March 29, 2008

Photo of the Week: Mar. 30, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Stately old trees are a rare sight in Israel. Most of what would be considered old-growth forests were uprooted long ago by the Ottomans. Although the Jewish National Fund has done remarkable work in reforesting much of the country, even decades-old groves don't have the personality of aged, wild trees. This photo is another gem from my sojourn on the Golan Heights earlier this month. Exploring near the Jordanian border, I spied these old oaks on the wrong side of a barb-wire and chain-link fence that made photographing impossible. So alluring were these venerable giants I would have climbed on the roof of my car to get a shot, but they were still too far from the road to allow a good composition. Luck, however, was lingering. On the point of abandoning my pursuit, I found a local cutting off the lock to the lone gate in a two-mile stretch of the fence. After a quick introduction and a brief struggle to remove the lock, he offered me a tour of his property, used mainly for grazing cattle, and blessed me to wander to my heart's content. I like this trio because the trees are varied in size and shape and far enough apart to allow a full profile of each one. I also like the way their darkened trunks and branches accentuate their strength and mystery. I kept the image true to the slope of the land, which falls off abruptly into a huge chasm separating Israel from Jordan and Syria, which is visible in the distance along the right hand edge of the photo. Finally, the smattering of color provided by the various wildflowers adds a finishing touch to the painterly quality of this pastoral image.

March 23, 2008

Photo of the Week: Mar. 23, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Asked to describe a classic image of Israel, few people would answer, "lakes and snow-capped mountains." Yet one can find both these natural wonders in Northern Israel. From almost any point on the Golan Heights, Mt. Hermon looms on the horizon like a giant sentry, which in many ways it really is. While in pursuit of another idea, I spotted a sign marking my arrival at the Orvim Reservoir, but a hill obscured any view of the water from my car. Not knowing what to expect, I walked an easy 50 meters from the parking lot to the top of the bank and a perfect perspective to shoot across the water at the mountain. It was a very windy afternoon, as evidenced by the ripples on the water, and I suffered through visions of the mountain's perfectly symmetrical reflection on still water. I settled for this image, which is greatly helped by my elevation above the water and by walking a short distance along the bank to position the few trees as guideposts to drawing viewers' eyes toward the main subject. I cropped the image to be very long and narrow, almost panoramic. Though now offered as a shooting option on many digital cameras, panoramic photos are still unusual enough to generate interest by their shape alone. Throw in an interesting subject, and the two combine to produce a powerful visual statement.