Robin Hoskyns Nature Photography – Blog

Images and stories of nature, science and conservation.

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Morocco – Coast and Street

This isn’t my usual type of post considering the title of this blog however keeping in with my resolution to write more and show more images I thought I’d share some. I really enjoyed having a go at a different style of photography which took me a little out of my comfort zone and I’m quite pleased with the results. More images than I’d usually post but hopefully they’re varied enough to keep you all entertained.

Morocco is a fun place and we had a great holiday. Rachael and I spent a few days at the coast so I could get some surfing in and then a couple of days in Marrakech exploring the souks and visiting some of the landmarks of the city.

The coast

We stayed in a small village called Taghazout which was really relaxed and had a very surfy vibe with lots of European surfers all wanting some of the long waves on offer at the rocky pointbreaks that Morocco is famous for. I was pretty rusty and unfit considering I hadn’t surfed for several months however I got a few nice waves and by the end of the time I was a bit more confident in the water again. It was nice to relax on the balcony and watch the sunsets or wander the streets taking pictures and have coffee or mint tea at our favorite cafes.


Balcony with a sea view!


Fishing boats at sunset.


Incoming swell lines.


The dog that followed us all day playing on the beach.


Taghazout Fish Market!


Watching the tide roll in.


Fishermen having a natter.


Surfer at sunset with Anchor point in the distance.


Marrakech was almost the complete opposite to Taghazout, we left the relative tranquility of a beach town for the most hectic, smelly but exciting city I think I’ve ever been to. In the Medina (the old city) the motorbikes are constantly weaving in and out of people and cars down the narrowest of streets.

Trying to capture exactly how busy it is was a real challenge as there is absolutely no time to stop and properly frame a shot. The action is frantic and either you’ve missed the “decisive moment” by raising the camera to your eye or the person has spotted you and turned away and you have caused a minor traffic jam in the process! As a result I was mostly “shooting from the hip” i.e. holding the camera low and randomly firing off shots. Obviously this reduces the hit rate of keeper images but with some practice it doesn’t take long to improve.

I managed to get a copy of canon’s ancient (by modern lens standards) 35mm f/2 for ridiculously cheap on a certain well known auction site and this wide angle when combined with the 5d mkIII proved to be an awesome street photography combo. I love the quality of the images it produces and the wider angle aided me in shooting from the hip. Although a wider angle means that you have to get close, in Marrakech getting close isn’t really an issue!

Another great challenge of photography in the souks is the huge contrast in light levels between sunlight and the shadows. I was constantly having to change between ISO 1600 and 100 and back again withing several seconds. Glad I was shooting digital!

Thanks for looking. To see a few extra images check out my Morocco Gallery on my website.

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Girl Bag

A crop of the previous image. Interesting backpack!



Jemaa el Fna night market from above.

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Black and White Dragons


A recently emerged Dragonfly opens it's wings for the first time. It' will never close them again.

A recently emerged Dragonfly opens it’s wings for the first time. It will never close them again.

In the last few months I have mainly been photographing Dragonflies and at some point I started thinking about getting good B&W images as something a bit different to the standard colour images. I love making B&W images because you can really push the editing and manipulate the image in a way that just looks very unnatural in colour. This is due to the fact we don’t naturally see in B&W therefore we are not expecting to see a natural scene.

There have been loads of dragonflies emerging from the pond in my garden. I have probably photographed about 15 individuals in various stages of emergence and there are many many more exuviae (the larval cases left after the dragonfly emerges) of the ones I have missed. I wouldn’t have thought that my smallish garden pond could hold anywhere near that many larvae at one time. Interestingly there was no frogspawn in the pond this year (lots of frogs though) however there are tons of smooth newt tadpoles for the dragonfly larvae to prey on.

Preparing for the maiden voyage.

Preparing for the maiden voyage.

The wings are open and have hardened but the veins are still slightly translucent.

The wings are open and have hardened but the veins are still slightly translucent.

In previous years I have seen a few common darters in the garden but the ones emerging from the pond are southern hawkers, a much bigger species. They seem to sit at the bottom of a stem for a few days before climbing out, apparently to start getting used to breathing air however I’m not sure how true that is as insects breathe through holes in their thorax and abdomen called spiracles. After crawling up an appropriate stem the dragonfly bursts out of the larval case and pumps haemolymph (insect blood) into its wings and abdomen to expand them. The newly emerged dragonfly then hangs off the stem for a while whilst its exoskeleton and wings harden, during this time they are pale and translucent. When it has hardened enough the wings open and the dragonfly vibrates the flight muscles to prepare for its maiden voyage. the whole process can take up to a couple of hours. Unfortunately I haven’t yet caught one in time to get the very start of the process but I have plenty of shots before the wings open.


When the weather is bad Dragonflies seem to disappear.  In fact they are resting in trees, hidden away from predators so are difficult to find.

When the weather is bad Dragonflies seem to disappear. In fact they are resting in trees, hidden away from predators so are difficult to find.

Here’s a couple in colour as well to show them emerging:

Recently emerged from the pond.

Recently emerged from the pond.

Back-lit to show the translucency of the body and wings before they open.

Back-lit to show the translucency of the body and wings before they open.

If you enjoyed these images please check out my website or like my facebook page.