August 04, 2009

Photo of the Week: Aug. 4, 2009

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I've lost count of how many times I've returned from a photo shoot with something unexpected, but that is what makes photography an ever-exciting adventure. This week's shot is sent out in honor of Tu B'Av, the 15 of Av, which falls this week on Tuesday evening and Wednesday. The full moon of Av is known as Israel's Valentine's Day and is a popular day for weddings.

I took this photo during a walk along the beach at Caesaria, while photographing the ancient Roman aqueducts for my stock library. I knew the stone arches would look their best bathed in the golden glow of afternoon sunshine, but I didn't foresee the glorious sunset which occurred that day nor the couple who arrived at the same time I did. The biggest obstacle to getting this shot was my concern that my subjects might not want to be photographed. I knew the silhouette would render them unidentifiable, so I wasn't worried about invading their privacy. Still, I didn't want to spoil their moment, so I chose a 70-200 mm zoom lens and maintained a comfortable distance from the strangers, who obliged my purpose by ignoring me. I waited until the fireball dipped below the arch and their heads and then I positioned myself so the human forms fell directly between my lens and the sun.

As with every silhouette, it's critical to set the exposure for the bright light in the background. This requires closing the aperture and/or raising the shutter speed significantly. Since very little light is falling on the arch or couple from the direction of the camera, they are rendered totally black. I also shot this image without any people in it, but placing a person in a photo gives scale to the setting and, in this case, stimulates the wistful notion that we, too, could be sitting there some day.