London and a mixed bag of Photography

Last week I ventured off on a day trip to London.  It had been a while since my last visit and I was long overdue a day of ‘me’ photography.  I had no real agenda and no expectations of what i would find or photograph, but, as London is place where you can find and photograph anything and everything, i was more than confident of getting something ‘in the bag’.

With that in mind it did make me take a little more kit that I really should have, but, with the light weight of the Fuji XT1 and its complement of amazing lens’ it wasn’t a real issue.  I did however make a return trip to the car shortly after parking at the rain station to dump my tripod as a last minute decision to leave this behind.

Monday morning in London was manic, it’s manic every morning to be honest, but this particular Monday was the day after the London Marathon.  The cleanup process was still in full swing and there were stacks upon stacks of those meal barriers everywhere, but, the cleanup team must have been very hard at work all night restoring the city to its normal self ready for there Monday morning onslaught.

I love the huge diversity London offers and it’s great to see all the tourists taking in the sights but i’d wish they would leave those blooming selfie sticks at home.  Having nearly had my eye taken out on a couple of occasions was beginning to wear a little thin as they waved them around with little or no regard to those around them.

All-in-all though it was a great day where i photographed ‘that’ anything & everything, from some of the iconic buildings, life on the street, life under the street and even those blooming tourists with their selfie sticks, lol.  The weather was very changeable with some heavy rain showers but it certainly did not stop play, moreover, it helped create a winning image, more about that a little further on.

Again, the Xt1 was a dream to work with, occasionally shooting from the hip and zone focusing for the street shots – but i must admit that i still need a little more practice at this technique.  As for that tripod i left behind, i didn’t even miss it.  I photographed a few long exposure images, some in excess of 75 seconds, all helped with the Lee Seven5 filter system, and just used what was available such as walls and even the pavement.  It helped me compose some great images with a low perspective and the freedom of working without a tripod was very liberating.

The week ended on a high by me submitting an image into the Fujifilm_UK #fujifridaychallenge, with the weeks theme being reflections, and having my entry chosen by renowned Fuji X Photographer Paul Sanders as the winning image.  As mentioned above, the image was taken just after a heavy rain shower and i was in an area of high-rise office blocks, with a view of the Shard in-between, and the wet pavement in combination with the glass sided buildings created an amazing reflective scene.

Anyway, I hope you like the images i’ve added below.  Please do feel free to share the blog and leave me a comment and if you missed my last blog post on why i moved to the Fujifilm X system you can read that here.  Thanks, Rob.

London Photography by Rob Ferrol

There’s more to London you know.

News reader on the streets of London by Rob Ferrol

News reader ready for action

Tourists in London posing with selfie stick

Grrr, the curse of the selfie sticks.

Padlocks left by lovers

Lovers locks

A newly married couple on Westminster bridge, london

Just married

big ben London with blurred London bus and jogger

Lunchtime rush hour at Westminster bridge

stormy clouds over westminster by rob ferrol photography

Stormy clouds over Westminster

London bus blurred with motion as it passes red london phone box by rob ferrol

elderly females taking a cigarette break

Fag break

two males outside bookshop in london by rob ferrol

Another fag break

lonely female in cafe by rob ferrol

Deep in thought

 

london city skyline in black and white by rob ferrol

London city skyline

long exposure of tower bridge by rob ferrol

Tower Bridge long exposure

st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

St Paul’s from Millennium bridge

statue of fire fighters and st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

Firefighter statue near St Pauls

shard reflections on a rainy day in london by rob ferrol

The winning shot

Mystical Marrakech and beyond.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair bit of travelling over the years.  Unfortunately much of this was before the photography bug had bitten me.  Anyway, having planned a surprise birthday treat for my daughter i figured that this would also be a fab opportunity to try my hand at a little travel photography.

I’d visited Morocco some 15+ years ago and had many fond memories of the culture, people and lifestyle of this amazing country.  The sights, smells & tastes of the spice markets & street food were a bewildering attack on all of your senses and i was excited to experience these again, with my daughter, and this time with my camera in hand.

I was also keen to pay a little attention to the amazing architecture that still exists in this country, some of which has not changed its appearance for hundreds of years.  From the mystical medina of Marrakech’s old town to the long abandoned Casbah’s on the edge of the Sahara desert there was certainly plenty to capture our attention.

For the trip i travelled light from a photographers point of view, with just 2 Fuji XT-1’s and a small selection of prime & zoom lens’. The cameras were amazing to work with, especially in the tight confines of the Souks.  I was able to work relatively unnoticed and if you’ve ever been to Marrakech you’ll know how difficult it can sometimes be photographing on the streets.  Many people dont like having their photograph taken and those that do often come asking for money for the privilege.

Marrakech itself is a city that is full of life, it never seems to sleep.  That said, it’s at night that it seems its liveliest.  We travelled in July and, true to our expectations, the heat of the day was pretty much unbearable, hence the reason many stay indoors during the day and emerge at night when the temperature had dropped a little.  Talking of the temperature, towards the end of our stay the temp was 45 degrees Celsius and with the heat index of the stiff Saharan wind this felt more like 49 degrees celsius.   Anyway, the buzz of the Medina at night, especially on the Jemaa El-Fnaa is a must for any traveller to Morocco but watch out for the Snakes & Monkeys!!

So, enough of the blurb heres a selection of images from our trip which includes Marrakech and our excursion through the High Atlas Mountains to the edge of the Sahara Desert to visit the ancient Casbah’s of Telouet and Ait Ben-Haddou.

