December 30, 2007

Photo of the Week: Dec. 30, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: The desert has its own unique beauty as well as a host of photographic challenges to overcome. These include dust, heat, inaccessibility and extremely contrasty light from the first moments of morning until late afternoon. This photo, taken just after sunrise, is further evidence that the golden hours always bear fruit and that rising before dawn has its rewards. A variety of textures give feeling to this image while a gentle, curving line provides depth. Using a strong foreground element, such as these colorful rocks, is essential to drawing the viewer into the photo and giving the landscape both dimension and impact.

December 23, 2007

Photo of the Week: Dec. 23, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: When I have to confront the chaos of the dance floor during a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, I sometimes apply a little technical trickery to capture an interesting shot. Creating the effect seen here requires a camera which allows manual setting of two important options. The first is shutter speed, which must be slowed down to at least 1/30 second or slower to create the kind of blurring of movement and trails seen in this photo. Here, the shutter speed was 1/5 sec. The second and more important feature is an option which allows the flash to fire at either the beginning or the end of the exposure. Most of the time the flash fires as soon as the shutter is fully open, but because the speed at which the flash fires should always be faster than the shutter, you can also set the flash to pop at the last possible moment when the shutter is fully open. This is called rear curtain sync. In this mode, the shutter will remain open for an instant, recording the subject and movement with the available room light. When the flash eventually fires, it freezes the action in a burst of light. The end result is really two pictures, the pre-flash photo which records everything the camera sees up to the moment the flash goes off, and a second, sharper, well-lit image created by the flash.

December 15, 2007

Photo of the Week: Dec. 16, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Jerusalem of Gold gets its name from the beautiful glow of golden light cast by the setting sun on the walls of the old city. Until I shot this picture, I wouldn't have considered trying to capture those "golden moments" after the sun had set. In this photo, however, the sun has already dipped below the horizon, but the last moments of daylight combine with artificial light to create an unusual view of this grand subject. At this time of day, because the light is changing so rapidly, a photograph is able to preserve a moment of beauty that the eye can barely perceive, and even if it does, it is lost almost as quickly as it is discovered. The most evocative photos often emerge from these transitional times, such as the clearing of a storm, or the morning and evening twilight.

Photo of the Week: Dec. 9, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Luck often plays a part in getting a good photograph, but planning, preparation and alertness increase your chance of getting lucky. I shot this photo many years ago and despite numerous technical faults, its power is immense. Although absorbed in the unique energy of this holy spot on my first visit to Israel, I noticed the two men approaching each other from opposite ends of the plaza. I reacted quickly by positioning myself midway between them. Elderly men with canes don't move very fast, but I still had only enough time to lift the camera and shoot. This photograph is a testament to the fact that images don't need to be perfect to convey strong sentiments. I never could have envisioned this shot when I woke up that morning, but I did see it coming, albeit only seconds before I snapped it. Sometimes, seconds are all you have. Unless, of course, you're also lucky.

December 01, 2007

Photo of the Week: Dec. 2, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Candlelight is a beautiful source of illumination, especially when lighting up the faces of young children. This shot required a tripod and careful consideration of where to place each chanukiah so that all of the flames remained visible. The numerous candles throw plenty of light on the subject while creating some interesting reflections in the tabletop and a warm glow on the wood panels that form the background. Candle-lighting photos often fall short of their potential because of too little light and faces end up floating in a sea of darkness. If you're going to try a shot like this, but don't want to use this many candles, try adding a small amount of room light or a few extra candles placed just out of view, to the side and rear of the subject.

Photo of the Week: Nov. 25, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I love this image for one simple reason: I shot it after a two-minute stroll from my home. In my classes, I teach my students how to elevate their level of awareness and increase their powers of observation. If you can't see what's in front of you with your eyes, you'll never capture it with your camera. Often we take for granted what's right outside our front door, thinking we have to travel to the exotic Himalaya or a tropical island to see the grandeur of nature. This shot also appeals to me because of the variety of color in the vines amid a swath of green, where a farmer planted a small vegetable patch. I timed my arrival to about an hour before sunset, when the low angle of the afternoon sun backlit the scene and added sparkle to an already rich display of color.

Photo of the Week: Nov. 18, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Shooting this image was rather simple. The task lay in its discovery. For the past eight years, I have been admiring the growth cycle of the pomegranate tree in my garden, but until I shot this image, I never realized the number of points on the crown varies from fruit to fruit. And by the time the fruit reaches this stage of maturity, the crown usually closes up. This photo was taken in an orchard near Shlomi, on Israel's northern border. There were hundreds of trees and thousands of individual fruits. I was looking to photograph pairs or groups of fruit when I was lucky to spy this one, hanging from a branch above my head. I used a macro or close-up lens to capture the crown's detail in sharp focus. The height of the fruit forced me to hand-hold my camera instead of using a tripod. Because even the slightest hand motion can blur an image, I pressed the camera hard to my face and held my breath to minimize camera movement during exposure.

Photo of the Week: Nov. 11, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Satisfying landscape photographs are among the hardest to create because you need a good location and to arrive when there is good light. Getting to this site required rising while it was still dark and driving about 25 minutes to the edge of this reservoir, which I had spotted the day before. As I walked along the shoreline, I passed over many nice shots with plants growing up from the water. I finally settled on this image with the added dimension created by the canopy of leaves along the top. This compositional technique, known as framing, is dynamic and easy to use outdoors. I like this frame in particular because of the contrast between the dark tree leaves and the warm, first light on the water plants.

November 27, 2007

Photo of the Week: Nov. 4, 2007

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Shooting directly into a bright light source is a great opportunity for a dramatic photo in the form of a silhouette. The key is making sure you set the correct exposure for the light source and not the foreground. In this photo, I was able to include the light itself because it was far enough away and not all that bright, at least when compared with the sun. Shooting directly into the sun will create the same kind of image, but for the best results, use this technique early in the day or late in the afternoon, when the sun is at a lower angle and less intense.