when it rains

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Yesterday morning, while taking my usual morning walk, I couldn’t help thinking about the cold and rain of winter. Though I had dressed warmly, I felt the cold nibbling at the skin of my face, and it was a challenge. My fingers ached. I hadn’t put on gloves because I thought I might want to photograph some nice winter scene. And though my camera hung from my shoulder, in a very nice camera bag which has its own clever raincoat tucked away in a pocket, there were no pictures. As I’ve written in the past, I seem to lose all interest in photography when dealing with winter weather. I’ll admit, that there is something about snow that attracts me visually. But the cold has a decisive negative effect.

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My dear friend Noga, used to try and inspire me to take pictures of cloudy or rainy days. She would speak of the beauty of low visibility, and sometimes point out scenes that had a mysterious or romantic nature. And listening to her, I could appreciate the wonder, as seen from her point of view. I have seen photography of winter weather that I found very beautiful. But when trying to do it myself, I am usually at a loss. It seems as if the dark clouds overhead cause me to close my eyes. Yet, at the same time, one of my objectives in writing this blog is to share with you what life is like here, in Jerusalem. And it’s not just sunny days. As I was thinking about this difficulty of mine, to see the beauty of winter weather, I remembered a photo taken long ago, that I liked.

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the photo I remembered

It was a rainy day, and a group of us had gathered in the home of one of my friends. The room was dark, but it was warm inside. The conversation was animated. We were sitting around a table… drinks in front of us… and an ample supply of snacks and sweets. And suddenly I asked one of the guests if he would please give me his seat for a few minutes. My request stopped all conversation, and a few of the guests looked quizzically at me. But when I pulled out my camera, there were laughs all around. ‘Ah, the photographer has an inspiration’, said someone across the table. The man I’d asked, gave me his seat, and I moved over next to the window.

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This happened over thirty years ago. Now, I wanted to find the picture. But how was I going to do it? I do have a catalogue of my photography, but mostly, it refers to commercial jobs. And back in the days of negative film photography, I would often have a camera with me that I had used for some job… and I’d add a couple of extra shots to a film that had been part of work. Sometimes, there’d be a number of different subjects on a film, which provided 36 shots. There was a time when I remembered every shot I took… remembered the aperture and shutter speed… and more or less remembered when I‘d taken the shot. But my memory isn’t as good as it used to be. I started looking for the photograph yesterday afternoon, remembering only a few of the folks that had been there at the get-together. It took quite a while, till I tracked the photo down. And while looking for it, and checking out many, many contact prints, I saw quite a few photos that could easily provide stories for my blog.

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I realized that I’ve mostly taken the easy path in writing this blog. For it is much easier to use a digital file, than it is to hunt down a negative, and scan it. And negatives have to be worked quite a bit more than digital files. But now that I’ve been reminded of several good stories from the old days, I think I will go back occasionally, and share with you some of those photos that were captured on film.

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Meantime, going through the catalogue, and looking at contact prints, I did find quite a few photos of winter weather. But looking at these images with the detachment that is characteristic after a long gap in time, I could see that the photos were more a reminder of the conditions on a given day… and not a record of my appreciation of the specific scene. I know that many think of Israel as some desert country where rain is a great rarity. Well, we do have some deserts. But the country is blessed with a large variety of scenery. Jerusalem is on a mountain, and has real winters. And I do desire to represent it honestly. But in my efforts, I realize that my choices reflect my personal taste and preferences.

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54 responses to “when it rains

  1. Winter weather in there… To be honest, I can’t imagine… Especially with snow… Beautiful photographs, especially the window, amazing. Thank you dear Shimon, the weather in here, goes between up and down temperatures… This is a crazy weather, one day it is very cold and in winter, and another day like a spring in winter 🙂 Strange… not stable… But I feel like you during cold days… Have a nice day and enjoyable weekend, love, nia

