This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for June, 2010

First Year of Blogging

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 30, 2010

Bulletin Board

June 28 marked the first full year of this blog. I had hoped to mark the day with an interesting post but I was much too preoccupied with problems at work to think about my blog. So here it is, better late than never (and a less interesting posting is better than not writing at all because inspiration hasn’t struck). I took this photo after I got off the minibus this evening. There are several bulletin boards in my neighbourhood and they accumulate a fascinating assortment of layers, bits of papers, pictures, apartments for sale, camp announcements, dress sales, and so on. I never noticed before that the board underneath is wood!

My very first posting called Video 1: How to Make Boiled Kubbeh, a cooking video that I recorded in my office. Yinnon, whose pre-wedding photos were presented in my last blog posting (June 25) starred in that video. Interesting that we’re still the same basic group, me, Masha, and Yinnon, but now in a different room, on a different floor, and with a fourth officemate, Chaim.

Stats for year 1 of this blog:

I write about photography, food, crafts, and Israel, but photography seems to have taken over by a margin, according to my category totals:

  • Photography (106)
  • Israel (68)
  • Crafts (36)
  • Food (33)

I should note that some of these categories overlap, that is, a posting might be tagged with two categories.

And I’ve received 464 comments. Thank-you! I appreciate the comments and links that you’ve left on my blog and I’ve tried to comment as well. I realise that this blog is a bit quirky — not quite a photography blog or a craft blog or a food blog and not quite political enough to be included in lists of Israeli blogs. Hmmm. A bit like me… 🙂

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Observing a Wedding Photography Session

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 25, 2010


My officemate Yinnon got married on June 13, 2010. Because of the recent death of his grandfather, he and Rinat decided to have a smaller celebration than originally planned, so I was not at the actual ceremony or reception. I did, however, manage to tag along for half an hour when they were getting the pre-wedding photographs done!


The photographer was Orr Zahavi. I’d never heard of him before, but I really liked his work. A couple days before the wedding I asked Yinnon if it would be okay to watch him photographing them in the Mahane Yehuda market. He readily agreed.

The day of the wedding, Masha (my other officemate and a close friend of Yinnon) and I took a taxi to the shuk and waited by Basher’s cheese shop for 15 minutes. Masha called Yinnon, who told us to wait in the parking lot by the derelict Alliance high school. We waited. And waited. And waited. Rinat was still at the salon getting painted and lacquered. 🙂 Yinnon was in a car with his friend Amitai, circling the block, and occasionally sending text messages to Masha: “I see you”… “I see you again.”

Eventually we were told that Mahane Yehuda was off the game plan because it was now quite late, and that the photos would be taken in the neighbourhood of Nahlaot, so we moved to a bench and waited another 20 minutes. By that time we had been waiting for an hour and a half. At least the weather wasn’t too hot.


I have a yoga class that I go to on Sundays, so I only tagged along for about half an hour. The photographer was friendly and we chatted briefly about HDR and his London photos while Rinat was having a wardrobe malfunction fixed by Masha behind a big silver reflector. He thought I was Chinese because of my accent (?!) and mentioned that he had studied Chinese medicine for seven years, during the same years that he has been a wedding photographer.


Doorway in Nahlaot. The number “18” is auspicious in Judaism because the Hebrew letters for the number “18” also spell “life” (chai).

Stop the wedding!!!!

I love this photo because it’s so bizarre. Yinnon and Rinat had just emerged from the car, the photographer was unloading his gear from the trunk, and Masha and I walked up to meet them. Masha threw her arms around Yinnon’s neck, while Yinnon was holding Rinat’s hand. The look on Rinat’s face is priceless. That’s why I gave this photo the tongue-in-cheek title, “Stop the wedding!”


I took this photo just behind the photographer, through the iron fence. It will be interesting to see how the photographer deals with that bar sticking up out of Yinnon’s head, since his angle was approximately the same as mine and we were both quite far from the couple. They were standing on a second floor walkway, outside Yinnon’s flat, and we were at the level of the courtyard.

At this point, Rinat and Masha were yelling across the courtyard in Hebrew. I wasn’t paying much attention because I was trying to get this shot, until I looked over and noticed that Masha was holding up a mini-pad. Rinat had smudged her make-up and needed to fix it. She couldn’t get into Yinnon’s flat for a tissue because Yinnon had left his keys in the car, several blocks away. I had tissues in my backpack and handed a few to Masha before I left to catch a bus home.


