Sunrise Over the Ramon Crater, and some Photo Stacking advice

October 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 My wife and I have spent last weekend in Mitzpe Ramon - a small town on the edge of the beautiful Ramon Crater. And so, I finally got my opportunity for photographing the crater at sunrise. 

Clear Sunrise, Ramon CraterClear Sunrise, Ramon CraterRamon Crater, Israel
A clear sunrise above the crater, as seen from the promenade on top of the cliff.

 The Ramon Crater is located in the middle of the Israeli desert - the Negev - a good 2 hours drive from the center of the country. The crater is probably one of the most unique landscape types in Israel, and as far as I concern - it fairly challenges other well-known desert parks such as Death Valley or the Grand Canyon views. In addition, it's probably one of the best places in Israel to watch the sunrise. The cliff-edge promenade provides a beautiful sunrise view - so you don't even have to put a serious effort to get there... And at this time of year - the sun rises just in front of you - classic for a good photo.

 After I set the gear up for the sunrise shot, I waited and took a few shots in the meantime, during the blue hour. The weather was unusual - to say the least. The humidity was high at 90%, and it was close to the dew point - which meant light fog. I wasn't worried about the tiny drops that appeared on top of the lens, but just as the sun rose - it hit me: if it's on the top of the lens - it must be on the glass too... Luckily a quick wipe solved the issue - and I did manage to get that shot (otherwise a whole too-early morning would have been wasted...).

 I usually prefer having several exposures over using filters in the field. It's not always easy to combine - as clouds and other objects are moving - but usually you can manage - and you get much more flexibility. Filters have a fixed value - which means you'll probably end up with a sky that's too dark or too bright, or with a bag full of filters - if you insist on getting that done right...

 So for both sunrise shots, I used about 12 exposures, that were meant to be properly combined in post-processing. Here's why:

  • Each exposure was bracketed 3 times, as the sun is very bright compared to its surroundings, and the shadows on the rocks were quite dark.
  • The focus had to be bracketed as well, as the rocks were extremely close, and the landscape was at infinity. So that's twice the images.
  • In addition, I wanted to get a "starry" sun using a closed aperture, but this blurs out the entire image. So that had to be a separate set of images as well...
  • And again, the focus was bracketed for that too - just in case a ray decides to shine on the rocks...

 

In the end, I didn't have to use all these images, since the initial exposure setting proved good enough. You can get the impression by visiting the Ramon Crater gallery.

 

Sunrise over the Ramon CraterSunrise over the Ramon CraterRamon Crater, Israel

The Ramon Crater is located in the middle of the Negev desert, and forms Israel's largest national park. It wasn't actually created by a meteor impact. Rather, it's the world's largest erosion cirque.
Due to it's arid environment, humid weather, or any type of precipitations are quite rare. On this particular Autumn morning, however, humidity was at more than 90%, generating some low clouds and light fog - an extremely unusual phenomenon for the season and for the area in general. Watching the sunrise over the desert from the clifftop is always a beautiful sight. But the conditions on this particular morning made it simply spectacular.

 


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