February 22, 2012

Photo of the Week: Feb. 22, 2012

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Stroll through a field of wildflowers and there are thousands of picture possibilities. How do I decide where to stop and point my camera? One approach I take is building on what I've done in the past. When I encounter a subject for the second or third time, I look for ways to capture it anew, such as this photo of a Cyclamen in its early growth stages. Cyclamen or Rakefet in Hebrew, are also known as "Solomon's Fire" because they grow like burning fire, their flame-like petals shooting upward, often clustered around rocks or at the base of trees.

If you get out early enough in the season – as in right now – you will see the cyclamen in various stages of growth in forests and fields alike. The biggest difficulty for the photographer is that they grow very low to the ground. This requires a belly-flop shot, lying prone with the base of the camera pressed against the ground, in this case in the vertical mode. It is nearly impossible from this position to see through the viewfinder, so I relied on the camera's autofocus feature to lock on the subject. With my Nikons, I can move the focus point around the frame, selecting the position where I believe the best focal point is located. Composing in the dark is more difficult. I chose an angle which presented the flower with side light and played around with its height so that the petals are framed by the darker greenery in the background.

TECHNICAL DATA: Nikon D700, handheld, manual exposure, spot metering mode, f4.5 at 1/2000th sec., ISO 400. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-105 mm zoom in macro mode at 105mm. Date: Mar. 7, 2011, 8:24 a.m. Location: Ela Valley (south of Beit Shemesh), Israel.

Photo of the Week: Feb. 15, 2012

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I feel compelled to tell this story, because it speaks so much to the challenge of living and working in Israel and how often there is more to a photograph than what meets the eye. I made this image on the Golan Heights in northern Israel about four years ago. Travelers to the Golan are familiar with warning signs marking areas where explosive mines buried in the ground may remain from the Yom Kippur war in 1973. Seeing just a single sign makes one wonder how anyone really knows which fields are safe and creates a deep sense of anxiety when going off road there, even in unmarked, presumably safe areas.

I shot this photo from a viewpoint along a secondary road. Across from where I stood was a battered, barbed wire fence strung with numerous, yellow "Danger Mines!" signs. They are not merely a bitter reminder of the past, but an ongoing obstacle to our enjoyment and utilization of the land. To get this image, I kept my feet firmly planted on the pavement. The challenge in this photo was working the composition to offset the monochromatic color display. Everything is green, albeit in different tonalities and textures that ultimately merge together quite nicely, even though the photo lacks a center of interest. More subtly, the metal fence posts that enter from the photo's bottom left corner combine with the foreground rock to lead the eye into the photo. I utilized my elevated position on an embankment to shoot down, thus capturing the different height levels to full effect as well. A nice document of early spring, Israel's most glorious season.

TECHNICAL DATA: Nikon D-200, mounted on a tripod, manual exposure, evaluative metering mode, f11 at 1/125th sec., ISO 400. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-70 mm zoom at 46mm. Date: Mar. 3, 2008, 7:09 a.m. Location: Golan Heights, Israel.