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Safed, Tzfat, Israel, photography, Yehoshua Halevi

The Light at the End of the Day

HOW I GOT THE SHOT: It’s midnight in Paris and I’ve stepped back in time. At least a century, maybe two. I suppose if I didn’t really feel that way at times as I walk through the cobbled streets of the Old City of Tzfat, I wouldn’t imagine an image like this, no less actually create it. It’s more a painting than a photograph, more a dream than something actually seen. Yet, photorealist that I am, I did nothing unusual to make this photo.

This was the last photograph I shot after three days in Tzfat, where one’s mind and eye become keenly attuned to the color blue. Countless stones, graves of tzadikim and now streetlights have been draped in blue, long associated in this mystical city with righteousness, good luck and an ability to ward off the evil eye.

I had admired this single lamp the previous evening but chose not to photograph it because I couldn’t find a more interesting context than the stone wall to which it was attached. Returning at dusk for one last look before leaving town, I approached from a new direction and immediately caught sight of a reflection in an adjacent window. The reddish hues of the planter box provided just the right complement to the muted tones of the stonework. The entire image falls into soft focus by my choice of a wide aperture and placing the focal point on the lamp, seen here as a reflection through iron bars. I expect nothing less than magic to fly from the dwellings of this holy city.

TECHNICAL DATA: Camera: Nikon D700, handheld, aperture priority, matrix metering mode, f/2 at 1/125 sec, ISO 800. Raw file converted to Jpeg. Lens: Nikon 135 mm DC f/2 prime. Date: Nov. 13, 2014, 4:51 p.m. Location: Artist’s Colony, Tzfat.

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