February 25, 2010

Photo of the Week: Feb. 25, 2010

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Before I moved to Israel, I don't believe I once imagined taking a hike on a trail made of water. In our desert climate, where it is hot and dry most of the year, water walks are very popular and a refreshing way to get close to places we don't frequently experience. I admit that toting $5,000 worth of equipment over slippery rocks while taking uncertain steps to unknown depths sets my heart racing, but I've done stupider things in pursuit of my art.

This shot was taken in the Snir Stream, a tributary of the Jordan River flowing through the Galilee near Kiryat Shemona. I cannot think of another photograph I've taken of moving water in which the water flows away from the camera. Waterfalls, rivers, rushing tides and gushing rain: the water always moves down and towards the camera. So I like this shot just because it's different and because the colors, especially anything in the sage family, are among my favorites. I stopped down to f22 and exposed for 1/2 second to capture both the movement of the water and turn it white, which creates a nice contrast to the surrounding brown and black rocks and tree stumps. Because many people are afraid or unable to hike through the stream, there are ample opportunities for quiet contemplation. You just may have to get your feet wet first.

Technical Data: Nikon D-300, 28-105 zoom @ 28mm, ISO 100, 1/2 second at f22.

February 21, 2010

Photo of the Week: Feb. 18, 2010

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: The coffee was cold; the companionship, warm. The light: fleeting yet divine. I could watch the sun rise every morning in the desert, bearing witness to the land slowly shedding its blanket of darkness, layer by layer. I've photographed this region of the Judean Desert above the Darja Canyon on four occasions. On my first visit, the sky was full of perfect puffy white clouds, but it was mid-morning and with my family in tow, I couldn't venture off in search of the ideal view. Inspired by that day's performance, I've returned at sunrise on three other occasions, each time looking for a new interpretation of one of Israel's classical looks.

On the morning I shot this photo last month, my hiking partner and I climbed a short hill not far from the access road to watch the day awaken. The most interesting view was to the west, with the rising sun at my back. As the sun crested the mountains in Jordan, the interplay of light and shadow revealed the contours of the peaks and valleys before us. Often, I find myself making quick, spontaneous decisions in the frenetic few minutes that I know the light will be kind to the camera. In this case, as I studied the expanse of desert in front of me, my mind switched modes of thinking, from composing the photo to simply capturing the texture of the scene unfolding in the distance.

"We seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel," noted photographer Sam Abell. We can, however, move closer to that ideal by following our vision to our hearts and on to a truer expression of what we are feeling.