I am interested in photographing tribal people in remote areas. A long hike took me to a corner of northern Cameroon, on the border with Nigeria, where the Koma people live.
The Koma people are a hill-dwelling ethnic group. They use fire to clear bushes, which helps prevent major fires while encouraging fresh growth for grazing animals. But it can quickly get out of hand.
When a sudden fire broke out that was about to envelop the Koma huts, the entire village raced to stop it. Everybody knew exactly what to do, and I concentrated on documenting the spectacle. I got my camera out and chose a shot that emphasized the silhouette of two people. By leaning against a tree, I was able to use a long exposure (1/15 sec) that allowed a light trail to give the effect of movement.
Koma women, who wear only a skirt of leaves, love smoking tobacco and I shot this photo (below) to show the custom. To give greater effect to the image, I waited for a woman to come out of her hut. I knelt down to capture her silhouette and especially her pipe.
A 105mm lens helped isolate her from the background and I underexposed a bit to keep some light on her eye and cheek.
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