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Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010 (3rd night)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 21, 2010

"Heart of Gold"

Photo above: “Heart of Gold,” by Itzik Iluz

I didn’t think I would make it to the Jerusalem Light Exhibit a third time. It was the last night (Wed., June 16), I was tired and feeling down, and wasn’t sure I wanted to carry a tripod, camera, and couple lenses all over the Old City by myself. I was standing outside work, trying to decide whether to take the minibus home or the one that goes into downtown Jerusalem. I actually tried to phone my husband three times to ask him to decide for me! (He had left his phone at work, so that wasn’t much use.) Then I saw a man on crutches getting on one of the minibuses and realised that I had no real excuses. At least I could get to the exhibit with the weight of the photography equipment. So I took the Rehavia minibus into town and got off at Graphos.

I arrived around 6:20, much too early for the light show. I wandered around Ben Yehuda (photographed the “Open Studio,” while they were doing a broadcast), the Mamilla Center, and the Old City. I ended up walking to the far end of the orange trail, by which time it was getting dark. In theory, it was an excellent idea, because I figured I could work my way back and photograph the farthest sites before the crowds arrived. In practice, it’s not easy. The orange trail winds through some narrow alleys; walking in the opposite direction is truly swimming against the tide.

I’m not going to include links for all the artists and installations because that would take too much time. This link will take you to the official site with all that information.

Batei Machase Square was the site of an animated projection, “Touch of Light,” by Malchi Shem Tov, Asaf Shem Tov, Amit Fisher. It was very impressive but, to be honest, I preferred last year’s installation, “Ori,” by Ronen Aricha, Ori Ben-Shabat, and Yosef Meir Jimi (photo here). “Ori” was truly magical and showed a day in the life of a boy, from pre-dawn to late evening. “Touch of Light was a surreal depiction of a crack appearing in the building, the crumbling of the wall, and large bubbles flowing out of the interior. The photo below shows the transition. By the way, it was too crowded to set up a tripod, so all my photos of this site were taken hand-held (more photos here).

"A Touch of Light"

The story of the recently rebuilt (for the third time) Hurva Synagogue was projected on the side of the Hurva itself. This installation was called “From Your Ruins I will Build You,” by Amit Shay.  Other photos here.

"From Your Ruins I Will Build You"

“Heart of Gold” is a fairly small fiber-optic sculpture in the Davidson Center, outside the entrance to the Western Wall plaza (good place to find a free public toilet if the main public toilets in the Western Wall plaza are too crowded or out of service). If you enter via the Dung Gate, the entrance is down some steps on your left, and you make almost a U-turn to get to the entrance of the Davidson Center. The ticket area (it was free for the exhibit) is underneath the road. “Heart of Gold” changed colour constantly, so it was fun to photograph.

"Heart of Gold"

This is one of two wedding dresses created from optic thread and a video projector. I’m not sure why the two dresses are called “A Dress for Five People.”

" A Dress for Five People"

This shot of Gil Teichman’s “Fans of Light” in the Kidron valley was a tough one to get. In fact, you’ll notice that there is no real photograph on the official exhibit site, just an artist’s conception or enhancement. It’s so dark that you need a fairly long exposure. At the same time, the light beams are moving so fast that you can’t have the shutter open too long. I ended up photographing this in RAW at a fairly high ISO.

"Between Heaven and Earth"

The lighting of Absalom’s Tomb and other graves in the Kidron Valley is part of the “Fans of Light” installation.

Absalom's Tomb, Jerusalem

“A Mound Comes to Life” in David’s City tells the story of a city’s birth and destruction with an animated projection. It went through the stages of a city, from the buildings being constructed, a tree growing, fire destroying the city (photo below), and smoke rising from the ashes. After the story projection, different rooms were lit and there was a commentary about them. It was a small but impressive display.

"A Mound Comes to Life"

So that’s the end of my Light Exhibit 2010 photos. If you plan to see all the exhibits, allow yourself two nights. If you want to see any of the performances as well, you’ll need three nights to cover everything. The trails were much better list this year with light cables; last year the hanging Chinese lanterns were difficult to spot and it was easy to step off the trail without realising it. The crowds were better controlled, in part by changes like designating entrances and exits for small sites and the Cardo. Entrance to all the exhibits and installations is free. Entrance to the Pyromania performance was 50 NIS, which I consider a bargain. I’m looking forward to next year’s exhibit.

