This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for March, 2012

Not So Wild Flowers (Tame Flowers?)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 9, 2012

White gerbera

The first two photos were taken in my neighbour’s garden. I’m very lucky to have a neighbour who has a well-tended garden right by the stop where I get picked up for work. Photos from his garden probably make up 60% of my Project 365 shots, especially when I’m lazy or don’t have time to look for interesting things to photograph. The flower in the first photo is a close-up of a small white gerbera with a purple center, Osteospermum Daisy. I love the blues, purples, and oranges in the center. Wish I had a macro lens, oodles of time, and good lighting! The flowers are in the shade at that time of the morning.

The second photo is from the patch of lavender by the path. The buds are just starting to flower.


The purple anemone with the sun behind it was photographed in the courtyard at work. A bee flew in just as I took one of the shots. I was going to discard it, then decided to keep it because the bee, although blurry, seemed to add a little interest to an otherwise rather static flower photo. Nice blurry background, though.

I photographed the anemone after taking the boring daily fig tree shot. Something has to happen to that tree soon. It’s spring now, right?

Purple Anemone


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Some Awesome Purim Costumes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 8, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof

This “Fiddler on the Roof” costume has got to be the most original one I’ve seen in a while. The “legs” are a stuffed pair of pants. Even his violin was homemade. Maybe it’s a stage prop.

I was visiting a neighbour, when these children came by with mishloah manot (basket of food). The chips costume was made by the girl’s mother. The chip box was a cardboard carton hanging from straps on her shoulders, covered with coloured paper. The “chips” were blocks of yellow-painted foam, attached to the inside edge of the chip box. She also had foam blocks on her head.


I really, really want this chicken hat. It sits on top of the head with a tail in the back and legs over both ears. Sheryl bought it in the US. The writing on her shirt is the stamp that the Tnuva company puts on eggs. So clever!

Chicken hat

This is me, trying to decide which hat to wear. So hard to find the right hat for an outfit….

Which hat to wear?

And then there’s my son…. He came home from mechina (pre-army academy) today. This is not a wig. This is his real hair. A friend helped him bleach it with hydrogen peroxide.

My son's hair

I took this photo in the morning, just before they were about to start the megillah (Book of Esther). The megillah scroll is much smaller than a Torah scroll. Only the reader needs to have a kosher scroll; listeners can follow along with a printed booklet. It is traditional to unroll the entire scroll and then fold the folios upon themselves because the Book of Esther is referred to as a “letter” (see Est. 9:29; this was said to be the way that letters were read). The cylinder on the bima, above the books, is the megillah case.

Unrolling the megillah

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It’s Purim!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 8, 2012

It’s almost 7 a.m. and I’m getting ready to go to the synagogue for shacharit (morning prayer) and to hear the reading of the megillah (Book of Esther). I hope to have a few photos to post later today of the street dance or interesting costumes. In the meantime, here’s one of the first videos I ever made, from Purim 2009 (I’ve posted it here before). The resolution is crappy, but I love the scene with the bus driver whose bus is blocked by dancers. I shot it with a Canon PowerShot S5 IS.

Purim sameach!

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Invasion of the Brides (and Pirates and Clowns and Lions)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 6, 2012

Purim costumes

Tomorrow is Ta’anit Esther, the fast that falls the day before Purim, so schools hold Purim parties today. Purim is a Jewish festival that commemorates the foiling of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews during the Persian period (see the Book of Esther). Sudden reversal of fortune is a theme that runs through the story of Esther, Mordechai, and Haman, so that things are not what they seem. This aspect of Purim is commemorated in the custom of dressing up in costumes. It is a bit reminiscent of Halloween, except that the children are giving food to their friends (custom of mishloach manot), rather than collecting it. The brides are Queen Esther. Since few girls can resist being princess for a day, white dresses and veils are everywhere.

