Noted Omani lensman Nasser Hamed al Harthy is an adventurer who loves to explore. He has a passion for landscape, mountains, portraits, people and wildlife.
Recently he completed photographing the vast expansive spread of yellow coloured dates or the Al Tabseel date harvest season in the Wilayat of Bidiyah.
Hailing from the nearby Al Qabil village, the harvest season for Nasser brings many childhood memories. As the season winds up soon depending on the type of palm tree and the method of harvesting, Nasser is becoming busier each day.
He mentions how since ancient times the harvesting skills have been passed on from generations who have mastered the process of preserving the dates after the harvest.
Wilayat of Bidiyah in North Al Sharqiyah Governorate is famous for Al Tabseel harvesting.
He mentions the first stage of the date fruit when it is green is called ‘Khalal.’ The second stage called ‘Bisr’ is when the fruit is yellow in colour and is boiled for further processing. It is during this stage the ‘Tabseel’ process starts.
When the date attains ripe half way it will be harvested. This is sorted out manually by hand, transported to the cooking place where copper boiling cauldrons with boiling water takes care of it. The task normally is handled by family members. Once the dates are half cooked they are spread out and exposed lavishly to the sun on a dry surface.
Once dried, the harvest is collected, packed and stored as they are dry fruits and have a shelf life of over a year. The dried dates are exported to various countries around the world or sold in the open market for making sweets and pastries.
Nasser captured all these on his Nikon D700 preserving it for posterity.
He meticulously plans his day on how to go about it. He explains that taking pictures is not just a matter of point and shoot like mobile phones, rather it is a matter of planning the shooting scenarios involving time and sequence.
He says that is not an easy task and one needs to invest on equipment’s namely a DSLR camera, fast lens, flashes, fast card with memories, extra batteries, tripod and camera bags to name a few.
The equipment and accessories list can be long and depends on the type of photographs one plans. The photographer needs to be physically fit as he or she will be involved in traveling long distances and the whole day one will be out shooting in an open area with little places under a shade.
He mentions the timing factor which is very crucial for every photographer more so for capturing images during Al Tabseel.
“I woke up in the wee hours maybe around 3 am to travel to the village to be on well in time before the sunrise. The winter season is just the opposite when we start late and finish early based on prevailing situations,” he recollects.
The next day, yet another important task is downloading all photos and sorting out the good photos. Later he allocates sufficient time for cleaning the equipment, and emptying the memory cards and formatting the drive so as to be ready for the tasks ahead.
Nasser’s passion for photography has taken him to many places in Oman and many countries abroad. He has participated in photography groups on Facebook as well as many exhibitions. Recently, two of his photos were exhibited in India and some of his works inspired some artists who took his photos and painted them on canvas.
“It always feels good when your photos are inspired by other artists. Some of my photos have been published by local newspapers, but since then I have been to many local events and always like to share my knowledge with others,” says Nasser.
As part of his works, he has travelled abroad to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Bangkok. Last year he travelled to Kuwait for photographing migratory birds and also to Salalah each year during the Khareef season scouting for good photographic locations.
Later in the year he plans to hold a solo exhibition in Oman and possibly in the UK with a photoshoot to Africa as part of a wildlife tour.
Next week he travels to India where as part of the wildlife photography expeditions in Sundarbans, the world’s largest area of mangrove forests, and Kerala, south India where he will involve in a full day boat safari and photography of birds, mammals and Bengal Tiger in the Sundarbans.
Nasser is a member of The Omani Society for Fine Arts and his works can be seen on his Instagram handle @omanphotofocus.
Pictures by Nasser Hamed Al Harthy