Lazy and unadventurous? Moi?

After last week’s little outburst about cowboys and Rottweilers, I’ve calmed down and it’s back to walking the streets of North Tel Aviv, camera in hand and eyes on the lookout for interesting things.

And one of the interesting things, in and of itself, is how one can continue to find interesting things along these same regularly walked routes.  Some people ask me if I never get bored looking at the same things day in, day out; others seem to suggest that I might find something that would arouse more curiosity if I were to venture further afield.  To both groups, the obvious answer is that basically, I am lazy, unadventurous and perhaps even boring.  The truth is, though, that there’s enough going on along my barely changing routes to keep me busy for years.

Take the past four days, for instance.  On Friday morning, making my way southward along the promenade of Tel Aviv Port, I observed several men fishing.  In my naïveté a few years ago when I started photographing, I thought they really were fishermen.  But as I wrote once before, none of these men (they’re almost always men) ever seem to catch anything.  The point of the exercise is not really to catch fish but simply to pass the time of day.  In fact, I can only recollect three occasions on which I’ve actually seen anyone catch anything and none of those was anything large enough to bring home to cook.  On one occasion, the fish was thrown back into the sea; on another, it was fed to a egret; and on  the third, the man stamped the poor thing to death under his shoe.  I reckon they are all crypto-poets or pseudo-philosophers.  Anyway, on Friday, I espied this angler with his rod at an angle, waiting, I assumed for the fish to bite.  Not a bit of it … he was preparing his coffee, which precedes everything else.  I photographed him from behind and then as I passed by and turned, he invited me to photograph him again.  An unusual invite indeed.

Fish or coffee?Fishs or coffee!

Then, this morning, I got a shot that I’d wanted for quite some time.  It’s strange how when you go out at more or less the same time each morning and walk the well-trodden route, you come across the same people several times a week.  The joggers, walkers, the rowers and the cyclists; the same people performing a t’ai-chi routine, the same group of overgrown boys at kung-fu and other martial arts with swords and sticks.  However, it’s not just me or the people in the park who adhere to a routine.  

I have observed the man in the photo below for the past few months.  He occupies the same seat at the same table in the same café each time I pass by and I presume he’s also there when I choose not to walk that route.  It’s the same each time I pass him — coffee, Kit-Kat, crossword.  His position is just sufficiently inside the café so as to make it difficult to photograph unobtrusively.  I’ve tried photographing him on the move but it’s never worked.  I’d like to take the photograph full-face but that would mean pointing the camera straight at him and focussing on him directly.  Somehow, I don’t think he’d be too pleased.  This morning I had a telephoto lens on the camera and the view as I approached was pretty well unobstructed.  It’s not perfect because the chair between him and me is in the way and the waitress’s rear end disturbs.  Nevertheless, I got what I’d been looking for and it will do until I summon up the courage to ask him to pose for a better one.

Crossword

 

Continuing down Dizengoff Street, I came across many of these little cards strewn across the footpath.  These are the sorts of things that used to adorn phone boxes but as cellphones have more or less replaced public phones, phone boxes or booths have become part of the historical urban landscape.  By displaying them on the footpaths, I have to assume that the intended clientele are either latter-day Quasimodos or just men bent over their cellphones.

The advertisement suggests that by phoning the cellphone number provided these young women will turn up in your home or in your hotel room (or maybe they just parade up and down the hotel lobby).  What the invitation doesn’t make clear is whether they turn up as a group or serially/sequentially, and if the latter, the time lag involved from one visitor to the next.  There is also the issue of the “small print”, which appears just above the phone number, which says in Hebrew: “Without sex”!  Which, of course, begs the question of what they might do when they come into your living room or hotel room.  

I suppose they might forecast the weather or discuss whether or not Mrs. Netanyahu did indeed use state funds to furnish her private home in Caesarea.  Or perhaps they might even just sit at your feet and listen to Mahler’s 5th or Beethoven’s Quartet #14, Opus 131.  Never judge a book by its cover; we do live in a Land of Miracles, you know.

No sexNo sex 1

 

Never failing to be amazed by what I come across, I continued my walk head down but in no way despondent, turning left into Nordau Boulevard.  A couple of hundred metres along I spotted something that I thought made a nice picture.  I’m not quite sure how I managed to notice it because the dead leaf was sitting on the concrete and was almost exactly the same colour as the footpath.  However, I photographed it and then worked on it when I got home, brightening up the leaf from its surroundings, changing the colour slightly and sharpening up its features (and I don’t work with Photoshop).  And the result?  Not too bad.

