March 02, 2008
HOW I GOT THE SHOT: One of my favorite spring haunts is Har Socho, also known as Givat Haturmusim or, in English, Lupines Hill, off route 375 in the Ela Valley near Beit Shemesh. A popular hiking spot for families, the hill is an easy 10-minute ascent to one of the richest concentrations of wildflowers I have discovered in Israel. Although there are at least two dozen varieties growing there, the dominant flower is the purple lupine, seen here, which grows primarily on the top and southern slope. This photo is another example of how I try to merge land and sky into a unified composition. I love dramatic cloud formations as complements to the main subject. The position and length of the clouds in this image forced the vertical composition, and I chose a low camera angle which follows the slope of the hill down to the left, thereby creating a sweeping, almost circular motion from the stems and flowers up through the clouds. The low angle of view, as opposed to the angle most often used by photographers - shooting down from a standing position - offers a more detailed and engaging look at the flowers. By crouching down and shooting up, I was able to extend the tops of the uppermost flowers above the horizon line and into the sky, which brings together the two main elements of the photo.
HOW I GOT THE SHOT – Environmental portrait photography is a process that takes time for the subject and location to gel into a unified whole. Although I had been envisioning this genre of photo for weeks before arriving on the mountain, I had less than five minutes to complete the shot and I struggled to find the proper perspective while standing on a steep, rocky slope at 14,600 feet. I tried a few shots with a wide angle lens, but the subject was too small, so I backed up the hill and switched to a 135mm telephoto and asked the subject to climb onto the rock. Zoom and telephoto lenses have the effect of compressing depth, which in this photo makes the clouds appear closer to the subject. I shot about a dozen frames from start to finish, each time moving up or down until I finally found a foothold at an angle that put the subject and the rock he was on above the lower bank of clouds in order to accentuate the feeling of standing astride the edge of the world. Finally, I placed the subject along the left third to give balance to the mass of clouds in the upper right of the frame.