A woman buying firewood in a street of Herat, western Afghanistan, in late August 1972. This was one of my first days in the country and I was still overwhelmed by my experiences. I had never before been to a country so very different from my own and I felt I was back in a kind of timeless "yester-year".
Judging from the weight on the scale it looks like Afghanistan was literally using the old mainly British weight unit of a "stone", equalling 6,35 kilos.
You will no doubt find a lot of grain in this scanned Agfacolor slide. At least I made the man and the girl clean their faces reasonably :-).
I think this will be my last photo, for the time being, from Afghanistan. I have lots more from my second journey, in May 1973, but I am not satisfied with the scans and will have to re-scan them before I can show them.
Here is a larger version.
Critiques | Translate
Royaldevon (30747) 2014-03-06 7:02
This is amazing!
I just cannot imagine weighing wood on those tiny scales! Especially when you look at the size of the tree trunks behind the couple!
Everything I see from your photos is a completely new experience.
I completely empathise with the beginning of your notes, about being overwhelmed, it is so very very different, but what an experience!
Your photograph supplies so many pertinent details and, of course, a group of three works well for composition.
Have a great day,
yquem46 (38746) 2014-03-06 7:19
Fascinated and impressed by your oldies from Afghanistan
What a testimony here again on the way people were living at that time
The quality is definitely not outstanding as compared to the current standard that digital photography has now reached (I remember how at the beginning pro photographers were considering the new technology from very far above..... as something very anecdotic, with no future at all !) but really well worth being posted
thanks for keeping the memories alive
saxo042 (37588) 2014-03-06 8:01
Du lär nog inte kunna finna en motsvarande bild om du åkte tillbaka hit igen. Det här ser verkligen ut som från en mycket gången tid. Mjuka och attraktiva färger. Flickans blus ser påfallande modern ut.
Nicou (124193) 2014-03-06 8:19
quelle scène et vue cet femme et son enfant cet homme avec la balance et le cailloux quelle compo sueprbe retour dans les années merveilleux.
Bravo et amitié
Subhogen (4065) 2014-03-06 8:20
A fine photo depicting how business was conducted 40 years ago in Afghanistan. It also shows how people trusted each other back then. God knows what the actual weight of this stone is, but it was acceptable for both the seller and the buyer. I would not be surprised if barter system was also prevalent over there.
You were there during the rule of Zahir Shah, I have read that Afghanistan was very liberal at that time, but the head to toe burqa clad lady tells otherwise. Maybe it was her personal preference.
Excellent contribution to TE, you not only show the world, you show how it was so many years ago. Thanks for that.
cebe (1481) 2014-03-06 8:42
Fascinating photo from some 40 years ago. If that's not exoticism, I wonder what it means. I can understand the "overwhelmed" feeling. The stone is amazing and immediately grabbed my attention. Great post.
emka (80866) 2014-03-06 9:12
Hu Gert, this is for sure not the photo that everybody made :). Haha, they indeed use a "stone" for weighing the wood. The man looks interesting but the woman in burka even more. I like such scales, used also now in India, I was always happy to see them. And this wood reminds me the piles sold in Varanasi.
I can imagine the excitement to be in a country with different culture. For me such experience was in early eighties when I went to Morocco. Tanger was quite a shock.
The scene is so interesting and well composed that I do not care about any grain. But you have such endless archive that I am sure the next photos will be also very beautiful even if not from Afghanistan.
WArm regrads MAlgo
Fis2 (86777) 2014-03-06 9:14
Fascinating are your photos from the archive.
Next curious phot from daily life.
Good frame and interesting colors.
PaulVDV (23019) 2014-03-06 9:37
If I'm not mistaken, Afghanistan isn't a country with lots of forests.
Consequently, it might be quite difficult for the locals to get at the necessary firewood.
The composition of this picture is very good and the event is clear.
I think it's great that you could take this kind of pictures of people in their daily activities without being disturbed or without being looked at.
Best regards, Paul
Kamilutka (8095) 2014-03-06 10:50
well captured street scene. I like how everything in the image is natural and nobody is actually posing for the photo nor even acknowledging the photographer. People have busy day and there is no time for distraction.
Interesting settings of walls and wood and people nicely placed in the composition.
