Israel

Herod's Palace

Herod's Palace. Another shot from the trip to Masada this is the Northern most tip of the plateau where Herod built his palace in a series a stair steps down the face.  Standing on the top pier looking East you can get a good sense of what it's like to be King.

Muslim Quarter Kids

Muslim Quarter I don't take too many people shots...not sure why but I think its because living in NYC I usually see people as a crowd instead of individuals.  These kids (from the Muslim Quarter of Old Jerusalem) on the other hand insisted on be photographed and immediately wanted to review the image on the camera.  I was happy to snap a few for them but they were a little too grabby with my camera for me to turn it into a prolonged photo shoot.

Plaza of The Western Wall

Western Wall Plaza I found a fantastic spot to shoot the West Wall Plaza and mostly by accident.  Initially, I was planning on going on through into the Plaza to really get the whole experience, but after walking to the plaza entrance and seeing yet another security check point (there are a lot in Israel) I decided that I'd rather not unpack my whole bag again and just find some high ground.  Fortunately, I followed a set of stairs up from the security booth along a path to a youth hostel that had this amazing view!  The only trick was that I had to fish my camera through the 12ft tall fence barrier which created a very awkward tripod position.

If you look on the left horizon you can see the Dome of the Rock and on the far right is the Al Aqsa Mosque.  It is quite amazing how close all these holy places for different religions really are.

The Sepulcher

The Sepulcher in Jerusalem

The most holy place in the Christian Quarter (maybe in all the world for Christians) lies right within the structure featured in this photo.  On a typical day you must wait in line for groups of 2-3 people at a time to cross into the chamber within this chamber to view the stone where Jesus was laid to rest.  I entered in with two nice catholic ladies through the door way only about 4-5' tall where we could kneel in silence for only a about 10 seconds before the minders ushered us out and the next group in.  For obvious reasons no photos are allowed inside so you really do have to experience it yourself.

The surrounding area was extremely busy and it took quite a bit of patience to time out groups coming and going to get as few tourists in the shot as possible.,,had to do a lot of masking on this one all around.

The Western Wall

The West Wall at the Old City Just watching the Plaza of the Western Wall for a while gives you an idea of the cultural significance.  What you don't see form this photo is the looming Dome of the Rock in the distance which is closed off to the public.  The truly amazing thing about Jerusalem is just how mashed together Christians, Jews and Muslims really are.

Temple of the Holy Sepulcher

The Temple of the Holy Sepulcher is a pretty amazing place.  If you haven't heard of it it's definitely worth at least Google-ing real quick.  Basically this is the temple erected at the spot where Jesus was to have been buried and arose.  The interesting thing is the the temple is really divided between the Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox in terms of control so each area features different monks, fathers or other holy personnel to mind the space.  You wouldn't really know it when you first walk in but this building has been under this strange control for centuries.

This particular shot was upstairs when you first enter through the main corridor (I believe that it was Greek Orthodox area but I'm not really sure).  I found a nice bench to sit on and prop up my Gorillipod to fire a few long exposures (the large tripod didn't seem appropriate in the religious areas).

Definitely click on the photo and in SmugMug click original size to zoom in on the mosaic ceilings...they are pretty impressive.

Scorched Earth

The Dead Sea from Masada This was the desert...and I mean the desert!  After traveling around Jerusalem for a couple days and exploring the Old City I headed out to the Dead Sea to stay at a Hostel at the base of Masada for the early morning walk the next day.  The hostel was very modest but pretty nice considering it was the only building around for miles and miles along the Dead Sea.  After sleeping a few hours I got up at 4am to start ascending the mountain to catch the sunrise which was about 90 minutes later.  The hike was not too tough but trying to do it while keeping up with some of my new Israeli military friends made it a little tougher than expected.  As the army guys left me in the dust I ascended at my own pace and reached the summit with about 30min to scout out a spot for me and my tripod to watch the sun rise.

The ruins at Masada are pretty spectacular but after a while all ruins start to look the same.  What really amazed me about this location was the amazing expansive views afforded by this location.  From where this photo was taken is the northeastern corner of Herod's palace...not too bad.

Oh, and it was July in the desert...so it was hot.

Looking over the Old City

I arrived in Jerusalem today and since my Hotel is on top of the Mount of Olives I was sure to leave enough time to leisurely climb up during sunset after exploring the Old City all afternoon.  What is missing from this photo is the quite interesting sounds that were blaring from all directions.  I don't think that I can properly describe it but basically imagine a Mosque amplifying late afternoon prayers to your left (very loud) and at the same time a Jewish Orthodox outdoor ceremony going on very loudly just over the trees in the old cemetery.  Also, because of the Orthodox gathering the streets were either closed off or a heavier than normal security checkpoint because everyone in traffic was either honking, shouting or driving over sidewalks to get out of traffic.  Basically it sounded like everyone was screaming to be heard at the same time cilminating to just a very omnipresent drone.  Jerusalem, so far, is really like no other place I ever been...

The Israeli Hills

I'll start with that I'm not sure exactly where we were when I took this photo other than we were about an hour or so from Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee (where we were staying).  I was on tour with ZviDance and our Choreographer (Zvi) had us meet up with his sister to tour around his Kibbutz where he grew up.  After we toured around the Kibbutz and had a nice lunch with all the locals we were driver to a natural springs and then on this scenic drive along the Northern part of the Israeli Valley. Needless to say the views were spectacular and as we were relaxing and taking photos some of the dancers just started leaning into the wind to cool off from the relentless sun.   I leaned over to Alison and asked her to do it again for the camera and without hesitation she was modeling for the camera.  Despite not having a tripod I fired off about 4 sets of photos and used Photomatix to handle the ghosting since the wind was up around 25mph...without a tripod!