    • I suppose we have to be grateful for the warm days, and make the most of them, Nia. Hope you’re enjoying a very good week. It’s getting a little warmer here meantime, and I’m thinking of getting out, and taking another look at the world. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Photography is very much a part of us and so the photographs we take will naturally reflect this. I will look forward very much to the occasional post when you dip into your archive Shimon.
    I learnt photography in the analogue days and for the new year I have set myself the challenge of returning to it occasionally. I am about to develop my first roll of 120 negatives in about 37 years. My dexterity isn’t what it was due to my MS and practising with a spent film trying to roll it onto the developing spool with my eyes closed yesterday, I’m thinking ‘I’ve got a perfectly good, top of the range, digital camera, why am I doing this to myself?’ Well, I like a challenge for one thing and the drab, winter landscape under heavy grey skies, so typical of this part of the world, holds little attraction just now so I thought I’d give it a go. Shun the outside and work on some studio still life photogaphs in black and whtie film under nice bright daylight bulbs. An antidote to the lack of natural light outside. I will scan the negatives and process digitally for now. Perhaps print a few in the darkroom (bathroom) down the line if I have some success
    I’ve enjoyed your photographs and this post very much Shimon. Keep warm my friend! 🙂

    • I admire your courage in going back to film, Chillbrook. I used to work a lot with 120 film, and remember the excitement of working with it. But I tell you, it’s such a wonder, working on my computer in the light of day rather than going into the dark room. I don’t think I could ever return to that. Of course, I do still scan negatives from the old days… I look forward to seeing your work on film. Good luck and best wishes.

  3. I am fascinated by the first photo – it tells a story, but what is it? They are all in a bus shelter, looking in the same direction. They look as if they might all know each other. Some are standing confidently in the road – maybe trying to get a better look? Are they watching the guy on his phone or are they all looking for the bus? I wish I knew! Thank you for stirring my curiousity.

    • People who live in the same neighborhood, will often wait for a bus, but hope to catch a ride with someone they know, back to the neighborhood. That’s what’s happening in that picture. I often see quite a few people who’re waiting for a bus, catch a ride… and they’re on their way. And a rainy day usually stimulates more generosity on the part of the drivers. Thanks for the comment, Gill.

  4. I loved all of these photos and the many memories the one you sought conjured for you as well. I love the rain and snow, as you know, and I’d better, given my location, or I’d not have many photos to share! I appreciate your effort is searching and then scanning and editing these photos, Shimon, for they are lovely, and each leads me to ponder their story and look forward to more…Thank you.

    • Glad you enjoyed the scenes, Kitty. This week I’ve published a series of pictures in the rain, found when I went looking through my old ones. I know it’s just a matter of taste. And the fact is that I do like to see winter pictures that others shoot. It’s just harder for me to get going in winter weather.

  5. The photographs speak of you because they are a part of you, even if only the artistic part, which is a substantial part of who you are. That’s what I love about blogs: They speak of the author/blogger. I’m thoroughly enjoying your perspective of Jerusalem and Israel. It’s a rare opportunity to see it through the eyes of someone who truly loves it and is willing to take the time to share it. Whenever I travel anywhere, I prefer to stay with someone who lives there rather than a B&B or a hotel. The person who lives there will give me a richer view. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you very much for your kind comment, Judy. Yes, I consider myself very lucky that it has been my fate to live my life in this city I love so much. And sharing my impressions of life here, is as important to me as the art. Of course, our winter is a lot easier than in many countries further north. Even in winter, after a while of cold and rain or snow, we usually get a few warm days. And that’s when I get revived. Best wishes.

  6. I too will look forward to seeing items from your back catalogue, Shimon. As to the images above, you have indeed given me a fresh view of winter in Israel. Some views are as gloomy as gloomy old England. Who’d have thought it!

    • Well, the very next blog post offers a series of winter scenes including cattle. You’ll get a chance to see some of my older work, as well as some more scenes of winter here in Israel. Yes, we too have to deal with winter weather. Thanks so much for your comment, Tish.

  7. Thanks for the insights. I think we can’t help reflecting our preferences in our work, hobbies and art. Reflecting upon it and being aware of it it’s a way to work through the difficulties. I found the process of locating the picture of the window (very beautiful) fascinating. I hope we get to see more of the old images. I’m sure it will be fascinating

    • I do agree with you Olga, any creative work reveals our tastes and our preferences. I suppose because a good part of my blogging is motivated by my desire to share my life here in Jerusalem with those that are unfamiliar with our country, I was trying to find some approach to an aspect of life here that doesn’t usually inspire me. But looking at the old images, I did find some that represented this time of the year as well. Thanks.