Thanks for sharing!
ourania (32789) 2014-03-06 11:03
this is a very interesting scene. The transaction, the clothes, the scattered wood and the building give us information that conveys a timeless age. The people do not pay attention to the camera and the naturalness of the scene is fascinating. By studying this instant we can recreate a whole story about the daily lives of the three people in the frame. They stand out with volume and vividness, they are interesting characters. I like very much the dominating warm tones, I'll miss them as your series is interrupted here (at least for a while). Congratulations and thank you!
All the best, have a lovely evening,
photographer_sg (4408) 2014-03-06 11:19
Your photos of Afghanistan are so full of nostalgia. The everyday situations that you depict reveal the peaceful life that these rustic but hospitable people once lived. We used to see many of them in Calcutta in the 60s and 70s many of whom were jovial and friendly.
Thanks for sharing this lovely photograph.
boa (6081) 2014-03-06 11:50
jag förstår dina känslor som du beskriver här, detta är ju en riktigt tidsresa riktigt långt bak i tiden. Den här scenen skiljer sig nog inte mycket mot för hur det såg ut för 500år sedan! (?)Intressant att se det dagliga livet för dessa människor, bakgrunden vittnar om vilka miljöer du befinner dig i. Den tekniska kvaliteten tycker jag är riktigt bra. Det lilla man ser av kornigheten tycker jag bara förstärker bilden. Det är ju trots allt över 40 år sedan(eller 500år:) )
Dina Afghanistan bilder är nog mina favoriter, hoppas verkligen att vi får se flera!
COSTANTINO (56791) 2014-03-06 13:08
Hello dear friend
another interesting shot from your experience
in Afganistan describing a different way of
life your book of adventures has too many
pages thanks for sharing them with us
kato (11630) 2014-03-06 22:10
You're capturing well this daily life by a good timing and excellent tone/clarity, so it's interesting and impressive to see the spectacle in which the elderly man which wears Turban and beard sells the firewood to women who were veiled using the primitive weight at the street corner. And, we can be seen many firewoods in behind. It looks like workings of fundamental life, shows accurately the religious background.
rychem (24576) 2014-03-06 22:37
Amazing scene, another great photo as a document of daily life, your note is very interesting
Apurba20 (984) 2014-03-06 22:59
Every time I see a younger person in a photo of yours, what comes to mind is: is he/she still there?, or, what is he now?, etc. etc. For a country that has seen such turmoil, can feelings be any different?
Great view of a daily life, with emotions galore.
jhm (140619) 2014-03-07 4:34
Your series is wonderful, we see excellent it live of these people more than fourty year ago.
Some cultures make the people very difficult to live, this is here very clear.
Colours and structure make these picture attractive.
Excellent composition, excellent captured.
Nice picture with pleasant colours.
Very well done, TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
everlasting (14694) 2014-03-07 6:01
I don't think anyone here is bothered about the technicalities of these old scans, they are just gems to behold. And as for so many of you photos - depicting travel before many of us hit the road
SnapRJW (31613) 2014-03-07 8:20
Your note encapsulates one of the joys of traveling Gert, to experience life in a 'foreign' culture is both a privilege and an education. As travel and communications become more and more prolific I wonder whether the exotic and unique will become either passe or cease to exist. I think of the multinationals and how they seem to slowly erode traditional life and experiences. Photographs like this one will become an important historical record of lost worlds. I feel caught between 'progress' and upliftment and the loss of century old lifestyles.
Another fascinating look at Afghanistan.
Have a good weekend
macjake (57430) 2014-03-07 10:34
Oh i know that look on the boys face very well :)
I remember having to be around when my father is doing chores with me helping out...that is the look of...do i HAVE to be here! are we DONE yet?? haha
I've heard time and time again never to trust scales in market places...there's always some sort of trick going on, or perhaps its just my paranoia :)
great reportage photo from Afghanistan, looking awefully rustic.
batalay (35791) 2014-03-07 12:17
So, it has been the better part of 42 years since you captured this moment of the firewood seller, a slice of life in Afghanistan. The child in the photo must be between 47-49 years old. The image really does lend meaning to photography as freezing fleeting moments in the past. Seeing the photo has the same effect on me as viewing those incredibly sharp B&W photos from the Crimean War of the 1850s, the photos from the American Civil War of the 1860s, or portraits by the pioneer Oxford photographer Charles Luttwidge Dodson (aka Lewis Carroll). You have a treasure trove of photos in your archives.
