Buzkashi

Redefining Priorities

After more than a year in the field with a technically limited camera (poor or no AF, limited ISO, poor ergonomic), I bought last Summer a Fuji X-T1 with two lenses. It is not the first time that I’m trying to have a smaller camera, easier to carry than my usual Canon 5D and lenses (filing a backpack on their own). I bought a few compact cameras in the past but never really felt confortable with them and finally always preferred to work with my Canon. However, 18 months ago, the security situation in the places where I was working and the difficulty to travel with that heavy backpack forced me to change my plans and to use for some time a camera, limited to max 800 or 1600 ISO, with a pathetic AF system but great picture quality.

While it restricted the number or kind of shots I could take (e.g. low light portrait), it surprisingly also improved my way of shooting. It forced me to better prepare my shoots, to care less about sharpness and more about content. And because I did not have enough shutter speed at low light, I was then forced to improve my slow shutter speed skills, learning something new.

Since I bought a Fuji X-T1, I received several times the same questions “Is it better than Canon?” “Don’t you miss a full frame sensor”? No, it is not as good as Canon (slower auto-focus, less ergonomic). But I can carry it with me more easily and adapt my pictures to its limitation. Like too many before me, I certainly wasted way too much time in the past focusing on equipment or picture’s sharpness, rather than trying to improve my pictures and my eye.

I had the pleasure to talk lately with another enthusiastic photographer about camera, photography in general and how photography coule make us become more attentive of things around us. A particular light, some expressions or any small details, making our life a bit different. And that’s certainly what matters to me. Photographing those instants, those details that I like; or capturing some faces or moments I would like to keep for me.

Maybe my camera can not shoot all the things another one could (e.g. challenging sport shots). But at least, I can have it with me in any bag and take the kind of shots I really like. OlivierChassot-Blog-MAZ-Buzkashi-0884

21 November 2014: A bread vendor during a buzkashi match in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan.

Buzkashi

With the cold making a comeback in Afghanistan, the new Buzkashi season started 2 weeks ago in Mazar-e-Sharif. Rather brutal (more than during my last visit), it remains an incredible experience.

After almost a year in Afghanistan, I sometimes still find difficult to realize that I am really working and living here. I still remember reading the book “The Photographer” and being fascinated by the pictures of the late Didier Lefèvre. This country was supposed to stay in my imagination, a fantasy in my traveler’s mind. Realizing that I went today to a Buszkashi match, like others go to a cinema, is just an additional reminder of how my life has changed. For the better and for the rest… 🙂

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21 November 2014: A buzkashi match in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan.

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21 November 2014: An Afghan rider during Buzkashi match in Mazar-e-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan.

Daydream

Some places are part of our unconsciousness. Documentaries we saw when we were children, books we read, movies we watched, picture we admired or stories we heard. So when you find yourself in the middle of such a place, for real, a weird but pleasant feeling appears. Mix between reality and dream, surprise and déjà vu. I am walking in Afghanistan, watching a buzkashi game.

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20 December 2013: Buzkashi riders in Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. [Click on the picture to enlarge it]