A man came up the road

A man came up the road

One day, we hopped out of the minibus to take the obligatory tourist photo of a ruined castle in the distance, and a man came ambling up the cobbled road, umbrella at the ready for the coming rain.

He saw us – 10 obviously foreign touring photographers and two guides, cameras all pointing in one direction – and he stopped. He told us what a wonderful thing we were doing, photographing his beautiful countryside. He shook hands with all of us, conceded to a few photographs, and went off on his merry way to a cheer of goodbyes.

It was a simple incident. Not more than 15 minutes passed. Nevertheless, it amazed me everyday how amiable the rural Turkish people are.

~ Spotted Cow

Man tells us how wonderful the countryside is Man went off on his merry way

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Salad & jams

We ate really delicious food while travelling in north-east Turkey, and nowhere more luscious than at the bijou 6-room Moyy Hotel in Çamlıhemşin. Look at the textures and colours. I couldn’t help snapping pictures with my phone while the staff laid the table for mealtimes. It certainly whet the appetite.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

~ Spotted Cow

Cheese & fruit Cheese with garnishLaying the tableMoyy Miniotel

Cow Stories

Cows in the mist

Seeing as we are the Wandering Cows and I was in lots of pastoral places in rural Turkey, it would seem appropriate to include a post on cow pictures. Here are my favourites.  Most feature cows in the mist as we were up high and the clouds were low.

The people of the Kaçkar have two – sometimes three – homes, and they move up and down the mountain seasonally for their livestock to graze. In the summer, they are in the high pastures and many of these are not accessible in the winter because of snow.

I have decided that cows are more personable than other domestic creatures, like chickens for example. Cows have very engaging facial expressions and chickens do not ! Here in the Kaçkar, there are no fences and the cows roam freely, allowing me to get up close with the camera.

~ Spotted Cow

Cow in mist Cow with cowherdsCow peering out of pen

Telling stories

Animated Lady 1

I told you that I went on a Journey Anatolia photography trip to Turkey, up into the remote North-East. The focus is mainly on people photography … and I have to say, the people in this area are remarkably friendly and hospitable. They would offer us cups of tea and tell us stories of their lives.

In one of the Çamlıhemşin villages, we met this lovely smiley lady who was very animated and she chatted away to us with wonderful energy. Our guide translated, although only inadequately, because she kept talking over him!

I too hope that when I’m at a grand old age and dependent on a crutch, that I will sit on my daybed outside my door and regale the occasional passing visitor with my tales. Ha !

~ Spotted Cow

Animated Lady 3Animated Lady & GuideAnimated Lady 4

Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

Kackar mountain scenery

The first thing you notice in the photo is the cow.  It’s there because I needed foreground interest. Plus it gave me a haughty look and I just had to take a picture with it against the jagged Kaçkar mountain peaks and the river zigzag-ing it’s way down the valley. Perfect for this Weekly Photo Challenge.

I don’t remember how high we were at this point, but we got up to 2700m later in the day. It’s really not what you’d expect of Turkey. But there you go. The world is an amazing and diverse place.

~ Spotted Cow

Day One. Warm-up shots.

Interested ladies

It took me a bit of time to warm-up to the rhythm of shooting pictures on the Turkey photography tour. Believe me, it’s a pretty intense activity when your main focus is taking in the surroundings and looking for images.

It was proposed and agreed that we would each submit a Photo of the Day at the end of everyday so that we could be constructive and learn from each other’s pictures. There was huge emphasis placed on the fact that it was not a competition … which was duly made into a joke if anyone became too aggressive. Nevertheless, the pressure was on.

We were based in the minute town of Çamlıhemşin and our first full day was spent visiting the local villages and meeting the people. We had a local guide with us to break the ice.

The image of the two ladies on a bench against a pink wall was the one I submitted for Photo of the Day. Phew! To be honest, up to that point, I didn’t think I had anything worth showing anyone. However, I did have three to choose from by the evening. Below are the other two. Would you have made the same choice?

~ Spotted Cow

Two ladies at the door Lady with duck


Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Rooftop view of the Blue Mosque

As I’ve just come back from my main summer holiday – which was a Turkey photography trip – it’ll have to be Summer Lovin’ Istanbul for this Weekly Photo Challenge. Istanbul is a wonderful vibrant city, simultaneously relaxed and energetic, albeit a bit hot this time of year.  Still, the evenings are perfect for sunset cocktails on the rooftop, ideally with a view of the Blue Mosque or Hagia Sophia.

I’m looking forward to going through my photographs over the coming weeks. Right now though, I have to tear myself away from looking through the images and get onto mundane chores like the mountain of filthy laundry on the floor. I need a Post-Holiday Unpacking Fairy.

Stay tuned to see the photographs. Or add your email address in the box to be sure that you get the updates.

~ Spotted Cow

People Photography. Turkey.

Children from a violin family

I’m off to Turkey soon with my photography friends from Journey Anatolia. I’ve been on the trip twice before – once around Western Turkey and a second time to the South East. This year we’re going to the North East, near Georgia, and I’m excited.

I’m excited about meeting up with my friends Rod & Anne, and Serkan. Rod & Anne are the trip photography mentors, and Serkan is the Turkish-English tour guide, translator and Journey Anatolia proprietor.

The single most important thing they taught me about photographing people is to interact with them. Talk to them, even when you can’t speak the language. Gesticulate, make a joke, laugh, anything. You get a much better photo when people are relaxed, consenting and looking into the camera. It helps that the Turkish people are so warm and wonderfully hospitable.

The second most important thing they told me was not to cut off people’s extremities when taking the photo – feet, hands, top of the head.  I used to do it with singular regularity.

These are some of my pictures from the last trip to the South East. I’m hoping to hone my technique some more.

~ Spotted Cow

Man with green hat Street vendor Man with fans Turkish woman with headscarf

Turkish tea

Ahhh, there’s nothing better than a re-energising cup of chai – or çay in Turkish when you’re taking the weight off your travel-weary feet.  Tea is an essential part of Turkish culture and I indulged regularly in the atmospheric coffee houses or after a meal.

They serve it in tiny glasses on a little saucer, with a couple of sugar cubes on the side – no milk – and your tea stays hot while you sip leisurely at it.  There’s none of this lukewarm third-of-a-mug of tepid leftover milk tea business that I do here.  I also like the apple tea or elma çay, even though I know that only tourists drink it.

What tea traditions or rituals have you enjoyed ?

~ Spotted Cow