This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for October, 2011

Finished: Quilted Platter Cover

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 24, 2011

Finished platter cover

A platter cover is used to keep food hot while it sits on an electric warming tray during Shabbat. This is a house-warming gift for Beverly, a friend and neighbour. The construction is extremely simple: a patchwork top, an old towel for insulation, and a scorch-proof fabric lining are layered, quilted with a few lines of machine stitching, and bound like a quilt. Because sewing isn’t allowed during festivals, I cut the fabric just before the Sukkot holiday and put it away. After the holiday was over, while I was tackling the mountain of laundry, I sewed the strips of fabric into a random patchwork.

Beverly said she likes blues and purples, so I used some of the fabric I bought at the Jerusalem Quilters’ Retreat (no, I don’t belong to the organization; I just went over to buy some fabric and a few notions).

Fabrics for Platter Cover

Finished top

The walking foot I ordered from the US arrived!

New walking foot

I photographed it yesterday morning and dropped it off in the evening. They were very pleased with it and I was happy with the results, although the couple hours I spent finishing the binding by hand were brutal. Even with a thimble, it’s not easy to push a needle through the tightly woven lining fabric to make hundreds of invisible stitches, 1/8″ apart. But it’s a great way to recycle old towels!

Posted in Crafts | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Time-Lapse Video: Toronto Tempo

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 23, 2011

I was born in Toronto, grew up in Kitchener, and returned to TO for my first two degrees. I loved it. Well, OK, I don’t miss the hot, muggy summer I lived in Tartu, a high-rise student dorm with rooms smaller than a jail cell, according to my father who designed the Edmonton Remand Center, but I loved living in the Bay/Bloor area for six years.

Ryan Edmond made this time-lapse video of Toronto. I can’t get over how much the city has changed. It’s still beautiful.

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Video: Jerusalem Sukkot March, 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 21, 2011

I made this short, 3.5-minute video of some of the highlights of the Jerusalem Sukkot march on Wednesday, October 18, 2011. My favourite bit was the Israel Dairy Board workers chanting “Eretz zavat chalav! Moo moo! Zavat chalav!” (translation: “Land flowing with milk. Moo moo! Flowing with milk”), as they carried a papier mache cow.

We were standing on King David Street, close to the Agron Street intersection. In retrospect it wasn’t a good location because the street had strong shadows from the buildings, with sunlight bouncing off the higher stories. We were close to the end of the route, when many of the marchers seemed rather tired. I was dodging around another photographer, an English tourist with a Canon 5D Mark II, who was trying to stand in a lot of the same places I was. You can see his L-class lenses in the edge in some of the frames. Me, envious? You bet! I would love to have a camera that would let me take both stills and video, instead of juggling the DSLR 450D and the PowerShot S95. 🙂

Because of these limitations, I decided to edit the video footage drastically to show only a few highlights. I couldn’t include everything from a 2-hour parade and I’m not sure you would want to watch it. (By the way, can anyone recommend good video-editing software, preferably not too expensive? My new camera produces .mov files, so I can’t edit it with Windows MovieMaker, which I find a bit clunky. I’ve been using QuickTime Pro.)

If you want to see more of the parade, here’s Jacob Richman’s 16-minute video. He was standing on King George, a much better location. The light was brighter and the marchers were performing for the commentator and spectators. His video covers a later segment of the parade. Mine begins with the first group to appear after turning the corner of Agron.

Posted in Israel, videos | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Hoshana Rabbah, 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 19, 2011

Hoshana Rabbah, 2011

Hoshana Rabbah is the seventh day of Sukkot. At the morning service the men carry their lulavs and etrogs and circle the bima seven times. Each circuit honours one of the patriarchs.

I took these photos from the women’s gallery in the synagogue across the street (Pnei Shmuel, Mitzpeh Nevo, in Maale Adumim). Since very few women attend this ceremony, there was a lot of room to move around but I had to stick my lens through the curtains and around the decorative grillwork. My son is the long-haired one in the blue t-shirt (my husband went to an earlier service in the downstairs hall).

