Looking at this photo more than 41 years after it was taken I realize it has a special significance to me.
This was a Monday in late August 1972, at maybe 11 AM, a couple of kilometres outside the city of Herat in western Afghanistan. A short while before I met this shepherd and his herd I had been robbed in a cave on a hillside, but I was unhurt, having only lost some money, and had even managed to keep my camera. This was the first photo I took after I was allowed to leave the cave. I remember being happy to be alive, to be able to hear the birds singing and to take pictures.
On my way back to Herat I slightly lost my directions and got into a village where children swimming in a green pond had a lot of fun at seeing me. An old man riding on a donkey showed me how to reach Herat. I could see the minarets of the city in the distance, but finding the straight way wasn't so easy.
How I ended up in that cave? Well, it's a long story and I won't get into it here. All I can say is that I had my Canon FT-QL loaded with a roll of Agfacolor CT18 and that this is a scan of one of the 36 pictures. You can see a larger version here.
Critiques | Translate
photographer_sg (4414) 2014-03-03 11:02
Fine picture that must not have been easy given the practically barren stretch of land. I liked the focal figure of the shepherd who provides beautiful contrast and chromatic variation against the surroundings. The harsh and flat land against the clear blue sky is perfect. The included branch and the other elements, ie the shepherd and cattle make a simple but engaging composition. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week ahead. Thrilling note :-).
pajaran (59479) 2014-03-03 11:15
Interesantan i dobar tekst, lepo secanje ...
Dobar rad skeniranjem, lepo pokazano mesto i trenutak, lepe boje.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje u novoj nedelji koja je pocela, srecno.
An interesting and good text, good memories ...
Good work by scanning, demonstrated good place and moment, beautiful colors.
Good evening and all the best in the new week that started, good luck.
ourania (44254) 2014-03-03 11:51
the description of your adventure in your note is breathtaking, even at the distance of many years. I'm so glad you didn't get hurt and started a new adventure to get back to Herat, collecting real and mental pictures on the way. I was about to write that I liked very much the straightforward gaze and attitude of the shepherd but, after your account, his look has become more special, maybe he was observing you really closely. I like this face to face interaction and the herd going about its business. The colours are strong and alluring, the shadows on the people's faces give a particular intrigue in your series from this little known place. Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a great evening,
saxo042 (37794) 2014-03-03 12:00
Jag tror att du aldrig berättade för mamma och pappa om detta äventyr och jag tror att det tog flera år innan jag själv fick veta något. Lyckligtvis fick du behålla kameran annars hade du ju aldrig kunnat ta den här fina bilden. En bra bild med an spännande historia.
ACL1978 (7511) 2014-03-03 12:49
I'm impressed you had the wherewithal after a robbery like the one you describe to just go on shooting, Gert! Glad you did of course, to produce a nice image such as this one. The shepherd also doesn't seem too fazed by the event (nor, I suppose, does his flock).
Of course, now I'm quite curious as to the rest of the story...
rbassin (22619) 2014-03-03 13:01
une histoire et des souvenirs accompagnent de cette photo.
C'est bien fait.
emilbo (22616) 2014-03-03 13:10
J'ai vu scène semblable en Tunisie mais je n'ai pas vécu ton aventure. Ta note est très intéressante et toute une aventure que tu as vécue. Chanceux d'en être sorti en vie et sans trop de mal. Une aventure à raconter à tes petits-enfants. Beau travail de scan.
Toutes mes félicitations,
COSTANTINO (64130) 2014-03-03 13:56
your useful notes are breathtaking
simple shot from old times
one shot that describes a different
kind of living
tyro (24330) 2014-03-03 14:05
After reading your note, all I can say as that you were obviously a far tougher nut than I would have been in a similar situation! I think after the robbery I would have ran all the way back to Herat and done my best to catch the next flight home. Even in those days, I am sure that life was considered cheap to these people as compared to western Europeans. So, in the end, I suppose you were very fortunate only to lose some money.
