HOW I GOT THE SHOT: One of the joys of teaching photography is giving a group of students the same assignment and afterward discussing their vastly different interpretations of the same subject. Invariably, it’s a learning experience for everyone present, including the teacher. I played that game with myself earlier this month while racing against the setting sun to find a viewpoint that captured the radiance of fall in northern Israel. This week's photo depicts the same valley shown in last week's photo, situated just south of Metula along Israel's northern border. Taken a few minutes earlier and looking to the south as opposed to the west and into the sun, it offers an entirely different perspective on this idyllic setting.
This is a more complex photo which defies a brief description. I had to crop this image very carefully to remove some ugly farm machinery and retain only the natural features of the land within the frame. Precise cropping can elevate an average photo to something exceptional, so I often experiment with different crops until settling on a final composition. In cropping this photo, I began by slicing off a small section of the olive trees from the bottom edge, which improved the photo in three ways. First, it allowed the orange plum leaves to flow more prominently into the frame by entering through the lower left corner and continuing up to the center, following the action of the photo. Secondly, a darker clump of olive trees fell into the right hand corner. Having a slightly darker area along the photo's edge keeps the viewer's eyes within the photo. Finally, trimming the clump of olive trees makes them about the same size as the photo's two other prominent features. The lack of a clear center of interest pits these equally-sized sections against each other in a tense competition to hold the viewer's eye. Likewise, the photo's odd assortment of colors fights with each other for prominence rather than blending harmoniously. Most of the time I build the composition around the main point of interest, but in this case, the clash of color and content adds tension and imbalance while serving to enliven the overall picture.