Hell on earth. It sounds like hyperbole, but the Danakil Depression is exactly that. In late 2013 I spent 1.5 months traveling extensively in Ethiopia, and I visited the Danakil to scout locations for my 'Earth, Wind and Fire' workshop. It is, by my own experience, one of the most inhospitable environments you can actually visit. Scorching heat, no roads, no running water, not to mention hotels or any other modern convenience. But it is exactly these qualities which make the Danakil Depression one of the most fascinating places to visit on the planet.
Located in the north of the Afar Triangle, a geological depression formed by tectonic plates that are slowly ripping the earth apart, the Danakil Depression is very low in altitude (about 100 meters below sea level), dry (rain is extremely rare) and hot - so hot that it's famous for being the hottest place on earth in terms of year round average temperatures. Moreover, reaching it requires a day long drive through the desert, which is both expensive and exhaustingly uncomfortable. But it's worth the effort, because this area holds invaluable treasures for the avid photographer.
|Our journey to the Danakil. Temperatures soared up to 48 degrees Centigrade, and the dust made it quite hard to shoot.|
Upon reaching the Danakil after a long drive, one is immediately struck by the vastness of this wasteland. apart of the odd tree and tribal village, there isn't much else around. This makes sense, since little could survive here, but the few humans that do are quite special.
Arid, seemingly Martian red hills, dry, cracked rock formations, wide salt lakes, fluorescent green pools of sulfuric acid, and of course, the mighty Erta Ale volcano are the main photographic attractions in the Danakil Depression. In this article, I will try to survey them from a photographic point of view, and perhaps make you think differently about Ethiopia and its natural treasures.
The primary means of interaction between the Afar region and the rest of Ethiopia (and the world) is the endless salt caravans, consisting mainly of camels and donkeys, loaded with heavy bricks of salt - the main natural resource in this area. The caravans are very photogenic, both for their sheer size (the most common response I get to my shots is "surely you've duplicated the camels in Photoshop!") and the landscape they march across.
This was just a part of a longer salt caravan on its way back to the Afar region.
After a night's sleep under the stars, we started the journey to Erta Ale volcano. I was extremely excited to visit Erta Ale after seeing a few shots from there. The 3-hour hike up the volcano was a bit strenuous, but since it was done at night, it wasn't too demanding for any of the hikers. Nearing the top, I started sensing faint odors and noises. When I reached the campsite, the bright smoke was clearly visible. I couldn't resist taking an image of the distant smoking pit and the clear, starry sky.
|Erta Ale volcano crater as seen from the campsite.
Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70mm F2.8 VC
Rising 613 meters, Erta Ale hosts one of only a handful of permanent lava lakes in the world. The name "Erta Ale" means "smoking mountain" in the local Afar language, and it fits this name quite well. It is also notable for being the longest-existing lava lake, present since the early years of the twentieth century.
I knew visiting and shooting this unique place would be very special, but I couldn't quite foresee the level of excitement I would reach upon getting close to it. In my travels I've seen some wonderful natural wonders, but seeing a huge crater, full of red hot, bubbling, exploding lava was one of the most powerful experiences I've had so far.
It wasn't easy shooting the pit itself. The lava is searingly hot and its brightness changes constantly, and the foreground is much darker, requiring HDR technique to reveal its details. Moreover, the pit is very large, and even with a 14mm lens I found it hard to include all of it. If I had tried to step back a bit, I'd have to lose detail in the lava area, since I'd be looking at it from further away.
|Erta Ale Volcano up close. Canon 5D Mark III, Samyang 14mm F2.8, manual HDR from 2 images|
After several trials, I reached a position I was comfortable with, and shot the lava pool together with the serrated volcanic rock surrounding it. The red glow defined the contour of the pit's edges, contributing even further to the hellish look. It can't be conveyed here, but believe me - the smell matched the appearance of the pit perfectly.
After spending the night in the campsite near the volcano, we began our descent to the jeeps. Within an hour's drive, we reached another spectacular location: the sulfur lake. Colors unlike I'd ever seen before, mineral nozzles spewing hot water, crisp red earth and a feeling of another planet are all offered by the second of the two top locations in the Danakil Depression. What's left to do is put on a polarizing filter and, well, start the photo-party. The formations and colors are endless.
I especially enjoyed shooting the pools of sulfuric acid, with their surreal bright green color against the red earth.
There is much more to see in the Danakil Depression. From tranquil, shallow salt lakes to red, Martian-like hills and rock fields, this region is home to some of the most unique topography on our planet. Hard to reach and inhospitable as it is, I wouldn't visit Ethiopia without stopping there to appreciate and photograph a true hell on earth, but a most beautiful and majestic one.
Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez's work on Instagram, Facebook and 500px, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates.
If you'd like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your guide, you're welcome to take a look at his unique photography workshops around the world:
Land of Ice - Southern Iceland
Winter Paradise - Northern Iceland
Northern Spirits - The Lofoten Islands
Giants of the Andes and Fitz Roy Hiking Annex - Patagonia
Tales of Arctic Nights - Greenland
Saga of the Seas and The Far Reaches Annex - The Faroe Islands
Desert Storm - Namibia
Selected articles by Erez Marom:
- Behind the Shot: Dark Matter
- Mountain Magic: Shooting in the Lofoten Islands
- Behind the Shot: Nautilus
- Behind the Shot: Lost in Space
- Behind the Shot: Spot the Shark
- Quick Look: The Art of the Unforeground
- Behind the Shot: Watery Grave
- Whatever it Doesn't Take
- Winds of Change: Shooting changing landscapes
- Behind the Shot: Prince of the Night
|.....the ROYAL LOTUS 2017/08/25-NEW YORK..... by Chiwat|
from Wild flowers
|Coffee and Mango cake by clicker88|
from Another cup of coffee
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.
Photo protection company ImageRights recently released a new service that lets non-subscribers take advantage of their streamlined copyright registration system that checks for errors and fills out all the required forms for you.
What's the difference between a $200 circular polarizing filter and a $100 circular polarizing filter? Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals put six different filters through a few tests to find out.
A flurry of leaks reveal that GoPro's upcoming Hero6 will shoot 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, will cost $500, and is scheduled for announcement/release on September 28th.
Before he became the iconic director whose name we've all heard, a teenage Stanley Kubrick struck up a business relationship with New York’s Look magazine. No surprise: he was an incredibly talented photographer.
WD's new G-Technology G-Drive mobile SSD R-Series is a portable solid state option for photographers who want the reliability of an SSD in a rugged water and dust-resistant package.