Your photograph is excellent and you have obviously caught the attention of the shepherd/goatherd who is staring in your direction. The animals look remarkably well fed considering that the land around them seems only to have the most sparse of vegetation.
The light and colours here are good but perhaps not quite up to the standard of Kodachrome. I always felt that Agfacolor CT18 gave very natural colours, far less vibrant than Kodachrome, but I think my Agfacolor slides have deteriorated over the years much more than have my Kodachrome ones.
A wonderful note and a very fine photograph!
daddo (26534) 2014-03-03 14:13
Hi Gert. Fate was smiling on you that day. A story which despite its nonchalant tone has a sinister undercurrent.Glad you and your film made it. Before I read your note i was going to comment that this shepherd would have been able to identify all the songbirds in his area and then I read about you hearing the birds. Lovely scene, idyllic etc, but then in the Garden of Eden there was a serpent. Regards. Klaudio.
lousat (89740) 2014-03-03 14:21
Hi Gert,the sheperd is in pose only for you like a movie star..ehehe...a spectacular memory from Herat,a place that the italians knows very well because the is the seat of our military contingent in Afghanistan,a beautiful scenery and the usual excellent work in pp.Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano
mesutilgim (94502) 2014-03-03 14:30
Hello dear Gert,
Another topclass "oldie" from Afghanistan with this shepherd who seemingly has posed to you.
Again many interesting notes makes your entry a perfect TE job.
TFS and best regards
carlo62 (46353) 2014-03-03 15:09
credo che le sole immagini non riescono a raccontare gli episodi della tua vita, un libro sarebbe più adeguato, forse più di uno....
Girare in quelle nazioni in quegli anni, penso sia stato difficile, più di adesso e non mi meraviglia ciò che hai raccontato, per questo apprezzo ancora di più la tua foto.
federico (3879) 2014-03-03 16:36
hello Gert, very interesting old picture, from a distant time of peace, at least in this tormented country, I guess it could be a photo from the 2014 Afghanistan, probabilly the daily life didn't change so much in the last 40 years
batalay (38591) 2014-03-03 19:55
I loved reading your account, feeling the anxiety all the way. It's a timeless photograph. Shepherds dressed in this manner and herding their flocks as this man is doing must go back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. It's rare that one sees a mixture of sheep and goats though, is it not?
emka (95073) 2014-03-03 23:36
What a story! You were robbed in a cave?? I can imagine you were happy to survive and hear the birds singing. But weren't you too nervous to make photos? I hope to hear more about this adventure. It is hair rising story.
Nice view of the shepherd and his sheep. They look a bit a kind like I saw in Syria, such fat tailed.
it is fun to follow your footsteps like in Tallinn or Riga, and in less than a month in Georgia/ I look many times at the photos of you and Paul. Pity that I can't do this in other places. have you already some plans about your late spring trip? :)
WArm regrads MAlgo
dkmurphys (57427) 2014-03-04 0:27
Very beautiful bucolic scene. An image that we can see here too in the mountains, but with a lot of green around :P. Simple and attractive. Well taken.
Nicou (139940) 2014-03-04 0:53
dans l'arridité de la région quelel vue de ce bergert avec ces animaux sueprbe et l'arbre vert épineus je pense très belle ensemble et scène.
Bravo et amitié
Subhogen (4067) 2014-03-04 1:07
What an experience!! I mean not for you but for us viewers who are reading it from the comforts of our home. Even if I had managed to take a few shots after such a fearful incident as you narrate I can vouch it will not be as sharp as this one because of my trembling hands and legs :)
Another fine shot from the Afghan country side, depicting the daily life as it was years ago. Making a living out of this parched land is back breaking work and you have captured that very well over here. Though here the shepherd has taken a break to pose for you as his goats have broken the queue. Thanks for sharing this.
Royaldevon (37925) 2014-03-04 1:58
This story gets better and better!
You were a bit of an Indiana Jones in your youth!
Somehow, youth seems to have so little fear, in a foreign country, walking in isolated places alone, camera at the ready, ...!
You were lucky!
I somehow feel we are lucky to be seeing these shots!
