Walls and angles

For those of us who live in Jerusalem, we see the Old City almost every day. For most of us, it still strikes us as being a sort of magical place. Kind of like being in a sort of time-travel, where cultures and religions mix, where there are constant noises and smells, and lots and lots of crowds.

Shooting the Old City is always challenging, since so many photographers have taken on the subject. I write here: “shooting the Old City” as opposed to “shooting in the Old City” since I like to try to think that the Old City is a character on its own accord. In this series of shots I tried to focus on the city walls: from the first few shots, I am standing on the Mount of Olives looking westward. This is a seldom used park, and for good reasons. You are in the heart of Eastern Jerusalem, and a bit exposed: I don’t think that I would want to shoot there unless I was in a big group (which I was).

The dominant part of the Old City is the Temple Mount or Haram El Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), as it is the home of the two prominent mosques: Mosque of Omar and El Aksa. All photos of the area include the two mosques, so I wasn’t too concerned with showing them, hence my use of a depth of field which would allow me to hint at the structures. You’d really have to know that they were there if you see the shots. So, first I’ll show the Mosque of Omar (or Dome of the Rock), and then I’ll let you see the abstraction.

(f/22, 1/60 sec, ISO 100, 80 mm).

(f/22, 1/60 sec, ISO 100, 80 mm).

I am leaving these in black and white, since I think that the mosque is so powerfully colored that I don’t want to distract from the overall scene.

(f/5.6, 1/640 sec, 100 ISO, 105 mm)

(f/5.6, 1/640 sec, 100 ISO, 105 mm)

As you get closer to the city, you can see the beauty of the walls. Many of the stones have been recycled over the ages, and I love the way they come together. I was luck this day, as there were some cloud (most of the year it is too hot for clouds).

(f/22, 1/5 sec, 100 ISO, 32 mm)

(f/22, 1/5 sec, 100 ISO, 32 mm)

Here, we’re walking from Jaffa Gate to the Zion Gate. Most of the walls were built during the Ottoman reign in Jerusalem. The walls were rebuilt between 1535 – 1538, under the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. An interesting thing to note are¬†the ¬†arrowslits (or balistaria). If you notice, they are not correctly placed (they are too low and at incorrect angles): they were put in for show by the builders. They are purely ornamental.

(f/16, 1/60 sec, 100 ISO, 200 mm)

(f/16, 1/60 sec, 100 ISO, 200 mm)

Despite the monochromatic nature of the walls, there is often some color around them. The city has planted flowers where possible, and they always add some color.

(f/18, 1/40 sec, 100 ISO, 85mm)

(f/18, 1/40 sec, 100 ISO, 85mm)

In the future, I’ll add a lot more about the city walls: there’s a lot to show, and a lot of history.

When in the Old City or its environs, I don’t take Shooby: it’s too crowed and people are often not happy to see a big dog in crowded spaces. Besides, he’s always a bit stressed when in the Old City. So, no Shooby today.