This is part 3 of my series of articles about my recent photo tour in the Sultanate of Oman.
You can find the previously published parts here:
The next episodes in the series will be published shortly. I am currently planning my next photo tour of Oman. Would you like to join me there? Check out the tour page and sign up to be notified when bookings will open.
Jebel Shams, at over 3,000m, is the highest mountain in Oman. The true summit, which hosts a military installation and is off-limits, towers over the impressive Wadi Nakhr, the “Grand Canyon” of Oman. While not as vast as the true Grand Canyon, it is still a phenomenally deep and wide ravine.
Due to time constraints, we couldn’t be at its rim at the best time of day for photos, so we had to settle for harsh light and blue skies. When I’m back next year, I’ll make sure to tweak the schedule so that we can be there at sunset, because I’m sure the location can deliver great images with the right light. On this visit, the combination of unforgiving light and the difficulty of capturing such vastness effectively in images made it for a really challenging day, photographically speaking.
I’m a bit bummed that I didn’t get even a decent goat portrait there.
The whole mountain is very popular with locals, who flock to it on summer weekends to find respite from the heat of the plains. On a winter weekday you won’t find many people around, save from some hikers and the shepherds that inhabit a handful of villages. The people there, including the men, do a fine job of spinning wool.
After descending from Jebel Shams, we briefly stopped along the road to snap a few photos of yet another abandoned village, Ghul (or Wadi Ghul). The Omanis shure love their flags!
Our last adventure for the day consisted in a slow and meticulous drive along the bottom of Wadi Nakhr. The canyon gets really narrow down there, with sheer cliffs rising for hundreds of meters on both sides of the narrow track. We had to find our way around huge boulders and through passages that barely left us enough room to pass.
While the off-road driving is a lot of fun, we again faced some tough photographic challenges: the vastness of the scenery, especially in the vertical direction, and the huge contrast between the deep shade at the bottom of the canyon and the brightness of the sunlit mountaintops. To work around the situation, I resolved to bracket extensively and shoot sequences for later stitching as vertical panoramas. The photo below was created by stitching together three images, each one a 5-shot HDR (from -2EV to +2EV).