What memories and so well documented on your trusty camera! This is like a Biblical scene. So utterly living on the land.
Did the goatherd have a dog or did they just follow him?
Thanks for sharing this and have a great day,
kato (11630) 2014-03-04 2:27
You're capturing well this place by a good composition and excellent tone/clarity, so it's interesting and impressive to see the pastoral spectacle in which this shepherd is managing on the rock hill his herd of the animals such as goats and sheep. It's also impressive in his traditional clothes, and it looks like very peaceful for Afghanistan of this time.
Kamilutka (8105) 2014-03-04 4:06
I like how the shepherd is posing quite proudly with his herd for this photo, but the animals seem to be not very much interested in ongoing activity :-) The tiny branch on the left included in the picture adds lovely detail to the composition. Harsh light but well handled and lovely natural colors.
All the best!
mohammad_H (9904) 2014-03-04 4:19
A very beautiful image of the shepherd and the sheep. A good selection of archival time, attractive image for the viewer to spectacular
Thanks for sharing
fritzi007 (10411) 2014-03-04 4:29
sehr gutes Foto und Kommentar, gratuliere!
eldancer1 (36343) 2014-03-04 7:37
A photo taken 41 years ago and you still remember the day of the week it was taken? Agfa films was even better even then in retaining their colors. Good documentation with good lighting and nice details. Well done, tfs.
Fis2 (95983) 2014-03-04 7:45
Curious scene from daily life.
Excellent colors and light.
Good reportage shot.
Have a nice afternoon
subhendu_bagchi (26089) 2014-03-04 19:36
a nice composition with those sheep, goats and the shepherd. Expressive daily life shot from 1972 Afghanistan. Nice framing with good colours and depth. Interesting one. Tfs.
rychem (34507) 2014-03-04 20:54
This photo is a good illustration to your adventure, so it is a reportage photo with a scene of typical daily life in Aphganistan of the seventies, very well done
Apurba20 (984) 2014-03-04 23:03
I do not know whether I should marvel at your adventures. But I do feel envious. You told a great anecdote.
As for this photo, I am loving the entire series. This is just exquisite.
SnapRJW (31629) 2014-03-05 1:14
What a story and what a memory Gert! Luckily you still had your camera and you were even more fortunate to be alive to use it. I can understand how thrilled you must have been to see friendly people going about their simple daily lives.
Your shot with its barren landscape and herd of sheep reminds me in many ways of the south of Namibia where sheep are about one of the only domesticated animals that can survive of the sparse vegetation. Are these fat-tailed sheep, I wonder? They look very much like the breed popular here.
Another good shot with a fine story to accompany it.
Warm regards Rosemary
danos (96688) 2014-03-05 3:15
nice the view of the daily life of this shepherd,with his goats and sheep to surrounded in this old and beautiful rural scenery.I like the excellent quality of this old photo with the light management to be superb.
mirosu (16041) 2014-03-05 4:51
Every time I am stunning about quality of your scanner. Excellent photo, superb arrangement. There is a superb contrast against light brown ground and blue sky in BG.
Very well done.
p.s. Are you scanning from negative, slide or print???
macjake (66972) 2014-03-05 4:59
1 life down, 8 lives left!
Unless of course you have similar stories from other adventures :)
All kidding aside, you're a lucky man to have only your money stolen. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling you were not planning on going into the cave, rather the men put you in the cave for privacy?
Well, perhaps one day if we ever meet up you'll tell me the story in person :)
this photo means alot more that what it seems, its more than just sheep and goats and their shepherd.
A keen reminder to be aware, and even if we ARE keenly aware the bad can still happen no matter how well prepared we are. Glad to hear that only your ego was bruised, good on ya to keep on going!
jhm (151376) 2014-03-05 5:12
I don't know or today there is a lot is changed, exactly or we see a image of today your picture is twenty two year old but in very well condition, perfect scanned.
The place and moment are extraordinarily Gert.
Also excellent picture, nice clear and sharp.
A nice daily life picture
We get a nice panoramic view about these area.