  8. Like you, I find that my camera gets neglected during the winter months. And while I find many winter scenes to be quite beautiful, even when I carry it with me, I don’t seem to use it.

    Your friend is right, Shimon. Rainy days can be wonderful opportunities for great shots, as you have shown us here. While one might think that the flatter light mutes colors, you’ve captured some very nice contrasts with the rain on the streets. I’ll look forward to more of your archives. I hope you have a lovely weekend!

    • Lately, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few weather proof cameras on the market these days. I suppose there are people who enjoy shooting in winter weather. And looking through my old work, I did find some winter photography that I liked. But I don’t have the same excitement about such scenes, that I do when there’s sunshine. Still, I appreciate the work of others who seemingly enjoy winter more than I do. Thanks for the comment, Cathy, and my best wishes to you too, for a beautiful weekend.

  9. I can empathize with your lack of motivation as it applies to your photography during the winter months. Something about the gray days and cold and wet weather have a way of dampening our creative energy, even when we might otherwise be functioning adequately in other areas. I’m sure there are those souls out there that are drawn to winter weather creativity, but I’m not one of them either. Everything slows down, and although we don’t exactly go into hibernation, it would be fair to say that some of us become uninspired and sluggish, especially as it pertains to anything that might require creativity.

    Even so, I’m glad you managed to find the photo that your memory dredged up, as it illustrates how something as dreary as a rainy wet day can be captured with an eye towards beauty. The photo is alive with energy, and shimmers with intrigue, and is mesmerizing and beautiful. Especially enjoyed the “change seats with me” reference, as it captures that moment of inspiration when creativity wakes up and demands to be noticed. A good laugh or a chuckle, and the conversation continues, but that moment is now captured perfectly in your memory, as well as on film.

    A slice of celluloid holds the memory intact.

    I also appreciate your acknowledgement that each of us, whether we intend to or not, have the propensity to tell any story through the lens of our own interpretation. For instance, for many years, my stories have been filtered through a lens of intense pain, because that was my present and general countenance. I wonder how the stories might have been told if I had been in a happier place, where I might have been able to see different aspects of the same truth.

    Photography is similar to writing in that way, in that what you capture, or tell, with your photographs, is a reflection of what you see, but in doing so, it leaves some of the story untold. Even when we make up our minds to show the other sides of the story, sometimes we struggle at doing so, because we’ve become so accustomed to our own point of view. I like it that you are not afraid of acknowledging this as truth, and as I continue to grow to love your country and traditions, and especially your own unique eye for capturing the same, I eagerly wait for whatever you might wish to share with us. Those photography catalogues contain hidden treasures that are just waiting to come back to life on the page.

    • That is so true, Nancy, that our stories and our art, whatever it may be, is influenced by the way we’ve experienced one thing or another, and the mood we’re in when we’re sharing those memories and experiences. I remember taking my students to some very attractive spot, and they would work with brushes and cameras, trying to capture the same scene, and each one would produce a very different picture from the others. The very next post will bring back some more pictures of rain by way of pictures from long ago. Thanks so much for your comment.

      • Found it interesting that you told how a group of students would end up painting nothing alike or photographing anything alike. We have a writing group here in Ohio where we give out a simple topic for a writing assignment. When we read them, it is amazing that out of twelve people there are hardly ever any even similar. Glad to know that diversity exists in other forms of art as well.

