Week 9 – Ethiopia

Yirga'Alem Town, streets, market, shops, people, animals

Yirga’Alem Town, streets, market, shops, people, animals

After a week or so visiting the northern regions of Ethiopia our travel group had traveled south and had spent the past ten days visiting tribes of the very remote Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia. We had been traveling in a region with no roads, only animal trails and dirt tracks. We traveled in 4X4 vehicles. Our nights were spent in tents. Showers were few and far between. This was the end of the first of a two day trip back to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. It was late afternoon and we had arrived at what seemed to be luxury digs, the Aregash Lodge nestled between coffee fields and lush vegetation on the outskirts of Yirgalem Town, which is about 200 miles south of Addis Ababa. Most of the group could not wait to take a hot shower and lie down on a real bed for a bit of rest before supper.

That is everybody but me. My routine as long as there is still light when we reach a destination, is to grab my camera and go see what I can find. It was only about a mile up a dirt road (see attached picture) to the small town of Yirgalem, so off I went. It was market day for the Sidama people so things were alive and interesting. There were people, houses, and domestic animals to catch my eye. In the process I had attracted several young boys who wanted to be in all of my pictures. As soon as I started to focus on a subject they would rush over to get in front. It was not long before I would try and “out fox” them by pretending to photograph in one direction only to turn quickly and refocus in another direction. I soon tired of this routine and tried to run the boys off. Help arrived in the form of a woman with an air of authority. She scolded the boys and gave them a very stern look. The woman was a primary school teacher who knew a few words of English. The boys knew she was all business and left me alone from that point on. I thanked the woman and took a few pictures of her before I resumed my ramble.

Primary school teacher scolding young boys in Yirga'Alem Town, Ethiopia

Primary school teacher scolding young boys in Yirga’Alem Town, Ethiopia

The pictures that I took of this teacher were all okay but the real picture was one I am attaching and she did not know that I took it. When she was scolding the boys I fired off a few frames from my hip without bringing the camera to my eye. This is a technique that I use often to grab shots of people without them knowing it. I point, auto focus, and click. Sure I mess up from time to time but do get more keepers than I miss. Look at the expression on the woman’s face and her eyes. This natural candid expression of “I mean business” was missing when she posed.

Technical Data:

  • Nikon D2x camera with Nikon 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens taken at a 46 mm setting,
  • ISO 200; 1/60 sec. at f/8
  • February 2, 2007 at 5:05 PM.