Flooding in the Judean Desert

This last week was one of constant rain. It began on Sunday, but it was short lived. By Wednesday, the storm was upon us, with heavy rain and gray skies.

Winters in the desert are probably the most interesting time of the year. The rain in Jerusalem naturally flows to the lowest point on Earth – namely, the Dead Sea basin. On the way eastward from Jerusalem, one passes many wadis (river beds), and as the rain in the mountains of Jerusalem pick up, the stream of water turns into a gushing river.

So, beginning on Sunday, I made it a point to travel to the Dead Sea as much as I could. I had a full schedule on Wednesday, but when I saw the heavy rains, I canceled my afternoon appointments, went home, collected my equipment, wrapped my camera in a plastic bag, got the dog, and put on my big rain boots.

My first stop was the area around Nabi Musa. This mosque named after the Moses (in Arabic: The Prophet Moses) lies on the ancient Jerusalem-Jericho road which was traditionally used by Muslims on the way to the Haj in Mecca. The current mosque was restored during the Ottoman Period in 1820.

I shot most of this series with my 18-35 mm lens along with my Lee Big Stopper. I made these into black and white for two reasons: (1) the desert is quite monochromatic and so the b/w works, and (2) being below sea level, the river beds bring down the trash from the city. Israelis and Palestinians are not too cognizant of the need to keep natural resources clean (to say the least!), so there were plastic bags and bottles. In the yellow desert, all of that plastic sticks out, but is “invisible” in b/w.

On the way eastward from Jerusalem, Nabi Musa is about 500 meters after the sea level marker (on the right).

You can see the flow beginning. In this photo we are looking westward - up the hill to Jerusalem.

You can see the flow beginning. In this photo we are looking westward – up the hill to Jerusalem. I shot this on Sunday November 15, 2014. I had originally intended to go do some chores, but saw the rain and realized that it would be a good morning for shooting. I grabbed my gear and went out (without the dog). In my haste, I forgot my Big and Little Stopper, so I had to try to slow things down (so I shot at f/22, 1/5 sec.)

A few moments of clear skies, you can see how strong the flow is in Wadi Og. (1.3 sec @ f/16, ISO 100). I love the way the Little Stopper keeps the motion. I didn't use the Big Stopper because the current was so strong.

A few moments of clear skies, you can see how strong the flow is in Wadi Og. (1.3 sec @ f/16, ISO 100). I love the way the Little Stopper keeps the motion. I didn’t use the Big Stopper because the current was so strong.

Coming back on Wednesday, and standing on the bridge, the flow is substantially stronger. Coming back on Wednesday, and standing on the bridge, the flow is substantially stronger. (1.5 sec @ f/11). I used the Little Stopper here as well.

Coming back on Wednesday, and standing on the bridge, the flow is substantially stronger. Coming back on Wednesday, and standing on the bridge, the flow is substantially stronger. (1.5 sec @ f/11). I used the Little Stopper here as well.

f/11, 1/20 sec. 16 mm, ISO 100

Shooby enjoys the water, and especially finding floating things to chase and play with. f/11, 1/20 sec. 16 mm, ISO 100

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