Morocco 2011


I spent 5 days in morocco travelling to 3 cities, it was quite a challenging experience in a country where alot of people do not like their photo taken and will mostly shy away from the camera. Matters were not helped by being here at the same time Al Quaeda decided to bomb tourists at a neighbouring cafe where I sat down for drink.

 1/3200 sec     f/2.8     iso 200    16mm
I didnt really know what to expect when arriving in africa for the first time, I had my preconceived images of Morrocco, what i found in Casablanca was a very modern city with skyscraper hotels, mercedes benz cars, and huge advertisements from multinational companies.

   1/1250 sec    f/2.8    iso 200    17mm
I just love to watch the day to day interactions of the locals just to get a more authentic flavour of place.

disenchanted youth
 1/800 sec     f/2.8     iso 200    26mm

the winner
 1/8000 sec     f/2.8     iso 200    16mm
Winners are the name of the ultra fanatical supporters group of the citys football team...Wydad Casablanca This supporters group has its own logo consisting of a red beret clad masked face.

falling down
 1/4000 sec     f/4.5     iso 200   16mm

hassan II
 1/5000 sec     f/5     iso 200   210mm
The Hassan II Mosque named after Morocco's King, built in Casablanca and sits looking out to the alantic coast, it is the 5th largest in the world, with the worlds tallest minaret at 210m. Construction started in 1986 and finished in 1993 (costing $800million)

 1/1000 sec     f/9     iso 200    130mm
This reminded me of my childhood playing football in the school playground, but except I didnt have the stunning background view.

the pro
 1/400 sec     f/5.6     iso 200    16mm
The fountain at "Place Mohamed V" in Casablanca, a favourite destination for tourists, the photographer was charging money for taking photos of the tourists. I was trying to photograph the pigeons behind, but he proceeded to get in my frame and photogragh me aswell. I just looked at him with a bemused face as he showed me my portrait on his camera screen, thinking I would be impressed.

green beret
 1/1000 sec     f/5.6     iso 200    240mm
A guard stands watch at the french consulate in Casablanca. Morocco was a french protectorate 50 years ago and they still have a lot of influence here. An example was that all the bars and restaurants preferring to use french over english in their menus.

 1/800 sec     f/5.6     iso 200    50mm

Sleeping in the doorway of one of 500 branches of the Moroccan BMCE bank.

 1/40 sec     f/8     iso 1000    16mm

A lady selling freshly opened oysters at 10 Moroccan Dirhams each. I would have eaten more than 2 pieces if only I did not spend half my time trying to get a good shot out of it.

snail paced
 1/60 sec     f/5.0    iso 1000    95mm
A worker rests as the main day's business has finished up at the french influenced Casablanca central fish market.

deep thought
 1/8000 sec     f/4.5     iso 320    16mm
Tourists and locals alike admiring the views along the alantic coast. Its a favourite pastime of casablancans to come down to the beach at the weekend

sea view
 1/3200 sec     f/7.1     iso 320    50mm
I would just love to own this house/hotel looking out onto the alantic ocean.  

 1/2000 sec     f/6.3     iso 500    200mm
For 5 mins I observed this couple holding each other trying to not kiss. In this mainly muslim country publicly holding hands is fine, but kissing is avoided, or atleast thats what I read. I could spot none of the usual uninhibited amorous young couples embracing like in most western countries.

the follow
 1/8000 sec     f/5.6     iso 500    70mm
I was back tracking to avoid the incomming tide on the beach in Casablanca observing the locals looking so free and easy. Light was changing fast and I didnt have time to change camera settings as the 2 boys ran in and out of my frame whilst trying to also capture the sun piercing though the clouds.

the rock
 1/125 sec     f/5.6     iso 250    16mm

oum er-rbia river
 1/400 sec     f/8     iso 100    50mm
At 500km, oum er-rbia is the longest river in morocco, this part is near Mechra Benabbou halfway between Casablanca and Marrakech. This was shot on a moving train.

 1/400 sec     f/8     iso 100    50mm
Second photo shot on the train from casablanca to marrakech. I was surprised to see that there is so much flat land occassionally broken up by some small hills. These sheep farmers look to have no issues finding fresh pastures for grazing.

night rider
 1/100 sec     f/4.5     iso 800    16mm
First night arriving in marrakech just after sunset I walked the famous square, I was hit by a huge sensory overload, with an array of people peddling their wares, trying to get me to part with my money, all I wanted to do was photograph.

kitchen boy
 1/60 sec     f/4     iso 800    16mm
A boy taking a breath in the busy kitchen one the many food stalls that temporarily pitch tents and do brisk business every night in Jemaa El Fna square. 

nuts and dried fruit
 1/200 sec     f/5     iso 800    150mm

 1/125 sec     f/4     iso 800    35mm
Customers haggling at the souk, the commecial area of the city of marrakech, everything is on sale.

