Dancing with the Torah
Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 1, 2010
Boy on his father’s shoulders with toy Torah scroll. Children often carry toy Torah scrolls or cardboard flags at these occasions. This photo is slightly cropped. ISO 1600, 208mm (35mm equivalent – 336mm), f/5.6, 1/13s.
We just finished the holiday of Sukkot. The second load of laundry was in the washing machine, dishes were done, and my husband and I went up to the main part of Maale Adumim for hakafot shniyot (literally, a second set of “circuits,” referring to the circuit of dancers and Torah scrolls around the bimah on Simchat Torah). Outside Israel, where two days of yom tov are observed (Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah), the hakafot are on Thursday night. Photographing them is impractical, however, because photography is forbidden on a yom tov. In Israel, only one day of yom tov is observed (Wednesday to Thursday), with hakafot the on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. After the yom tov finishes on Thursday evening, many places have hakafot shniyot, a repetition of the dancing, except with a live band, since it is no longer yom tov.
In Maale Adumim, the dancing is held every year in the basketball court of a local school. I was standing at the top of the benches, photographing from above. I used three lenses: 10-22mm, 50mm f/1.8, and 55-250mm. (My 18-55mm kit lens just bit the dust recently — no autofocus, so it will have to be replaced by some kind of mid-range zoom at some point.) If you want a challenge, try photographing dancers at night without a flash, from this distance! A coworker gave me a tip. If you take photos at a high ISO in RAW and convert them with Canon Digital Photography Professional (the software that comes with the camera), it does a pretty good job of suppressing the noise. These photos were all taken at ISO 1600. While there is some softness, it’s still better than not getting the shot at all.
The photo below was taken with the 10-22mm wide angle lens. It gives you an idea of how many people were there and where I was situated. I had some room to move back and forth but that’s all. There wasn’t enough room to set up a tripod, with all the kids running around, so it’s just as well that I didn’t try to bring one. ISO 1600, 10 mm, f/3.5, 1/10s.
The photo below is an uncropped shot taken with 50mm, f/1.8 lens. It’s a bit cluttered and the composition is quite unremarkable. I only included it to show how sharp the 50mm lens is, even under these conditions. ISO 1600, 50 mm, f/2.2, 1/60s.
Sephardi Torah scrolls in their round boxes, at the front of the dancing, just below the band. I cropped this shot to remove the overexposed band in the upper part of the photo. ISO 1600, 146 mm, f/5, 1/20s.
Part of the band, with the lead singer, drummer, and mandolin player. This photo is uncropped, ISO 1600, 171 mm, f/5.6, 1/25s.
If you were at the hakafot and you want to look for pictures of yourself or your kids, Jacob Richman has posted his photos.