September 13, 2011

Photos of the Week: Sept. 8, 2011

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I often tell people that I practice photography, like meditation or Tai Chi, in order to elevate my awareness of subtleties in nature that often go unnoticed. As a professional who strives to continually create original and inspiring images, I frequently return to old subjects and attempt to shoot them anew. One technique I have used successfully involves building unconventional relationships between the subject and its immediate environment to give a fresh face to the familiar. The two photos I am sending this week are excellent illustrations of this concept.

The upper image features ripe sabra fruit which had toppled into a field of dry grass. Sabra fruit and flowers are normally seen as part of the larger, green and spiny cactus plant, so this image offers an alternative to the traditional view. The blurred blades of grass don't impede the viewer's eye as it searches for the photo's subject. Instead, I think they add a bit of realism to the photo as the fruit appears in a natural state, exactly as it was found on the day I walked past it.

The second image emerged while pursuing a shot of black grapes. In the end, the grapes take a back seat to the leaves and the beautifully textured vine, which comes to dominate the photo. I left just enough of the grape cluster visible to help the viewer identify the subject. Here, too, by altering the proportion or the position of the main subject, a new perspective is unveiled, and an old subject is reborn.

Technical Data:
Upper Photo: Nikon D300, 18-200 zoom at 75mm, f6.3 @ 1/640th sec., ISO 200.
Lower photo: Nikon D300, 28-105 zoom at 62mm, f9 @ 1/200th sec., ISO 400.

Photo of the Week: Aug. 31, 2011

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Nature in motion, not unlike poetry, reveals its beauty in evanescent bursts. You cannot photograph something without first seeing it. Yet some images don't really exist, except in our imagination, until the still camera freezes the rushing tide and uncovers a hidden pearl in a few scattered, battered seashells. Seconds later, grace and elegance are wiped clean by another wave.

On the shore of Nizzanim Beach, between Ashkelon and Ashdod, I noticed these shell fragments during a casual late-afternoon stroll. I stopped to study the wave action and marveled at how each shell left a kind of footprint in the receding tide. I like this shot for its minimalism. Just sand and a few shells, yet each one gains prominence and invites individual examination. The falling sun elongates the shadows. Another click and a moment unseen is captured for eternity.

Technical Data: Nikon D300, 28-105 macro zoom at 44mm, f8 @ 1/320th sec., ISO 400.

Photo of the Week: Aug. 4, 2011

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: As an Ashkenazic Jew, I have always admired the Torah scrolls used by our Sephardic brethren, simply because they are different and I encounter them less frequently. Sephardic Torahs are carried in a round case fashioned from either wood or metal and read in the upright position, as opposed to lying flat on a table in the Ashkenazic tradition. Although this makes photographing the reader more complicated, the scroll cases are often quite colorful and ornately adorned. In addition, they always have a piece of material hanging from the top to allow the oleh to mark the place where his reading begins and ends.

I photographed this Torah during a bar mitzvah reading at the Kotel. The case is crafted entirely from wood and was so large and heavy the bar mitzvah boy could barely lift it. A brightly colored tallit was clipped to the top and draped beautifully along one side. Normally, I might shy away from mixing the earth tones of the wood with the bright rainbow colors of the fabric, but here the two strong symbols of my heritage merged comfortably into visual harmony, helped along by the soft, diffuse light of early morning.

Technical Data: Nikon D300, 18-200 zoom at 105mm, f8 @ 1/125th sec., ISO 400