HOW I GOT THE SHOT: One of the best ways to improve your photography skills is by studying pictures, including your own. Years ago I made a similar image of hay bales in California and hung a print on my wall. I was proud of it, enjoyed it, but most of all, I looked at it often enough to eventually see its faults and how I could have improved it. Today I instruct my students to choose one of their photos to hang in their homes, not simply to help them strengthen their identities as photographers, but also knowing that a lesson will emerge for them at some future time.
This image was taken spontaneously as I drove through Emek HaEla, about 30 minutes from my home. Agricultural scenes are not difficult to find in Israel, so this is not the kind of subject that ordinarily captivates me, because, frankly, these images remind me more of Iowa than Israel. Nevertheless, the pleasant morning light falling on the freshly baled hay compelled me to finally stop and practice my art. Because the bales are identical in color to the surrounding ground from which they were cut, lighting was crucial to make them stand out. Notice how the top and left side of the nearest bale blend in perfectly with the adjacent background. Fortunately, the sun's position to the left and behind the bales creates shadow on the front side, giving strong definition to each bale, much as a portrait photographer sculpts the face of his subject with light to emphasize facial features. The dark rectangles also form an interesting, staggered pattern that meanders through the image and injects a welcome dynamic into an inanimate and static subject. Hey, is this Iowa? No, it's the Holy Land.