This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for January, 2010

Israel Defense Forces Air Fresheners

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 13, 2010

IDF Air Fresheners

One of those “only in Israel” photos. I wonder who buys these. Proud parents of soldiers? Proud members of elite combat units? Kind-hearted civilians who offer rides to lots of sweaty soldiers on their way to and from bases on the weekends?

Photo taken in the Steimatzky’s bookstore in the Mamilla mall. They’re one floor down from the main floor, near the counter, if you really want to know.


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Liver Tomorrow

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 12, 2010


This morning, my officemate Yinnon said to me, “The guy who supervises the kashrut in the cafeterias is barbecuing outside and he’s up to his elbows in bloody liver.” I said that he must be kashering it.

I ran down with my camera and asked the mashgiach if I could take a picture. He said he wanted to be in the photo, so here he is! He looks like he’s having a good time.

Tomorrow’s menu for the meat cafeteria includes chicken livers.


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My Ten Favourite Photos of 2009

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 11, 2010

Good heavens, it’s just dawned on me that we’re in the new year. (In Israel, Jan. 1 is an ordinary work day, so it’s easy to let it slip by.) Borrowing an idea from KT Photowalk and others, I’m posting my ten favourite photos of 2009. It’s been an interesting year, one in which I acquired my first serious (for me, that is) camera and started carrying a camera around with me.

1. Double Rainbow (Feb. 2009) – Lucky shot taken from my balcony one morning with a Canon S5. I had had this camera for about 14 months.

Double Rainbow

2. Purim Bride (Mar. 2009) – Taken with the S5 from a van on my way to work. This little girl just happened to turn her head at that moment, while her mother was simultaneously fussing with her hem and carrying on a cellphone conversation.

Purim Bride

3. Dandelion at sunset (Apr. 2009) – Taken with the S5, lying on the ground outside our apartment building, so that I could get the sun at a good angle. I remember wishing for the clarity of a DSLR. The Canon S5 is a good camera, but it’s still a point and shoot.

Dandelion at sunset

4. “Beyond the Suns” Performance by Pyromania (June 2009) – Taken with a Canon Rebel XSi (450D). Woohoo! At last I could do the low-light photography that I could only dream of with the S5!

"Between the Suns"

5. Globe Thistle (June 2009) – The Rebel let me get shallow depth of field and really sharp details of flowers, especially after I got the 50mm f/1.8 lens (this photo was taken with the 18-55mm kit lens).

Globe Thistle

6. Wolf Spider Reflections (July 2009) – Someone brought in a captured spider in a plastic food storage container.

Spider Reflection Revisited

7. Sunflare (Aug. 2009) – I learned how to photograph sunflares. This photo was taken through the leaves of a succulent plant in a neighbour’s garden.


8. Shrine of the Book (Oct. 2009) – I started experimenting with HDR. I still can’t get over the green tiles under the water.

Dome, Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum (HDR)

9. Free-Lensing (Oct. 2009) – First experiment with free-lensing, where you hold the lens in front of the camera to allow light to leak into the body of the camera.


10. Pampas Grass at Sunset (Nov. 2009) – Someone was trying to fix something on my computer, so I took my camera and shot a few frames in the courtyard of the building where I work.

Pampas grss at sunset


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Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 11, 2010


This is what an uncooperative subject looks like. He is number 4 in my series of corporate portraits of marketing guys, taken for work. Fortunately, a few were more presentable than this shot, but his expression pretty much sums up how he felt about having his picture taken.

In all fairness I suppose I should post a picture that did turn out. Hard to believe it’s the same guy.

This shot worked


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Timna Trip – Some People Pictures

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 11, 2010

Someone pointed out to me that I don’t post enough photos of people, so here are some people shots from our department trip to Eilat.

This is one of those things that can only happen in Israel — on the plane, we couldn’t bring water but we could bring guns. (Note: in Israel, organized tours must be accompanied by a certain number of medics and guards. That’s the law.)

Actually, the guns go with the checked luggage. They were bagged, tagged, and stowed at Ben Gurion airport. My friend handed his M16 rifle to the security checker and was asked whether he packed his own bag. Oh, the irony! Here he is claiming his rifle at the end of the flight, in the Eilat airport.

Gun claim at the Eilat airport

A lull in conversation at breakfast. I love Livio’s hat. He’s normally such a conservative dresser.


Masha wasn’t feeling well that day, so she spent the morning chilling out on the boat.


Asher wants to be the first person to have juggled on top of the Timna plateau.

Juggling on the plateau

A good dinner, with plenty of wine and barbecued meat. Dosey didn’t drink all that wine single-handedly but it makes a good photo.

A good dinner


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Random Birds

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 10, 2010




I tried to photograph Amman this morning but I just don’t have a long enough lens to get an effective photograph of the towers, so I ended up chasing birds in the park. The light right after dawn is so golden that even crows look nice.


