Marathon des Sables 2019 #MDS #MDS2019 – Stage 4B Rest Day

The face of the Marathon des Sables after stage-4, ‘The Long Day’

 the 2019 edition of this iconic, self-sufficient multi-day race.

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Morocco 2018 – Street Photography

For the first time in a long, long time. I had a holiday! Those who follow what I do would arguably say, that I am always on holiday as I am constantly travelling to photograph running races all over the world. However, I can honestly say that in the last six years, I have not been away without working. Admittedly, on one or two trips, work has maybe only been 20-30% of the actual trip. It’s still a holiday but the work element is there.

This August I booked a trip to Morocco, I put my email on auto-reply, I downloaded a couple of books on my Kindle app and I went way with the pure intention to do no work for a good 14-days. 

As a photographer, you may be thinking or asking, but did you take a camera?

The answer is quite simply, yes!

When you do what I do in, day-in and day-out, it’s almost impossible to travel without a camera. I often consider a camera just an ‘essential’ item for what I do every day, be that a holiday or not.

The key thing with taking a camera on holiday is that I can take images for the pleasure of it. No brief, no deadlines, no clients – I can shoot what I want and when I want.

I started to post 10-12 B&W images a day whilst travelling, normally on my Instagram and on Facebook. What was interesting was the amount of feedback and direct messages I received. I guess most people know me as a sports/ running photographer, so, suddenly a series of gritty B&W street photographs appear, and it makes people curios.

So, I decided to write a brief post to answer the questions that was asked. 

Street and people photography are something that I love. It’s raw, visceral, gritty and when done well should transport the viewer to the place and immerse them.

Travelling, one accepts everything; indignation stays at home. One looks, one listens, one is roused by enthusiasm by the most dreadful things…– Elias Canetti

Now there are many forms of street photography. And just to draw a comparison, I photographed in Nepal for many years, the street shots I have done there are very different to what I did in Morocco.

To clarify, I could photograph in Nepal the way I photographed in Morocco but not vice versa. The reason being, the people and the culture. The Nepali people love having their photographs taken, you can walk up to them, stick a camera in their face and take a shot. You can even ask them to move or look into a certain place. So, although it’s real, there can be an ‘element’ of set-up, however, I rarely go down that route.

In Morocco, the people are very different. They do not like having their photograph taken. Don’t agree with me? Take a camera in to the Souk in Marrakech and start pointing your camera at people – you will soon realise that it is not an option. Now of course, there are exceptions. Occasionally it is possible to do a ‘posed’ shot and I have found that my experience with 30-year’s in the business lets me know when that is an option.

Below, there are over 300-images captured in Marrakech and the coastal resort of Essaouira, I would say that approximately 10-12 images were taken with the subject knowing I was taking the photo and they didn’t mind.

The remainder of the images were taken with the subject not knowing that I was taking photographs.

THE EQUIPMEMT

Sony A7RIII with Sony/Zeiss T Sonnar* 35mm F2.8

If you look like a photographer, you will stick out and the people will already be wary of you. For street work and when travelling this way, I carry one camera and one lens.

I use a Sony A7RIII (approx £3200) which is a full-frame digital camera which produces a whopping image size of 42.4MP, when shooting in RAW, that file is over 80MP. I have found a large file allows me options to crop in to the image and still retain a high quality/ high resolution file. The camera is mirrorless and therefore considerably smaller than a DSLR, it also has Image Stabilization built into the body; super handy in low-light. The camera can also shoot at 10fps, at times, this can be super important for capturing that all-important moment.

I use a prime lens, the 35mm F2.8 – The Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 which is a Sony/ Zeiss lens. The optics are incredible, focus is fast and superb and F2.8 it is pin-sharp. There are several reasons why this lens is perfect for street work:

At 35mm, it is wide, but no so wide that you can’t take portraits. I would say that for most Pro photographers, a 35mm prime has replaced the traditional 50mm prime.

The lens has a lens hood which is flush to the front element keeping the lens neat.

Its size is extremely small.

Quality is off the scale, but it is not cheap, approx £850.

That is, it. I don’t use anything else. I don’t carry a camera bag and I have no accessories. The only two additional items I carry is a spare battery and spare SD cards.

SHOOTING

This camera set up is also my favourite set up when running and photographing. The main reason being is that the camera and lens are light, the quality is the best you can get, and I can carry the camera in my hand while running. I broke up my time in Marrakech and Essaouira with a 2-day trip to climb Toubkal, the highest mountain in the Atlas range. Here are some of the shots from that trip:

Back to the streets…

I have learnt over time to view the scene with a 35mm eye. Basically, I can look at a scene/ scenario and view the scene with the viewpoint and angle of the camera. This is essential in Morocco.

Many of the shots I took, I would say 80% (with the exception of the Toubkal shots) were taken with me NOT looking into the camera. The moment you raise your camera to your eye, people stop, look, put their hands up and on many occasions will say, ‘no photo, no photo!’

The below is a classic example of the subject posing for the shot.

This shot I was looking through the camera, but the subject didn’t know I was taking the photo.

This shot I was looking through the camera.

This shot was composed and planned but the subject didn’t know.

This is why Nepal and Morocco are so different.

To shoot, I would survey a scene, view the angles and decide on the shot and then walk past with my camera at mid-chest height. With experience, I understand the field of view the camera sees and I capture the scene.

