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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.