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The colour red

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I thought it might be fun to theme one of these entries around not a subject matter but a colour. Red is a wonderful colour to use in photography – it pops off the page or screen, adding not only vibrancy but also a sense of perspective.

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Emir Hussein Mausoleum, Shah-i-Zinda, Samarkand

Look at the way the tourist in the red dress and hat leaps out at you in this photo taken at the Shah-i-Zinda in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. This photo is of course predominately blue as are all the mausoleums there, rich with complex mosaics – this one is the Emir Hussein Mausoleum, but all are similarly rich in their decoration.

The remaining photos here though will be dominated by the colour red. Let us see where that theme takes us …

Japan

This is the country that I associate most strongly with red. I have already included lots of photos in my Japan blog so I’ll only add a handful here.

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Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto, and gate at Senso-Ji, Asakusa

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Sanjūsangen-dō Temple - Kyoto

Plant life

Red flowers, red leaves, red berries – all great subjects for photos that ‘sing’. These berries were photographed in December at Druridge Bay on England’s north east coast:

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Winter berries at Druridge Pools

And here is the vivid red of a ginger flower at Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica:

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Ginger lily, Dunn's River Falls, Ocho Rios

And of course we can’t forget poppies, one of my favourite flowers. Italy is a great place to find them, as in this display outside the ancient town walls of Bevagna in Umbria:

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By the town walls, Bevagna

Or these by a roadside in Marche:

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Marche poppies in May

This poppy however was growing in the grounds of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Germany:

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Ehrenbreitstein garden poppy

And this one in a cottage garden in Adlestrop in the English Cotswolds:

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Poppy in an Adlestrop garden, Gloucestershire

[Have you worked out by now that I especially love poppies?!]

But here’s a dahlia for a change, photographed in Pashley Manor Gardens in Sussex, England:

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Dahlia, Pashley Manor

Back in Italy, look at how this red geranium glows against the grey stone steps of Corinaldo in Marche:

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La Piaggia - Corinaldo

And a cyclamen on a windowsill in the old town of Monopoli:

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In the Centro_Storico, Monopoli

Bougainvillea is most often seen with bright purple or deep pink flowers, but there are red varieties too. I came across this one in Faro, Portugal:

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Bougainvillea in Faro

And this at Ngala Lodge in Gambia:

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In the grounds of Ngala Lodge, Fajara

Where I also photographed another of my favourite flowers, a beautiful red hibiscus:

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In the grounds of Ngala Lodge, Fajara

When it comes to edible plant-life, red is often the colour of heat, as in these chillies drying in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

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Chillies for sale, Albuquerque

And in Sorrento, Italy:

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Outside the Fattoria Terranova, Sorrento

Or chilli powder in a Jaipur market:

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In the spice market, Jaipur

Around and about

I found this vibrant red bench in Rapperswil on Lake Zurich:

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Bench near the castle, Rapperswil

And here is a brightly painted Parisian door:

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Door details, Paris

A red Harley in Deming, New Mexico:

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Harley Davidson, New Mexico

And also in New Mexico, these classic red cars in the Route 66 museum in Santa Rosa:

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In the Route 66 Auto Museum, Santa Rosa, NM

And one from Havana, Cuba:

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On the streets of Havana

A bright red chair for sale in an antique shop in Rye, on England’s south coast:

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Shop in Rye, Sussex

And a cheerful red fishing boat in nearby Hastings:

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On Hastings beach

Closer to home, an old fire station just around the corner from my house in Ealing, West London:

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Old Fire Station in South Ealing

Red to wear

What about some colourful red clothing? Such as a scarf wound round the head of a villager in Gambia:

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In Albreda, Gambia

And a beautiful dress worn by a visitor to the Qutb Minar in Delhi:

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Tourist at the Qutb Minar in Delhi

The red turbans of some elderly residents of Narlai in Rajasthan:

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Local men in Narlai

And the dress of a Morris dancer at Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire (northern England):

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400 Roses dancer - costume detail

And finally

The centenary of the outbreak of World War One was marked at the Tower of London with an amazing art installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. A tide of 888,246 ceramic poppies filled the Tower's famous moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. Each poppy represented a British military life lost during the war. The individual poppies were later sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities. I was fortunate to see them in place at the Tower – a powerful statement about the loss of lives, especially young lives, during that war.