Excellent composition, nice captured.
Very well done, TFS.
Greetings from Belgium,
PaulVDV (28215) 2014-03-05 10:49
You must have been very persuasive towards your attackers in order to keep your camera.
As soon as they left, your adventure in Afghanistan restarted.
I remember that one day a long time ago my backpack was stolen out of a car that a few friends and I had rented. Pretty soon I found it back with all belongings thrown on the ground. But I remember that during the rest of the day I was extremely nervous :(
This does not seem like the ideal place for grazing for goats and sheep. But I've also seen such herds in a landscape of stones and rocks.
Best regards, Paul
Graal (102570) 2014-03-05 12:38
another nice photo from your archive. Good captured scene from daily life. Nice colors, superb quality of scan. Well note also.
Have a nice evening.
kasianowak (8739) 2014-03-05 13:20
What a story! I appreciate you don't want to talk or maybe even think about what happened but your note made me really curious.
Glad to hear you didn't get hurt and your camera was not stolen so you could take this photo.
fabbs99 (17133) 2014-03-05 18:11
Great retro-stuff with the shepherd and his herd in Afghanistan.Great colors and sharpness.TFS.
jcpix (13914) 2014-03-05 18:55
Wow, what a story...so glad you came away relatively unscathed, shaken I'm sure, but glad to be breathing! I can only imagine what this, and the other pictures must hold for you after that experience. It really is amazing what we take for granted, and to hear the simple pleasure of chirping birds afterwards put life into perspective. I'm quite impressed that you have remembered the day and time this took place, which makes sense I suppose when such an event is entrenched in your memories.
A picture that tells a story, and a story that paints the picture. As with the previous, the scan quality is very good...these are oldies but goodies. :) Hoping to see more from the past. Thanks for sharing your experiences, both in narration and picture form. Have a great day. All the best.
wolf38 (31296) 2014-03-05 22:24
Another documentary photo from Yemen.
The work of the shepherd is one of the oldest jobs in the world. It's a job of work - but also poetry. It's a job between earth and sky.
Best rgds, Wolfgang.
abmdsudi (52963) 2014-03-06 2:07
Nice opportunistic picture under strong intense light and hard shadows at hi-noon. It really needs a bit more exposure to bring out the features on the face but sometimes you just have to grab a shot as it appears. They were so cute worthy a few snaps! Congrats
Silvio1953 (140700) 2014-03-06 11:28
Ciao Gert, nice scene with a lot of sheep, lovely composition, wonderful colors and splendid light, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio
nikkitta (17066) 2014-03-19 13:03
What a history, well placed as introduction of the capture, you were brave enough to take photos while trying to return to Herat
After that experience most people will be shaking trying to go far from the cave the faster, the best
You stop, ask the sheperd for a photo and obtained a interesting one, also managing to frame it with a branch
Very well done, TFS
Hope to know about the cave and how on earth you manage to keep the camera
Angshu (56750) 2014-03-20 22:12
Your story made me bristle...such experiences, I have read about and that you have experienced one must be haunting for a long time...I surely understand how you would have felt after release...
Why were you accosted...because you were a foreigner?
This is a fine portrait of the shepherd...posing here for you...a picture 41 years old and still has a fine quality to it
adores (45027) 2014-03-29 17:59
You have probably been through a lot of adventures during your trips. This is a story you'll never forget and another good and timeless photo of this place. I like his serious pose, he was probably surprised with your camera.
Miguel82 (27674) 2014-03-31 19:26
That archive from Afghani countryside is really impressive and of high quality, dated from the 70's it shows pastoral activity. I like lamb and especially goat meat..regards
mcmtanyel (21810) 2014-04-11 17:16
That is the beauty of photography, you can relive the moments of your travels, both the best and the harrowing ones. Were you on assignment or just traveling?
Good composition, excellent DOF.
Tigerlily (3379) 2014-04-21 10:44
I said that you were a brave man, but this is the first photo that you told us you had been in real danger.. I took my hat off to you, Gert.