Hoshana rabbah, 2011

Hoshana rabbah, 2011

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Photos: Sukkot March in Jerusalem, 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 19, 2011

Sukkot March, 2011

I haven’t been to the annual Sukkot march for several years, certainly not since I had a reasonable camera. I also made a video. Although still photos are wonderful, they can’t capture the sounds and movement of a parade. The fellow in the photo above was leading the Bezek (phone company) marchers. He happened to turn around and the sun was hitting him from an angle, making him stand out against the shadowy background. Because we were in a concrete canyon between the King David and David Citadel hotels, the light was a challenge. The marchers were in the shadows and a bluish cast, while the setting sun was bouncing off all the high buildings in the background.

Army and police units led the march:



K9 unit:


The military and police were followed by service companies.

Sukkot March, 2011

El Al and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems carry planes on sticks:


Various bank employees:


Rambam hospital:


I think the Bezek guys could benefit from a little more exercise….


Sukkot coincides with the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles, so there are a lot of Christian tourists in Jerusalem at this time:

Sukkot March, 2011

These Chinese women dressed as brides were great. You should see them in my  video.

Sukkot March, 2011

A man holding a model of the scales of justice leads the court system workers.

Sukkot March, 2011

There were lots of “Welcome home Gilad” signs (how wonderful that Gilad Shalit is finally with his family again!). On the left are Russian tourists in folk costumes.

Sukkot March, 2011

“Taiwan loves Israel”:

Sukkot March, 2011

Sukkot March, 2011


Sukkot March, 2011

Sukkot March, 2011

Polish woman in folk costume:

Sukkot March, 2011

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Note to My Email Subscribers

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 17, 2011

Hi, friends. I just noticed that videos do not show up in the emails of blog updates. My last two postings (Rob Ryan and Murat Germen) were accompanied by videos. They really are worth checking out. In the meantime, I’ll try to think of some kind of workaround!

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Murat Germen: Muta-Morphosis

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 17, 2011

Murat Germen (b. 1965) is a Turkish artist who uses photographs to create amazing cityscapes. He began his Muta-Morphosis series last year; it is a work in progress. More examples are on his site. His training is in city planning (B.Sc., Technical University of Istanbul) and architecture (M.A., MIT). His panoramic photos have an otherworldly feeling, with their disregard for perspective and proportion. The colours are intense and saturated. Germen’s montages make me think of a cross between David Hockney’s Joiners and El Greco’s View and Plan of Toledo.

Humanscapes is another one of Germen’s current projects. He combines candid photos of people, taken without looking through a viewfinder (I use the same technique, sometimes called “shooting from the hip”). In Germen’s words,

People are more concerned about their image than their actual state. This is why the media platform is full of beautified and idealized images of model characters that present the prototypical pretentious and illusionary appearances that people are supposed to adopt. This series of photographs, taken with a 15mm super wide angle lens from the waist level without looking through the viewfinder, is intended to obtain the candid face impressions and body postures and avoid the above mentioned deceitful manifestations.

portrait detail from 'humanscapes - street view' series, 2010-2011

portrait detail from 'humanscapes - street view' series, 2010-2011

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Video: Handmade Portraits: Rob Ryan

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 16, 2011

I found a link to this video about Rob Ryan on Patricia Zapata’s blog, A Little Hut. What a lovely way to start the morning! I’ve long admired Rob Ryan’s work. Sometimes it seems as though paper cutters are like lace-makers, creating soaring flights of fancy out of the humblest materials, while receiving little recognition. Rob Ryan, who grew up in the UK and moved around a lot as a child, narrates the entire video and talks about the themes of his work, like being human and loving others.

The photography is superb, with lots of close-ups of his work. Rob often integrates text with images in a whimsical and naive style. He is currently working on a book whose characters are based on birds, “A Sky Full of Kindness.” The fairy-tale story is about overcoming fears and growing old together. I love the cutting with the husband bird singing: “All we can do is live from day to day, and I want to grow old with you until my feathers go grey and my beak wrinkles up and my wings are too weak to fly. All we can do is live from day to day.”

