by Mo Peykar
September 20 , 2016
Even though around 20 percent of the Iranian land is comprised of deserts, they are mostly unknown. They host a very special ecosystem, including unique wildlife, vegetation, as well as the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth (70.7 degrees Celsius recorded in 2005). But if you look past the harsh and unforgiving climate, it is a great opportunity for exploring the unknown. The peace and serenity of the desert, the purity of the air and being away from the hustle and bustle of modern life are amongst the reasons nature lovers are drawn to the desert.
The following is the recount of my travel to the central desert of Iran:
At around 300 kilometers from Tehran, the capital of Iran, it is a 4-hour drive from the city to the edge of the desert. The edge of the desert is where the tarmac ends and from there is a 40-kilometer gravel road which leads to the heart of the desert, where there is an ancient caravansary which is still functional to this day. Near the caravansary is the remains of what was once Qom Salt Lake. The road leading to the caravansary is filled with wonderful sights, from herds of camels, to unique desert vegetation formations, to vast, empty landscapes as far the eye can see. The road is sometimes buried under the sand blown by the wind and therefore gets closed off.
Camping in the desert definitely has its fair share of challenges. Desert winds are almost always severe, especially right after sunrise and sunset when there is a transition from cold to high temperature or vice versa, and the risk of snakes, scorpions, etc. is always present; which is why it is always a good idea to have a first aid kit ready. There is an old saying for keeping such threats at bay. It is said that if a mixture of water and old tobacco is poured in a circle around the tent, it will repel snakes, scorpions, etc.
Night time transforms the desert into an otherworldly environment. The desert night sky is truly breathtaking. Due to minor light pollution, the stars in the sky can be appreciated for their full glory. It is by gazing at the stars that one can see how truly miniscule we are compared to the endless abyss which is the universe.
However, night time photography, especially in the desert, is not without its perils. Photographing in absolute darkness, you have to be aware of your surroundings, especially for dangerous animals, such as hyenas or smaller threats, such as snakes, scorpions, etc. which are plentiful in the desert. It is always a good idea to have a flashlight or headlamp ready. If you’re photographing in a group, it is better for the light to be red, as the longer wavelength of red light is less likely to interfere with camera sensors and therefore is less likely to cause flare in photos. Another important thing to remember is proper clothing. During the night, it gets very cold in the desert and being improperly dressed can be a frustration or even dangerous. It is advisable to wear impenetrable clothing, suitable for the sheer cold of the desert.
In conclusion, traveling to the desert is a unique experience which any nature photographer should have at least once, not merely because of the beautiful scenery, but also for the absolute serenity of the desert environment.
Mo Peykar is a Persian photographer, born in 1990, currently living in Tehran studying photography in the University of Tehran, specializing in nature photography. Interests include film photography, as well as fashion and advertisement genres, with over 7 years of experience in photography and post-processing with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, PTGUI, etc.
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