  10. Sometimes it is amazing how memories can resurface, so suddenly… It’s happen to me the same thing, dear Shimon, with occasional lapses of memory where only images are outlined in front of the mind.
    But as you states, actually every vision is so intimate, so subjectively particular, that may be important only for themselves since for another person may not mean anything.
    I’ve never seen snow on Tel Aviv (neigther on Jerusalem), to be honest I have been there (TLV) many times, spending a very short night in the hotel Dan, after enduring countless checks at the airport Ben Gurion and along the way to the city…
    SR332 and SR333 were the flights. On a couple of occasions if luck wanted that rotation lasted 2 nightstops, we could take a taxi (it was always the same nice and friendly driver ) that allowed the crews to visit a bit ‘of his wonderful country!
    Well for me, with the passing of years, the beloved winter (I was born in December) became a kind of torture. Bronchitis is more acute, my hands hurt, I feel the cold getting inside the bones… I can make good use of empathy.
    Well, tomorrow they gave snow down on the plain, here in Ticino in southern Switzerland… I think to take some pictures…
    Hugs and I wish you a lovely Sabbath… 🙂 claudine

    • Snow is quite rare in Tel Aviv, because it’s at the seashore, and has a low elevation… though it seems to me that I remember snow there too, many years back. But here in Jerusalem, which is on a mountain, we get snow almost every year. I know it’s not the impression most people have of Israel, though. We love our sunshine. And how well I know, Claudine about the added sensitivity to the elements as time passes. I remember, when I was in your country I found the cold less terrible than I expected because it was much colder, and that meant there was less humidity in the air, and it didn’t seem to penetrate as much as it does here. I suppose it depends on how long you stay out. Wishing you a warm winter Claudine, with much happiness and inspiration.

  11. You mean it’s actually possible to separate ourselves from the camera and take a photo that doesn’t reflect our beings? Poppycock! 😉 Nice to hear some normal in there. I think it’s called seasonal affective disorder. 🙂
    Stay healthy!

    • Yes Bob, I do think I’m suffering from seasonal affective disorder these days. People have told me that my house is overly warm. Thanks for your good wishes though. And you’re right, our work certainly reflects our likes and preferences. All the best for an easy winter.

  12. Number 3 and 5 images are superb. I immediately sense that special feeling that being inside and looking out on a rainy day evokes. Of course, growing up and living in the Uk…I am most familiar with this kind of scene….and actually find it to be very soothing and even comforting:)
    Spring is just around the corner, Shimon, and the warmth of sunshine that comes with it…..thank you and have a lovely weekend. Janet.xxx

    • Very glad you liked those shots, Janet. And glad too, to hear that you can enjoy such weather. Actually, we’re lucky here, in that there are pauses between the rain and snow… and we’ll have a week of sunshine now and then. In the next post, I’ll show that sometimes I was able to rise above my own negativity associated with winter weather… but I admit that in my weakness, I do miss some of the beauty, when the skies get gray. Best wishes to you for a very beautiful weekend. xxx

  13. I have my favorites among these photos Shimon, but that it irrelevant – they are all reflective of your keen sensibilities, and leave this reader excited at the prospect of seeing more. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much, Mimi. Glad you enjoyed the post. The nicest thing about this post for me, was that it made me go back and search through some old images. The next post has a series that I really like of cows in the rain. My best wishes to you for a beautiful weekend.

  14. I couldn’t agree with you more that the cold temperatures make me not want to stop and take a photo! But yours here evoke warmth, even though the weather was chilly!
    Reading your blog, I feel as if I could almost hear your voice, narrating the words…it’s kind of like a “fireside chat” for me. What a soothing way to start my day!
    All my best to you in your lovely city of Jerusalem!
    Lia

    • Yes, I think that as I get older, I have even less tolerance for the cold than I did years ago. But looking through some of my old work, I was reminded of times when I did see occasional beauty at this time of the year. Thank you very much for your kind words Lia. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. And best wishes to you from Jerusalem.

  15. Beautiful images. And not to give you weight to carry, but the images and words you share here, are for me, a window into your country. I am not much of a news watcher, my trust in them is minimal. It is real world experiences of real people such as yourself that I trust and carry with me.

    • I’m very glad to hear you say that, shoes. Because for a long time, I used to suffer seeing the news reports from our country, and realizing that the way the rest of the world saw us was very different from what life is all about for those of us who live here. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to blog; to share a bit of the perspective of a native. Thanks very much for your comment.

