September 17, 2009

Photo of the Week: Sept. 17, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: This photograph is what I call a "spontaneously preconceived" picture. Working on a photo essay featuring a variety of shofars – generously loaned to me by their collector, Dr. Ari Greenspan, who is also a terrific dentist! I was looking for ways to vary each shot to give an essay of inanimate objects a little more life. (View the entire essay here: Shofars.) What I had pre-visualized for this shot was a set up that emphasized the texture of the horn. I knew I needed a background that would complement, but not overwhelm, the subject. Spontaneously searching Dr. Greenspan's porch, I found a round wooden stool that initially appealed to me because its shape paralleled the curve of the horn. In the end, I cropped the edges of the stool in favor of a tighter composition that accentuates the action of the lines in the wood grain. A simple and effective choice. May we all be blessed with a year of health, peace, and clear vision for all our choices in the new year. Shana Tova.

Photo of the Week: Sept. 8, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Animals are notoriously uncooperative subjects, but their behavior can offer a valuable lesson to aspiring photographers. Wild animals spend their lives occupied with two primary survival activities: finding food and avoiding danger. To stay alive, they must maintain a constant, vigilant awareness of their environment that involves all of their senses. Photographers, too, need a deep awareness to slog through the ubiquitous barrage of sensual muck and craft compelling pictures.

I took this shot at the Alpaca Farm in Mitzpe Ramon a few years ago. The camels are behind an enclosure and though not entirely frightened by humans, they keep an eye on us, nevertheless. As I tried to get a shot of one of the younger camels, an adult strode in my camera and intended subject, creating this perfect compositional frame. Because it is so obviously identifiable as part of another camel, I centered it on the image and cropped the head and hump to strengthen the frame.

A good photographer is constantly on the lookout for powerful subjects (our food, if you will) and concentrating on avoiding bad light and sloppy composition (the danger, if you please.) To carry the metaphor further, bringing in a regular supply of good images enables our continued survival in a very competitive field.

Photo of the Week: Sept. 1, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Across Israel, in the latter days of summer, fruit hangs heavy on the vine, or, in this case, on the frond. Dates thrive in the Israeli desert, from the Negev to the Jordan Valley region where this photo was taken, just outside Beit Shean. For centuries, date palms have been a source of food, shelter and precious shade in an arduous climate. This nearly ripe bunch of dates drew my attention because of the variegated colors in the fruit. As I often do when photographing fruit that grows in bunches, I cropped tightly to create the impression that there is an unseen, endless abundance just beyond the photo's edge. After harvest, these dates have an uncertain date with destiny. They may be eaten fresh or dried, crunchy or soft, or perhaps fermented into a form of Arak popular in Iraq. In the Torah, when Israel is described as a land flowing with milk and honey, the honey referred to is generally that of the date fruit. And that, of course, is the sweetest destiny of all.