mm f1.8), but I'm also taking a D90 along for the ride. My wife is keen to learn more about photography and take her own shots, and it never hurts to have a back up camera (although I've never yet had a camera fail on me, touch wood), so seeing my wife's images is going to make this trip double-y exciting.
I can't wait to get going.