This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for April, 2011

Time-Lapse Video: The Mountain

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 27, 2011

Another astonishingly beautiful time-lapse video by Terje Sorgjerd. He filmed it April 4 and 11, 2011, at El Teide, Spain’s highest mountain (3718 meters). He writes,

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.

Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.

Terje Sorgjerd’s Facebook page: TSO Photography

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Rosh Pina Cemetery

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 21, 2011

Rosh Pina Cemetery

If you’ve ever been to Rosh Pina, you’ve probably wandered around the touristy renovated artists colony at the top of the hill. You may even have toured the bottom tiers of the old Rosh Pina cemetery. I climbed all the way to the top and I can say it’s quite a hike.

Rosh Pina was founded in 1882, and the oldest graves close to the crest of the hill date back to around the turn of the 20th century. The lower parts are still in use.

The first photo (above) shows some of the older grave markers. A few have been cleaned up, given a coat of whitewash, and had their inscriptions replaced. The ones that haven’t been restored are cracked, covered with lichen, with their inscriptions are barely legible.

The photo below gives you an idea of how steep the cemetery is, like climbing a flight of stairs. These graves date from the 1970s and 80s.

Rosh Pina Cemetery

The graves below date mainly from the 1930s and 40s.

Rosh Pina Cemetery

Rosh Pina Cemetery

In the middle of the cemetery is this little girl’s grave marker, shaped like a bed and studded with hundreds of tiles, shells, and other objects. Her name was apparently Sylvia Rose (the name is incised in the green and red medallion at the foot of the marker below) and her nickname was “Mae Mae.” There is no other information — no family name or dates. On the side beneath the head there are two unglazed panels with a poignant eulogy inscribed in English. This marker is truly a labour of love.

Rosh Pina Cemetery

Rosh Pina Cemetery

Rosh Pina Cemetery

Update. At Miriam’s request I’ve posted the text:

Mae Mae would lounge on a bench bathed in sunlight.
Her small hands, sticky with red sugar,
lovingly grasp a rainbow of candy.
Green eyes sparkle deep with concern,
with companionship for her earth.
Tufts of blond crown her forehead,
and a lilt rises in her voice.

How you were adored…
Our lives changed irrevocably when you left.
Richer for having been together,
yet shattered forever.
Your magic lives in our souls.
We would have traded places in an instant.
Are you busy? Happy?
Are there kittens and candy?
Do you watch over Sam?
And Nell and Kate?
You will forever fill our lives.
We miss you every day.
Until we hug each other again.

Rosh Pina Cemetery

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Hula Valley Nature Reserve, Spring 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 20, 2011

Flying Cranes

My husband and I went north to the Hula Valley Lake a couple weeks ago. It’s an amazing place for photographing birds and flowers. Spring is a great time to watch birds on migration, although we were a bit late for most of the birds. In the 1950s, the Hula area was infested with malaria-bearing mosquitoes and was drained to create agricultural land. With 20-20 hindsight, it is generally agreed that this was not a good thing, to put it mildly. Although the area is still the fruit basket of Israel, sections are gradually being returned to a more natural eco-system. You can read a detailed history of the Hula Valley development here. Wikipedia has a brief article on the Hula region.

There are two nature reserves. Since our time was limited and we don’t own a car, we went to the Agmon Lake reserve for four hours. It is open from 10 a.m. until sundown, rain or shine, although a guide told me that if the weather is unusually stormy, they do close the park. If it’s raining lightly, the park is open. It’s a very good time to view birds because they behave quite differently from the way they do during hot, muggy summer weather, splashing around in puddles. This part of the nature reserve has no admission charge, although they put out containers for collecting donations to save the cranes. You can rent binoculars and borrow laminated bird guides.

The lake is fairly small. You can walk around the lake or rent a bicycle or electric golf cart (requires a driver’s license). We rented a bicycle cart for three, because it provides a lot more space for carrying bags.

Red bicycle carts

However, you can rent this bicycle for six, if you’re a very energetic peddler!

Bicycle for six

The first stop is the wetlands area, with ducks and water plants.

Hula Valley Nature Reserve

At this time of year there are lots of cranes. I took these photos when some of them flew directly overhead.



