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World Nomads Scholarship Expedition Oman Day 2

OMAN | Tuesday, 21 May 2013 | Views [1024]

Day 2:

Our first official day of shooting began at the local fish markets of Matrah, a costal town near old Muscat. We arrived before the sunrise and watched the men and their catch begin to negotiate the sales.  The light was minimal to start off and it took a while for my brain to warm up to what I was trying to capture.  I put on a flash at first, but decided instead to raise my ISO and see what I could do with the low natural light as the sun rapidly approached. The market was both interesting and mundane at the same time and I was unsure of what to shoot.

Only saw one woman, as the buyers and sellers were almost exclusively male, some dressed in the traditional Dish-dash and others less formally. The fishy stink rose as quickly as the sun and I tried to speed up my sleepy brain to keep track of all the transactions occurring around me. Got into a better groove and got sneakier.  A pattern in the sales was impossible to find, as each seller seemed to carry a variety of catch. Fish ranged in sized from small mackerel to huge tuna. There was even a solitary Sailfish that looked longer than my 6’3’’ frame.  With the light increasing, so did the population of the market. Men and women of all ages filed in, perusing and negotiating. A simple system emerged for the buyers: after buying the fish, they could take them over to a man with a hose and a knife to filet their purchases on the spot. As the sun began to move rapidly up in the horizon, we decided to move on to our next destination.


The Grand Mosque plays a major role in the skyline of Muscat and its importance was clear to me the night I arrived and first drove past it. Four large turrets surrounding a massive dome, the ornate and lavish mosque stood out like an oasis of green flora and white marble in the city. We were only permitted access, as non-Muslims, during a small window of the morning. Being there at this time the mosque was filled with light skinned tourists and as a result it felt more like a museum than a house of worship.

With tall archways, shiny white marble and stark dark shadows, it seemed like the ultimate challenge of architecture photography. I learned quickly about the distortion present in my lenses as the long lines present all around me seemed to bend in the frame. Finding the right combination of lens and position was everything in creating well-composed frames. Exposure was a huge challenge as well, with the high sun creating drastic highlights and shadows. The key to me seemed to be finding the right frames, using the architecture itself to highlight important features of the mosque. Easier said than done.


Our last stop of the day was Al Hazm Castle. I was expecting a ruin but we were greeted with a towering structure, looking like it was in the same condition as it was hundreds of years before. I was slightly disappointed in the overdone renovations and improvements. However, the fort had a great view of the valley and its many palm trees. As the sun set, I relished the opportunity to highlight the oasis this fort had protected for so many years from it’s high vantage point. Even tried my favorite, handheld pano creation. Thank you CS6!!! Hope Jason lets me use them. Found out later the answer is NO!

            Just before the sunset, Jason and I spotted a soccer game going on in the village and we raced down to capture its closing action. However, only minutes after we arrived, the call to prayer sounded and the boys dispersed as quickly as we had arrived. 

Tags: al hazm castle, fish market, grand mosque, matrah, oman

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