He has two other books in print:

If you love paper-cutting, I strongly recommend this book: Paper Cutting Book: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft. Rob Ryan wrote the preface and is one of the 26 artists whose work is featured (Yulia Brodskaya is also in this volume!). My copy is getting a little battered because it seems to live permanently in the pile of books that I can’t bear to put away on the bookshelves.

Posted in Crafts, paper cutting, videos | 1 Comment »

Michael Orton and Creative Camera Movement

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 15, 2011

This evening I was listening to Marko Kulik’s ( interview with Michael Orton. Two years ago I blogged about Michael Orton and the Orton effect, a technique that he invented. The Orton effect is created by sandwiching under- and over-exposed negatives to create a shadowy, saturated, and intense image. Now Michael Orton is exploring creative camera movement to create abstract, colourful images.

I had hoped that Marko’s interview would elicit some advice on how Orton moves his camera, how long his exposures are, or what kinds of subjects lend themselves to this approach, but maybe it’s something that has to be explored by the individual. Strike that last comment — I just realised that I hadn’t downloaded the entire podcast! The interview does cover exposures and movement, so if your interest is piqued by Michael’s images, you should definitely download this podcast.

Michael Orton’s website has some beautiful images, which I find very inspiring. (Maybe it helps to live in a beautiful area like Nanaimo!) Orton has written a book about his techniques: Photographing Creative Landscapes: Simple Tools for Artistic Images and Enhanced Creativity.It’s an older book (not many of us work in darkrooms or with film negatives these days) and doesn’t seem to have been updated for digital photography, but you might find it interesting.

Years ago, when I first got a DSLR, I took a course with Shai Ginott, who does similar work. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t tell us how she did it. On the last day of the course we met at her home. On one of the walls was a huge, jaw-dropping print of a forest that looked like it had been painted. When we asked her how she did it, she would only say, “I moved the camera.” So I guess it’s something I’ll have to try myself! I’ve been falling behind in my Project 365 and have missed about five days this year because of Jewish holidays and because I’m a bit burned out with photography and feeling uninspired these days.

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Torah Scroll Dedication (Oct. 9, 2011)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 10, 2011

Torah Scroll Dedication

I was on my way home from the grocery store yesterday after work, when I heard the music coming from Gilgal Street and remembered that there was a hakhnasat sefer torah/Torah scroll dedication that evening. Fortunately, I had my DSLR camera with me, so I stashed my groceries in my backpack and ran down with my camera. (Yes, I do love my new point&shoot and carry it everywhere but I really missed the speed and versatility of the DSLR, so I started carrying it with me again.) I really enjoyed the opportunity to photograph a challenging subject. Capturing photos of people moving around at night, without using a flash or tripod, can be tricky. The still photos were taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XSi (aka 450D), 18-135mm lens, no flash, RAW format. The Sefer Torah was dedicated by the Spector family in memory of Ziva Spector, z”l.

The photo above shows the Torah scroll being carried under a chuppah, since the scroll is like a bride. The bearded man facing the camera might be Rav Katz, the chief rabbi of Maale Adumim. I’m not sure. I’ll have to check the notice to see who was scheduled to speak. I liked the face of the little girl looking up.

They organized a children’s section with lit torches but it had become somewhat disorganized by the time I got there.

Torah Scroll Dedication

Torah Scroll Dedication

It’s not often that I get such a good view from above. I went back to my flat, dumped the groceries, and went out on the balcony to take a few photos from above.

Torah Scroll Dedication

I zoomed in to show the other Torah scrolls that are brought out of synagogue to “greet the bride.”

Torah Scroll Dedication

Torah Scroll Dedication

Here’s a short video clip of the procession. I’ve always wanted to try recording one of these events and now I finally have a camera that do a decent job of shooting HD video at night. This was shot with the Canon PowerShot S95. The strong yellowish cast is really how it looks. It’s very difficult to correct the colour of these streetlights, even shooting with tungsten white balance, which is why the colour correction is a little uneven. I was processing these photos quickly to get them up on Flickr. (If they were for a paid job I would have done a batch colour correction.)

Posted in Israel, Judaism, photography | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »