June 23, 2008

Photo of the Week: June 24, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: All professional photographers have a specialty. Although I work for a broad spectrum of clients, my niche is Jewish photography. Whether I'm at a wedding or out on the trail, I try to find images with a uniquely Jewish flavor to them. Living in Israel gives me an advantage, because where else in the world would you encounter a bridge whose railing is lined with cutouts shaped like Stars of David? Granted, there were diamonds and hearts as well, but I knew if I could get a shot through one of the star-shaped holes, I'd have a powerful Jewish image. The sparkling sunlight on Tel Aviv's Yarkon River had already caught my attention, so I decided to push the power of my equipment to the limit.

Each star was about three inches across. I lined up my 70-200 mm lens at full zoom about five inches from the railing, much too close to focus. Instead, I pre-focused on the water and metered the exposure for the sunlight. I only had to wait a few seconds until a boater – there were at least two dozen out on the water – floated through my viewfinder. The blurred foreground was not a problem, because I knew that by exposing for the bright light in the distance, it would transform from ugly battleship gray to a pure black silhouette. The kayaker also darkened up nicely, which preserves the boater's anonymity and avoids giving the viewer any additional, potentially distracting details. Finally, when preparing the image for this email, I cropped it slightly off center, giving more weight to the left side. All photographs have action, or a direction of movement. By cropping more loosely to the front of the kayak, I have given the subject some space to move toward. These tiny subtleties are found everywhere in good pictures, and are the difference between engaging or losing a viewer's interest, whether or not they ever know the reason why.

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