Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Egypt 12: On the Road

So, we're in the van on the way back to the hotel from Dshshur.  It had been two very intense days of sightseeing and, truth be told, I was suffering a bit from information overload.  I'm watching this amazing, wonderful, totally-foreign world go by out of a side window when Suhaila, our Egyptian tour guide, started yelling at me.  "Lee, quick, get a picture of this!"

I had jammed my camera in my bag when we climbed into the van back at the Bent pyramid, and I had done that with no thought to taking any more pictures that day.   Suhaila needed to yell at me one more time before my brain engaged and I finally retrieved my camera and began firing out the front window.

There was a problem with this.  It had been extremely bright out in the desert, so I had the lens opening in my camera stopped way down to F11, which lets in only a relatively small amount of light.

That was appropriate, in the blindingly bright desert.  But now the sun was below the horizon and the amount of light outside much, much less.  In order to make a proper exposure at that low f-stop, my camera was forced to shoot these images at around a 30th of a second, sometimes less--which explains the blur in the images you are about to see. 

We had seen a lot of interesting modes of transportation during our Egyptian travels, in the short amount of time we had been there. But, nothing like this.

Suhaila has lived in Egypt all her life and she seem seemed just as surprised as the rest of us to see this seemingly disconnected mass of palm fronds waving in front of us.

Traffic cleared a bit and the van driver managed to get around our obstruction.  Suhaila yelled at me to get a picture of the camel.  I told her to open the side door of the van, which she did.  The above and following shots were taken with me jammed in the open side door firing away like crazy--with Suhaila holding on to my belt to keep me from falling out.  

It soon became clear there was more than one camel in the parade.

I attempted to get a shot of the entire procession, but a traffic jam got there before me.

(For those who are interested, the numbers on the license plate above, from left to right, are as follows: 651744.  Melony and I made a game of learning Arabic numbers by watching license plates.  More on that later.)

Finally the traffic jam cleared just as we made a left turn in the above intersection. There was the answer to our riddle.  Three camels being led by a guy riding a donkey.

I have to say, this isn't something one sees in Los Angeles very often. 

All of the above shots, the one of Suhaila below, (taken from the open van door) plus others, 60 in total, were taken in the span of approximately three minutes.  I knew while I was shooting that the exposures would be off, but if I had taken the time to reset my camera properly, the moment would have been lost.

Joe McNally says that it is better to come home with a bad image rather than no image at all.  That seems to apply in this case, although I have to say, now that I have a bit of  time between me and the event, the slower shutter speeds do have a kind of charm to them.  McNally also says that, when in doubt, it is better to raise your camera and begin shooting, rather than keeping the camera in your bag.  That turned out to true in this case as well.

 Continue on to Post 13: From Cairo to Luxor by clicking here.


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