Now of course, this sounds easy.

It’s not.

  1. One has to consider focus and how one gets the ‘key’ element in the frame in focus.
  2. One also has to consider exposure.
  3. One has to consider if it is possible to make one or two attempts at a shot.

The above is actually what brings adrenaline into shooting in this way. One also has to accept that you will have a high failure rate, certainly early on. Failure rate becomes less with more experience.

SUMMARY

There are no hard rules in capturing images when working a scene. The place, the people and the location will often decide what approach you need to take. The comparisons between Nepal and Morocco provide a perfect example.

The key is to enjoy the process, have fun and learn by taking many, many shots.

All images ©iancorless.com

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Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun 2016 – Registration

RichtersveldFaces

The 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® became a reality today… runners from all over the world have assembled in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

Race website HERE

Richtersveldwildrun

A 200km, five-day foot race from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.  From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg deep in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; this unparalleled journey then crosses the Orange River into Namibia and the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon.  This is the running experience of a lifetime; this is the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®.
Day 1 starts tomorrow, Monday June 13th at 0800. Before the race gets underway, we feel it’s important you get to see the faces of those taking part.
Day 1 43.64km Sendelingsdrif to ‘De Koei’
Day 2 32.13km ‘De Koei’ to Hakkiesdoring
Day 3 39.78km Hakkiesdoring to De Hoop
Day 4 48.32km De Hoop to Wilderness Hot Springs
Day 5 21.3km Wilderness Hot Springs to Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort
Race images are available at iancorless.photoshelter.com
About the race:
Early archaeological evidence tells us that the San inhabited the Richtersveld area thousands of years ago. They hunted game (mountain zebra and klipspringer) and gathered berries and herbs. The first Khoekhoen or pastoral people moved to these regions from Botswana some 2000 years ago. Like the San, they were hunter-gatherers, and only slaughtered animals on rare ceremonial occasions.
In tune with the harsh environment, many of the Richtersvelders today are transhumant pastoralists, moving their livestock between stock posts with the changing of seasons. The rotation of pastures has helped to preserve the land from overuse. This is the last place in South Africa where pastoral people live on communal lands and one of the last remaining examples of the transhumant Nama way of living.
The harsh environment of the Richtersveld has through the years witnessed a story of determined peoples with a strong attachment to the land. Early last century declared a “Coloured Rural Reserve”, the land’s ownership moved in 2002 to the peoples of the Richtersveld. In this pristine land, devoid of mining scars and in harmony with transhumant pastoralists, an area of more than 160 000 ha has been put aside – first to create a Community Conservancy, now proclaimed a World Heritage Site.
From a distance you can see rugged mountains, sweeping deserts, a giant blue sky and glimpses of the might Orange River creeping along to the sea. On closer investigation you realise that you are standing in one of Africa’s most diverse and rich ecosystems.
The Richtersveld World Heritage Site sits in the heart of what is called the Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot – an ecosystem with an astounding 4 849 succulent plants, 40% of which are found nowhere else.
To be declared a hotspot, an area must have incredibly high species diversity and a high percentage of endemism. It is quite a unique distinction, as there are only 25 hotspots in the world. Even more unusual is that the Succulent Karoo is a desert and is the only arid biodiversity hotspot on Earth.
Conjure up a desolate and forbidding landscape, seemingly devoid of life, except for some people dotting along the horizon. Make a startling discovery upon closer inspection when the mirage dissolves into the human-like half-mens (half person) and the harsh environment prove to be a treasure-chest containing the world’s richest desert flora. Miniature rock gardens, perfectly designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces. Tiny succulents, mere pinpoints against a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel in the moisture brought by the early morning fog rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

Rugged kloofs, high mountains and dramatic landscapes that sweep away inland from the Orange River divulge the fact that you are now in the vast mountain desert that is the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, an area managed jointly by the local Nama people, SANParks and Namibia Parks and Wildlife. This is a harsh and unpredictable land where water is scarce and life-sustaining moisture comes in the form of early morning fog – called ‘Ihuries’ or ‘Malmokkies’ by the local people – which rolls in from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, sustaining a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. A staggering assortment of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else, is to be found here, with gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and quaint ‘half-mens’ keeping vigil over this inscrutable landscape.The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere, and second only to Arizona’s Grand Canyon in terms of size. 161km long, up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest, the southern part of this canyon is largely untouched by tourists and remains one of the wildest and most remote corners of the world.

The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is only accessible by means of a 4×4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi’s and LDV’s do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted.
June temperatures are likely to be cool at night and comfortable during the day. However, it can get as low as 4-5 degrees Celcius during the night and as high as 35 degrees Celcius during the day.
Each day of this 200km, five-day journey will take you on a rollercoaster ride of geological splendour. From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa, to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg, across the green swathe of the Orange River, and into the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon in Namibia – every kilometer is an experience within itself and will leave you stumped for words to describe your journey.

Faces of Nepal

©iancorless.com_Nepal2014_7-1013#ETRkathmandu

“Travel is the discovery of truth; an affirmation of the promise that human kind is far more beautiful than it is flawed. With each trip comes a new optimism that where there is despair and hardship, there are ideas and people just waiting to be energized, to be empowered, to make a difference for good.” 
― Dan Thompson, Following Whispers: Walking on the Rooftop of the World in Nepal’s Himalayas

 

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