February 08, 2012

Photo of the Week: Feb. 7, 2012

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: To mark Tu B'shvat, the New Year for Trees, which is celebrated this wee, I bring this image of fig leaves in late afternoon sunlight. It is traditional on this holiday to eat from the seven species that describe the land of Israel in the Bible (Deuteronomy 8:8) and which includes figs. I found this shot while working with a young student, trying to demonstrate how photography can be an adventure if you're willing to dig beneath the surface, bow under a branch or crawl on your belly in the sand. The tree was thick with leaves and in order to get this vantage point, we had to pull back branches and duck our heads to get under the thick canopy. Once inside, we discovered a world of unusual photo possibilities not visible along the outer perimeter of the tree.

I like this shot because it illustrates perfectly how an artist can use the camera to make a personal statement. An ordinary subject takes on a new identity when seen with the setting sun bouncing around to form a unique play of light and shadow through the layers of leaves. The image is an abstraction from the larger tree, yet the leaves remain identifiable because, with little effort, their unique shape becomes quite obvious to the viewer. May the winter rains continue to replenish the land of Israel for another year of growth, within and without.

TECHNICAL DATA: Nikon D-700, handheld in manual exposure, center-weighted mode, f4.2 at 1/60 sec., ISO 400. Exposure set to sunlit highlights on the leaves. Lens: 28-105 mm macro zoom in normal position at 64mm. Date: 9/27/11, 4:52 p.m. Location: Efrat, Israel.

Photo of the Week: Feb. 2, 2012

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Nearly two-thirds of Israel is desert: rocky, barren, and devoid of water. So whenever I find a new and unexplored water site, I am like a kid in the candy store. I discovered the Dishon Stream quite by chance while driving in the Northern Galilee region en route to Tzfat. I am an advocate of taking at least a short walk outdoors every day, so it was a simple decision to divert my trip to explore this hidden watershed.

I remember this spot because I sat on a rock cooling my feet and enjoying a midmorning snack. Dried fruit and nuts fueled both body and mind as I paused to listen to the rush of water over rock and contemplate the setting before setting up to shoot. Whenever I want to slow down water and reveal its movement, I push my camera to its extremes: smallest aperture, lowest ISO and a leisurely shutter speed as well. This objective was complicated by the amount of light hitting the scene with the sun high in the sky. Even on the smallest light settings, I was limited to a 1/10 second exposure, just barely enough to give the water the milky textures seen in this photo.

TECHNICAL DATA: Nikon D-300 on a tripod, manual exposure, spot mode, f22 at 1/10 sec., ISO 100. Decreased exposure by one stop to prevent overexposing the white areas in the water. Lens: Nikon wide angle zoom, 12-24 mm, at 13mm. Date: 3/16/09, 10:32 a.m. Location: Dishon Stream Trail, northern Israel.