One of my favorite photos is a photo I shot in 1975, a photo reminiscent of a Monet painting generally regarded as the first work in Impressionism.
lousat (78427) 2014-03-07 12:49
Hi Gert,new magnificent memory,how you caught very weel this moment to show us in the best way what happens,very interesting scene of this man selling the firewood,excellent quality of PP as usual.Have a nice weekend and thanks,Luciano
carlo62 (34448) 2014-03-07 15:20
probabilmente conosci le bene le tue qualità, per questo non sei soddisfatto delle scansioni, per quello che mi riguarda, posso solo dire che mi sembra un ottimo lavoro, sia quando hai eseguito le foto, sia adesso che ce le hai mostrate.
ACL1978 (7507) 2014-03-07 18:37
A little grain never hurt anyone, Gert, especially not in a shot like this which has such a classic feel and is of a "gritty" subject. Lots of great detail to take in here, not least of which is the sheer amount of firewood the man seems to have! That is a remarkable pile behind him. Amid all of this, as well, the girl's shirt stands out brilliantly. Thanks.
abmdsudi (44262) 2014-03-07 21:15
A lovely daily life record shot of yester years with all the 'ancient' stuff around and people are always the main focal making the shot as depicted. Bit of extra colour on that boy draws attention and contrast, and the overall effect is very pleasing to the eye accompanied by the interesting narrative which always adds so much to one's appreciation. Great shot
fabbs99 (16739) 2014-03-07 21:54
Fabulous shot of the firewood seller.Truly exclusive.Excellent pov and sharpness. Very well done ,TFS.
wolf38 (31282) 2014-03-07 22:51
Hello Gert. A realistic and worth seeing photo. The balance with the stone is truly something special. This photo gives us insight into a backward world.
subhendu_bagchi (25873) 2014-03-08 3:37
another nice view from daily life happenings. Great composition with the lady, buying firewoods while her daughter is busy somewhere. Great moment captured with sharp focus and fine depth. Superb shot. Tfs.
mesutilgim (86066) 2014-03-08 8:24
Hello dear Gert,
Thisis absolutely one of the "best" of your oldies.
So many interesting details here :
-A selfmade scale
-The bored kid
-The garme tof the woman most probably searching for good woods and of course the seller; typical !
Many interesting notes.
I would not stop, just continue posting those 40 year old documents of the time allthough it didn't change much there.
TFS and have a nice weekend
kasianowak (7073) 2014-03-08 8:49
This is a trully wonderful everyday scene. It's priceless and the quality of the scan is really a minor consideration.
The last photo from your 1972 trip? I have been hoping we will find out eventually how you ended up in that cave... ;)
Greetings from Poland
pajaran (52972) 2014-03-08 9:33
Interesantan tekst o mestu i trenutku ...
Dobar rad skeniranjem slajda, lepo pokazano mesto i trenutak, lepe boje.
Prijatno vece i sve najbolje sa lepim secanjem na 1972.
Vreme brzo prolazi, ostaju nam samo secanja.
An interesting article on the place and time ...
Good work by scanning the slide shown good place and moment, beautiful colors.
Good evening and all the best with beautiful memories of in 1972.
Time passes quickly, we are left with only memories.
williewhistler (14697) 2014-03-08 13:45
another fascinating photograph from your travels,how shall I manage without them?
It is full of old world charm and interest,from the fire wood seller with traditional scales to the brightly clothed child it is delightful,the colours have reproduced very well whilst the details have been well retained from the original slide.
Kind regards Les.
jcpix (13704) 2014-03-08 14:17
I would say your scan quality is nothing to be concerned with, you're conveying quite well the imagery and experiences without significant loss. In fact, the aged aspect plays right into the strengths of these pictures. Content far outweighs technical details, and many of your photos stack up right along side modern day digital ones we've seen on this site.
The system of measurement would certainly seem archaic, but I would be very interested to know if anything has really changed since then. There's a wonderful sense of nostalgia and a workman-like attribute to a scene like this. Although you're planning on moving forward with other pictures, I hope to see many more of these oldies, they've been rather enjoyable! enjoy the rest of the weekend. Take good care.
krzychu30 (15498) 2014-03-09 8:23
magnificent old photo,which for me goes much beyond just an old memory photo.
