August 07, 2008

Photo of the Week: Aug. 5, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: It only takes an instant to create a photograph, but nature took her time to form these odd-looking, sculpted rocks atop a plateau in the Negev Desert. For countless ages, rain, floods and wind have been carving these chalk and limestone formations in an ongoing process of erosion. This spot is about midway along a seven-hour hike I did on the Avdat Plateau with Chezi, my intrepid hiking partner. In this particular section, the trail skirts the top of a canyon along a rocky ridge. We arrived at mid-morning and, as can be deduced by the shadows, the sun is high and to the right of the frame. I had to crouch to reduce some of the glare, which aided the composition by bringing the top of the second rock into view and shifting the nearer rock so it could serve as a frame. Although the image is shot in high-contrast, midday light, the light is fairly even, which allows for an exposure that preserves the detail in both the clouds and the distant plateau. I can imagine this spot at lit up at sunset, though I'll probably never see it at that time of day as it's a two-hour walk to the nearest road. In my mind, more than any other landscape image, the desert defines Israel. Fully 60 percent of the country is desert. The desert in Israel blooms, and no more so than in places untouched by the hand of man.

Photo of the Week: July 29

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Staring out across the ocean into the midday sun would probably rank last on my list of choice places and times to photograph. I often find myself in the right place at the wrong time, so when that happens, I reach deep down into my bag of photographic tricks. Rosh Hanikra is a chalky cliff along the Mediterranean coast on the border between Israel and Lebanon, known for its labyrinthine grottoes carved over the years by the pounding surf. I was en route to an assignment not far from the coast and thought I'd steal an hour admiring the aquamarine water that flows through this natural wonder. Following the dark and misty maze of tunnels, I was surprised to emerge suddenly into a very short opening with a southwestern view of blue ocean expanse. The fresh air and sunshine compelled me to stop, gaze, and, of course, preserve the moment in pixels.

Actually, I shot this image on film, using my widest lens, a 20 mm Nikkor stopped down to f22 to produce the sun star, a natural optical effect of shooting with the lens at its smallest aperture. Without this tool, it's nearly impossible to shoot directly at the sun at high noon. As luck would have it, there were some pretty cumulus clouds to add interest to the sky, in particular the three directly under the sun which nicely parallel the three main rocks situated just off shore. My memory in pocket, I stepped back into the darkness and headed off to work.