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Posted by ToonSarah 05:37 Tagged london boat flowers england japan temple india colour cars italy garden red jamaica usa poppy delhi photography costume gambia narlai Comments (13)

Monochrome

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When we use the term ‘monochrome’ we might be assumed to be talking about black and white photography, but I also like to take colour monochrome photos, by which I mean colour images that consist mainly of shades of a single colour. Let me show you what I mean.

Sunrise and sunset are obvious times of day for such photos as the warmth of the sun tints everything around.

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Sunrise at Souimanga Lodge, Senegal

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A Senegal sunset

The blue light of dusk has a similar effect – and in winter dusk comes early in northern Europe.

In January 2013 we travelled to Tromsø in search of the Northern Lights and were fortunate enough to see them several times. But our time there, and cruising the fjords to the north on a Hurtigruten ship, also gave us the opportunity to see something of this beautiful country, although the days were very short.

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Winter cruise in the Norwegian Fjords

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Tromsø Harbour

The previous year we had visited Iceland on a similar but less fruitful quest, but that trip was even more rewarding photographically speaking, as I hope this, and several others of the photos I've selected for this blog, will show.

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Hafnarfjördur Harbour, Iceland

But bad weather, often cursed by photographers (including me!), can provide great opportunities too. I spent much of our boat trip on Chile's Lago Todos los Santos wishing the clouds would clear so that we could see the surrounding mountains, but in the end I was happy with the moody photos I took there.

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Island on Lago Todos los Santos, Chile

We had similarly damp and dreary weather on the first day of our visit to Japan's Kamikochi National Park. Kamikochi did have a certain beauty in the rain, although it had meant that the mountains we had come to see were hidden from view. Luckily we were to get a glimpse of them on our final morning in the park, but meanwhile there were still photo opportunities to be found.

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Kamikochi in the rain

Unsurprisingly we had some bad weather in Iceland too, although also a couple of glorious days - this isn't one of those!

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Gullfoss panorama

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Upper falls, Gullfoss

While not precisely bad weather, steam from geysers creates the same effect as fog or mist, muting colours and softening the scene.

One of the geysers of Iceland, the Great Geyser (Icelandic name, Stori Geysir) , gave its name to the phenomenon as a whole, with geysers all over the world named after it (geyser is Icelandic for 'gusher'). Sadly the Great Geyser is these days more or less inactive (although occasionally it can be coaxed back into life when artificially stimulated with carbolic soap powder). But luckily another nearby geyser, Strokkur, is much more obliging, and erupts at regular 5-10 minute intervals. It may not reach the heights that its neighbour once did, but at 30 or more metres it is still a pretty impressive sight. And I promise you, these are not black and white photos!

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Strokkur, Iceland

Of course, geysers are not confined to Iceland, and in Chile we visited the famous El Tatio Geysers, best seen at dawn when the steam is most active and visible, and the light is of course subdued.

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El Tatio geyser field, Atacama Desert, just before sunrise

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El Tatio geyser field, Atacama Desert

Similar effects can be found in stark landscapes, where there is little vegetation and colours are often muted. The White Sands of New Mexico are a perfect example. Imagine a desert with dunes that stretch to the horizon, dotted with a few hardy plants and baking under a hot sun. Now imagine that the sand in this desert is not yellow, but as white as snow, and you will have some idea of what it is like here.

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White Sands National Monument

Closer to home, one of my favourite photographic locations is Druridge Bay in Northumberland, preferably on a crisp winter's day.

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Winter scene in the dunes, Druridge Bay

And talking of the Northumberland coast brings us to seascapes. Again, Northumberland provides some of the best.

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Refuge on the Pilgrims' Way, Holy Island

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Gulls and rocks off Boulmer

But perhaps the most dramatic coastal scenery I have been able to photograph to date is that of South Iceland, where big seas and black sands make for exciting views.

