highlights aren’t always where you expect them

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Photographers are always watching out for the highlights and the shadows. Back in the old days, when we worked with film, overexposure could block the negative, and shadows could leave a black stain. I had friends who were very sensitive to the extremes, and did the best they could to keep all the shades within the ranges of grey… ranging from the very light, to the darkest dark… but still retaining an image. My attitude was a little different. I considered the white… even if it was just white paper unprinted… and the blacks… to be part of the shades I worked with. Often, I chose to express myself using slightly stronger contrasts than what is seen with the naked eye.

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I was thinking of this as we approached the last holy day of this month of holidays, which was yesterday. It is the holiday of Simchath Torah; a celebration of the conclusion of our reading of the five books of Moses. And no sooner do we conclude the reading, than we begin a new reading, starting from the first volume once again. The reading takes a year, and we go through all the stories again and again, each year. But of course, they are different each year, just as the autumn of this year will be different from that of last year. Today, we have a bridge. A day when we refrain from working, bridging from yesterday’s holiday to the Sabbath which will start this evening. And on Sunday, we will start the period of ‘after the holidays’.

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While thinking of the highlights of the last month, I was reminded of how sometimes, when we’d look at an image that had been photographed, we would notice highlights where we hadn’t expected them, where a bottle or a silver platter had reflected such intense light that the details in that area of the photograph were wiped out. And on the other end of the scale, sometimes, something rather significant had been swallowed up by the shadow in that part of the image. Well… all I can say about that, is that there is usually much more in a picture than meets the eye. If it’s really important to us… we can search it out. But still, the whole picture is what’s most important.

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There have been some highs and lows even in this last month, filled with holidays and celebration. To tell you the truth, there’s even been heartbreak and agony. But on the whole, it’s been a good time. And having completed all the celebration, we’re ready to go back to living our normal lives. All during this month, as is our custom, we’ve been starting a meal with a slice of bread dipped in honey. From today, we go back to starting our meals with bread dipped in salt. We go back to our work, to our computers, to our appointments, to facing the traffic in the morning, as everyone in the neighborhood starts their day at about the same time, some taking their children to school, and others rushing off to work.

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And what will remain of all those heights? The memory of a walk in the woods? A meeting with friends and loved ones? A song we heard at a get together? There were many great moments along the way… and people very dear to me, who brought me light and joy… not to speak of the many wonderful delicacies that we relished and consumed, wonderful wines and fine whisky. In the last few days, I encountered Wild Turkey which I hadn’t seen for years. And just the day before yesterday, I chose to approach the conclusion of this great time with a visit to the sea. It was a beautiful day in Caesarea… and I watched as two friends disrobed till they were dressed only in their underwear, and jumped into the cold sea for a swim… thinking I might have done that once, but I no longer have the guts or the strength.

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Still, what is important is what we can do, and not the fleeting longings for what is gone. How good it was. And here’s hoping that the coming days, the coming weeks, and the coming months will bring continued growth and learning, great new adventures, health and happiness, a good living, and peace and love. And you know… what I wish for myself, I wish for my friends.

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photo by Rivka

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72 responses to “highlights aren’t always where you expect them

  1. How beautiful photographs and written up. I loved the last photograph, Thank you dear Shimon, Blessing and Happiness, love, nia

  2. How true that is, that in life the highlights and lowlights are so often unexpected. Being a photographer, you’re able to encourage us to look for the unexpected with our eyes too. I love the sea pictures, and especially the last one with your daughter.

    • Since I belong to the school of thought that believes there is only one truth, embracing all of creation, it is relatively easy for me to learn about one thing while studying something else entirely. And one of my favorite ‘study halls’ for years, was sitting in the dark room, and working on color prints in total blackness. Sometimes I would be studying the holy scriptures from memory. The woman in the last picture is not one of my two daughters, but a very close and dear friend. Thank you, Gill.

  3. Lovely post and photos. Thanks for sharing your beautiful part of the world.

  4. “Still, what is important is what we can do, and not the fleeting longings for what is gone.” Your words remind me of the ending of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses”:

    “Though much is taken, much abides; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    • Thank you so much, Steve, for adding to this post the words of the great poet; telling the essence with judicious power and depth. I’m honored that you were reminded of this poem.

  5. Another beautiful post, Shimon…in your images and words…they go so well together…and will remain with me today as I start my Friday and look forward to my weekend of hiking and being at home with family. Thank you for your words.

    • It’s a great pleasure to share with you, Scott. And I hope you had a very good weekend… including both the heights of nature, and the deep warmth of love in the embrace of your family.

      • I did have a nice weekend, Shimon, thank you. The family was all at home…and I did have a wonderful hike, as well. I hope to get some pictures up soon. Wishing you a good week.

