It is said that landscapes should be shot with, at the very least, a medium-film camera. So much has been put out there about the Mamiya 7 system and the Mamiya glass, that I decided to purchase an almost new camera and 80mm lens a few years ago. Adding the outstanding 43mm for landscapes seemed to justify the expense (the price of this kit has now increased by about 160% since my purchase a few years ago).
The Dead Sea is a photog’s dream come true. However, most of the year the light is harsh for most of the day. One has to get in this remote area early or very late in the day to capture that elusive soft light. There is no winter here, only a short rainy season. That means booking a hotel near the beach, hitting the right weather conditions with the right equipment.
I chose Kodak Ektar 100 for its color rendition. I wanted a slow film that would take in all the landscape, clouds, and especially, the silky smoothness of the Dead Sea water. The problem was I needed a lot of luck.
In short, I got lucky.
I booked a hotel room in Israel on the shore of the Dead Sea in December and was lucky enough to shoot early on a very overcast morning (it rains there about 10 days a year on average).
Using my tripod, the Mamiya and that legendary 43mm lens, I got to work. Shooting only two rolls of film, I think I came close to what I wanted.
I will come again, with the same camera and lens next year, in the hope that the fickle weather will come to my aid again.
~ Jacob Firsel
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