The Illusion - this little town, nestled somewhere in the mountains between Wadi Dhahr and Shibam, is in actuality, a DEET factory.
It's said that people who live here don't live long, and children born here are always missing something...an arm, a leg, a portion of their heart, a couple of organs, a skull, a portion of their brain...if not worse. That's the ones that are born alive.
As we were driving out to go hiking around the mountains of Thula and Hababah we (my guide Suleiman, our driver Mohammed and myself) stopped on the highway about halfway. As we had just gotten past the military circle around the city (Sana'a) and were all (OK, maybe just me) a little rattled by the big 50mm on the back of a pickup that was just pointed as us, plus the arguing (that I really couldn't understand much of) that ensued at the checkpoint, with the military wanting to see my (non existant) permit to travel outside of Sana'a, that culminated in Suleiman finally convincing the soldiers that I wasn't from the US, but that I was from Atlanta (which everyone knew in Yemen from the videos they show of the most popular hardcore rap videos - after that they looked at me like I was some kind of crazy guy - but didn't realize Atlanta was actually in the US), we stopped at this little ledge above this town. (Sorry for the long sentence). Suleiman proceeded to tell me about the town. How it used to be a prosperous little trade and farming town. How the discovery of a plant that produces DEET changed the town, especially when the residents found out how much money they could make off of it. How things have been really bad in the last couple of years with health and how it was now a dying and ignored town, better to just let them die than try to help them, in his words...
For those who don't know what DEET is - it is the active ingredient in alot of mosquito sprays or deterrants. A little is OK, but start getting covered with it day in and day out, and you basically have the recipe for disaster to anything of biological makeup...
...on another note, when I saw this shot, I really thought "now this is a Peter shot"...just not as good as his, but the yellow circle of grass reminded me of one of those cacti, with the village in the center and mountains in the background...
Let me know what you think,
Critiques | Translate
kiwi_explorer (12209) 2007-09-21 19:54
Harsh conditions yet there is beauty in its ruggedness. One would possibly question why would one live here ... possibly one has no choice but nothing wrong living in isolation as it gives us a chance to contemplate and center ourselves. Wonderfully captured and composed. Well done! tfs have a nice weekend.
grantlp (2113) 2007-09-21 20:01
This image gives a good depiction of the ruggedness of the Yemeni countryside, and the photo reflects great DOF. I like the inclusion of interesting aspects from front to back of the photo....with the mountains completing the important aspect of the landscape. Overall very good composition of a rather barren world.
siolaw (38074) 2007-09-21 20:57
Good use of vertical framing to show afull view of the village and its surroundings, with extreme light well managed and retaining good detail sharpness. We can see water is rare and paramount in he area, allowing trees to grow, and also deet..!
sothy81 (9558) 2007-09-21 22:37
What a nice image you have here. I like your title which fits well with your picture. The picture which is composed with great details of the place and the vertical view is just wonderful here. A very nice exposed shot. Well done. Sothy
jjcordier (74454) 2007-09-21 22:39
Excellent POV et une très belle composition.Le paysage est splendide et la qualité d'image irréprochable. Beau travail et note très détaillée.
kensimage (8561) 2007-09-21 23:07
The callous disregard for life is tragic--disregard by the DEET producers and by the Yemen government. It's true that a poor country cannot make the same tradeoffs that a rich one does, between safety and economic vitality, but I suspect that a few basic safety measures would make a huge difference here at moderate cost.
I like the tones in your shot, showing the genuine washed-out look of the desert yet with a lot of variety in the different colors of dirt and in the green accents. It's very well composed, John. Regards, Ken.
ohe (2334) 2007-09-21 23:56
Very nice view. It's sure that house are very well integrating the landscape.
Colors are really well rendered.
Thanks for sharing,
- Olivier -
ribeiroantonio (22637) 2007-09-22 1:35
I am waiting for your note. In the meantime let me know to tell you that I like the photo. It has a great POV and the soft colours are beautiful. Amazing to see so many trees in front of a quite arid background. Well done.
dareco (17134) 2007-09-22 4:40
What a sad story!! I had never heard of this. But a beautiful picture and the title 'perfect'. A great pov. Amazing to me that trees survive in this place though. TFS
Bruno40 (6658) 2007-09-22 7:04
The place is ugly, in all possible meanings, hence the picture is not a WOW photo!. But the note taught me a lot. A good contribution to TE.
Thanks a lot
gary91 (15348) 2007-09-22 11:11
Thanks to your note, I leaned what DEET is, and although it is doing good to a lot of people, your note shows that it can seriously harm others. I like your picture and this very good vertical framing. The eye goes well from the green field in the foreground up to the town and then to the moutains in the distance. Well done !
Have a nice evening.
Best regards, Christian
batalay (35043) 2007-09-22 13:25
The photograph and the framing a first rate. I remember Yemen from a trip in 1997, and it was parched and rugged, your shot reveals something of an oasis. Your note, however, regarding the DEET plant is highly alarming, if indeed those reports are factual.
dvlazar (6644) 2007-09-22 18:15
John - A nice landscape - something different from a part of the world not shot as much as others! The color scheme is interesting with the patches of greenery amongst draber colors.
axiotea (21649) 2007-09-23 10:09
I understand better the title after reading your note! Because I figured out Yemen is an arid country, I never thought there was many mosquitoes and malaria ): Your image is well composed and we can see well the village and its surroundings. I've made a WS, tell me what you think, hoping you don't mind.
ViktorVaughn (1521) 2007-09-23 21:17
A very useful note and an indication of just how things are in Yemen, where people and their health are never a factor in the government's mind.
I never actually made it up to Shibam, and at first I thought this was Wadi Dhar, with the rock palace. Shooting in the mountains is difficult (when I was there, it was so hazy) so you've managed really well with the lighting, allowing the viewer to see the villages, and the mountains in the back.
shevchenko (19051) 2007-09-25 20:22
Good pov to show the buildings and landscape here, although the land had waste but trees still growth well at here, I can imagine how difficult you had travel to this place and make this photo, useful note to help us learn about this country / place, thanks for sharing.
woladorsky (806) 2007-09-29 1:35
Great note for a great picture. I think there are no more comments as the note and the photo explains a lot!!
jmcl (14535) 2007-10-22 19:26
I love the depth .. both into the image and vertically .. unique place .. really nice colors .. I wish for a smaller aperture : ) .. the combination of the vibrant green so full of nice on this stark and ancient place is tremendous.