June 10, 2008

Photo of the Week: June 10, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: After selecting this week's image, I began to think about why the still life is such a rich tradition among painters. What is it about fruit, inanimate and ordinary, that compels the greatest artists to devote major works to the simplest of subjects? Part of the answer, I think, has to do with the desire to take a familiar object and apply one's personal artistic vision to recreating it. By choosing an interesting combination of shapes and colors, light and composition, they elevate their subjects to something unique and durable, a work that is pleasing to look at over and over again. I have never felt the lure of the still life, yet I am drawn to fruit trees, especially in Israel, where, like many others who live here, I have a heightened reverence and appreciation for the produce of the land. I prefer to shoot these subjects in nature, where I don't have the painter's luxury of manipulating the composition.

To get this image, I braved a hot, dusty orchard at midday and my eyes had to sort through the bright sunshine and visual chaos to hone in on a point of interest. This shot uses a sophisticated version of the ever-reliable framing technique. The dappled light on the blurred leaves in the foreground combined with the cherries along the outside of the frame form a tunnel which brings the viewer straight into the main subject. I made several attempts to crop the image to make it stronger, but each time reverted back to the original, uncut composition. I prefer the way the disorder of the outer parts of the image balances with the clarity of the center, giving a more realistic impression of the orchard. Finally, the sunlight striking both the cherries and leaves enhances their red and green hues, perfect color complements, which always look good to the human eye.

Photo of the Week: June 3, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: How do I know when to stop and take a picture? I hate to answer simply that it's a gut feeling – although that is a large part of it - but there are more specific considerations that also come into play. Landscapes, for example, must convey something of what the photographer felt while viewing the scene being photographed. Since every landscape photograph is an abstraction, a very limited representation of a bigger, more detailed place, the challenge becomes how to express something very personal and intimate with only a small canvas on which to paint. In my 10 years in Israel, I've spent less than two weeks in Eilat, but I think the mountains of this region are among the most remarkably beautiful in the world. Their beauty derives mainly from the blending of their unique coloration, which varies from a light, sandy color to a dark, chocolaty brown. I began to hunt for an image which combined these colors with the starkness of their sharp peaks and a landscape almost devoid of anything green and alive. Once I had found the elements that I had identified as responsible for my appreciation of the area, I could easily build a photograph that communicated back to the viewer these same feelings. In order to retain sharpness throughout this image, I chose a point of focus about one-third of the way into the depth of the photo and used an aperture of f-16, which, in addition to providing great depth of field, maximizes the optical quality of the lens. The very warm, red-gold color of the foreground rocks and peaks is a result of the low-angle of the sun as it rises to the rear of the camera.