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World Nomads Scholarship Expedition Oman Day 1

OMAN | Tuesday, 21 May 2013 | Views [1539]

Day 1:

Immediately upon meeting Jason, I realized that sleep was going to be a low priority on this expedition. Before we had even really started the trip, we did not have enough time and I knew it instinctually. With every second precious, like the scarce water supply in this arid country, time would be our greatest and most valuable resource.

Once Jason, Simon and the crew arrived (I had arrived very late the night before) things started to pick up instantly. Jason, having done his research, knew what he wanted to capture and the first thing on that list was a bullfight. Unique to Oman in the Middle East, the bullfights were not at all what I had envisioned.

Surrounded by an almost exclusively male crowd, a large sand field represented the battlefield. Bulls tied to polls, ropes attached both through their noses and to an ankle, waited outside the surrounding crowd for their chance at combat, kicking up dirt and creating ditches in the sand. No traditional matadors to be seen, the bull fights consisted of two huge bulls going at it, horn locked against horn. A referee of sorts would occasionally slip in close to the battle, sliding out the ropes, still attached to their ankles, with the help of a hooked cane to pull the bulls apart. In my American tradition, the bulls reminded me of massive football lineman, locked in a pressure packed stalemate, struggling for inches against their opponent.  

Watching Jason photograph the proceeding, I witnessed his fearlessness. However close the officials would allow him to crouch close to the bulls, he would be there, anticipating the action. With only one photographer allowed so close to the action, I reserved myself to the max zoom of my telephoto lens and the reactions of the crowd to the sporadic action.

Playing to my strengths as a photographer, I walked around the outskirts of the proceedings, searching for compelling portraits. As the sun fell towards the horizon, the light reached that peak time, the golden hour, and I began to see faces illuminated perfectly. As fascinating as the bulls combat was, I spent the last few minutes of our time their searching for images of those men – dressed in the clean white dishdasha – that where so new to me.

As quickly as the light reached its best moment, it was gone and we walked away from this impromptu first day action. Everyone deeply pleased in this first, albeit unplanned, event, we made our way back to the hotel, to prepare for an early morning. 

Tags: bull fighting, muscat, oman, world nomads

 

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