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Bambi Cantrell’s Tips on Wedding and Portrait Photography

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 17, 2010

Marc Silber interviews San Francisco wedding photographer Bambi Cantrell. She packs a lot of good tips into a short interview. There is a glitch (blank section) at about the 1-minute mark but the rest of the video is okay.

She has an interesting suggestion: check out the light direction, highlights, and shadows with your hand. When photographing mature women, she recommends a high camera angle,  to hide the sagging skin under the chin. Ask your  subject to look up with her eyes, to make the eyes  look larger. Very useful for photographing older brides!

I like her summary observation: “Expression rules. Expression over perfection.” When shooting portraits, it’s important to talk to subjects and pay attention to small movements of eyes and mouth, to see what makes them happy, and to try to “capture their soul,” as she puts it.

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Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010 (2nd Night)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 15, 2010

We went back to the Jerusalem Light Exhibit (“Light in Jerusalem“) last night to see the Pyromania performance and the yellow trail. I want to go back another night — with a tripod and without my husband. 🙂

These three photos are the Pyromania production, “History of Light.” (I found a YouTube video of their performance at last year’s light exhibit.)

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

Tower of Church of the Redeemer (yellow trail, Christian quarter):

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

Muristan fountain (yellow trail, Christian quarter). A couple dancers with torches were performing on one side of the fountain, so I photographed it from the back.

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

In the Cardo (orange trail) a glass blower shaped a hollow tube into two wine glasses:

Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

The rest of the Jerusalem Light Festival 2010 photos are here.

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Jerusalem Light Exhibit 2010

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 11, 2010


This past Wednesday (June 9), the second Jerusalem Light Exhibit opened. We enjoyed it very much last year and agreed that it really needs more than two nights to see everything. Because we started with a dinner (belated celebration of my husband’s birthday), we agreed to do the two less crowded routes, the green and red trails. The green trail runs from Tzanchanim Square (the New Gate) to Zedekiah’s cave (a 2nd Temple period quarry) just past the Damascus Gate. The photo above of the San Salvador tower of Terra Santa Custodia was taken a couple blocks in from the New Gate. (Handheld, photographed in RAW).

The Damascus Gate had a colourful animation projected on its facade.


Zedekiah’s Cave was lit with swirling blue and green and purple lights to suggest an underwater cave. It was quite appropriate, considering that this cave always seems to be wet inside. The bubbles emitted by a bubble machine behind a photograph of a diver suggested darting fish. At the far end of the cave was a light installation with  lasers and a digitized, vividly coloured projection of swimming fish. Clear inflatable panels suggesting water were placed between the viewers and the light installation to suggest water. That’s why this photo isn’t very sharp.


The plaza in front of Jaffa Gate was filled with what looked like glowing bullrushes (this display is part of the orange trail, which we hope to do next week).



Along the red trail I grabbed this quick photo of Pyromania, the music, dance, and light troupe, over the fence (this year they are charging for the performance). They were excellent last year. I hope we manage to see them this year.


Light sculptures along the way…


Fish in a net

Zion Gate was turned into a gateway into an airport, with sounds of boarding announcements and moving escalators. Because they hadn’t closed the gate to traffic, the sight of cars driving into an airport concourse was striking.

Zion Gate

Instead of fighting your way to the stands for a map, you can get one from young people wandering around with am illuminated “i” attached to them. Nice idea!

Mobile information booth

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Brit Mila

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 7, 2010

Tiny Foot

This morning I photographed a brit mila (circumcision). It got off to a fast start —I had just showered, logged on to check my email, and found a message from the father of the baby suggesting that I turn up at 6:45 a.m. It was 6:15 a.m. and I had been planning to arrive at 7, the announced time.  I dried my hair, ate breakfast at high speed, and ran up the hill (almost a mile) to the house. Did you know that a brisk walk while carrying 3 kilos of camera gear is a pretty good cardio workout?

Of course it was too early, but it gave me enough time to check out the lighting situation and to grab a cup of coffee. The lighting was tricky because the living room was illuminated by patio doors facing northeast and the sun was very bright, so please  ignore those blown-out highlights in the windows, folks. There was very little room to manoeuver, so I often had to resort to using the wide angle focal lengths because I couldn’t back up enough to get people in the frame. But I think it went well. I hope they like the photos.

– Update – Duh! Just realised today (June 8  ) that I forgot to post a picture of the baby! Here’s the star of the show:


I was lucky that Chana came out near the end of the reception. I took a few portrait shots in the shade outside the front door.