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Reynisdrangar seen from Dyrhólaey

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Reflections, Dyrhólaey

Another option for monochrome colour images is to get in close to your subject, so only one colour fits into the frame. Let's finish with some examples of this.

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Indian architecture - Taj Mahal and haveli in Jaisalmer

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Moroccan architecture, Telouet

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Plant pot at the Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto

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Kinkaku-ji: the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

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Antiques in Frenchtown - New Jersey

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Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Posted by ToonSarah 08:20 Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches rain architecture desert new_york japan india colour views chile weather morocco photography seas national_park geysers iceland Comments (10)

Deserts

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I am a regular reader of Wanderlust magazine which always poses a particular question to everyone they interview:

‘Mountain, desert, ocean or jungle - which are you ?’

When I consider what I would reply, I am always torn between desert and mountains as both landscapes create in me the same sense of awe. For this entry though, I will focus (pun intended!) on deserts.

Syria

We were fortunate to have travelled in Syria in 1996, and therefore long before the current troubles facing the country erupted. It was there that I first experienced the vastness of a desert sky, as our bus travelled the long distances between sights. One day I should share my old slides of that trip here but for now here is just one, taken at a remote desert fuel station.

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Syrian desert scene

Tunisia

Here’s an even older photo, showing my very first taste of the desert, on the edge of the Sahara in Tunisia in 1986 – our first sunset camel ride.

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Camel ride in Tunisia

Namibia

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On the road in the Kalahari

A more recent holiday in Africa took us to Namibia, where we hired a car to explore independently. Our route took in both the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, which are very different – the former more scrub, the latter classic sand dunes.

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Kalahari sunset

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The Namib Desert at Sossusvlei

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Big Daddy sand dune, Sossusvlei

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Dead Vlei

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The ultimate desert experience here was our balloon flight over the dunes at sunrise:

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Arizona and Utah

The number of old photos in this blog is emphasising for me how long my attraction to desert landscapes has lasted. Here is a selection from a road trip through the desert states of the US south west back in 1993.

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Arches National Park

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Bryce Canyon

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Uzbekistan

While on a Silk Road tour of Uzbekistan in 2007 we spent one night in a yurt in the Kyzylkum Desert. This is the 16th largest desert in the world and its name means Red Sand in the Turkic language, although as you can see, where we camped the sand was more yellow than red!

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At our Kyzylkum yurt camp

And again we had the obligatory sunset camel ride:

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Rajasthan

These sunset camel rides are becoming a bit of a recurring theme! Here’s our most recent one, in the deserts of western Rajasthan (with apologies for reposting photos of a trip already shared on a separate blog here):

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Desert camp near Samsara

Chile

Most recently I have had my ‘desert fix’ in the Atacama region of Chile. As with Rajasthan, I have shared many photos of that trip on a separate blog here, but here are just a few of my favourites to finish this entry:

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Water in the desert, at the Salar de Atacama

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The Valle de la Luna

Posted by ToonSarah 07:53 Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises desert india chile camp africa camel photography syria past_travels Comments (13)

Faces of the world

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In my last entry, Markets, I mentioned how much I enjoy taking photos of local people on my travels. Of course, people’s willingness to be photographed varies enormously from place to place – they certainly don’t always share my pleasure, I have to confess. I also have to confess to shooting candid photos on many occasions – not only because I realise that my chosen subject may be unwilling to pose but also (and primarily) because I prefer the natural look of an unposed portrait. That said, if anyone sees my camera and asks me to put it away or not take their photo, I always do so.

Africa

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Musician in Essaouira

My experience of photographing people in the various African countries we have visited is quite variable. In Morocco I found most locals very wary of my camera – even to the point that on a recent visit I was challenged to show two men the photo they claimed I had just taken of them, when I had not actually done so. It was only when I showed them every image, right back to those of our flight the previous day, that they believed me. You can imagine that I was very careful not to alert anyone there when taking pictures, and to restrict myself to long range shots. Some of these may find their way into later entries, but this one is focused (literally) on faces.