It has so well captured documentry aspect of the life in Afghanistan in the 70´s,but it fits also perfectly in TE´s tagline,namely learning abouth the world through photography.
Very interesting scene well composed and captured by You!
Have a nice sunday afternoon
Romano46 (18466) 2014-03-09 8:35
questa ha quasi un valore storico se non altro per l'uso dell'unità di peso da parte del venditore di legna.
Penso che attualmente, anche se in questa parte del mondo certe tradizioni e certi usi resistono nel tempo, sia molto difficile che si usi ancora una tale unità di peso.
Ma oltre al valore documentaristico la foto, al di là della difficile scannerizzazione, sia anche interessante dal punto di vista compositivo.
Sono curioso di vedere le foto del tuo successivo viaggio in Afganistan che proporrari a breve.
Ciao e buona domenica
Silvio1953 (124609) 2014-03-09 13:14
Ciao Gert, fascinating daily life composition with nice scene, wonderful colors and splendid light, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio
sandpiper (6788) 2014-03-10 1:53
a timeless image, the scan was very good IMO. Certainly an interesting composition. Great daily life shot.
annjackman (20117) 2014-03-10 9:35
As usual you bring such interesting old images to TE. This is a way of life that many of us have never experienced and it is very interesting to view the place through your eyes. It is amazing to see firewood sold in this way.
Kind Regards, Ann
imageme (1790) 2014-03-10 16:53
Hi Gert, It is nice to see how people sell their firewood in other nation especially in the old days. The scale that the seller has was the only way to weight the woods at the time. I think the weight of the stone on the left side on the scale plate is to give the weight of the woods on the other side of the scale plate so that he knows how much he should charge the woman. I see different sizes of the stones on the ground and they should have different weight on them too. Great captured daily activity in the street with nice colours despite it is from year of 1972. Thank for sharing
eldancer1 (28999) 2014-03-15 5:09
I know that 1972 was long time ago but to see this scene at that time surely takes us back the middle ages. How much life has progress in that war-torn country? Good documentation with good lighting and nice details. Well done, tfs.
Miguel82 (24693) 2014-03-23 20:42
That document from the 70's is unique Gert it shows a fire wood merchant, it's still a cheap way to produce energy, the guy is selling the product per kg I see, perfect sharpness, regards
nikkitta (14992) 2014-03-24 16:38
What amazing capture, reminds me of having seen in Jaipur a man selling oil in plastic bags
Well composed daily life capture, man on one side woman and child on the othr
Quite understand how in this early days you myst felt
Thanks , meaning it, for sharing your archives
clic (15308) 2014-04-01 13:00
I've been an Agfa enthusiast in the late nineteens, using Agfachrome RSX II 100, if I remember well.
I loved that brand because or the righ 'tintless' depiction of grey tones.
This is the first time in my life I can visit virtually a piece of Afghanistan and I appreciate the plain truth about hearty people working hard for living.
And I know they don't feel sad for residing away from pashas who live on poor people duties!
The spirit of resourcefulness id beautifully depicted in your poster.
adores (38184) 2014-04-02 14:36
What a daily scene! I like every single detail, from the burka to the stone the man is using on the scale. Seems there's something else getting the attention of the little boy. A very good scene from the old days.
mcmtanyel (14229) 2014-04-15 22:27
Thanks for opening your vaults. This is such a precious daily life scene. What kind of a scanner do your use?
As for the restaurant photo, yes, it was way past lunch time.
Tigerlily (3107) 2014-04-21 10:34
I'm always confused with the English "Stones" and KG. I know now, that is English stone, only that much? :-D Thanks for clearing up my mind.
tatadalou (6433) 2014-05-03 4:32
Another nice "oldie" in your gallery. Nice capture of this daily life scene, very well composed. the grain is not a problem to me, it adds some more temper.
jmdias (56605) 2014-08-01 17:45
like the images from india (1972 or 2014 would have the same aspect). probably this scene could be registered 100 or 300 years ago...
amazing job of framing with the daily life very well presented. the work with the scanner is perfect. congratulations.