January 05, 2009

Photo of the Week: Jan. 6, 2008

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: For decades, Jews outside of Israel have been contributing to the Jewish National Fund's tree-planting programs. Over the last century, according to the JNF, Israelis have planted some 185 million trees, creating 280 new forests in places as diverse as the desert and sharply-sloped mountainsides. As a child, I remember – like millions of others – putting coins into the blue and white JNF collection boxes. What I didn't understand until I came to Israel was that almost all of Israel's native forests were denuded by successive conquerors up through the Ottoman Turks, who clear cut whatever forest remained to provide timber for the trans-Arabian railroad. At the beginning of the 20th century, the country was 97% bare.

Today, the country abounds with vast and healthy forests of evergreens, such as those seen in this photo, taken in the Birya Forest near Tzfat. I took this shot spontaneously at the end of the day when I had already packed up my gear and clocked out. Driving back to my evening's accommodations, I caught sight of the last rays of sunlight lighting up this grove of mixed fir trees, each one seemingly a different tone of green. I pulled over, grabbed my 70-200 zoom and my tripod and fired off a few shots quickly before the interesting light faded. Using the "File Info" feature in Photoshop, I can easily recall data for the shot, including focal length (95mm), shutter speed (1/80 sec.), f-stop (7.1), ISO (200), shooting mode (manual) and whether or not a flash was fired. There are other ways of retrieving this information besides Photoshop and data is available from any digital camera. Reviewing camera settings is a great way to discover why a particular photo succeeds or fails. By comparing a series of similar shots made with different settings, you can begin to decipher the numerous abstruse features found on today's digital cameras and make the right choices when the next photo op arises.