This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘2011’

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.

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Return to Balabasta

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 27, 2011

Pirhana Iraqi band

OK, now that I’ve got your attention (that is, if you happen to like good-looking young men in tight clothing who can sing in Iraqi Arabic), this is the lead singer of Parhana (not sure how to transliterate the name of the group into English). Imagine about 100 people crammed into a tiny square to watch this band at Balabasta, the Mahane Yehuda cultural festival held on Mondays in July. Despite the heat, quite a few people were dancing. Or balancing beer bottles on their heads.

Parhana (Iraqi band)

Balancing Beer Bottle

They make such clever hearing aids these days…

Man with cherries on his ear

Violin and oud duo inside the shuk:

Oud and Fiddle Duo

When photographing performers I’m never sure whether to post group shots or portraits of individuals. Although group shots show the whole setting, I find that they look like snapshots (or at least the ones I take). Individual portraits have more impact.

We went back to Balabasta for the final night and I was pleasantly surprised to find almost no overlap in performers. We also went later and stayed later than we did last week, but the bands posted at the various stages was different. So if you’re wondering whether, next year, it’s worth going more than once, I would say that it is. Just remember that it’s very crowded, so you might not want to take young kids if they have a tendency to wander off.

Yo’ad Shoshani on bass guitar and Meir Asor on drums:

Meir Asor (drums) and Yo'ad Shoshani (bass)

Yo'ad Shoshani (bass guitar)

Meir Asor

A little boy having his face painted. I was struck by the juxtaposition of a little boy in a big velvet kippah having his face painted by a woman with tattoos and lots of piercings, in a cat costume. They were surrounded by a circle of parents. I had to kneel and take the photo very quickly when two people stepped apart briefly.



Edgo and Salomon playing traditional Ethiopian instruments:

Edgo and Salomon (Ethiopian musicians)

This is a krar, a 5-stringed lyre from Ethiopia and Eritrea, tuned to the pentatonic scale.

Ethiopian musician

This instrument is a masenko or masenqo, a single-stringed, bowed instrument.

Ethiopian musician

The chess tournament continues:

Young chess players

Band on the roof

Mahane Yehuda Street

And the winner of this year’s Miss Pungent Pageant….

Ms Garlic and Peppers

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Jerusalem Festival of Light: Tips and Advice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 24, 2011

Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem Festival of Light 2011

The Festival of Light has been running for three years and looks like it will be an annual event. It features the work of Israeli and international artists, both performance art and installations. There is also a market where you can buy unusual and artistic light fixtures. Most of the exhibits are free. There is one act that you have to pay for, but I think it’s worth it.

Links to my previous postings on the Festival of Light:

Festival of Light, 2011
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Flickr photos, 2011

Festival of Light, 2010
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Flickr photos, 2010

Festival of Light, 2009 (first year)
Flickr photos, 2009
No blog postings because I didn’t have a blog in those days.

The official site of the Festival, in both English and Hebrew, is updated with the schedule and exhibits every year.