But in sub-Saharan Africa, on trips to Senegal and the Gambia, I found people much less interested in me and my camera, and portraits were relatively easy to capture.

Gambia

I have already shared some images from the huge street market of Serekunda in my earlier entry on Markets, so here are just a few of the portrait shots I captured there:

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In Serekunda Market

Our tour to the small villages of villages of Albreda and Juffureh offered much better opportunities to take photos of local people. I described that tour as follows on my Virtual Tourist page about the Gambia:

If you have read Alex Haley's book, Roots, have seen the TV series or are simply interested in the history of slavery in The Gambia and West Africa, this tour provides an interesting insight into the places and people behind his story and that of thousands of others. You board a boat in Banjul for the two hour journey on the River Gambia to the villages of Albreda and Juffureh. In the former you visit a museum dedicated to the slave trade and see various monuments to that time, as well as getting the opportunity to observe village life (albeit somewhat distorted by the locals' understandable desire to entertain and thus make money out of the many tourist groups). In Juffureh you meet the village chief (when we visited, February 2014, the role was taken, unusually, by a woman) and also members of Kunta Kinteh's family. The latter was the ancestor of Alex Haley to whom he traced his roots, and this village was his home.

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Kinteh family member, and village chief, Juffureh

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Villager, Albreda

Senegal

To visit the southern part of Senegal, as we did, you need to start in Banjul, Gambia, and catch the ferry across the river – a perfect people-watching and people-photographing opportunity:

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Once in Senegal, we took every opportunity to get out and about from our hotel bases, and met local people wherever we went:

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Local woman in Djifere

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At the market in Ngueniene

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At the market in Ngueniene

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Locals after mass in Mar Lodj, and animal trader in Ngueniene

India

There is no difficulty in India in taking photos of the people. While a few may wave away your camera, most are tolerant of it and many not only willing but eager to pose. As I have said, I prefer a natural look to my photos, so while I will take the posed shots, and show or share them if asked, I usually take a few extra when my subject is less aware that I am doing so.

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Security guard, Khimsar Fort hotel

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In Khimsar

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Locals in Udaipur

On both our recent visits to the country we have spent quite a lot of time driving (or rather, being driven) from town to town, and with all the activity to be seen on and beside the road there are plenty of opportunities to grab some candid shots. I already shared this photo in my Road to Jaipur blog, but it's one of my favourites and I can't resist also including it here:

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Camel herder on the road to Jaipur

Japan

This was another place where I found it very easy to get some good portrait shots, with many people willing to pose or to ignore my camera:

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Wedding at the Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

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Rickshaw driver, Takayama

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Market stall-holder, Takayama

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Two different faces of modern Japan - Buddhist nun and bullet train guard

Latin America

On occasion it is worth ‘paying’ for a shot. The lady below, in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, was happy to pose in return for our purchase of one of the little bead key-rings she was selling, while the guy in Jamaica was equally happy to be in my shot once I had bought a cold drink from his shack:

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Others there though were perhaps just too spaced-out to notice my camera at all!

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Guy selling grass at Bob Marley's birthplace

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At the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston

A few more of my favourites from that part of the world, taken on our recent trip to Chile, and a couple of years ago in Ecuador:

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Kebab seller, Machuca, Chile

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Souvenir seller, Rapa Nui

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In the Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile

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Local in Otavalo market

Europe

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Musician, Tallinn

Special events often provide an opportunity for candid photography, such as the Old Town Days celebrations in Tallinn which I saw while at a Virtual Tourist meeting there in 2014, and the same city’s Medieval Days a year later on a return visit:

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Musician and stall-holder, Tallinn Old Town Days

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Stall-holder, Medieval Days fair, Tallinn

Closer to home

Here’s a selection from much closer to home, in London:

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Performers at a carnival at City Hall, London

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Portobello Road Market

And finally, let us remember that portraits don’t always have to include the face to tell you something about the person portrayed, so here are three photos taken from behind the subject:

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In Rajasthan

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Football fan in Lisbon

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Geisha, Kyoto

Posted by ToonSarah 05:42 Tagged people parties london japan india chile guatemala jamaica photography tallinn ecuador rapa_nui street_photography Comments (8)

Markets

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Another of my favourite subjects for photography is a local market – the more colourful and livelier the better. There are two main attractions for me as a photographer – the variety of often unfamiliar produce on display, and the local people who shop or sell in these markets. I will feature ‘People’ as a theme in a later blog entry for sure, but some are certain to find their way into these market photos too!

