Israel’s end of land gladness

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Editor’s Note: Although I wrote this in 2008, it could well apply to my visit last week to Tzfat and the Galilee.

Anyone who encountered me toward the end of my recent three-day foray to the north would have seen the effects of rising three consecutive mornings well before dawn and schlepping my gear and ambition through dewy trails and prickly underbrush until darkness and exhaustion set in. After 583 km of travel by car and several more on foot and 652 shutter releases, I can reveal that I brought home five excellent landscapes. If I were a hunter, which I sometimes imagine I am when out in the wilds with my camera, I would have settled for bagging one lion. So five is a roaring success!

Just north of Kiryat Shemona, a few seconds before the itinerant Israeli runs out of country, is a small valley below the town of Metula, where farmers have planted groves of pear, plum, olive, and pomegranate, along with grapes and an assortment of other greenery. I had noted this bucolic spot in the past as a potential shooting location in the right season.

That moment arrived on Nov. 6, 2008  at 3:42 p.m. Turning onto a rare paved road that descended into the valley and up the far side of the hill, I found a position looking across the valley and into the setting sun. I thought at the time I had missed the moment, because there were already deep shadows on the upslope and the sun was so low I had to shade my lens with my left hand to reduce the extreme glare.

Staring into the sun as I composed, I could barely see what spread out before me and I was concerned that the shadowed areas would appear as black in the final image. In retrospect, the final result as shown above is nearly perfect. The shadows miraculously fall along the outer edges of the composition and provide depth and contrast while the golden sunlight paints a swath down the center of the frame. The play of light and shadow combine wonderfully to create a beautiful, warm autumn afternoon feel.

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