 1/1250 sec     f/5.6     iso 250    16mm
A watchmen immitates the long dead royal occupants at the Saadian tombs in old medina section of marrakech.

 1/125 sec     f/5.6     iso 250    16mm
There is a large population of cats in Marrakech, this one is sleepy escaping from the scorching mid day heat under a wheelbarrow.

a quiet moment in old medina
 1/320 sec     f/6.3    iso 320    260mm

 1/125 sec     f/6.3     iso 320    140mm
Islam is the main religion in Morocco and muslims will stop work and pray at set times in the day whether or not they are in a mosque. Here a worshiper uses some makeshift cardbord to enable him to do his afternoon prayers next to his donkey standing patiently at the side of the road.

man in the mirror
 1/80 sec     f/5     iso 320    100mm
Locals gathering at one of the many cheap food stalls around the Jemaa El Fna square at marrakech.

red walls
 1/3200 sec     f/4.5     iso 320    100mm
All buildings in marrakech are painted red by law, and are not allowed to be painted any other colour.

the minaret
 1/6400 sec     f/5     iso 320    100mm

atlas mountains
 1/2000 sec     f/5.6     iso 250    275mm
You can take a 1 hour ride out of marrakech to climb the atlas mountains, this range stretches for 2000km over north africa, its main population are the Berbers who are predominately farmers.

 1/1000 sec     f/5.6     iso 200    300mm

In one of the many towns near the foot of the Atlas Mountains, a Berber woman and her grandson lead their sheep over a narrow rickety bridge on the way to the local market.

 1/10 sec     f/5.6     iso 200   70mm
Jemaa El Fna square (ironically translates as square of death), was typically bustling with people eating at that food stalls and shopping at the souk (background). This shot was taken from the upper balcony of the cafe that was next to the one that eventually got bombed the very next day.Its scary to know that terrorists were probably eyeing up all the cafes somehwere amongst crowd here.

 1/30 sec     f/2     iso 800    50mm
Chicken tajine (or tagine), from La Sultana hotel in Marrakech. Its named after the red earthen pot which is used to slowcook lamb and chicken. Typically served with couscous. Most places in Morocco sell this, and I think its tastes average, but the version from this 5 star hotel's restaurant, was fantastic. This shot was lit by a single candle.

outside the butchers
 1/800 sec     f/5.6    iso 500   285mm
Shot at 11:14am. A man waits outside a butcher in one of the many satellite towns between Marrakech and Essaouira and about this time, the bomb went off in Marrakech. I had no idea what had just happened.

 1/500 sec     f/5.6     iso 400    16mm
At one of the many seafood restaurants in the coastal town of Essaouira, where freshly caught fish is grilled over hot coals for a small fee.

 1/5000 sec     f/5.6     iso 400   300m
the old man and the sea

as soon as i took this shot i immediately thought of the title of the famous Ernest Hemminway novel, later the old man sat down near the rocks, and started looking for mussels.

the birds
 1/2000 sec     f/5.6     iso 400    16mm
Essaouira is 150km west of Marrakech facing the alantic coast, and as a result fishing is one of the main industries. Here fisherman are gutting fish in the looming presence of seagulls scrambling for easy pickings.

 1/125 sec     f/5.6     iso 1000    35mm
carpenter's daughter

the daughter of a local carpenter watches me as i buy some wooden tea trays from her dad.

on the menu
 1/250 sec     f/4     iso 640    35mm
A young boy plays hide and seek outside a restaurant on white wallled the streets of Essaouria.

 1/6400 sec     f/4     iso 500    50mm
Men resting, pondering and going to work. The pace of life seemed slower here in this fishing town than in the bigger cities like Marrakech.

female influence
 1/1600 sec     f/4     iso 500    50mm

 1/4000 sec     f/6.3     iso 400    70mm
Berber women at a market in one of many small towns somewhere between Marrakech and Essaouria.

the water tower
 1/4000 sec     f/6.3     iso 400    70mm
A water tower is one of the few buildings in the scenery. This was taken from a moving taxi along the highway going back to Marrakech airport.

Thanks for viewing and taking time to read. All comments, questions, and critiques below will be put onto the collated guestbook page and your supplied email address will be hidden from public view.

To pre-empt technical queries, I try to travel as light as possible, with a canon EOS 5D and 3 lenses, 16-35mm f2.8L, 70-300mm DO IS, 50mm f1.4. I don't use lens hoods, filters or a tripod. All photos were shot in jpeg mode using a mixture of manual exposure or aperture priority and saved onto a single 32 gig Sandisk card.

Julian Li

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