Morocco occupies a uniquely strategic and cultural position on the African continent. Perched on the northwest coast of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are natural borders to the North and West. Spain lies within sight of the coastal cities and the immense Sahara Desert stretches to the East and South. The fabled lands of sub-Saharan Africa including Timbuktu and beyond beckon from the desert.
Morocco is a close knit kingdom that has been spared the religious and political turmoil of recent years. It is also one of the most scenic countries in Africa. My wife Ruth and I visited Morocco with John Paul Caponigro and Seth Resnick of Digital Photo Destinations in March 2014. Our trek began in Marrakesh and then meandered South through the Sahara desert before returning to Fes and Chefchaouen. The physical and spiritual magnificence of the Sahara desert can be overwhelming, but the real surprise was the people of Morocco.
I had my two Leica S (typ 006) bodies along with my Vario-Elmar-S 30-90mm f/5.6 ASPH, Super-Elmar-S 24mm f/3.5 ASPH, Super-Elmar-S 24mm f/3.5 ASPH, Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 ASPH, APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5 and APO-Elmar-S 180mm f/3.5 ASPH. Because of the relentless sand and dust, all lenses had a B&W F-Pro UV MRC filter and both bodies and lenses were protected by Storm Jacket Camera Covers. All lens changing occurred inside our 4 wheel drive vehicles, with all windows closed and the motor off. Rigorous cleaning and inspection took place at the end of the day’s shooting, safely indoors. I am happy to report that both bodies and lenses performed flawlessly.
The Marrakesh Souk is a photographer’s paradise, but is especially challenging given that Moroccans in general prefer not to be photographed. I was able to capture the human element by respectfully using the APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5 lens. The lens also worked perfectly for capturing details and textures of the market.
The expanse and raw beauty of the Sahara were readily captured using the Vario-Elmar-S 30-90mm f/5.6 ASPH and the Super-Elmar-S 24mm f/3.5 ASPH lens. The Leica lenses had no trouble showing the subtlety of the wind-blown sand.
In the southeast corner of the Sahara we came upon the small town of Rissani and visited its medieval and untouched souk.
The city of Fes is the crown jewel of the kingdom and has not really changed since the 12th century. The old town, the sites, the smells, the serpentine alleys and various markets within the Souk are quite marvelous. But most of all the people of Fes are inspiring and photogenic.
Our last stop was Chefchaouen also known as the “blue city.” Clinging to the hillside, the streets, buildings, and walls of this ancient town are all painted various shades and hues of blue. The Leica S did a great job of catching a sense of the unique experience of “blueness”.