This and That

Random bits of my life

Mountain-to-Valley (Har Le-Emek) 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 31, 2016


Har Le-Emek is a 215-kilometer relay race that I ran on May 18-19 with the Cisco Cloud Runners, an 8-man team (yes, that’s correct; you have to have 2 women and 6 men to be considered a “mixed” team). I ran 25 kilometers total in three segments. The route began in Tel Hai and ended in Timrat. We ran around the clock, for nearly 24 hours. In the photo above, I’m smiling because I’m nearly at the end of my final segment! I tend to feel a bit fed up at the end of a relay race because it’s tough to run all day and night with almost no sleep and hardly any food. I’ve got my GPS watch (Garmin Forerunner 220) on my left wrist and the magnetic chip on my right. I was finishing close to Gevat.

Here’s the finish line at Timrat:


My first segment, from Netura, was bloody hot! I started around 12:30 p.m., there was no shade, and the sun was bouncing off the dusty roads (below). I had a water backpack but I still suffered from the heat and had to walk a little bit.

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The scenery is beautiful up north. That’s the main reason I do these runs, to see parts of the country I’ve never seen before, running through fields and forests.


Here are my two team-mates who work in the Netanya office–Golan on the left in the red and Eyal on the right. Although we’ve been on the same team for a year, this was the first time I met them. We were in a car of four for the run. They were great company! I always tell people that we’ve never met before because by the time I cross the finish line, they’re already home and sitting down to lunch.🙂  Golan is a strong and fast runner. Eyal is good with long distances (he runs ~50 km a week).


Here’s a video of last year’s race. I ran last year but I’m not in the video (hey, there were some 8,000 runners!) It gives you an idea of the scenery and terrain.

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Children’s Folk Dance Group, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 17, 2016

This was a more traditional folk dance performance. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of this group but they danced beautifully. The girls are so light on their feet that they move like gazelles. Very few boys seem to participate in the younger groups (I have a son–folk dance doesn’t have quite the same cachet for young boys as soccer and karate….). This group had two male dancers.


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Hassidic Theme Dance, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 17, 2016

This performance was cute. A troupe of girls dressed as Hassidic boys dance to a medley of Hassidic tunes. Around the midpoint of the video, the “rebbe” (the only boy in the group) joins in with a Torah scroll.


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Yerushalayim shel Zahav Dance Group, Yom Atzmaut 2016

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 16, 2016

Recorded at the Israel Museum, May 12, 2016. This dance troupe of senior citizens performed several dances in different costumes (must have been hot!). In the commentary, the first segment is described as a “very old dance” and the second was performed to music from the 70s and 80s. I doubt that the first dance is a true folk dance; it is very complex with little repetition and must have taken quite a while to learn. Still, it’s fun to watch.



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Folk Dancing at the Israel Museum (Yom Atzmaut 2016)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 15, 2016

I have a confession to make. Although I’ve lived in Israel since 1989, I’ve never seen a folk dance performance except maybe on TV. Since we had no plans on Yom Atzmaut, we decided to go to the Israel Museum to watch the folk dancing there and I shot this video of some of the dances with non-performers (I’ll post the videos of performances later). In the first segment, there’s a guy holding a plastic sword aloft. He’s from the Yerushalayim shel Zahav dance troupe, a group of senior citizens who performed several times. At 3:38 I added a notation to point out a young guy in a blue shirt and beige baseball cap who really got into the dancing. I started following him with the camera because he was fun to watch.

These videos were shot in the middle of a hot day, between 11 and 1:30. You can see from the shadows that the sun is directly overhead and there’s no shade. It didn’t seem to deter anyone. They all seem to be having a lot of fun.

I was struck by how diverse the folk dance fans are–they cover a wide range of ages and religious observance. I almost wished I had gone to the weekly folk dance classes that were held at the Hebrew U., but honestly, I had two left feet in those days. Being a musician does not translate into being able to dance. I could do it now but I have too many hobbies at the moment.🙂



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Independence Day 2016: Fireworks

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 15, 2016


I was experimenting with the focus-pull technique when I photographed the annual Independence Day fireworks in Maale Adumim. Unfortunately, I’d left my big tripod at work, so I tried to balance a table tripod on a round railing. That’s why some of the results are a bit wonky. Oh, well, I did find a really good place to shoot, so next year I’ll make a note to bring my tripod home and to go to the same spot with a wide-angle lens (these were taken with 18-135 mm lens). Full set of photos is on Flickr. These photos were taken at f/4 with a neutral density filter (x8). Shutter mode was bulb, so the shutter speed tended to be between 1 and 2 seconds.