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Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 8, 2010

Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

You know you’ve been married a long time when your husband doesn’t ask why you’re wandering out of the house carrying a bowl of rapidly cooling soup, a red restaurant apron tossed over one shoulder. I was too lazy to set up a lamp, so I took the soup outside to shoot it. I haven’t posted a recipe for a while.

This is very easy soup, perfect for a winter evening, and full of vitamin A.

You may be wondering, however, why the soup in the photo is garnished with a dollop of plain yogurt and sweet paprika. We’re having an unusually warm day in Israel and I needed to use up the yogurt. For a cooler day, garnish with finely chopped parsley or cilantro.

Sweet Potato & Corn Soup

8 servings

1 tbs. canola oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium white potato, peeled and chopped
6 cups water
550 gm. can corn kernels + liquid
1 tsp salt
lots of fresh ground black pepper

Optional: 2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 2 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro. Or both if you want a Moroccan soup.

Sauté diced onion in oil until translucent. Add diced carrots and continue to sauté until tender. When nearly done, add minced garlic. (You’re adding this last to avoid burning it while the carrots are being cooked.)

Add sweet and white potatoes, water, and corn kernels with liquid. Season. Simmer until all vegetables are tender. Using a stick blender, purée until barely smooth. If you like a chunkier texture, use a potato masher.

If you want a dairy version, substitute 2 cups of milk for the water. Garnish with plain yogurt or sour cream. Tastes great chilled, too!

This is a very adaptable soup.


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Random Morning Shots in the Park

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 8, 2010

Actually, a random half hour of shots. I left the house at 6:30 with the DSLR, hoping to photograph the sun shining on the twin towers today. Alas, the weather did not cooperate: clear and sunny in Maale Adumim, partly cloudy in Amman! But the few test shots I did of the silhouette indicated that there’s a lot less grain than the photos I took with the S5. A tripod makes a big difference. I’ll try next week and hope that the angle of the sun doesn’t shift too much. Otherwise I’ll have to mark this time in my calendar next year!

I figured that as long as I was outside with a camera and trying to post a photo every day, I might as well point my lens at other things, so here are a few random shots.

This is the abstract shot of the spiral slide, which I posted as my Project 365 photo today. The rising sun created some interesting shadows and a golden hue. The close framing was chosen to make the shot more abstract and to reduce the rather uninteresting sky.


Waning moon, cropped. Actually the sky was fairly light at that hour of the morning (around 6:30) but a “correct” exposure would have overexposed the moon’s surface, so this is deliberately underexposed.

Waning Moon

Hooded crow perched on a fence, framed by the chains of a swing. Although the golden light makes him look like he’s clutching a blood-stained tissue in his claws, I think it was actually a chocolate wrapper.

Crow on Fence

Abandoned book on photography, left in a pile of old books on a wall. What a funny coincidence! Published in 1966, so rather out of date, but I took it home anyway.

Abandoned Book

Park bench. The shot isn’t very well composed or creative. I just liked the contrast of the golden light on limestone next to the teal colour of the bench.



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Reflection of Sunrise on Twin Towers, Amman

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 7, 2010

7/365 - Across the Jordan Valley at dawn

Boy, some days I really wish I had a monster telephoto lens (or knew someone who could lend me one). I’m not sure whether it’s possible to rent a lens in Israel but this was one of those spur-of-the-moment shots.

Yesterday, I was walking around with my new Canon 55-250mm lens, hoping to get a shot of hyraxes. At 6:45 I glanced over towards the east and saw the rising sun shining off the southern tower of the Amman twin towers. The shots I took with the Canon Rebel XSi were disappointing (no tripod!), but I got somewhat better results this morning with the old S5. The result was a bit noisy, but okay. It was cropped considerably (hey, an S5 is a point-and-shoot, after all).

I used a Slik mini-tripod. I find it a lot easier to use the S5 with the small tripod because I can flip out the LED viewfinder and adjust the composition, instead of bending over close to the ground to peer through the viewfinder. Yes, I know I could use the Rebel’s Live View feature but that sure eats up the battery fast and I don’t use it often enough to switch to that mode without checking the manual.


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Hyrax Quartet

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 7, 2010

6/365 - Hyrax Quartet

Aren’t these guys adorable? These rock hyraxes live in the wadi below my neighbourhood. They’re mostly nocturnal, so the best time to photograph them is at dawn.

Hyraxes normally sit in pairs on rocks, two sentries pointing in opposite directions, so this cluster was a little unusual. They stared at me for a few minutes, until the one in front jumped off the rock and loped into his burrow.

I went out with my new Canon 55-250mm lens to get a better shot than I’d managed with the 18-55mm kit lens. This was cropped somewhat. It was handheld but the sharpness of the original is still acceptable, in my opinion.

Adding a note about their size. They’re about as big as large cats or groundhogs, but with much shorter legs. Most of the time they lope like rabbits, but they can run fast if they’re frightened.


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