23 Apr
2014
By
Posted in: Oman    4 Comments

Oh man, Oman!

I recently spent two weeks in the Sultanate of Oman, a small Arab state on the Southeast coast of the Arabian peninsula. I admit to not knowing much about the place before being invited as part of an international group of photographers on a customized tour. As a young boy, I remember the country having the name Muscat and Oman on my world map—but that’s about it.

So I could say that I was overwhelmed by the photo opportunities in Oman—the colorful, friendly people, the mountains (the only country on the Arabian Peninsula with this feature), beaches, and pristine sand deserts—but I won’t. Instead, I’ll let my images tell the story with only a few editorial comments sprinkled in.

Parched, The Wahiba Sands, Sultanate of Oman

Parched, The Wahiba Sands, Sultanate of Oman

The scene is extremely iconic and a photographic cliché, but would you turn away from the luscious backlighting and elongated shadows on the rippled sand? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Hide and Seek, Ibra Market, Sultanate of Oman

Hide and Seek, Ibra Market, Sultanate of Oman

Yes, this young boy was half-heartedly hiding from me and my lens, but it was obvious he wasn’t too distressed by the encounter. In fact, by the look of that winning smile of his, I’d say he was enjoying it! One of the best things about Oman was the simple curiosity and innocence of the people, unaccustomed as they are to tourists shoving cameras in their faces.

Circle of Life, Ras al-Jins Turtle Reserve, Sultanate of Oman

Circle of Life, Ras al-Jins Turtle Reserve, Sultanate of Oman

Just the two of us crawling around in the sand on our bellies—me grinning behind a wide-angle lens and this green sea turtle wearing a mask of strength and determination as she made her way back to the waters of the Arabian Sea.

Man of Sur, Sultanate of Oman

Man of Sur, Sultanate of Oman

This guy was one of my favorite photographic subjects and a new hero of mine. I mean, just look at him. He’s got that badass, I-don’t-give-a-crap aura about him and would you get a load of that beard? I shaved mine shortly thereafter out of shame and humiliation.

Diana's Point, Jabal al Akhdar, Sultanate of Oman

Diana’s Point, Jabal al Akhdar, Sultanate of Oman

The late Princess of Wales allegedly frequented this spot to get away from everything, hence the name given by the locals. Now I know all about the blown out sky in the upper right corner  of the image but I really don’t care. I found myself taking more of a photojournalistic approach on this trip and that gives me the excuse to just “let it be.” I feels pretty good, I must say.

The Corneche, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

The Corneche, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

My friend Sergio and I talked our way onto the roof of an old hotel in order to get this view of Muscat at twilight.

Of Men and Melons, Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman

Of Men and Melons, Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman

Melons and men talking about melons, because that’s what men do—talk about melons.

Sidewinder, Wahiba Sands, Sultanate of Oman

Sidewinder, Wahiba Sands, Sultanate of Oman

The exquisitely sculpted dunes of the Wahiba Sands with low-angled, warm sunlight of early morning. And for just a few minutes, I was a fine-art landscape photographer again and it too felt good.

Ghosts of Mutrah Souq, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Ghosts of Mutrah Souq, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

The main souq (market) in downtown Muscat provided dozens of prime photo opportunities. For this image, I set up low on a tripod in the middle of the crowd and waited for men to walk by in their white robes, using a longish exposure to create an illusion of motion.

About Richard Bernabe (5 Posts)

Richard Bernabe is a an internationally renowned landscape, wildlife, and travel photographer and author from the United States. His passion for adventure has been the driving force behind his life’s quest to capture the moods and character of the world’s most amazing places, from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic and countless places in between. His editorial clients include The National Geographic Society, Audobon, The Sierra Club, National Parks, Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, and many others. Corporate clients include Canon, Patagonia, Orvis, REI, Apple, Microsoft, American Express, and more.


4 Comments

  • Ian Plant

    Sweet images bro, wish I could have tagged along on this one. Looks like a cool place!

  • Great images, Richard! I’m quite jealous, Oman seems like a fascinating place, probably the place I’d most like to visit in the Arab world.

    As a geography nerd, however, I need to correct you on mountains in the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is also quite mountainous, with a high point above 12,000 feet and its capital at over 7,000′, one of the higher in the world. Saudi Arabia also has some legit mountains, with a ~10,000-foot high point (its precise elevation is disputed).

  • I can’t help but think that I have some sort of tie in here. Great images Richard, I really like the comment about the journalistic approach.

  • Richard, Your pictures truely opened me to being there. So much so that I was the “Stranger in a Strange Land” and it has been a bit disconcerting. In Parched I see strength to traverse difficult places yet being at peace with life. Forgive me this but I would have loved to see a second full shot of Hide and Seek, perhaps, Your It! :) Circle of Life makes me wonder if she vanishes in the waters her colors are like jewels. Man of Sur, my take is so different from yours. The well traveled man that you are see’s Badass, I-don’t-give-a-crap in amusement but I have been left wary lol! Diana’s Point is poignant. The Corneche is beautiful and scary. Of Men and Melons do women shop there? Pure trepidation lol. Sidewinder??? lol The Heart of Oman did you say :) ! and Ghosts of Mutrah Souq nothing short of forbidden. You have taken me on a journy and I am grateful. TY Richard. In retrospect please do not think me unkind but rather consider me perhaps, peculiar and truthful. God bless Richard and TY again. :)