November 20, 2013

Photo of the Week: Nov. 20, 2013

HOW I GOT THE SHOT:This photo is nearly perfect. Why? Because when I look at it, I can feel the air and smell the pungent evergreens and hear the crunch of rock underfoot. Pictures of the special places or people in our lives speak powerfully to us and conjure strong emotions stirred by memories collected over a lifetime.

On the western outskirts of Jerusalem lies one of the city’s natural treasures, Sataf, a spring-fed, verdant hillside whose crowning attraction, for me anyway, is an eight-kilometer loop trail circling Mt. Eitan, which I walk about once a month. Sataf was one of the first parks I discovered when I arrived in Israel 15 years ago. The circuit trail that winds through a heavily forested section of the Judean Mountains features long views, stunning light and large doses of silence. I am acutely reminded of my days residing on the northern California coast near San Francisco. And while I prefer to exercise without a camera, I brought it along just once, because I had seen the light dance across the path and on this jaunt, I shot but one frame, having been to the spot on a previous visit and thus having already done the work except for taking the shot.

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This photo was made about 30 minutes before sunset as sunlight gently graces the path and trees. The soft winter sunlight illuminates the cluster of trees in the background with crystal clarity, just where the eye ends up after travelling the dirt path into the photo’s depth. Another perfect example of how even a common or, dare I say, cliche subject such as a path through the woods can be transformed by recognizing and utilizing the beautiful afternoon light.
TECHNICAL DATA:Camera: Nikon D700, hand held, center-weighted metering mode. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-105 zoom at 28mm, f/13 at 1/60sec., ISO 400. Date: Oct 20, 2013, 5:05 p.m. Location: Sataf, Judean Mountains near Jerusalem.

Photo of the Week: Nov. 13, 2013

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Sometimes a story is best told with several small details as opposed to a single, wide brush stroke of commentary. Walking through the wilds of Israel at the height of fall, I am amazed by the diversity of trees and plants flashing their autumnal fashion. I lived for many years in New England, arguably the grandest place on Earth for fall color, but it wasn’t until I became a student of photography that I learned to really appreciate this season. Now, fall is ever more vibrant and alive because I see it so much better. Learning the language of photography taught me to see at all times, whether I have a camera in hand or not.
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I encourage my students to start a collection – of anything that interests them – so that as it grows, their creativity will also grow alongside it. It seemed impossible to share just a single image from my substantial collection of fall close ups, So here are four gems I found in three different corners of the country, all shot with a close-up lens:
Upper left: A fig leaf growing in the Galilee near Rosh Pina, about to take leave of its branch.
Upper right: A pear leaf dangles from a branch in the Judean Mountains of Gush Etzion.
Lower right: A grape leaf seemingly on fire in a vineyard in the Ela Valley near Beit Shemesh.
Lower left: A pair of plum leaves in an orchard on the Golan.
It takes focus and concentration to locate the best subjects amongst thousands of candidates and yet, it is a skill easily accessed and frequently employed in the most common places, such as the vegetable bin at your local supermarket. The difference, however, is that out in nature, I immerse myself in the environment (cell phone off is rule no. 1), clear my mind and hone my vision to isolate those beauties destined to become my next photograph (or salad, as the case may be). I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one you like best!