  16. I’m so glad you found the picture, it’s brilliant!!! I love the first one too…..I couldn’t stop looking at it….like Gilly said, it seems to be the beginning of a story….
    I’m a little like you, I love to listen to rain and wind when in bed or indoors but I don’t like being out in it, especially the wind, I see no use for wind at all!!! Damp rainy days do little to inspire me either. It will be good to see some of your older pics, interesting to see how the times may have changed too. xxx

    • Yes, as I said to Gill, it’s quite common for people to be looking for a ride, even when they’re waiting for a bus. Aside from that, we have taxis too, that make the rounds of the bus routs, trying to pick up those that have lost patience. And this, even though our public transportation is quite efficient. It was quite some fun for me to go through some of my older work, and the next post will offer more shots from a rainy day… though that wasn’t from Jerusalem. I was up in northern Israel at the time. Wishing you a warm winter, Dina. xxx

  17. Dear Shimon, what I absolutely adore about photography are the differences that motivate us all which magically collect and add up to what you promote so well – the human picture.

    • Yes, I agree with you, Patti. There is so much to choose from, and none of us, no matter how open and unprejudiced, could ever taste it all… so it’s enough to find what does give us pleasure… and to learn to deal with the less enjoyable aspects of life too, if we must. Thanks for the comment.

  18. Love it. I love the distinction you make between taking photos due to appreciation of the scene and taking photos for aesthetics, or little things about a day. I think with digital advancement a lot of the photos people take (myself included) are missing that real appreciation for the scenario, that real human element that lets a picture tell 1000 words. Those photos are always the best, I think. The pictures you found here are awesome 🙂

    • On the whole, I’m really impressed and entertained by the changes we’ve seen as a result of technology. I imagine that people take a lot more photos, now that it’s ‘free’, and then choose which ones they really like. Ultimately, it’s the same choice, whether it’s exercised before exposure in the camera or afterwards. But I still believe that what really matters is getting to know one’s subject intimately. Maybe because I’m always in a hurry to get out of the rain, I don’t really recognize its beauty… and that in itself is a challenge. Thanks for your comment, Jess.

  19. I too find winter uninspiring without snow, Shimon. And soon I’m off on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, so there will be plenty of opportunities then. I struggle to think of Israel as having a ‘winter’. Somehow I associate the Middle East with warm weather year-round. How misinformed I am.

  20. I, too, enjoy the winter snow pictures, but otherwise it seems rather dreary out there and I find nothing to photograph. Your last picture reminded me of a lilac bush in bloom last spring here in Ohio, that was covered in snow. I’ll have to look for it.

    • I heard on the radio this morning, about the north east of the US getting ready for an exceptionally heavy snowfall. And I was thinking of how wonderful it is to get anything in just the right proportion… and how easy it is for something good to turn into a threat if there’s too much or too little. Wishing you beautiful winter weather, and happy appreciation of the same, Bev.

  21. And a good thing, that this reflects your personal tastes and preferences – that’s what draws me here! (I think I take the fewest photos in the months of Dec & Jan.) The story of the window photograph is well told, and easy to visualize. And I like that photo!

    • Very glad you liked that picture, bluebrightly. It was fun to find it again after all this time, and translate it to a digital file. The experience really reminded me of what a tremendous change we photographers went through, when film was replaced by digital sensors. Enough time has gone by for us to take digital photography for granted. But when looking back at the old negatives, I am forever amazed that I lived through that transition Thanks for the comment..

  22. Why shouldn’t your photos reflect whatever you wish, Shimon? Don’t be so hard on yourself. That you saw a scene that appealed to you, and you captured it, should be reason enough for its existence. That you share your images is wonderful. So liked the shot of the rainy day,the one allowing one to take in the fields and mountains in the background. A day like that makes me say: ‘Oh,look at the rain! What a glorious day to curl up and read.’ Thank you for sharing snippets of your wonderful country. 🙂

  23. Hello Shimon,

    I have read this post three times. There was something that made me want to understand and feel the flow of the words, the descriptions, together with visual aid of the photographs.

