Category Archives: Desert

Photo of the Week – Wadi Qelt

There are deserts in Israel and exploring them with a guide is a special experience. If you’re interested in photography, you will get some great photo opportunities. In the Negev I’d recommend the Large Makhtesh and the Small Makhtesh, unique geological forms and farther south the mountains around Eilat. For an area close to Jerusalem the area to explore is the Judean desert. This morning we headed out at 5am to reach an overlook of Wadi Qelt in time for sunrise – first photo was taken 6:23am. Here are some of my photos.

The technical details, these photos were shot with a Nikon D90 DSLR camera with a 18-200mm Nikon zoom lens.

Sunrise Wadi Qelt 65mm, F9 at 1/160 sec.

Sunrise over Cypros ISO 200 65mm, F9 at 1/160 sec.

Overlook of Wadi Qelt ISO 250 18mm f/8 1/60 sec.

Overlook of Wadi Qelt ISO 250 18mm f/8 1/60 sec.

Green of Wadi Qelt ISO 250 42mm f/8 1/60 sec.

Overlook of Wadi Qelt ISO 250 42mm f/8 1/60 sec.

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Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in purchasing one of my photos or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

Photo of the Week – Flowers in Judean Desert

The Dead Sea and Judean desert are just a half hour drive down the hill from Jerusalem making it very accessible. It is the lowest place on earth, 409 meters below sea level, an area bordered by mountains on both sides in a desert with running water and in one area geothermal springs. I drove down this week to enjoy the hot springs and float in the mineral-rich cool sea. I can’t remember a time when i’ve seen the hills so green with so many wildflowers blooming.

Flowers in Judean DesertThe technical details – the photo was taken with a Nikon D90 digital SLR camera in March (ISO 200, 20mm, F10 at 1/250 sec). Clicking on the image will display it larger.

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Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in buying or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

Through My Lens, Dead Sea

SB MudThe Dead Sea is located at the lowest point on earth, part of the Great African Rift valley, in the crack in the earth’s crust created when Asia and Africa were torn apart five million years ago. Yesterday we drove down to the Dead Sea from Jerusalem for a relaxing day. We chose Mineral Beach and soaked in the 39º C (that’s 102º F) thermal pool, floated in the Dead Sea and slathered ourselves with mud.

In my last couple of blog posts, A Glimpse of Tomb of Moses and Sunset at Large Makhtesh, I shared photographs that I took in the late afternoon, a good time to take photographs. These photos continue this theme, taken as the sun sank behind the cliffs and the moon rose over the mountains of Moab in Jordan. The photographs were taken with a Nikon D90 DSLR camera with 18-200mm zoom lens.

Blue Dead Sea

Dead Sea in Blue, early afternoon

The photograph below was taken pointing west at the sun after it had sunk behind the mountain (the other photos were pointing east at Jordan). This meant that there was only a few minutes of light to capture these images.

Sun setting Dead Sea

Sun sinking behind the mountains

Dead Sea sunset

Sunset at Dead Sea

Moonrise over Dead Sea

Moonrise over Dead Sea

A Glimpse of the Tomb of Moses

Driving from Jerusalem to Jericho or the Dead Sea there is a road sign with the words “Nebi Musa”, the prophet Moses. As the landscape flashes by outside your window you may be able to make out a low stone building with white domes that appears fleetingly between the hills. To explore further, take the exit and follow the curving road past a Muslim cemetery on the slope in the desert, an interesting location to photograph in black and white or color.

Nebi musa

Nebi Musa cemetery B&W

Nebi Musa cemetery 2 B&W

From this point you can look across the Jordan Valley and see Mount Nebo where according to the last chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses ascended the mountain to view the land of Israel, that he would never enter. According to Jewish tradition Moses died and was buried in an unknown valley in Moab; according to Christian tradition and some Muslim traditions, Moses was buried on the mountain. 

The Nebi Musa site off the Jerusalem-Jericho road goes back to 1269 when the Mamluk sultan Baybars built a small shrine setting a precedent for others. Over the late medieval period (between 1470 and 1480), accommodation for travelers was added next to the shrine. Gradually, the lookout point for Moses’ distant gravesite beyond the Jordan was confused with Moses’ tomb itself, laying the groundwork for the cultic importance of Nebi Musa to Muslims. Around 1820 the Ottoman Turks restored the buildings which had over the previous centuries fallen into a state of dilapidated disrepair.

The Turks promoted a festive pilgrimage to the shrine that goes back to the time of Saladin that coincides on the calendar with the Christian celebration of Easter. This ‘invention of tradition’, as such imaginative constructs are called, made the pageantry of the Nebi Musa pilgrimage a potent symbol of religious as well as political and national identity among Muslims from the outset of the modern period.

Nebi Musa 2

Nebi Musa Judean desert

Nebi Musa

Through My Lens, Textures

For a change, rather than taking photographs of objects, try textures. Here are some close-up photographs that I took focussing on the textures that you can find occurring in nature. Try to guess what the object is in the photograph and where it might have been taken – I’d be interested in your comments. All photos were taken in Israel with a Nikon DSLR with a 18-200mm lens.

Wavy texturePeratzim wavesThis is Nahal Peratzim, at the southern end of the Dead Sea, a great place for a moonlit hike.

Brush texturePeratzim bushAlso Nahal Peratzim, a dry bush at the entrance to the canyon forms the texture and color of an interesting photo.

Dead Sea textureDead SeaThe salt and pebbles form these textures in the Dead Sea at Ein Boqeq. The dark line of land delineates the sea and the sky.

I also have some colorful photos from the Makhtesh HaKatan, Israel’s smallest erosion crater. For more photographs check out the PHOTOGRAPHY tab on the menu.

Wadi Qelt by Jericho

As you drive from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea you pass close by Wadi Qelt at various points. To access it you can go to the nature reserve below Anatot, St. George Monastery or Herod’s Third Palace at Jericho. The palace was built on both sides of Wadi Qelt which during the winter rains flooded and made the palace appear to be floating on the water. Although Jericho is in AREA A, under the control of the Palestinian Authority and out-of-bounds to most Israelis by Israeli law as a tour guide licensed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism I am authorized to guide there.

This photo was taken of Wadi Qelt from near the archaeological remains of the palace, looking east as it flows to the Dead Sea. The technical details, shot with a Nikon DSLR camera, ISO 1000, 18mm, F13 at 1/1250 sec.

Aside: I’ve also just published my latest blog post on Times of Israel. Check it out at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/visit-palestine-with-a-guide/ and please share with your friends.

Wadi Qelt below Herod's 3rd palace

 

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Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in purchasing one of my photos or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

View from Herodium

Not more than a half hour drive from Jerusalem and you find yourself in an arid, biblical landscape with a view all the way to the Dead Sea. Looking back you can see the ridge of the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem with 3 landmark towers jutting above the horizon, the steeple of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Ascension, the bell tower of Augusta Victoria and the tower on the Hebrew University campus. You can read my first blog post in the Times of Israel about Jerusalem landmarks at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jerusalem-landmarks-montefiore-to-calatrava/.

Herodium is one of my favorite archaeological sites and when I guide we focus on the palace/fortress complex built by King Herod in about 20 BCE. But that is not to say that it’s not worth looking up and taking in the incredible view, a great place for taking photographs.

View from Herodium

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The technical details, shot with a Nikon DSLR camera, ISO 200, 31mm, F10 at 1/400 sec.

Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in purchasing one of my photos or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.