Leaf on pavement

 

A few years ago, I photographed a crow hanging upside down from a wire and thought it might, in another life, have been a trapeze artist in a circus.  On my way out on Friday morning, I noticed another crow balancing quite comfortably on a sign at the junction of Shlomtzion and Brandeis Streets.  It didn’t have much to cling on to and its talons looked pretty sharp to me.  I thought I wouldn’t have time to frame and focus properly but the bird just sat there in deep contemplation, unmoving.  So I took my time and this was the result.

Balancing act

Walking through the Friday morning farmers’ market at Tel Aviv Port, I usually photograph fruit and vegetables as I like the colours.  Last week was no exception. However, what caught my eye was the array of bottles of water, which might be, if you don’t pay too much attention, a parade of North Korean soldiers, marching for Kim Jong-un, if they know what’s best for them!

Blue bottles

Finally, returning home this morning, just as I passed the Egyptian Embassy on Basel Street, turning into Ibn Gvirol Street, I saw this juggernaut passing by and I thought to myself that there’s going to be a very unhappy bunny somewhere close by who when s/he wakes up and finally figures out where s/he left the car last night or the night before, s/he’s going to discover that wherever that was, it very well may have been but, regrettably, no longer is.

Unhappy bunny1Unhappy bunny2

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A parable and some pictures

Let me begin this post with some music that is currently appropriate to the internal situation in Israel at the moment. (You can listen to them in any order you please — it won’t affect anything whatsoever.)

The stink is unbearable

Last Thursday evening, a foul smell began to infiltrate the air from the outside, making  its way into the flat.  Strangely enough, closing the windows and doors didn’t help in the slightest because it seemed as if the stench was being transmitted via the television and radio.  

The story was that the sheriff, a guy who’s seemingly been around since time immemorial, was having trouble with his posse and their horses.  Somehow, for the past year, he felt that he was in control but recently, he had begun to doubt his own powers of reining them in.  His badge of office, his gleaming silver star, had become tarnished. When it  was last polished, just over a year ago, he still had by his side his loyal hound, a mongrel , a cross between a fierce, single-minded Alsatian Shepherd and a friendly cocker spaniel, a dog whose job it was to scare away the bandits, who from time to time, come to threaten the sheriff and the people who elected him to protect them.  

In order to restore his authority, the sheriff felt he needed to try a far-reaching move.  Consequently, he tried enlarging the posse by bringing in a gang of pinkos from outside the pale but he couldn’t really convince himself that he could trust them to wear their badges, swear loyalty and do their job properly.

And then he had a brainwave. He reckoned that if he dispatched his loyal doggie to the dog pound, replacing him with a fiercer beastie, he might be able to keep the bandits in their place, restore order among the posse and their horses, and instil both fear and gratitude into the herd and the flock who followed him and whose well-being he was appointed to protect.

Lo and behold, just as he was dumping his loyal mongrel off at the pound, he was accosted by a familiar dark Rottweiler.  This large powerful looking canine seemed none the worse for wear although he had suffered terrible verbal abuse in recent weeks, from the sheriff — even though he had been languishing in the pound.  Thy recognised one another immediately, the dog answering the sheriff’s whistle and ran up to him immediately, slobbering and wagging its docked tail in great excitement.

The truth is that this Rottweiler, which had almost been put down just over a year ago but had been reprieved at the last minute and deposited in the pound, had a known history of mauling and biting all its previous owners, including this sheriff and other law enforcement officers.  In fact, it is reputed that this individual Rottweiler would snarl and bark at, bite and maul anything that stood in its way.  This was a known fact the world over.  Nevertheless, the sheriff, not always a gambling man, decided to risk it, hoping that this time, the big black dog would behave itself and be grateful for its reprieve and resurrection.  On the other hand, the Rottweiler might take to self-abuse and bite its own tail!  Some hope!

The trouble is that the sheriff’s current posse, their horses, and the animals that comprise the herd and the flock, on learning that they were going to have to deal once more with this selfsame Rottweiler, were scared shitless.  Hence the stench.  But, as with most effluvia, the stink eventually dissipates and is unremembered, cast clean out of mind.  

More fools we people!  

All of which reminds me of an anecdote I read years ago (suitably transposed into an Israeli context).  When Sir Laurence Olivier’s daughter, then aged five, asked Noel Coward what two dogs were doing together, Coward replied: “The doggie in front has suddenly gone blind and the other one has very kindly offered to push her all the way to Jerusalem.”

THE END.  

Pigs

(For those of you who might be confused by this little parable, I suggest you read HaAretz, The Jerusalem Post, Ynet, The Guardian or any other news outlet over the past few days and you may well be enlightened somewhat.)