  6. Shimon, thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and post. I always enjoy hearing about your life and world.

  7. Yes, Shimon, it’s the contrasts that make both life and our photos somehow richer, I think. I love your perspective.

  8. Such a beautiful and pognient post Shimon.

  9. Were all these pictures taken in Caesarea? The water is so beautiful. Both this post and the posts you wrote about modern western writers have made me think deeply about finding hope and beauty in life. The idea of always writing with hope has been on my heart ever since. Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures and teaching us to find the good and beautiful around us.

    • The picture of the street with the palm trees was taken in the small village of Binyamina, not far from there. I stayed there at a ‘Bed and Breakfast’. The village is very beautiful, and the people there are warm and friendly. It’s very well situated, and near another village where one of my daughters lives with her family. Thank you very much for your comment, Kari Ann. Always good to hear from you.

  10. Very nice post. Shanna Tova.

  11. …the whole picture is what’s most important– well said. Because digital camera and computer technology made it so easy and fun to snap and post, people probably don’t spend much time to look (but glance) to get the whole pic. Love your beautiful images, especially the first one.

    • When I was a young man, I found a great teacher, with whom I studied with for a number of years. Once He spoke to me about the miracles of technology. At that time, in the 50s, he was talking about the automobile, the telephone and the radio. He said that these miracles , while having the power to add to our lives, also made us weaker, because we took them for granted, and abandoned our native born talents in favor of what was easy. I accepted this truth then… and in the meantime it’s gotten a bit worse. Thank you for your comment, Amy.

      • I agree with your teacher. We saw a little baby was tabbing the book showing on TV, as if it was a iPad. I began to wonder what this may do young kids. Thank you for sharing your insight.

  12. What a poetic post Shimon… images and words. Lovely read. Hope all is well and that your wishes are unfolding nicely between the light and shadows.

  13. Always such peace and love in your writing 🙂

  14. Always enjoy it when the unexpected shows up in a photograph. Sometimes I even enjoy it in life! It’s the unexpected treasure that warms the heart the most.

  15. Nice words of true… and images of hope and whishes… In truth, where is light, shall be as well shadow 😀 Wish you a lovely week end

  16. Hi Shimon. Nice one! So, tell me why you start a meal with dipping bread in salt. ? And I like the seascape with the crashing wave. Stunning image. And finally, you mentioned Wild Turkey. Some years ago in Tampa, I operated on a guy in his 60s. Many weeks later I got a large box that contained 6 large 16×20 prints of paintings. They were all of wild turkeys in frames. It turned out that the patient was the father of the man who does the art work for Wild Turkey Whiskey. I still have them and prize them.
    Be well.

    • This is a very old tradition among our people, and there are a lot of explanations… The bread represents food in general. For us it is the symbol of food. And the salt represents the inorganic world… and internalizing it, makes the bread more tasty. How wonderful that you received such a present of images of the wild turkey. I have often heard about how stupid the turkey was supposed to be. But I’m not convinced. I have a feeling that if I ever met him in the wild, I would find a very vibrant and clever bird. Best wishes, my friend.

  17. LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words

    I love the flow of energy that surrounds your words as I read them….
    they like the beautiful photograph of the waves coming aground
    flow with natural light…though there is always a companion of a shadow somewhere…
    I hope you receive what you wish for….i wish this for you
    Take Care…You Matter….
    )0(
    maryrose

    • Actually, it’s very seldom that I ask anything for myself. In my long life, I’ve learned that we don’t usually know what will be best for us, and that learning to accept life as it comes is the best path. But sometimes… I see myself in the family of man. And then it’s okay to wish. Thank you very much, Maryrose. May this week be a very beautiful one for you.

  18. Beautiful thoughtful post complimented by your lovely pictures

  19. I love your positivity, Shimon. Great post, and nice to see you!

    • Nice to see you too, Richard. Last night I was dreaming of work with film… and I realized that though I’ve long ago celebrated the advantages of the digital format, there are still some aspects of the former that are precious to me. I suppose there was a sweet intimacy there, that will never be forgotten.