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Greek Orthodox Wedding

Posted by Avital Pinnick on May 10, 2016


My officemate Nicola (the groom) was married a couple days ago at Mar Elias monastery just outside Jerusalem. I attended as a guest and took a few photos. The entire photoset is on Flickr.



My husband is close to the camera (white kippah with black stripes). My boss is in the row in front of him (blue kippah). There were a couple other guys from work at the church service.



Nicola and Reem entering the church.



Impatient flower girl. The service was only about 40 minutes but that’s a long time to stand at the front with a basket of flower petals!


Bishop, framed by the arm of a chair.


The priests and bridal party join hands and walk around the table near the end of the service.


Leaving the church.


Kosher wedding hall. Although Nicola and Reem are Palestinian Christians, Nicola chose a kosher venue so that his Jewish friends would be able to eat. Very thoughtful!🙂


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Hassidic Busker with Autoharp

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 3, 2016


I photographed and gave a few coins to this busker at the Mahaneh Yehuda light rail station because it’s unusual to see someone with an amplified autoharp.  Taken with LG G3 phone.


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Running with Cranes

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 30, 2015

Agur Race, 2015

This isn’t the best photo of me but it’s probably the most recent and it’s my fastest 10K race. I’m the one in blue, on the left. Last Friday I ran the Agur (“crane”, as in the bird) Race at the Hula Valley nature reserve up north. The race coincides with the annual crane migration, and we saw lots of cranes flying overhead.

We drove up the night before and stayed at the Tel Dan Youth Hostel (I highly recommend it–clean, quiet, free wifi, kettle and fridge in the room, for 262 NIS/night). Unfortunately, I hardly slept that night. I have a terrible time falling asleep whenever I have an event the next day, but I’ve learned that I can run while half asleep.

My final time for the 10K was 01:01:11 (lots of ones), which is my fastest time yet. In my category, I The course is nice and flat, which makes it popular for people trying to run a personal best.

Here’s a video of last year’s Agur race. You can see me for a split second wearing a black skirt, bright orange shirt,  a little to the left of center, at 1:25 (if you really want to see me, you’ll have to slow the video down to .25 speed and pause it). It was really foggy that day, so the photography isn’t great.

Here’s a video of the Agur race in 2013. The photography is a lot better–lots of cranes!

I haven’t done photography for ages, partly because I was taking a break and now because I had laser surgery on Nov. 9 to correct my vision. Since the operation was PRK, not LASIK, recovery takes a lot longer, with more ups and downs. I can see well enough to run and I can manage to read but my distance vision is still quite blurry. It’s strange to think that now I’ll need glasses to do all the needlework I used to do. I can read if a font is not too small but I will probably need reading glasses at some point. At least I’m not in any discomfort, although I did have a miserable few days before the bandage contact lenses were taken out. The surgeon discovered an eyelash in my right eye. No wonder my eye was constantly tearing and so sensitive to light! As soon as the lenses and eyelash were out, I felt much better. But it will be a while before I can see well enough to take photos.

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Book Cover

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2015

Book cover with my photo

This book with my photo on the cover arrived in the mail a couple days ago. I had totally forgotten about it! Last March a publisher asked for permission to use my photo of 18 Rama Street in Jerusalem (Nahlaot) for a book on house numbers. The photo she wanted wasn’t very good. It was a snapshot I’d taken while following a friend who was posing for his wedding photos. I said that I would be happy to re-take the photo, since I was going to be in the area anyway.

The location is tricky because the alley in front of the house is very narrow. An awning over the door casts a shadow. If you try to photograph the numbers at midday, the sun bounces off all the light stone of the surrounding buildings and creates an unpleasant contrast with the shadow of the awning. I took this photo at 9:30 a.m., while the sun was still relatively low.

The door is rather shabby, with bits of cellotape on the side and graffiti on the upper part. The graphic artist chose to use the dark blue door for the spine, which works very nicely. I haven’t read this book yet, but it looks interesting!

I’ve been rather quiet on this blog because I’m taking a break from photography. I was in a course that didn’t work out and it left me feeling burned out. I’ll get back to it eventually.

Rama 18, Jerusalem

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