The Moment

Through Another Lens

On assignment in the Hejaz, in western Saudi Arabia, Stanmeyer often felt caught in a time warp. “It was as if I had one foot in the present, and the other had stepped back a hundred years.”

To capture that sensation, Stanmeyer took photographs of the palms with an app called Hipstamatic; it uses software in this case to mimic the look of faded prints from a film camera. For the next month, in addition to his regular photography, he kept at his Hipstamatic experiments. The vintage-style images caught the feel, he thought, of traveling in a land uncertain of its modernity. His editors agreed. Four of the images appear in the Out of Eden Walk feature this month. —Tom O’Neill

Enjoy more of John Stanmeyer’ Hipstamatic images from the Hejaz as he discusses why he used the iPhone app on Proof.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

Intrigued by a forest of dead date palms, their trunks bent like ancient columns in the water-starved oasis of Yanbu an Nakhl, photographer John Stanmeyer reached into a pocket for his iPhone.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

Moses Spring near Maqnah is named for the prophet believed by the faithful—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—to have parted the Red Sea to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

For centuries the stone and mud-brick houses of Al Ula hosted religious travelers and traders carrying spices and incense. In the 1970s Saudi authorities moved residents of the old quarter to a brand-new city next door.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

A Styrofoam replica of the Kaaba, the “sacred house” in the center of Mecca’s Grand Mosque, serves as teaching tool in an arts center at a Jeddah mall. Parents bring children to instruct them in hajj pilgrimage rituals, like circling the Kaaba seven times.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

Rabah al Rhafe is true to the Bedouin way. At sundown the herder breaks the Ramadan fast with bread and goat’s milk. Husband to three wives and father to 20, Al Rhafe travels like his forebears, moving from well to well, praising Allah for this life.

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

A crowded pigeon coop set against a backdrop of stark hills caught Stanmeyer’s eye near Wadi Wasit. In Saudi Arabia, pigeons are often raised for food and racing. “I stopped because I thought the scene was poetic,” Stanmeyer said. “That’s reason enough. And I like birds.”

Photograph by John Stanmeyer

Stanmeyer’s guide stands in the ornate doorway of a 2,000-year-old Nabataean tomb at Al Bad. Visitors searching for biblical sites in Saudi Arabia have claimed that Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, stayed here, a doubtful piece of folklore.