My last picture was taken in 1995. This one brings you back to 1973. In a few weeks this was exactly 40 years ago.
This is the Sabzak Pass in northwestern Afghanistan, not far from the border of Turkmenistan, which in those days was part of the Soviet Union. This was the main road in that part of the country, the only way to go between the major cities of Mazar-i-Sharif in the north and Herat in the west, close to Iran.
I was travelling by pickup-trucks with a bench along three sides and a lot of luggage in between. It was rather uncomfortable, to say the least, but an experience I would not have wanted to do without.
Unfortunately these cramped conditions made it difficult to take pictures unless we stopped so I could get off. On the other hand the road was so bad, the hills so steep and the truck so heavily loaded that quite often everyone had to get off and walk for a while at the worst places.
Sometimes there was hardly any road at all, meaning it was time again to take a walk.
The four day journey through the northwest (I stopped here and there for sightseeing and resting) brought me through some fascinating sceneries, but I was glad to finally reach Herat, where I could once again eat some decent food and stay in a clean hotel.
On the last day we passed across the Sabzak Pass, which was perhaps the highlight of the entire journey. I remember thinking that if I would never see the Grand Canyon (which I still haven't seen and probably never will) at least I had seen the Sabzak Pass.
These men were repairing the road. As far as I remember there was actually a machine of some kind just around the bend, which was why we had to wait, and I could take this picture.
I have scanned it from a Kodachrome slide.
Critiques | Translate
chrisvek (7001) 2013-04-29 11:45
Hello dear Gert
Very nice "vintage" shoot.Great result from the scanning.Amazing colors and contrasts.Well done!
Have a nice week
tyro (25950) 2013-04-29 12:00
This is another of your wonderful "documentary" shots of a place which few would wish to visit in the present political climate: when this picture was taken the main threats to travellers were probably accidental injury or dysentery rather than from terrorists.
Your note is particularly interesting as you have also included links to three other photographs, each of which also demontrates the poor state of the primitive roads in these parts forty years ago.
To be honest, this is not one of the very best of your scanned slides - perhaps this film suffered from heat exposure or something similar - but it nonetheless gives a very clear view of the incredibly rugged and inhospitable landscape as well as a glimpse of the lives of these poor roadmen.
saxo042 (37902) 2013-04-29 12:17
Ytterligare en mycket intressant bild från din resa för 40 år sedan. Det är också intressant att kunna jämföra den här bilden med de bilder du visat tidigare här. På många sätt är de gamla bilderna bättre, den här känns en aning överprocesserad. Men det kanske är som John tror, någon åldring av filmen du använt. Hur som helst är bilden ett mycket bra tidsdokyment.
pajaran (62590) 2013-04-29 12:54
Vrlo interesantan i dobar tekst sa datim podacima ...
Dobar rad skeniranjem, lepa fotografija.
Proslo je mnogo godina.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje u novoj nedelji koja je pocela.
Very interesting and good text with the given data ...
Good work by scanning, beautiful photos.
It's been many years.
Good evening and all the best in the new week that started.
carlo62 (50948) 2013-04-29 15:04
immagine storica, sono passati molti anni, pių che una foto, č un documento.
bukitgolfb301 (42992) 2013-04-29 15:23
Hi dear Gert, how are you?
Wow another prescious archive sereis from you!
Scanned image is so fantastic on contrary.
I hope they will be safe and happy right now.
Thanks a lot and best regards,
Takero from Tokyo
ACL1978 (7511) 2013-04-29 19:49
Hello Gert - an interesting scene from another great old scan here. May 1973 in Afghanistan, of course, was as close as that country gets to a peaceful period, right before the coup and the slide toward Soviet invasion. Not that it was a particularly good time in Afghanistan, to be sure, but likely better than what came after. This is really amazing scenery along this 'road', and the men repairing it have varied and interesting dress. While I agree with both Gunnar and John that the quality of the scan is not perhaps your best, it is well worth posting for its historical and cultural value. Thanks!
UlfE (14641) 2013-04-30 0:34
Fantastisk bild igen tagen för länge sedan i Afganistan. Det är inte utan att man undrar hur vägen ser ut idag. Förmodligen i betydligt bättre skick. Det var starkt solljus när du tog den men det fungerar väldigt bra ändå eftersom människorna framträder tydligt mot den ljusare bakgrunden. Vägen diagonalt och även vissa av männen i rad skapar dynamik i scenen även om det inte är så mycket aktivitet. En som jobbar och fyra som tittar på. Eller kanske blev de alltför nyfikna på utlänningen med kameran?
Ha en bra valborgsmässoafton!
Nicou (145294) 2013-04-30 2:28
Trčs trčs belle compo nostalgique de 40 ans avec ces personnages ces travailleur et quel rendu sur la roche et les montagne et ces tons fantastique retour dans le passé.
Bravo et amitié
dkmurphys (60837) 2013-04-30 5:59
I'm impressed by your old gallery of images from the past. Another attractive image of simple life moments.
Have a fine afternoon.
ourania (47880) 2013-04-30 6:23
I love this kind of photos and often find them emotional. A group of ordinary people doing their work immortalized in a lovely casual photo which will one day be valued as a document. A brief stop before they went on with their work and so many eyes to study them captivated after many years and changes of their fate. The lanscape and the colours have been rendered in a marvellous way, the strong contrasts are very effective. The way these slender and shy people stand in the strong light in front of the lens of a stranger is really touching. Your note and the pictures it includes are fantastic. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great day,
rychem (38265) 2013-04-30 11:04
Amazing, this photo was taken 40 years ago, incredible atmosphere, excellent documentary photo
kato (11630) 2013-04-30 22:30
You're capturing well this place by a good composition and excellent tone/clarity, so it's impressive to see this place surrounded to rock mountain and greenery. Surely, we can see steep rock surface as you note. It's impressive in people of Afghanistan who wear ethnic costume and are doing road repairing, too. So, it is a sociable spectacle with the documentary.