These photos were taken from a minibus in the Sanhedria neighbourhood of Jerusalem on my way to work. They’re just snapshots and had to be colour-corrected because the van’s windows are tinted. I was sitting in the second row and some of the photos were taken between the seats, through the front windshield.

Purim costumes

I think he’s an artist. I once dressed my son as an artist and drew a mustache on his face.

Purim costumes

A Chinese girl and a nurse speak to Minnie Mouse at the bus stop.

Purim costumes

Purim costumes

Purim costumes

Purim costumes

Grocery store displaying the baskets of food that people send to their friends on Purim. You have no idea how much junk food one can accumulate! I’m so glad that we have communal mishloach manot. You check off, on a computerized list on a Web site, the families in the neighbourhood that you want to send mishloach manot to. Each family gets ONE basket of food (donated by the local mini-market and packed by local teenage volunteers) with a list of names of the senders. The money goes to charity. Most years, more than $10,000 is raised by our neighbourhood. It’s a good cause, saves a lot of headaches and shopping, and it reduces the mountain of cheap candies that used to appear in our kitchens, only one month before we have to get rid of everything for Passover. We still give a few portions of food, but the expense and effort are kept within reasonable bounds.

Purim costumes

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Flowers, Flowers, Flowers!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 5, 2012


Who would have guessed that after the snow in Jerusalem and sleet in Maale Adumim we would have flowers so soon? I took all these wildflower photos today. The first 8 photos were taken in Maale Adumim with a Canon Powershot S95. I wish I were more knowledgeable about them! There were others that I didn’t photograph because I’ve got so many pictures of them in other years. Some of these were totally new to me, like the tiny red ones in the second photo.







The following photos were taken in a large park close to where I work. It’s not easy to get around because it doesn’t have footpaths. The single-lane road is busy. I think it would be better described as a conservation area than a park. Emek Erezim (Valley of Cedars) is located between Har Hotzvim and Ramot in Jerusalem, right beside the Menachem Begin – Golda Meir interchange. I was breaking my head over a software problem and wanted fresh air, so I took my camera and wandered outside for about half an hour. These photos were taken with a Canon 550D and 18-135mm lens.


Patch of wild cyclamen:

Wild Cyclamen


Red anemone:

Red Anemone

Red Anemones

I saw a larger patch of anemones on my way back to work. I want to try photographing it another day.

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Rainy Window Photography

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 4, 2012

Rain on Window

I can’t recall such a rainy February in Israel. Apparently this has been the wettest winter in years. If it’s too rainy where you are to take your camera outdoors, here’s an option.

These photos were taken in the dairy cafeteria at work, after I’d borrowed a friend’s umbrella to take my every-day-no-change-whatsoever-why-am-I-doing-this fig tree photo. I played around with the colours in Adobe Lightroom 3, a birthday present from my husband. Photographs of rain streaming down windows are not difficult but you do need to be comfortable with manual focusing, because auto-focus just won’t get you the results you want. Play with the focus until you get an interesting abstract composition. You don’t want a record of all the smudges and nose prints on the glass! It helps if there’s something interesting on the other side.

On the other hand, just because it’s raining doesn’t mean that you can’t take your big, fancy, expensive DSLR outside. You do need to take some precautions to protect your equipment against moisture and condensation. I have a good, coated UV filter on the front of my lens to protect it from rain, scratches, and other damage. I put the body in a disposable plastic shower cap if it’s really pouring. Otherwise, I hold it under an umbrella or photograph from an alcove or open window. When you bring it inside, give it a wipe so that the body’s dry. Clean the filter with a microfiber cloth.

If you live in a cold area, you need to be careful about condensation forming when you bring your camera indoors. It’s a good idea, while you’re outside, to put your camera in a big ziplock bag and seal it. Then bring it inside and let it come to room temperature inside the bag, so that condensation forms on the outside of the bag, not on your camera body or — worse — inside your lens.

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

The photos below were taken from a friend’s office. My room faces east and doesn’t get the wind and rain to this extent.

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

Rain on Window

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