February 03, 2009

Photo of the Week: Feb. 3, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Having lived much of my life in a four-season climate, I am still amazed by the emergence of spring blossoms during months when ice and snow are supposed to rule. But in Israel, if it's the month of Shvat, the almond trees will be in bloom, no matter which secular month coincides with Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees, celebrated the year on Feb. 9. Almond trees, likes those pictured here, appear in two forms across Israel. Single trees dot hillsides from north to south. Extensive commercial orchards have been cultivated across the country as well and are a treat to the eyes, nose and heart at the height of their blossoming.

Trying to capture the beauty of the shakedia tree in bloom challenges the photographer to merge a broad sensual experience into a two-dimensional, solely visual media. I've tried shooting from within the groves, but have not yet succeeded in doing justice to God's work. I've had more luck around the edges, and that's the approach I took here, drawn first by the emerald green of new growth in a meadow in the Ela Valley, not far from Beit Shemesh. The variegated and textured greens complement the blossoms, also shown in varying hues of pink. While my main purpose here was to record the flowering trees, the meadow grasses take up more than two-thirds of the frame. In the end, I chose this composition because I was looking for an original way to represent an over-photographed subject. Throwing it off balance in the composition seemed like one way to achieve that.