March 04, 2014

Photo of the Week: Jan. 15, 2014

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: I passed an almond tree this week during a late-afternoon walk in the Judean Hills. It stood four meters tall with a network of spiny branches studded with hundreds of tightly-closed buds and a single white flower clutching a high branch. I could see the nearly-full moon rising through its leafless crown. I stopped to gaze at the lone blossom, which seemed to be saying, “I know it’s early and it’s near freezing at night but duty beckons and the almond trees in Israel will flower on Tu B’shevat, no matter how cold the air." The new year for trees begins at sundown this evening.

This week’s photograph features peach blossoms, which appear around mid-march, somewhat later than their almond counterparts. I stopped to study this image because I had just finished writing a critique for a student who had sent me a photo with two jousting subjects. I had advised him not to try this tactic too often, as it confuses the viewer, who can’t decide what to look at and gets dizzy moving his eyes back and forth across the image.

But this technique does have one distinct benefit: in the confusion, the viewer may make a more careful study of the image as he or she tries to sort through the visual content. Here, the pair of blurry blossoms are large enough to demand a second look, even though the eye bypasses them initially in search of sharper subjects. The tension caused by the duality of subjects helps anchor the eye instead of driving it away. So let your creativity flow, at least until you find yourself talking back to the trees.
TECHNICAL DATA – Camera: Nikon D200, tripod-mounted, manual exposure, center-weighted metering mode, f/5.6 at 1/80th sec., ISO 100. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 28-105 macro zoom at 78 mm. Date: Mar. 22, 2007, 2:49 p.m. Location: Gush Etzion, Judean Mountains.

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