  20. Hi Shimon,
    I loved what you wrote in reflection and what I could see of your photos. I wish I had your optimism, as I once did before I got sick, but at this point in my life I think I only see the black. Oh, what a sad thing to say, but it is what it is. Well, I’m glad you got to the coast for a change of scenery; that probably helps with the optimistic mood!
    Leah x

    • There was a time when I was very optimistic. But I had some hard times too. We only live once, Leah, and this life is fleeting. And afterwards there is an eternity of not living at all. How I wish I could tell you this face to face… maybe by the sea shore… or on one of the hills of Jerusalem… but even if just in this note… try to find a bit in this life that gives you happiness, and you’ll see that a moment of joy can be as great as the ocean is deep and wide. xxx

      • Oh, that was beautiful! I’d prefer to hear it on one of the hills in Jerusalem, as the humidity makes me feel worse. :/ I do think about it as my father always told me that we only get one life, so make the most of it. I may not be very religious, but we are of the same people, and I do know there are no pearly gates in store for me after here. This is where I struggle, as I did live that life until I got sick and couldn’t, and then I ask, “Why?” I will keep looking for something beyond my dear cat, but it’s very hard when you can’t get out and live a normal life, which is all just a memory now…
        Leah xx

  21. So beautiful: I can smell the sea and feel refreshed just looking at these, Shimon! I’m so happy to hear your holidays were peppered with welcome highlights and interesting, rich shading, though sorry to hear some events were heartbreaking. We just returned from a short vacation, too, and I’ll be sorting through photographs for hours over the coming week, naming my own “highlights,” and discovering new ones in the photos, I’m sure!

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Shimon; it is a gift I appreciate.

    • As I could have guessed, you understood me well, Kitty. I look forward to seeing your selected photographs from your vacation. Sometimes, life slips so quickly by, that when we examine the photographs we took, we have to make acquaintance once again with the scenes. Always a great pleasure meeting with you, at my place or yours. Best wishes for a very beautiful week.

  22. Another lovely set of images to accompany your always enjoyable writing, Shimon.

  23. I always enjoy a stroll with you, especially if taken to see the sea. Always something for me to enjoy and wonder about. And here’s wishing you well in the coming weeks, months and years,

  24. Beautiful lyrical writing..I love the idea of a photograph as a metaphor for life in all its highs and lows, how you sometimes notice the highlights and shadows after the event..and the importance of the big picture, sometimes it takes a while to see it…”what is important is what we can do, and not the fleeting longings for what is gone.” So true. Needed to hear this today, thankyou!

    • Very glad that our thoughts met in this post. Rennie. It’s my experience that we live in a very interconnected world, and that what we learn from those crafts we know well, teach us to understand the nature of other subjects as well. Thanks very much for your comment.

  25. Wonderful shots and a wonderful meditation on contrast, light and darkness!

  26. What a gorgeous post, I really enjoyed it. Y’know, since reading your posts, I have tried bread dipped in salt and in honey, and I think of you when I eat the bread, so in a small way I’m joining in with your festivities.

    I’m sorry to hear there has been pain along with the pleasure….but…. I really think you should have a dip in the sea…maybe start with a paddle and then just go for it!!!! lol

    I loved the first and third pics and the cat on the prom and those waves crashing look wonderful…what a lovely place.

    So here’s a toast to life Shimon, after your holidays….to lots of highs and bearable lows. xxxx

    • It’s wonderful to hear that you share some of my pleasures and customs in life, Dina. Like dipping the bread in honey or salt. I guess I’ve been a little slow about answering comments recently… because of all that’s been going on around me. But I’m sure you know how much I appreciate the comments, and of course, I’m happy to share bits and pieces of my adventures here. The place is truly beautiful. And it holds a lot of ancient history as well. Toasting with you to life; the highs and the lows… all a part of this fine adventure. xxx

  27. Hi Shimon, beautiful pictures and writing! I especially love the one with the black and white cat in it 🙂

  28. Sometimes good things happen by chance.The photos are a always good

  29. Beautiful place , Thanks for sharing 🙂

  30. I absolutely love your photography and your posts: you are so gracious to let me into a world I’ve never seen before. My love and respect from coastal California and, though I am no skilled photographer, I think I now need to get my camera fixed so I can share some images of my home with you.

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Mr. Gregory. Many years ago, I visited California, and I still remember the impressions I had then. You have a very beautiful country. Best wishes to you.

  31. Shimon, As aways your words flow smoothly together and take our minds on a journey. You described how photography offers a connection of light and space to our moods in a wonderful way.

    • Hi there John. It is always a special pleasure to share with a fellow photographer. And you know how much I appreciate your images especially. Thank you for coming by and for your comment.

  32. Such a beautiful meditation on life, and yet another wonderful lesson on the way things are done in your culture. The final photo left me warm and smiling, you are such an incredible person to have the honor of knowing!

    • Very glad you enjoyed the post, Josie. It is always a pleasure for me to share, and I appreciate your comment, knowing how much you love writing and experiment with different possibilities in that area.

  33. I always enjoy your musings. We cannot dwell on the past; we can appreciate it, but we must move forward and see what we can do. There are always possibilities.

    • I agree with you completely, yearstricken. I feel that regardless of what we’re handed in this life, our objective has to be to find a way to enjoy life. It’s only ours on loan, after all. Thank you very much for your kind words.

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