Tag Archives: Dead Sea

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).

Advertisements

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.

Sodom Apple

If you do a tour with me in the area of the Judean desert I can show you an interesting flowering plant called the Sodom Apple (Calotropis procera).

Sodom Apple flowers

The plant occurs throughout the tropical belt and is native to North Africa, Western and South Asia, and as far as Indochina and the West Indies.

Sodom AppleThe Jewish Roman  historian describes the plant “which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes.” The “apple”, a green soft globe, is filled mostly with air and some fine fibers and seeds. The plant is also mentioned in the Mishna but though the fibers can be used as wicks, they are not permissible for use on the Sabbath. The flesh contains a toxic milky sap that is extremely bitter and contains a complex mix of chemicals, some of which are steroidal heart poisons known as “cardiac aglycones”.

 

Sinkholes at Dead Sea

Sinkholes have appeared on the Israeli and Jordanian shoreline of the Dead Sea as the water level recedes. The first sinkholes appeared in 1980, there were 40 in 1990 and there are more than 5500 today. Fresh water from runoff dissolves the salt in the newly uncovered salt-laden earth creating an empty cavern. When the top crust of earth collapses a sinkhole is formed. The holes fill up with water and the naturally occurring minerals create pools of different colors, red, orange, yellow, green and indigo with borders of encrusted salt, incredible to see and photograph. I took these photos along the shore of the Dead Sea over a period of months.

Sinkhole driftwood

Photographing Wildlife at Ein Gedi

These two wildlife photos were taken on a hike in Nahal Arugot in the Ein Gedi Nature reserve. Nahal David is the more popular, family oriented part of the reserve which makes Arugot great for a more off the beaten track outing, less crowded and great for photographers. If you follow the stream bed to the end of the wild and photogenic canyon you will reach the hidden waterfall.

Ibex at Ein Gedi

The ibex (Capra nubiana) is one of 9 species of wild goats (the North American Rocky Mountain goat is in a separate genus, Oreamnos). The ibex is a ruminant, meaning they have four-chambered stomachs and chew their cud so they are kosher, along with addax, antelope, bison, deer, and giraffe. Evidence of the ibex is widely present in the archaeological record, for example, rock drawings, pottery and seals, particularly in the Near East and Mediterranean regions.

The technical details – the above photo of a young ibex was taken with a Nikon D90 digital SLR camera with Nikkor 18-70mm lens at the end of October (ISO 500, 70mm, F9 at 1/125 sec) in Nahal Arugot.

Rock Hyrax

The rock hyrax (Procavia capensis, in Hebrew שפן הסלע) is a medium-sized (~4 kg) terrestrial mammal, superficially resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail but, in fact, the hyrax is related to the modern-day elephant. The rock hyrax inhabits rock crevices which protect it from predators as written in Psalms 104,18  סלעים מחסה לשפנים, rocks hide the hyrax; it also uses sentries, one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators. Among at least 21 vocalizations that the hyrax can make, it makes a loud grunting sound while moving its jaws as if chewing which may be the reason that the hyrax is listed in Leviticus 11,5 as a non-kosher animal that chews its cud. Unique to hyraxes is the dorsal gland, which excretes a skunk-like odor used for social communication and territorial marking. Hyraxes typically live in groups of 10–80 animals, and forage as a group. The rock hyrax has incomplete thermoregulation and so can be seen sunning itself on rocks – it spends approximately 95% of its time resting.