HOW I GOT THE SHOT: For years I have been driving Route 90 along the shoreline of the Dead Sea and admiring the eroded rock formations in the valley below Masada. When an American family hired me last December to climb Masada with them and photograph their son’s bar mitzvah, I decided to make a very early morning of it and arrived at the access road to the popular site before sunrise. There are many benefits to photography beyond capturing a beautiful image, and one of my favorites is stepping out of my car after a long drive and inhaling the fresh air and silence of the pre-dawn.
I had about an hour to wander the soft, powdery soil of this former seabed in the best light of the day, kicking up dust and searching for a composition that blended both the light and form of this setting. This image invokes the moonlike mood and stark emptiness that characterize this region. Minimal rain and briny soil inhibit plant growth This composition resulted from my effort to obscure the road and a pumping station and sign, which I hid behind one of the rocks by slightly adjusting my position. The Dead Sea is visible as a thin strip of light moving across the photo mid-frame. I used the paths in the lower left of the image as leading lines, pointing the viewer to the main area of interest in the center of the photo.
At 423 meters below sea level, my day began at a low point and moved continuously upward, finishing with a unique portrait session in the water at day’s end.TECHNICAL DATA: Camera: Nikon D700, tripod-mounted, manual exposure, center-weighted metering mode, f14 at 1/500th sec., ISO 400. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-105mm macro zoom at 35mm. Date: Dec. 22, 2011, 7:29 a.m. Location: Judean Desert below Masada.