Some of the best markets I have visited have been in Africa.

Senegal

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Every Wednesday there is a large market in the village of Ngueniene, which draws people from miles around - to buy or to sell, but also, it seemed to me, to meet and gossip. A visit here is a popular outing for tourists, but still they are hugely outnumbered by the locals and it is a totally authentic experience. In fact there are two markets - one for animals and one for everything else - and I mean everything!

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In the general market, Ngueniene

You have to be a little discreet if you want to get photos of the locals here. Most people don't mind you photographing the goods on sale, and some of the men were happy to be in my photos, but on the whole the women preferred not to be photographed. If they asked me not to, I put the camera down, but I have to admit to shooting a few of these pictures "from the hip"!

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There were exceptions to the 'no photo' rule, as you can see

After spending some time in the main market we moved on to the animal market on the other side of the village, travelling between the two on a traditional horse cart. Here there is a much narrower range of goods on offer – goats, sheep, cows, donkeys and horses. Until very recently, our guide told us, all business was done here by exchange - two goats for one sheep, five sheep for one cow and so on. Nowadays people are more likely to use cash, but some trading still goes on.

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The animal market

While the men we saw were obviously here to sell, it also seemed to me to be a great excuse for them to catch up with friends as there was a lot of standing around chatting going on. I found that they were more relaxed and generally seemed less bothered by my camera than in the busy main market.

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Animal traders, Ngueniene

Gambia

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Serekunda market

Serekunda Market is the largest in The Gambia – a mad melee of sellers, shoppers and a few tourists that pack the streets of this small town every day.

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The market takes place all day and every day. Few Gambian homes have freezers, and with frequent power cuts the fridge cannot be relied on to keep food fresh, so the women (and it is still always the women) shop daily for fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, fish etc. The place was so packed it was hard to make progress at times, especially with the occasional car or bush taxi trying to squeeze through the crowds and the many porters with their wheelbarrows (all licensed by the government, with "number plates" to prove it).

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Tomatoes, palm oil and okra among the goods on sale

Marrakesh

The souks of Marrakesh are perhaps the most photographed markets of all. Unlike in sub-Saharan Africa, I’ve found it much harder here to include local people in my photos as they are really not happy to see a tourist camera pointed in their direction, but if you’re discreet then it can be done:

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In the Northern Medina

North of the Djemaa el-Fna the narrow souks weave and intersect in the most confusing (to the visitor) of manners. Locals outnumber tourists here, even though this is the Marrakesh that everyone comes to see. Donkey carts and mopeds add to the confusion and at times it is difficult to even find the space in which to stand and take a photo! The goods on display are so distinctive and vividly coloured that they form my favourite subject-matter here:

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In Latin American countries too we have been to some wonderful markets. Here is a selection of photos from that part of the world:

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Market day in Petzun, Guatemala

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Bananas for sale, Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala

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Bananas sellers, Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala

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Pisac market stall, Peru

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Pisac, Peru

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Mercado Central, Santiago, Chile

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Roast pig, Otavalo Market, Ecuador

But you don’t have to leave Europe to find colourful markets. Let me finish with a selection of images from several European cities:

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In Riga's Central Market

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Local market in Tallinn

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In Sibiu's produce market

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Melons for sale in Bologna's Mercato delle Erbe

If you've enjoyed this page you'll find lots more of my market photos in my blog entries about Jaipur, Otavalo, Pujili and Munnar, among others.

Posted by ToonSarah 06:38 Tagged people food india peru market bologna fruit chile guatemala romania morocco photography riga vegetables tallinn ecuador marrakesh gambia senegal Comments (8)

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