Category Archives: Photography

Through the Lens, Dead Sea

Israel consists of a very broad range of geography: coast, desert, mountains, forests, in a very small area making it a great photo location for those interested in nature and landscape. The Dead Sea is an incredible and unique place to photograph, 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.

If you’re into photography and want to make that part of your Israel experience you need a guide who is also a photographer. I am delighted to announce that I am offering personalized photography tours of Israel (along with tours focussed on history, archaeology, religion and more), to enable you to get the photographs you’re looking for.

Here are some of my photographs from a photoshoot that I did with clients starting at sunrise at the Dead Sea.


Here’s what the clients said:

We got some amazing sunrise photos at the Dead Sea, we hiked through canyons and got lots of cool shots there, then Shmuel found some unique salt formations back at the Dead Sea. We captured some great photos of sinkholes.

To sum it up this was the highlight of our 17 day trip to Israel. Shmuel delivered beyond our greatest expectations.

Photo of the Week – Along the Allon Road

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 9.21.00 AMOn my way back from a photoshoot at Agamon HaHula on Friday I decided to take the scenic Allon Road instead of the more traveled highway 90 in the Jordan valley back to Jerusalem. It was a beautiful day and I stopped to take photographs along the route. We’ve had some rain and the hills are covered in green, Rotem bushes (Retama Genisteae) are in bloom, some white and some yellow.


If you’re into photography I’d be happy to guide you to places throughout Israel and you’ll get some great photographs.


White rotem bush in bloom


Yellow rotem


Met Ahmed enjoying an outing with his family

The technical details – photos were taken about 4pm (ISO 80 28mm f9 1/200 sec) with a Nikon D850 DSLR camera. (I shoot in raw but these images are from the jpegs).

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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.

Photo of the Week – Kokhav HaShahar

As a guide and photographer I’m always looking for new places to visit that would also be interesting to photograph. Last week I woke early and while it was still dark drove the Allon Road again, an 87km long and winding road in the Jordan valley. Just before sunrise I pulled off the highway, drove through Kokhav HaShahar (means the Morning Star) to a lookout over the hills and mountains of Samaria. As we drove up the rough gravel road we frightened a group of gazelles.


The sun made its way over the mountains illuminating the scene below and I captured this picture.


The technical details – the photo above was taken with my new Nikon D850 DSLR camera, shooting in raw (ISO 500, 58mm, F6.3 at 1/125 sec). The raw data was edited using new software, Affinity Photo to do the post-processing.

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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.

Masada and Herodium

DSC_0288One of the exciting things about visiting historical, archaeological sites with a knowledgeable guide is that there is always something new. Two of the sites that I like to take visitors to are Masada and Herodium both which show King Herod’s genius as a builder and life 2000 years ago under Roman rule.


When visiting Masada you may notice recent archaeological excavations being carried out by Tel Aviv University across from the Byzantine church. The site was chosen to gain more information about the open area on the top of Masada and 2 water cisterns were found from the time of Herod that were reused when Byzantine monks settled on the site. This is additional evidence that the open area was used for agriculture and in fact study of the sediment not only identified fertilizing agents, but also yielded the first signs of the presence of grape vines on the southern part of the mountain-top, most likely indicating the existence of a vineyard. TAU’s archaeobotanical laboratory excavated probes in the hanging Northern Palace’s upper terrace, which had been suggested to be a viridarium, a small, roofless indoor garden that was popular in villas in Rome. Foerster has pointed out the architectural similarities between the layout at Masada and the Roman villa under Villa Farnesina in Rome which is thought to be the residence of Marcus Agrippa, Herod’s benefactor. When Agrippa visited in 15 BCE he brought Herod a gift from Augustus, a large stone carved washing stand and was so impressed with Herod’s building projects that he sent Roman artists and craftsmen. Visitors today can stand outside on the balcony of the Northern Palace, in the same way that royal guests stood, with a spectacular view of the Dead Sea, the Moab mountains in Jordan, and north to the oasis of En Gedi.


When visiting mountain-top palace/fortress at Herodium you will notice a similar roofless garden off the triclinium.


The Hebrew University is continuing its excavations inside the palace fortress, between the casement wall that defines the structure. Digging down the remains of cellars with vaulted ceilings were uncovered for the storage of wine. There the remains of ten gigantic pitoi, large ceramic storage jars (like the vats and wooden barrels used today in wine-making), were densely arranged in the storage space, probably used as fermentation tanks for making wine. Wineries of this type from the Roman period are known from archaeological finds from the Italian region and around the Empire. Wine was of great importance in the Roman period, and the production, importation and use of high quality wines by Herod was an expression of economic and cultural status. During excavations at Herodium and Masada, as well as other Herodian sites dozens of amphorae were discovered bearing shipping inscriptions and seals, indicating large shipments of fine Italian wine to Herod the King. Roman horticulture and viticulture practices further confirm Herod’s political and social ties to Augustan Rome.

Another surprising discovery, under the level of the courtyard were found remains of buildings and a large rock-hewn water reservoir that date to the Hellenistic period (mid 2nd century BCE). The remains were buried and sealed under the walls of the palace/fortress and under the layer of garden soil dumped in the courtyard. Until now no evidence had been found at the site of any activity prior to Herod.

Super Moon over Dead Sea, Israel

Yesterday I drove from Jerusalem down to Masada so as to be at the Dead Sea in the evening to see the supermoon rise over the Biblical mountains of Edom in Jordan. As a tour guide and photographer I can take you to places like this.



The technical details – the photo above was taken with a Nikon 5300 digital SLR camera and 18-200mm Nikon zoom lens at 6pm on December 3, 2017 (ISO 720, 16mm, F5.6 at 5 sec). I then shot the moon zoomed in as large as possible, 200mm (ISO 200, F11, 1/200 sec) and combined the 2 photographs, editing the image in Photoshop.

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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.

One shot, two ways

When you’re taking photographs and looking for the best shot you have a choice of whether to shoot the scene in landscape (horizontally) or portrait (vertically). When looking at landscape photographs you usually expect the scene to be horizontal. Sometimes a vertical shot gives a very different view.

I was driving down to the Dead Sea to take clients for a hike in Nahal Arugot to the Hidden Waterfall and we were talking about desert, water and sinkholes. Since they were also interested in photography I decided we should stop to explore and photograph some sinkholes I’d seen near the checkpoint.

Sinkhole at Dead Sea, Israel

Sinkhole at Dead Sea, Israel

I took the same shot, two ways. Photographs were taken on November 2, 2017 with a Nikon 5300 DSLR camera with 18-200mm zoom lens. Technical details – ISO 250,  F11, 1/500 sec, the horizontal photo, 24mm, the vertical one 20mm.

If you’re interested in having a guide who also knows where to take you for some great photographs contact me.

Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise).