October 16, 2010

Photo of the Week: Oct. 15, 2010

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I admit it: I remain a sucker for sunsets. And sunrises, when I can beat dawn out the door. Observing the spectacle of changing light and color – especially in the mysterious world of heaven above – makes me pause and marvel at creation. Yet these break of day/end of day shots can often disappoint because we witness them as a process. Although I strive for the absolute peak moment in every shot, extracting but an instant in time from a glorious sky show frequently leaves me unfulfilled. Now I cannot imagine watching a videotape of a sunrise as a way to relive the complete experience, but it does help when we return later to look at the photograph, to complement our visual memory with a bit of introspection prompted by the moment.

This is a winter sunrise near Eilat, looking east over the Eilat Mountains and Jordan. The light show is adorned with a sliver of waning moon in the upper right hand corner. To keep the colors at their richest, it is important to set the exposure for the sky, which means the mountains, with no light hitting them from the direction of the camera, will turn to silhouette. I kept the mountains in the image to a minimum, because they are so easily identifiable as mountains and because their jagged summits add further drama to the wispy clouds catching the first light of day. May we awaken each day to the beauty and blessings that surround us.

TECHNICAL DATA: Nikon D-300, 18-200 zoom at 31mm, f11 at 1/60 sec., ISO 400.

Photos of the Week: Sept 28, 2010

HOW I GOT THE SHOTS: The holidays of Tishrei come to a dancing conclusion this week with the Shemini Atzeret-Simchat Torah doubleheader which begins Wednesday at sundown. In Israel, the holidays occur simultaneously following the final day of Sukkot. Joyful and passionate singing and dancing with the Torah mark the conclusion of the annual reading of the entire five books of the Torah and our return to the first chapter of Genesis to start the cycle anew.

This week's photographs are taken from a celebration to dedicate a newly written Sefer Torah, held last year in Jerusalem. The ceremony began with members of the family which sponsored the writing completing the last verse of the Torah, with the aid of a scribe. Afterward, the new Torah and several others were paraded through the streets to the accompaniment of music and frenzied dancing. At the conclusion of the parade, the Torah was brought back into the synagogue where it will be used and placed for the first time in the Aron Kodesh.

The first image is a close up of the sofer as he puts the finishing touch on one of the letters of the final verse. The lower image captures much of the energy and excitement generated by the ecstatic participants. It is also a an excellent illustration of how a Torah dedication is always an event celebrated by the entire community, as this photo features both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Torahs, soldiers, and numerous individuals of varying religious custom all joining the celebration. Chag Sameach!

Upper Photo: Nikon D-300, 18-200 zoom at 112mm, f6.3 at 1/125 sec., ISO 400. Lower Photo: Nikon D-300, 18-200 zoom at 22mm, f5 at 1/160 sec., ISO 400.