Whirling dervishes during a ceremony of the Turkish Sufi order in Istanbul, December 2010.
After some negotiating with the public relations man of the Sufi order in Istanbul, my wife Mariela and I got permission to take photographs during a Whirling Dervish Ceremony, a very rare privilege. The Sufi order is a mystic branch of Islam that is quite open to other philosophies, but does not want to have the ceremony perceived as a show.
The members of the Sufi order – or dervishes – perform a highly organized ritual accompanied by traditional music that – according to their believes – takes them nearer to god.
Under the envious glare of a couple of other guys with big cameras dangling from their neck, we quietly set up our gear in the back of the room. Using flash was not an option because I wanted to keep the mystic bluish light and least of all did I want to disturb the ceremony. In order to catch the motion of the dervishes during the hour-long performance I kept the shutter speed somewhere between 1/60 and half a second, which in turn gave me ISO settings low enough to reduce noise to an acceptable level.
Needless to say that I worked with my trusty Manfroto tripod.
This shot is one of a whole series I made while all the dervishes are moving in a circle. They seem to be on another planet. Look at the face of the dervish! Even I as a spectator could not escape the hypnotic influence of the music and the flowing motion of the dancers.
Canon EOS 50D & Canon EF 4/24-105 mm L IS USM; f4.0, 1/50; ISO 1600
More images from the dervishes and from Istanbul in general can be seen on JB Photography – Gallery Istanbul (click link).