Palm trees at an oasis of the Negev Desert

The Negev Desert

At the beginning of 2020 I had some work meetings in Eilat, that small tourist town located south of Israel and north of the Red Sea, from which you can see four different countries, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, of course. The first time I visited the area, I brought my Nikon FM2 loaded with black and white film, I only wanted to scout the area a bit. The meetings took a long time and back then I captured photos of a very different type than the ones I present here.

This was my second trip to the area, my work activity kept me busy during the day, so I had to stretch my time and explore the area at dawn and dusk. This time I rented a tiny car, a utility vehicle definitely not prepared to enter the desert … but that little detail won’t stop a stubborn person like me. So, apart from the fact I managed to hang the car on a rock and that I miraculously came out of a sandbar (I still cannot understand how I accomplished such a feat), my personal discovery of this desert was close to an epiphany.

This second time I traveled with my Hasselblad and two lenses, an 80mm and a 40mm. The latter presented a serious problem at the control of the airport since the guards had never seen one like it. They inspected it from above, below, from behind, in front, with the lid, without the lid, and all this while holding it with two fingers (the lens weighs more than a kilo) at a meter and a half from the ground and my heart was on my sleeve, and my sleeve between my teeth while trying not to make faces that would annoy said guards. They finally left my lens alone and I was able to take whatever photos I wanted.

If you don’t know it, Eilat is a tourist area of ​​sun and beach, the tourist travels there to enjoy the pleasant temperatures during winter, and the sea, whose bottom houses impressive coral specimens. The waterfront is a wall of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. None of that gets my attention. Instead, the vast empty landscape that I glimpsed from the plane attracted me to the point of choosing sleep deprivation so that I could visit it as many times as necessary in order to capture the subtleties of color and texture.

My way of observing the beauty that unfolds before the eyes that want to see

The Red Sea is so called because the evening sun sets the Jordanian and Israeli mountains on fire, and as a result, the reflection on the sea is red. The shades of red are infinite, ranging from orange to pink through crimson and purple. I thought I was going to find a barren, dull and gray landscape, how wrong was I! I drove along the Egyptian border again and again, always with a dropped jaw, the undulating hills make a picturesque sight, miles and miles of meandering border fence, no-traffic zones on the land that saw the exodus. I admired the Doum palms, they are special and protected, you won’t find others like these if you travel north. The names are as evocative as the Red Canyon, the Ashram Pillars or the Sands of Samar.

This series of photos reflects hours of being with myself in the desert, my way of observing the beauty that unfolds before the eyes that want to see.

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