Romano46 (18472) 2013-05-01 0:42
ogni tua foto dei vecchi viaggi mi riporta indietro nel tempo quando anche io amavo i viaggi di avventura e i lunghi raid dei quali sono rimaste solo poche foto che mi riprometto sempre di scannerizzare, avendo sempre dato la prioritā alle riprese cinematografiche.
Un altro dei tuoi documenti che, essendo trascorsi tanti anni, io definisco storici di documentazione di un tipo di vivere e di ambientazione ormai non pių riscontrabile in questi luoghi.
Ciao e buona giornata
Waylim (25502) 2013-05-01 22:00
This one look really hot out there for this men to be working without much equipment but just some shavels and picks. Hard life. Good image of the past.
eldancer1 (36343) 2013-05-02 9:16
The road look so rugged, and I can understand how uncomfortable the ride must have been. I wonder if the condition has changed much in 40 years. The mountain is beautiful though, nicely captured with good lighting and dof with nice details. Well done, tfs.
macjake (69859) 2013-05-02 11:23
I guessed I missed this one in your gallery.
Looking at it here now, unless i'm very ignorant, I can't really tell thats its from 1973! there really isn't anything that shouts out 3 decades ago. you could have probably posted this as taken yesterday, and I wouldn't have been able to tell...am i missing something?
Too bad afghanistan is probably not so easy to walk around in today as a tourists.
another fine documentary type of scene
daddo (27036) 2013-05-02 16:44
Hi Gert. Another gem from the strata of the past when life had a slower pace and dangers were natural and not from suicidal maniacs and drones operated from afar. Somehow this image reminds me men here in Melbourne working on roads- one with a spade pretending to work, two with hands in their pockets, another sitting in an idling earth moving machine, another leaning on a large broom.Incredible topography. best wishes. Klaudio.
Silvio1953 (146807) 2013-05-03 8:45
Ciao Gert, great scene with fantastic colors, fine details, excellent clarity and splendid light, very well done, my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio
agjika (3177) 2013-05-06 11:07
Fantastic documentary shot and what a place?! Is there anywhere you haven't been?!
Thanks for sharing
adores (45891) 2013-05-08 17:06
Good to see Afghanistan in the old days! This is a really hard work and the trip was surely hard also. Seems your camera really got their attention. It's a good daily scene and I like the mountains in background.Maybe the place hasn't changed that much.
Urs (14082) 2013-05-09 5:27
1973 at that time Afghanistan still was a place to visit. Nowadays it is a nightmare. You did a great job digitalizing this shot. Sharpness, colour hues, everything is perfect. Well done
We have a few things in common. I used to be a journalist as well, writing first for major Swiss dailies like NZZ and TagesAnzeiger, then shifting to the Welt am Sonntag in Germany and finally switching from German to English writing, that time for Automotive News. I still contribute photographs to the DPA Fotoreport, but I earn my living with automotive consulting, what pays much better then journalism. BTW I bought my first digital camera also in 2006, it was in early July. I'm now 60 years old and still working, retirement could be with 65 but I most probably will not do it.
adidas5nb (5743) 2013-05-10 19:08
lovely classic picture sir.like the geography.the note is wonderful.its great to see afghanistan of the yesteryears.
kasianowak (9407) 2013-05-17 2:50
Wow, and this Afganistan of 30 years ago. Having read some of Dervla Murphy's accounts I must say, this is how I imagined it and it's really good to see it in a photograph.
Have a nice day
abmdsudi (55706) 2013-05-20 21:02
Another one from the archives of something we would never normally see and thanks for the insight into a world most of us know nothing about. This interesting shot best showing the harshness of unfriendly rugged conditon and the workers mending the moutain road in unbearable heat . There's many details to pick out, I find the red guy in the fg pulls the eye about the frame to create attention with some colors brighten up the whole scene although I feel that they seemed a bit too concerned about your lens, but they indeed livened this pict. A strong infor shots and thks to the links showing the remote landscape beautifully well put together, an excellent piece of photo journalism. Congrats.
subhendu_bagchi (26089) 2014-02-25 2:13
a nice daily life scene here which can't be seen often. Tough job but they have to do it. A beautiful composition from your archive. Excellent framing with those people with nice expressions and such a beautiful view at background. Excellent one. Tfs.
fabbs99 (17167) 2014-03-22 23:40
This is a marvelous image of the mountains from Afghanistan.Perfect composition and sharpness.Keep sharing. TFS
jcpix (13930) 2014-10-28 15:59
Quite a journey, one filled with stories and memories to last a lifetime...and also some unplanned workouts to keep in shape, yeah? I can only hope you had a comfortable pair of shoes at the time, they would have come in handy for this "walking drive." :)
The landscape I can discern from this small sampling does have a touch of Grand Canyon about it, and I'm glad that your travels have at least afforded one of the two sites. You always have a welcome mat here to visit the other, should the opportunity arrive. :)
Full of color and that ever important human factor, this is a well taken and interesting facet of daily life along the pass, and gives us increased understanding of the road conditions on which you traveled. Enjoy the new day. Take good care.