Snake Charmers in Marrakech
I have been to Marrakech a number of times, and love walking around the Jemaa el Fna main square and soaking up the chaos. It truly is one of the craziest places that you can fly to on Easyjet! I wanted to take an unusual angle of the snake charmers and so put the camera on a tripod and used a remote release to get the camera as close as possible to the snakes, but without getting bitten. The snakes usually have their fangs removed, but I didn't want to take the risk. I used the Nikon 14-24mm lens to allow me to get really close without cropping. As I needed to tilt the camera upwards from ground level it was all but impossible to compose – even using liveview.
It was pretty easy to convince the snake charmers to let me take the pictures, although they haggled hard over prices! They enjoyed playing up for the camera though and also worked the crowds who formed to watch me take pictures. Even with using the tripod as a stick to hold the camera in front of me, I was still only a couple of feet from the snakes and only just out of striking range.
Unfortunately, the snake charmers always position themselves in the shadows, and so the contrast with the background was huge. I always shoot in the high quality RAW format, and so the camera was able to record a lot more information in both the highlights and shadows. It was quite a complicated picture to process, but a combination of the highlight recovery tool and a series of digital graduated filters brought the image back into range. The result is a striking image, which manages to establish a unique and daring angle on a often photographed subject.
Nikon D3x @ ISO 400.
Nikon 14-24mm lens @ 22mm
1/125 second @ f 8
Words and image © Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 2014
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