Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sabbath by Ruby Braumann

Recently, Jessie and I spent a month in Tel-Aviv-Jaffa house-sitting for a friend. While there, we visited Jerusalem several times since it is only a one-hour bus journey from where we were staying. One evening we decided to do some night photography in the old city, and since it was Friday night, there were a large number of Orthodox Jews walking on the pathway next to the walls towards Jaffa Gate. We thought some slow shutter speed photography would best capture the sense of timelessness one gets in such an ancient city. So we spent some time photographing people coming and going using the light shining up onto the walls to give the ambience, and capturing the movement of the people going by through a slow shutter speed. During the day we’d walked through the Jewish quarter and had fun trying to photograph the Orthodox Jews in their long black coats and wide-brimmed hats without causing offense to them. There are so many wonderful architectural features in the old city and at one stage we’d photographed two Jewish men walking through an archway, with backlighting.

Back home, I just loved the photos I’d taken that evening, with my most favourite being this one:


(Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-200mm lens, ISO 100, focal length 56mm, 1 sec exposure at f10, and tweaked using Lightroom)

I loved the 2 men in the middle with their hats and coats walking away from us, and the 3 men walking towards us just beyond them. Also the ghostly image of the person about to disappear completely on the right hand side. I felt I’d captured that sense of the ‘eternal city’ enclosed by high walls, and it is enhanced by the double ‘leading line’ that runs from the right hand corner and then converges with the walls in the distance on the left. This lends a wonderful perspective of depth to the photograph. I remember Dave Wimpey saying that the colour green never works in a photograph, but to me that’s one of the things that makes this photo – it breaks the neutral colours of the paving and the walls and complements the glow of the lights.

I felt that this photo needed something focussed, so I used the photo I’d taken earlier in the day :


(Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-200mm lens, ISO 200, focal length 120, 1/60th of a second at f8)

This time I used Photoshop elements to select the 2 men, then I had to add another ringlet to the man on the right as here he is looking to the left and so his ringlet is hidden from view, but it looked unbalanced to me. I then pasted them onto the first photo, deliberately cutting off their feet so that they were ‘walking out of the photo’ as it were. They stand out so well against the light on the wall and their silhouettes are so distinctive and unique – there can be no doubt that these are Orthodox Jews. With their being in focus yet silhouettes they fitted into the photo perfectly, and they draw the eye and create a point of focus and interest. At the same time, the shadowy figures behind them add to the story and breathe life into the photo.


I was pleased with the printing of this picture onto canvas as it maintains it’s ‘other-wordly’ atmosphere, and thrilled to bits when it won first prize in our print exhibition last month.