If you are interested in photographing the desert then contact me about exploring Israel’s Negev with a guide – you will get some great photo opportunities. Today I guided En Avdat, the Large Makhtesh and then we drove down the Aqrabim Ascent to the Dead Sea. Here are a selection of photos from our day.
Down from Aqrabim Ascent
These photos were taken yesterday, a very sunny day in June with my Nikon D5300 DSLR camera, this last one at ISO 800, 26mm, F13 and 1/1000 sec.
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I’m thinking about the Negev. The Negev covers some 13,000 km² (4,700 sq mi) and makes up more than 55% of Israel’s land area. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and statesman, saw the Negev as the key to a viable Israel. He joined Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev in 1970, lived the last 3 years of his life there and is buried overlooking Nahal Zin.
There are some remarkable sites in the area for hiking and photography : Ein Avdat, white cliffs, reflection pool and Griffon vultures (like angels) soaring overhead and a hike across a high plateau to a spring, Ein Akev, in a stream bed. This part of the Negev is a rocky desert, a melange of brown, rocky, dusty mountains interrupted by dry stream beds, in Hebrew nahal, in Arabic wadi. The photographs below are the view across the plateau from an early morning hike with Bonna in August 2013. This week, Rosh Hodesh Tammuz, we celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary.
In the first photo, there is a lot of foreground, brush, rocks, sand stretching to the distant horizon. In the second, there is little foreground and a lot of sky. The shift in the horizon line creates a dramatically different effect. I hope they capture some of the barrenness, expanse and spiritual power of the Negev.
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.
This is Nahal Peratzim, at the southern end of the Dead Sea, a great place for a moonlit hike.
Also Nahal Peratzim, a dry bush at the entrance to the canyon forms the texture and color of an interesting photo.
The 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.
The makhtesh, the Hebrew word for mortar, is the geographic term for an erosion cirque. Unique to the Negev and Sinai deserts, a makhtesh has steep walls of resistant rock (limestone and dolomite) surrounding a deep closed valley that was created when the core of softer rock (in this case colored sandstone) was eroded and carried away by a stream bed. After a day of exploring we arrived at the colored sands in the Makhtesh HaGadol just around sunset, a perfect time for photographs. (Wish I had had my Nikon DSLR, I only had a Lumix point and shoot). The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, is in the Judean desert. After a day of climbing the snake path to the top of Masada and exploring the site, we did a hike in the Ein Gedi reserve, including the Dodim cave, the Chalcolithic temple, Tel Goren and the 6th century synagogue. When we went down to the Dead Sea for a float it was just around sunset, a perfect time for photographs.
Route <40> connects the city of Beersheva in the middle of the Negev to the makhtesh, a unique geological formationat Mitzpe Ramon. Avdat, founded by the Nabateans in the 3rd century BCE, was the most important city on the Incense Route after Petra, “the rose-red city half as old as time” for some eight centuries until its destruction by earthquake in the early 7th century CE. This photo was taken across from Avdat in the area of Ramilye cisterns.
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The technical details – the photo was taken with a Nikon D90 DSLR and 18-70mm lens in November (ISO 200, 18mm, F10 at 1/320 sec).