  • If you are coming by car, the only place where you will be able to find a spot is probably the Carta parking lot by the Mamilla mall. No guarantees on how long it will take you to get your car out of there, though.
  • The municipality provides free shuttle bus service from various outlying parking areas (e.g., old railway station, Ammunition Hill). I strongly recommend that you take advantage of this arrangement.
  • The shuttle bus pickup point is at the entrance to the Carta parking garage.
  • If you are coming by bus, you can get back from the old city via the #1 at the Kotel (will be crowded) or the #20 by the Carta lot. Hopefully the situation will improve if they ever get the Light Rail running (but don’t hold your breath….)
Paid Performance
  • Every year there has been a performance that you have to pay for (55 NIS or $15), except for the first year, when it was free (you don’t want to know what that was like, trying to watch an act in the dark while hanging off fences). In my opinion the performance is well worth the money. If you are religious and have a problem with female singers or costumes that reveal legs and shoulders, this won’t be appropriate for you.
  • Performances are twice a night, usually around 8:15 and 10:00 p.m. They’re held in Gan haBonim, outside the Old City, between Jaffa Gate and Zion Gate
  • Tickets on the first night were sold on-site but I was told that on later nights it wasn’t possible to buy them except on-line.
  • You can buy tickets on-line from Bimot. You show your credit card at the counter and pick up your tickets.
  • Seats are not reserved and they fill up fast, so plan to show up AT LEAST a half hour before the performance, if not earlier.
  • Best seats are near the back because the Old City wall is the backdrop and it’s quite high. Also, acrobatic acts are way above the stage.
  • Very important: the performance takes about an hour, plus waiting time. It may be difficult to see the other exhibits the same night, so it is advisable to plan for a second night to walk the Old City routes.
Routes in the Old City
  • Maps of the routes are available in Hebrew and English. Look for students lit up like walking information signs. Sometimes they run out of maps near the end of the festival, so keep your map if you plan to go several nights.
  • There is so much available that you could spend three evenings there and not see everything. The street performances are particularly difficult to plan because schedules are not always posted in advance and some of the performers move around. Sometimes you just have to get lucky.
  • Expect crowds. If you don’t like crowds, start the popular trails (the ones through the Jewish Quarter and Christian Quarter are the most crowded) as soon as it gets dark, around 8 p.m.
  • Routes change from year to year but they’re getting better at crowd control (using wider streets, making some exhibits one-way). So if you were put off by crowds in the past, give it another try.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Bring a light sweater or jacket because it can get cool and windy in the evening.
  • Bring water.
  • Bring snacks if you have kids.
  • The route through the Jewish Quarter has lots of steps, but you can do the upper parts (Armenian Quarter Road, Hurva square, Batei Mahsei) if you have trouble with stairs. The route is fine for strollers except for getting down to the Davidson Center and the City of David (lots of stairs).
  • The route through the Christian Quarter doesn’t have stairs (except a few on David Street, back to Jaffa Gate) but it can get very crowded around the Muristan. Fine for strollers, if you go early.
  • The route down to Damascus gate is busy but almost never crowded. However, Zedekiah’s cave is a long walk down shallow steps in dim light, so it could be difficult if you need to walk with a cane. The cave itself is not recommended if you have a stroller but the rest of the route is fine.
  • The policy for photographing the paid performance varies. In 2010 (“History of Light,” by Pyromania), visitors were asked not to photograph the performance. This year, nothing was said. The policy is probably determined by the group performing.
  • In any case, if you do photograph the paid performance, for heaven’s sake, TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. It just annoys other people and doesn’t illuminate the performers. If you happen to have a flash powerful enough to illuminate the performers, it will be bright enough to distract them and could be hazardous (but  if you have enough money for a pro-quality flash gun, you probably already know how to use your DSLR in the dark).
  • If you are photographing the paid performance with a DSLR, you will have difficulty using a tripod, because the seats are set up in rows, unless you get a spot in an open area. I usually shoot at a high ISO, shutter-priority, because there is a lot of movement in dim light.
  • A lot of people bring tripods for the Old City routes. These are useful for the low-light conditions, but just remember that many exhibits won’t have enough room for you to set up a tripod and you’ll be carrying it with you for several hours. (A cheap, 120 NIS tripod will be light enough to carry around but useless if you’re in a windy area or surrounded by jostling crowds.)
  • Bring extra cards if there’s a chance you might do a lot of shooting in RAW.
  • A lot of the installations are video or move, so if you have a video camera that can deal with low-light conditions, be sure to bring it

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Jerusalem Festival of Light, 2011 (Part 3)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 23, 2011

Bwindi Light Masks (Richi Ferrero, Italy)

One of the shortcomings of photography is that it isn’t very good at depicting motion or change. Video is much better. In this posting I’ve concentrated on a few exhibits that stood out in my mind on the last evening that I attended the Jerusalem Festival of Light. For more information about the artists and exhibits, go to the Jerusalem Festival of Light site. The photos in my Flickr set show other exhibits that I haven’t covered in this blog posting. There were just too many installations to post photos of all of them!

The Bwindi Light Masks in Zedekiah’s cave, a deep and ancient quarry under the old city, were fun to photograph. While music played, the lights changed colour and intensity, suggesting different expressions on the masks.

