Escaping the Summer Heat in Jebel Sarra

Going on a trip to the Jebel Akhdar mountains provides a good respite from the high temperature and humidity that prevail during the summer months. That is what I did by joining this month’s astronomy group trip to Jebel Sarra, a mountain plateau located near Jebel Shams. At an altitude above 2000 m, the weather is significantly cooler. We camped in a nice area surrounded by large trees, including the famous junipers. After setting up my tent, I walked around the hills waiting for the sunset, and took many photos of the beautiful landscape. Some clouds provided additional interest in the sky, making for an enjoyable end to the day.

The trees with their twisted trunks create an interesting subject, especially under the golden light at sunset. A few goats were also roaming around. During this trip I chose to carry my two zoom lenses, the Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4 and the Fujifilm 50-140mm f/2.8; I also took the Voigtlaender 35mm f/1.2 for some night photos of the Milky Way.

Lone tree.
Clouds at sunset.
Sunset hills.
Sunset tree.
Twisting branches.
Vigilant goat.
Mountain landscape at sunset.

After the sun set, I had a nice dinner, and then joined the rest of the group for astronomical observation of several globular clusters and galaxies. I decided to make a star trail, setting the camera to shoot 150 photos of 30 seconds each, for a total time of 75 minutes; I also shot single images of the Milky Way. Finally I made 4 images of the Milky Way for stacking.

Star trail: 75 minutes total time.
Milky Way: single photo.
Milky Way: single photo.
Milky Way: 4 stacked photos of 10 seconds each.

Being in a dark sky area is always a wonderful experience, and I was happy with the images I got. I wanted to photograph at sunrise, so I was not able to get much sleep; summer nights are short. Thus, in the early morning I took a few more photos of the surrounding trees. It was another great weekend in the mountains.


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I was born in Lisbon in 1966, and I am a geologist. My main interests as a photographer are Landscapes, Travel, and People. I have been fortunate enough to work in different places and contacted diverse cultures. I am also fortunate to live in a small, but beautiful country, Portugal.