This pied kingfisher caught my eye because it looked like a little helicopter. It hovers over water and dives to capture its prey.

Pied Kingfisher

Lapwings are abundant but they’re not easy to get close to. I photographed this one with a 250mm lens just as it turned towards me, with the catch-light glinting on its eye. That was a lucky shot because normally these birds aren’t very photogenic. I have tons of boring lapwing photos.

Lapwing, Hula Nature Reserve

The European Bee-eaters arrived a week before our trip. They’re beautiful birds and not easy to photograph because they move quickly and stay very far from people. I photographed these birds on a bare tree and had to crop quite a bit because they were on the other side of a stream.

European Bee-eaters, Hula Nature Reserve

Cattle egrets (herons) in flight. Normally they have long curved necks, but they tuck them in when they’re flying.

Cattle Egrets, Hula Nature Reserve

Crested lark standing on the edge of the road. They’re completely brown, which makes them very hard to photograph against the plants. Good camouflage!

Crested Lark

And of course we have to include the mandatory flower photos….

Bee on a mustard flower.

Bee on Mustard Flower

Holy Thistle, also called milk thistle.

Holy Thistle

Cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms

Posted in Israel, photography | 8 Comments »

Passover: Almost There!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 18, 2011

I was hoping to post my Hula Valley photos, but things have gotten rather busy at home, with Passover starting tonight (Monday, April 18) and my mother-in-law staying with us (keeping her occupied and drinking enough water is a job in itself). So I’m posting a few of my daily photos of the preparations.

April 15: Cupboards clean, marked, and stocked. The whiteboard markers have been so useful, because later I marked what was where (meat cutlery, milk cutlery, pans, etc.). It’s great because not everything is in its usual place and because it makes it easier for my mother-in-law to find a spoon when she wants a cup of tea. My kitchen doesn’t look very attractive but it makes it a lot easier to tell my son or husband where to unload the shopping.

Passover countdown

April 16: Sinks and counter kashered after Shabbat. That’s when we discovered that the electric urn we use to keep water hot over Shabbat and Yom Tov died. Well, better before the holiday than during it! Another item on the shopping list….

Freshly kashered drain

April 17: We love close to the local mikveh (that’s our flat on the top of the building on the left, in the background). It gets really noisy when they set up the stands for kashering dishes in our neighbourhood. All day long you hear blow torches, boiling water, clattering dishes, and loud hassidic or Sephardi music (can’t really blame them — it’s a terrible job in brutally hot weather). People bring dishes to switch over to Passover by boiling or burning with a torch. New dishes, not made in Israel, are dipped in the mikveh (that’s what the man is doing at the top of the short flight of stairs on the right). The weather has been very hot for the past couple days. It’s supposed to start cooling tomorrow.

Preparing dishes for Passover

April 18: Day of the seder. We burn leftover chametz (leavened food, like bread, cereals) in the morning. What a reek. I scalded my right thumb this morning kashering the microwave but it’s feeling a little better now. I can type on a keyboard but focusing my camera for this photo was a challenge because I’d set up my camera for back-button focusing. There is an adult supervising to make sure the chametz gets burned.

Burning Chametz (leavened foods)

Well, time to get lunch started. I’m happy to report that this year I managed to get proper meals served regularly and didn’t order in a single pizza or eat outside the house! Seder cooking is done.

I’m getting tired of potatoes…. Check with me in a week and I’ll be whining about how tired I am of matzah. 🙂

Everyone, have a kosher and happy Passover!

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Marking My Cabinets… Passover Countdown!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 10, 2011

Marking my cabinets with whiteboard markers!

When I was looking through a drawer for scissors I found a couple red and green whiteboard markers. Eureka! I marked my kitchen cabinets with chametz (for the non-Passover dishes), TBD (= to be done, i.e., cleaned for Passover), and Pesach (already clean for Passover). I have to confess to feeling a sense of accomplishment at wiping away most of the TBDs tonight and writing Pesach. It also gives my husband a place to put the Passover groceries that we’ve started buying. I’m hoping that the red/green colour will also help my mother-in-law distinguish between the cabinets (she arrives this Thursday for a two-week visit).

