Capturing Manchester and beyond
Lockdown has made photography a very local affair here in Castlefield, Manchester. Continue reading below
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I’ve ventured out with my camera only a few times since coronavirus pandemic restrictions were eased, swapping indoor projects for exploring the neighbourhood’s canals, industrial architecture and tramways.
Some warm summer weather prompted some walks to capture fiery sunsets (and even a bright, prominent moon).
And one late night I prowled around the viaducts armed only with a wide aperture, dialled-up ISO and the the street lights for company.
Travel still seems a remote prospect, but at least Castlefield is rich in texture and interesting spaces.
On a trip to Morocco earlier this year I wanted to visit Legzira, of the country’s most striking beaches. Here’s how I did it. Read full story below
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The trip nearly didn’t happen after a booking made in the UK failed to materialise. But I was rescued by Bakhazouz Tours at my seaside base of Agadir.
It was early morning when small, wiry tour guide Imad arrived in his smart four-wheel drive jeep. My companions for the day were a pair of friendly, polite older French ladies – it was time to scrabble around for my schoolboy French. In the back were a young Russian couple who seemed content in their own bubble. Yet somehow they made it into one of my photographs.
The fabled stone arches of Legzira were a good three hours from Agadir, but this road trip came with a number of stops along the way. First it was a rustic Moroccan service station, complete with a butcher’s shop.
We reached the Youssef Ibn Tachfine Dam, with an artificial lake creating some unexpectedly beautiful landscapes. And close to this was a tiny scrap of full-on Sahara Desert, with orange sands and even a resident camel.
But for me a real highlight along the way was the old city of Tiznit where I could have spent much longer exploring and gathering photographs. Moroccan cities are intoxicating, colourful and humming with life. Tiznit’s ancient walls and crooked back streets were a thrill on the way to the main coastal attraction.
We finally got to Legzira by way of another beach called Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdelah, where buildings cling to the headland. Legzira itself is a small beach settlement of simple restaurants serving fish tagine, while there are also rooms for hire. Very tempting for catching blazing sunsets.
The beach is a broad sweep of sand with its famous ochre stone arch creating a corridor that you simply have to walk through. On one side it was enveloped in mist, from the other everything was clear and bright. You could spend hours wandering up and down the beach and exploring its rugged rock formations. Legzira was definitely worth the effort of getting there.
Our final stop seemed like a bonus. Further back up the coast, paragliders swooped around the sky catching some of those Atlantic thermals. A breathtaking sight, but a serious challenge for the camera.
Back in Agadir, I was the first to be dropped off. The end of a day trip is always tinged with sadness. Your companions head off into the sunset and are never seen again. It’s not usually long enough to establish real human connection. But I’d achieved my goal, I’d seen the Legzira arch and more besides.
Common dandelions are loved for their bright yellow flowers and delicate clock seeds. Read more below
I plucked a dandelion clock I found in a small wild patch of grass by my apartment block and carried it carefully indoors.
With stay at home orders still in force due to the coronavirus pandemic, this became another lockdown photography project.
For some days the dandelion clock was my model, from when it was plump and fluffy, to when seedlings were shedding everywhere.
This is a major feat of nature’s engineering and fascinating to study at close quarters. After the photoshoot I returned the seedlings to where they had grown and scattered them around.
I was lucky enough to visit Morocco in February, before the coronavirus pandemic brought international travel to an abrupt halt.
My trip took me to the country’s Atlantic coastline with its warm winter sunshine. I spent a day in the town of Essaouria, which I can strongly recommend.
The old town’s ramparts are perched next to the lively ocean, and it’s full of colourful, rustic little streets to explore. Essaouria is very blue, including the boats of the bustling fishing port (pungent but well worth a look). Hungry gulls circle in clusters looking for morsels. There’s also a broad strip of beach away from the medina.
I came here in 2011 as part of a grand tour of Morocco and was charmed by it then. My opinion hasn’t altered and I could have spent several days there, watching people and taking more photographs. Read more beneath the gallery
I thought long and hard about publishing a travel blog in a world where tourism has been severely curtailed.
The UK’s ban on all but essential travel remains in place and a great deal remains uncertain. Essaouria and Morocco may be a consideration for your travel bucket list, whenever that may be possible.