    A record of a given day is also a record of something, or, some moment, or, an event that attracted you. The emphasis here is ‘you’. In my posts it would be ‘me’. The thoughts you associate with those photos do not make them any less for being something that reflects you, I would say, it very much adds to their attraction, especially so, with your descriptive eloquence.

    Take your dank rainy day thoughts and the pictures you portray here. If you don’t feel an inspirational moment to take a picture within the time of your concurrent footsteps, so be it. Instead, you tell us why you feel as you do, thereby and giving us your visual snapshot in words. It is a wonderful ability.

    I did try guess where some of the places photographed might be. I cannot be sure, however, I can see how everything is wet,dull-ish and overcast. the photo you remembered is fabulous. I could wax lyrical about the window with its golden hues and crystalline droplets coating the surface. What a delight to see it.

    I have experienced the winter cold of Jerusalem. My heavy coat was sitting in the car at the UK airport and my Autumn jacket, which I had travelled with, was covering my multiple layers of clothing and just had to do!

    (Sorry to hear about the news on the buses today)
    21/1/15

    xx

    • Thank you for your very kind comment, Menhir. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I am amazed sometimes, when a ‘forgotten’ memory comes back because of a turn of events, or similar circumstances that remind me of the past. As we get older, there are more and more memories in the back of old drawers… and to recall them all would interfere with living. And yet those moments that we haven’t thought of for a long time, can sometimes bring back very intense sensory experiences. The cold in Jerusalem used to be a serious challenge when I was a young man. But these days, I’m able to provide a very comfortable environment, and enjoy the high adventure through a glass window while sitting in a rather warm room. I can imagine what it was like without a heavy coat. Thank you too for your sympathy at the bus attack last week. Such madness still breaks my heart.

  24. I suppose you don’t get shadows and interesting effects of sunlight when it is raining.And also [this will not appeal to the artist in you] I have just read that sunshine lowers the blood pressure and so it helps people with heart and other such problems.This is affecting me because of all the problems of the last few months and so I was looking online.I put the link here…I know it’s not the usual kind of comment but it may help someone else…
    I shall have to go to a tanning shop if any still exist… so if I look black in my next photo that will be the reason!
    Your photos are always thoughtful and imaginative and where are your poems?We demand one now even if it is only a couple of lines.
    Rain is blue and so am I
    But there’s music in my sigh.
    Music,meditation and other things I imagine you do already and they help.
    http://www.medicaldaily.com/boiling-point-5-unexpected-ways-lower-blood-pressure-quickly-without-medication-286966

    • slowly, very slowly… I’ve become aware that medication is a problem in itself, and that it is much better to deal with our physical disabilities without. And if we do need it, to save our souls, to try to get back to basics as soon as possible. How good to hear that there’s music in your sigh, Kathryn. That’s a good sign. Wishing you good health and happiness, fair weather and inspiration, and at least one smile every day.

  25. I write with misty eyes, Shimon. Your first photo reminded me of my youth. I knew your blog writings have had mention of Jeruselum but I didn’t connect the dots until I saw the photo today. You see, I grew up in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood. The people were very religious as you know. My best friend, Rifka, was allowed to play with me because she was an only child and her mother felt her loneliness. Her father disapproved as did many who didn’t wish to intermingled with us. I must write about my experinecs with this neighborhood. Four families and my own were the only non-jewish families. It’s an experince that touched me and continues to be part of who I am although I am not Jewish. It’s difficult for people to understand. Perhaps, you can.
    I enjoyed reading about your photo experiences but I enjoyed viewing the photo of my past. I am touched by the memory.

    • The orthodox Jewish community that you knew in childhood, was probably very similar to that in which I was raised, and in which I have lived all my life. I believe I can understand Isadora… for I have had a taste of the transcendental in my contacts here with very beautiful human beings from far away cultures, whose languages, cultures, and taste are different from my own. Unfortunately, though, when I was a child, the meetings with people of other cultures were frightening to say the least. I watched an endless nightmare unravel before my eyes. I am very happy for the memory of you and Rifka… two girls sharing simple pleasures together. I too am touched by the memory.

  26. LOVE the rainy photos!!!
    Hope you are well my dear blog friend!

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