I started Pesach preparations last night (seriously!), by packing away baking dishes, spices, non-Pesach food, utensils, pots, etc. Tonight I marked the cupboards, cleaned them (except for a couple that still have odds and ends), and washed the dish rack cabinets and some of the dirtier sections of wall and fridge. Haven’t started the appliances or heavy cleaning yet but I’m not worried because I have a strapping, very helpful teenage son coming home in a couple days! He’s great at doing the heavy cleaning, lifting, and anything that requires a long reach. I’m really grateful for the time I have him around to help — he won’t be so available when he starts his army service.

Last week my husband and I went for a short break to the Hula Valley area up north. Will post bird and critter photos later! It won’t be tomorrow, though, because I have a department fun day with coworkers and won’t be home until late.

P.S. For heaven’s sake, don’t try this on anything other than plastic laminate-covered cabinets! I do not want to be responsible for ruining your oak, steel enamel, corkboard, or whatever. Test on the inside of a cupboard where it won’t show and make sure that you can get the whiteboard marker off. Mine comes clean with window cleaner.

Another tip: Beach Boys CDs make Pesach scrubbing much more tolerable.

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Tel Aviv: Some Random Photos

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 4, 2011


I never get tired of photographing Tel Aviv. Here are some shots I took the day I went to see the Chihuly exhibit. This waterlily was in a fountain near the Arlozoroff station.

Tel Aviv and Water Lilies

Statues outside the entrance of Museum Tower on Berkovitz Street.

Museum Tower, Tel Aviv

Geraniums on the windowsill of one of those big, anonymous office buildings. Photo taken from the balcony of the Litvak Gallery.


A couple glass sculptures (“Janus”) by Swedish glass artist Bertil Vallien, photographed at the Litvak Gallery. I stitched three photos together.

Bertil Vallien, Janus

Bertil Vallien, Janus

There was a fitness festival, “Active Tel Aviv,” in Rabin Square (we walked from the Litvak Gallery to the port for dinner).

Tel Aviv Fitness Festival

Woman trying to tie the curtains of a chuppah on a balcony above the Tel Aviv port.

Chuppah in tne Wind

Photo of the Azrieli Center taken from the bus station, just before we boarded our bus to Jerusalem. Hand-held. (No way was I going to shlep a tripod all that way.)

Azrieli Center, Tel Aviv

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Dale Chihuly at the Litvak Gallery, Tel Aviv

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 3, 2011

Chihuly, Garnet Persian Set

One of the most challenging things, I find, about photographing a gallery exhibit is coming up with photos that don’t look like the catalogue. The photo above is a view of a row of Chilhuly’s vases, across the hall, seen through one of the shells of the Garnet Persian Set, which was set up in a small dark room.

The photo below shows the whole installation. Because the room was so small, I took three photos and stitched them together.

Dale Chihuly, Garnet Persian Set

It was tricky to photograph in that setting but very beautiful.

Chihuly, Garnet Persian Set

The Kaleidescope Persian window installation was also very difficult because the gallery was fairly dark. Incidentally, because this was a gallery, not a museum, the pieces have price tags. This installation can be yours … for 6,185,600 NIS (a little over $1,781,000 US)! That works out to just over 100,000 NIS per plate.

Chihuly, Kaleidoscope Persian Window

Dale Chihuly, Litvak Gallery

Some of the pieces were outdoor installations — very difficult to photograph because the balcony was small and in the shadow of the building. I did a hand-held HDR shot of the blue icicle tree. It’s followed by a single photo to give you a better idea of what it looked like without HDR.

Chihuly, Blue Icicle Tree, HDR

Chihuly, Blue Icicle Tree

Dale Chihuly, Vases

Dale Chihuly, Lapis & Gold Chandelier

Dale Chihuly

Dale Chihuly, Drawings

Chihuly, Reflection of Kaleidescope Window

Dale Chihuly

More photos from the exhibit are in my Flickr set.

Admission is 48 NIS, includes audio guide in English or Hebrew. Litvak Gallery, Museum Tower, 4 Berkovitz Street, Tel Aviv, is near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, about 15 minutes walk from Arlozoroff Station. Exhibit on view through April 20, 2011. Gallery hours: Mon-Thur 10:00-21:00; Fri 09:00-14:00; Sat 17:00-21:30; Sun closed. Photography permitted.

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