Bwindi Light Masks (Richi Ferrero, Italy)

Bwindi Light Masks (Richi Ferrero, Italy)

Bwindi Light Masks (Richi Ferrero, Italy)

Living Tiles is the name of the exhibit at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Christian Quarter. The tiles are created by participants standing under a camera. The church is in a very narrow alley, which makes it difficult to get a photo of the whole facade without an extreme wide angle lens. This was the best I could manage with 18mm.

Living Tiles (OCUBO)

When I got closer to the church I saw this man doing a funny dance. The square markings on the pavement show the range of the camera mounted directly above him.

Living Tiles (OCUBO)

The photo below is the man’s image, reflected and tiled.

Living Tiles (OCUBO)

Self-portrait: My husband is on the left, wearing a light blue shirt, medium blue backpack, and red kippah. I’m on the right, in dark colours, holding my arms out.

Living Tiles (OCUBO)

There was a lot more performance art this year, which made it almost impossible to see everything. You would need very good timing, a schedule, and luck with the crowds to see everything. We went on three nights and didn’t manage to see everything.

The two fire dancers below performed “Reflection” with large and small curved reflectors but I was at the side of the audience, not in a good position to photograph the reflections.

RAW, ISO 1600, 1/30 second, f/5.0, 18nn


RAW, ISO 800, 1/3 second, f/5.0, 18mm


The Fairy Tales Gate, a video installation projected onto the Damascus gate, was magical. I wish I could create something like this!

The Fairytales Gate (Joseph Meir Jimmy)

The Fairytales Gate (Joseph Meir Jimmy)

The Fairytales Gate (Joseph Meir Jimmy)

Posted in Israel, photography | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Lunar Eclipse, June 15, 2011

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 21, 2011

Lunar Eclipse (June 15, 2010)

Ironically, I wasn’t able to photograph the progress of the longest lunar eclipse in years because I was at the Jerusalem Festival of Light. It was gratifying, I must say, to see crowds of people surrounded by glittering lights, staring at the moon. I wish I’d had a tripod with me! The photo above was taken when I got home, at 11:51 p.m., well after the full eclipse. The moon was quite dark, which made it very difficult to focus manually. Even Live Preview mode didn’t help because I just couldn’t see the dark moon in the screen. So I did the best I could with my not-very-good eyes and the viewfinder. 1 sec, ISO 800, f/5, 146mm, RAW format.

The photo below is actually a composite of two exposures, 1/30 sec to capture some details of the old city wall and 1/200 to capture some detail in the moon. These were done without a tripod, around 9:40 p.m., as we were leaving the exhibit. ISO 400 with some noise reduction in Adobe Camera RAW.

Eclipse over Old City Wall

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Jerusalem Festival of Light 2011 (part 2)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 20, 2011

Butterfly Effect

I’m jumping back a day, because these photos were on my work computer (yes, I work in high tech and I do not have a laptop, by choice. I was also the last person in the western world to have a dial-up connection). These photos are from The Butterfly Effect, an impressive acrobatic performance with light, music, and video.

Shows are at 8:15 and 10:00 p.m. every night of the festival, tickets are 55 NIS, available from Bimot or on-site. If you want to get a good site (preferably from the middle to the back, because the stage is so high), make sure you’re there at least 30 minutes before the performance. The performers are Y Circus, an Israeli group (I presume, because my son heard them speaking Hebrew last night when he was working as a guard at the site).

This opening scene was amazing. They staged a battle scene at 90 degrees to the wall. They were so convincing that after a while you could see the wall as the floor, and feel like you were looking down upon the heads of the performers.

Butterfly Effect

Much of the performance was done on ladders or scaffolding, high above two giant trampolines. I shot the photographs at ISO 400 with a 55-135mm zoom lens, Canon XSi (450D – yes, it’s an old model but it does the job), mostly at speeds of 1/15 to 1/100 seconds, handheld. If you want a challenge, try photographing acrobats at night. It’s almost as tricky as a dog show in the dark.

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Some of the backgrounds were stunning:

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect
More photos are on my Flickr set.

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