Brit Mila

At the beginning, the baby is handed from person to person, until it reaches the father.

Brit mila

In the next photo, the father is about to hand the baby to the mohel (circumciser).

Brit Mila

The baby’s paternal grandfather was the sandek and held the baby during the actual circumcision:

Brit Mila

Dancing in very close quarters. The mohel is holding the baby in this shot below:

Brit Mila

Canon 450D (Rebel XSi), 18-55mm IS kit lens, and Speedlite 580 EXII.

More photos on my Flickr set here.

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1-2-3 Yoga Mat Bag Tutorial (Sewing)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 3, 2010

Finished Yoga Mat Bag

I call this the 1-2-3 Yoga Mat Bag tutorial because it has three steps:

  1. Cut
  2. Press
  3. Sew

I don’t have enough space to keep an ironing board and sewing machine set up. I also don’t have a lot of time, so fast craft projects are perfect for me. This bag took me less than 2 hours from start to finish, once I’d figured out the method and measurements. I made a bag for myself out of scrap fabric. When Edna, my yoga teacher, admired it I offered to make her a bag if she provided the fabric. She was delighted and the fact that it gave me an opportunity to photograph and write up this tutorial was an added bonus!


  • Fabric – firm woven cotton or cotton/polyester, 26″ wide x 43″ long
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine

1. Cut

Cut out the pieces according to the diagram below  (click here for enlargement):
Yoga Mat Bag Pattern

The pattern includes 1/2″ seam allowances. If you only have a yard of fabric, you can eliminate the pocket and shorten the drawstring. Edna gave me two pieces of coordinating fabric (they seem to have been curtain panels), so I used the smaller piece for the pocket.

2. Press

1. Fold drawstring piece in half, lengthwise, right side out. Press.
2. Fold raw edges of drawstring inwards, to center fold line. Press.
3. Turn under 1/2 inch of raw edges of strap. Press.
4. Fold strap in half, lengthwise, right side out. Press.
5. Turn under 1/2 inch of top raw edge of body piece. Press.
6. Turn under 1″ hem of top edge of body piece to form drawstring casing. Press.
7. Turn under 1/2 inch of top raw edge of pocket. Press.
8. Turn under 1″ hem of top edge of pocket. Press.
9. Turn under 1/2 inch of bottom raw edge of pocket. Press.

You’re more than halfway there! With all the pieces pressed, the actual sewing process is lightning fast.

3. Sew

1. Top-stitch drawstring, 1/8″ from edge.
2. Top-stitch strap, 1/8″ from edge.
3. Top-stitch pocket edge, 1/4″ from folded edge.
Pocket edge
4. Pin pocket piece on body, about halfway between the top and bottom.
5. Top-stitch bottom edge of pocket.
6. Stitch two lines to form pocket dividers, back-stitching at top edge for reinforcement.
7. Fold the body piece in half, lengthwise, right sides together.
8. Pin one end of the strap in the seam near the bottom corner. Make sure that the other end is pinned out of the way so that it doesn’t get stitched accidentally in the body piece seam.
Pin Strap
9. Sew the main seam of the body piece, starting from the narrow end at the bottom, turn corner, stitch up towards the top. Stop 3″ before edge of top hem. This forms the slit opening at the top.
Main Seam
10. Zigzag over the seam allowance to reinforce and finish the seam. Stop 2″ before end of seam at top so that you can spread the seam allowances of the slit.
Seam Finish
11. Open the seam allowances and top-stitch the edges of the slit, backstitching at the bottom for reinforcement.
12. Stitch the hem of the top edge to form the drawstring casing.
Top Edge
13. Turn under the raw edge of the strap and top-stitch the strap end to the body, just below the slit, zigzagging for reinforcement.
14. Thread the drawstring through the casing and tie a knot in each end.

Hurrah! You’re done!

This pattern is for personal use only. All rights reserved.

Posted in Crafts, tutorial | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Another Time-Lapse Video: Eclectic 3.0

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 1, 2010

This is the last time-lapse video I’m posting for a while, OK? 🙂 The Yosemite video reminded me of how much I admire Ross Ching’s work. He posted this video about a year ago, as the last in his “Eclectic” series. It’s my favourite of the three. Truly humbling. If you thought time-lapse video was mainly for showing buildings being built and flowers blossoming, watch this.

On his site he posts an HD version of Eclectic 3 and some background information. If you want to try your hand at this kind of photography/video, check out his video on the making of Eclectic 2. It covers both tools and software.

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