Moroccan Flag.

The Moroccan Flag. The green pentagram represents the 5 Pillars of Islam.

With Snake charmers, Monkeys, food & entertainers the square of Jemaa El-Fnaa (square of the dead) is a full-on sensory overload but certainly a must see!!  The Koutoubia Mosque, the largest in Africa, sits close by to the west of the square and if the towering minaret doesn’t grab your attention the call to prayer certainly will.  Views of all the activity are best viewed from one of the many cafes that offer roof top terraces and one of my favs was the Le Grande Balcon Du Cafe which offered panoramic views and there most amazing spot for capturing the sunset, but get there early to secure your space.

Morocco, Marrakech, Jemaa El-Fnaa, Sign

The tanneries are somewhat of an experience and if your a little sensitive to strong odours then maybe its not for you.  But, if you do visit you’ll be given a bunch of mint leaves to ward off the smells a little and a whistle stop tour finishing of being taken to see the “finished products” AKA the leather shop.  Here you will experience the most amazing display of leather goods but also the most amazing level of pressure sales you’ll probably ever come across.  Don’t be forced into buying if you dont want anything but if you do, be sure to bargain hard and firm.

Morocco LR-5888

The tropical gardens, Jardin Marjorelle, offer some respite from the madness of Jemaa El-Fnaa with their abundant collection of exotic Cactus and other plants & palms set around the deep blue of the buildings that were once an artists studio.  Until 2008 the gardens were owned by the designer Yves Saint Laurent.

Jardin Majorelle Marrakech

The alleyways of the souks are a maze and getting lost is all part of the fun.  Almost anything is on sale from skins to bones and treasures to tatt.  If you can’t find it in there then i dont think it exists. Be prepared to haggle and walk away if you dont get the price you like, very often they will chase you and agree to your offer.  Their sales patter/technique can sometimes appear aggressive but dont let that stop you bargaining.  Also watch out for the ‘ever helpful’ guides – young males who seem to be everywhere to help guide the lost looking tourist.  As we found out they can, and will, lead you the wrong way, or the long way (but not always though) and expect a little payment at the end. Having already visited the Souks of Fez one thing i did notice in the Souks of Marrakech was the abundance of mopeds.  The booming things were everywhere, even in the most crowded of places they were intent on pushing their way through and on the quieter alleyways they seemed to travel at some speed so do watch out for them.  It’s something that i do not recall being an issue in Fez.

Medina & Souk, Marrakech, Morocco.

The Palais La Bahia, Palais El Badi and the Medersa Ben Youssef each display fine examples of Moroccan architecture from the ages.  With intricate mosaics, carved cedar wood and the finest moulded plaster walls that any modern day architect would find difficult to emulate.  Listen for the Storks nesting on the walls of the Palais El Badi, they make the strangest noise at dawn & dusk.

Morocco, Marrakech travel photography by Rob Ferrol

We ventured out to the edges of there Sahara desert passing through the high Altas mountains, along twisting roads and the Tizi n’Tichka, the highest mountain pass in North Africa, to the Casbah’s of Telouete and Ait Ben-Haddou, the latter of which has been the backdrop of many films including The Mummy, Gladiator and the more recent The Game of thrones.  Although we didn’t make it to the Sandy “dunes’ part of the Sahara, which was another days travel away, with was certainly very barren and a world away from the hustle & bustle of Marrakech.  We even had time for a Camel ride but thats another story 🙂

"Berber TV"  at the Casbah of Telouet.

“Berber TV” at the Casbah of Telouet.

Morocco is truly an amazing place and has much to offer any traveller, certainly more than one visit could cover anyway, so im hoping to make a return visit myself sometime soon.  If you’d like to experience a different lifestyle & culture then be sure to put it on your bucket list.  As always, if you enjoyed this little blog please do leave me a comment and also feel free to share it on your social media sites.

http://www.robferrol.com

Inspiration

I often trawl the net in search of inspiration and browsing the photo streams of my Flickr contacts is a fantastic starting place, but, inspiration not only comes in a visual sense but also a written one too. To get this double pronged boost you have to see an individuals website, blog or book and there are many fantastic examples to be found on the Internet. There are a few thought that I’m constantly drawn back to, one of which exhibits the stunningly fantastic work of bruce Percy. http://www.brucepercy.co.uk/index.html

As a photographer based in Scotland he is perfectly placed with an abundance of stunning scenery on his ‘doorstep’ and he shows it at his best, but he doesn’t stop there, his adventures around the globe prove that he is a photographer who is just a capable out of his comfort zone.

His images have a sublime mesmerising dreamlike feel to them, the sort of image you can just look at for ages but if you download his free video podcasts from iTunes you’ll be in inspiration heaven. Be inspired at http://www.brucepercy.co.uk/index.html

Dreaming

Well, the David Noton Roadshow is over. I have now just spent the last 24 hours dreaming of distant travels to tropical locations searching for the mesmerising vista and waiting for the right light.

What a stunning evening it was! His images looked fantastic on my screen and in the pages of the book I purchased, and got signed by the way, but to see them projected on a large screen was something else. An awe inspiring evening that gave most people in there itchy feet, me included. I dream of visiting the places he has been, let alone returning with an awsome set if images. He gave a facinating insight to his life as a Travel & Landscape photographer backed up with some behind the scenes stories, anecdotes and some amusing un-published images.

It was a pleasure to meet the man, and his team, behind the images that give me so much inspiration.

Well, who knows, one day eh?? Looks like the dreaming will continue for a little while longer though!!