Sunday, June 22, 2008

taking shots

Sagi, optically challenged but still getting the job done. "Sababa? "

After pointing and shooting for a good few years now, I finally joined a digital photography course. It's a simple affair , a few hours a week in the universita ha-amamit (popular university) which is neither a university nor - at least on a Sunday morning - popular. It seems to be run by Tel Aviv municipality and its student body (let's face it) is composed of senior citizens doing quick courses that aren't too challenging.

Our teacher is Sagi. It took me a moment to fully realise that my first photography teacher was blind in one eye. The other one seems to work pretty well though. He's running us through both the basics of photography and a better knowledge of our individual cameras. I'm on good terms with mine but I know that she could offer me much more if I could only get to know her better.

Whether or not it's a side effect, Sagi sometimes strikes his head in frustration in mid-sentence and loses his train of thought, eventually picking up the theme and invariably ending a sentence with 'sababa'? (i.e. "everything cool") . Connecting to computers and projectors can also be a lengthy affair, approached sideways with much headbanging involved until it all comes together.

The best part of the lesson is when Sagi illustrates the theme of the week (light, captured motion or whatever) with classic examples. Last week he treated us to some wonderful photos from Ansell Adams to Annie Leibowicz.

Despite the size and quality of the class (three retired ladies with names like Rina, one 40'ish guy called Amit and me) he relates to us as through we were budding photo-stars, cooing and crowing over the mediocre results of our homework ("Amazing! enchanting !"). Here's an example of last week's homework, a photo of A's cat that illustrates the warmifying effect achieved when the object is placed opposite the setting sun.

Back to the subject of the masters though, we went to see an excellent photo exhibition up the road in the main office of Bank Leumi. More specifically it was held in Beit Manne, an old house dating back to the beginnings of Tel Aviv. As is often the case, the muncipality allowedd the bank to build its tower in exchange for restoring and incorporating the historic building it would otherwise erase. In the case of Beit Manne and Bank Leumi the problem was solved by placing the old building half way inside the lobby of the new tower. Beit Manne is now being opened as a local gallery. It's good for Bank Leumi's image and relative to their profist costs them peanuts.

This is Beit Manneh from the back. In the front, its the lovely old facade that meets the street.

Anyway, the exhibition was called Shvil 6 , the reference being to shvil yisrael , the Israel hiking trail that starts in the north near Tel Dan and ends up near Eilat. Ten of Israel's best photograhers were alloted a section of the route and the results was a study in strong contrasts. Among the strongest photos were by from Pavel Wolberg, a photo journalist originally from Russia, who takes stunning and sometimes shocking shots of our often violent, ugly and absurd reality with an artist's eye. Photo buddies say Pavel is no 1 in his field and he is gaining a reputation abroad too.

Here's a link to a site about him and here are a few examples of his work to end this post.

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