Photographywise

I’ve been out a few times with the camera since returning from a few days in London — nothing spectacular, just a few walks along my most frequently travelled route.  What never fails to amaze me, however, is that no matter how often I walk through the the park and port in Tel Aviv, there is always something worth photographing, something I’ve never actually spotted before.  I wasn’t really in the mood for taking photographs but the fact that I did tells me that my attitude has changed and that it’s becoming more “serious” even if it doesn’t exactly make me a professional photographer.

One of the days while walking towards the sea, I noticed a woman rowing eastward in my direction.  I observed her distance from the bridge and the fact that she didn’t seem to be keeping a line parallel to the bank and made a mental note that if she didn’t change her direction and/or her speed, she would most likely collide with the column supporting the bridge.  Then I heard a crunch has her right oar struck the first column and then a second later, another noise as the side of the vessel struck the second column.  By the time I’d focussed on the event, the vessel had capsized and the woman in question was in the water.  What pleased me and appalled me simultaneously was that I was more concerned about getting a photograph than calling out and asking her if she needed help.  There wasn’t much danger of her drowning — the water isn’t deep; there’s probably more a hazard of dissolving in the polluted water.  In the event, another bystander asked if he could be of help and ran off to the Rowing Club to find her instructor who apparently should have been in the vicinity (she was a novice rower).

CapsizeCapsize 1Capsize 2

 

Grisha is employed by the Yarqon Park Authority as a general factotum, cleaning and clearing.  More often than not as I walk through and exchange pleasantries with him, he will leave whatever he’s doing and come across to ask me if my camera is “a good camera” and to tell me that he used to take photographs before he came to Israel from the ex-USSR and to ask me in which newspaper my pictures are published.  Several years of explaining to him that I do it for my own enjoyment doesn’t seem to have registered yet.  He always asks to examine the camera but is unwilling to have me photograph him.  However, last week I noticed him “in conversation” with one of the supervisors and thought that given Grisha’s limited Hebrew and his ear-mufflers it might have been a rather one-sided conversation.

Can't quite hear you

 

On occasion, you see something that evokes memories or at least calls to mind something from the past.  Approaching the sea, I came across this accumulation of garbage by the river waiting to be collected.  Besides the usual plastic bags containing paper waste, bottles, cans, and the like, I noticed this item which had obviously been treated roughly by the elements.  The thought that came to mind gave the caption to this photograph: Three years as Department Chair.  And just to think, I did that twice and then three years as Dean  afterwards (a larger chair, greater abuse)!

 

Department Chair

 

Friday morning and Farmer’s Market at Tel Aviv Port — and the artichokes, whether as edible vegetable or beyond — always provide me with a worthwhile photograph! 

Artichoke

 

Finally, a few weeks ago, I took the bus to the Carmel Market in central Tel Aviv to buy a kilogram of my favourite coffee beans.  On the way home to catch a bus, I noticed this display of halva, a sweet confection consisting chiefly of ground sesame seeds and honey.   What made this photo worthwhile is that there are about two dozen varieties here — coffee, chocolate, nougat, dates and much, much more!

Halva

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From blog to book?

You may have noticed — but then again, you may not — that it’s been a while since I posted.  Truth is I was away for a few days and neglected to ensure that I had my pictures with me so had I written anything while away, it would have appeared without pictures, which is not exactly the objective of this blog — if you hadn’t noticed.

My trip was no more adventurous than six days of seclusion in London to try and see if I could find a way to make something coherent out of the eclecticism of the 43 posts I’ve written since December and which comprise this blog.  In fact, that was the ulterior motive when I set out to write a blog in the first place.  I thought I might manage 20 and have a body of text of around 25,000 words but I seem to have outperformed by own expectations.  (The fact that I would be away during that period of enforced jollity called Independence Day was an added plus!)

The trouble is that when I sat down at the computer in NW3 last Tuesday morning, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to compose or how I was going to approach “coherence”.  I sorted about 100 articles that vaguely dealt with photography and geography and grouped them into categories ranging from “really interesting — read properly” to “totally irrelevant or gobbledegook — scrap”.  That took two days and I still didn’t know what I wanted to write!

I thought I might attempt an “learned” paper and I started to write some coherent but not very cohesive paragraphs.  And then, just as I went to prepare something to eat on Wednesday evening, the penny dropped.   I realised that (a) If I wanted to produce something “learned”, then I had an awful lot to learn and it was dubious that I’d be able to say anything particularly original about geography and photography and (b) I really don’t want to have to deal with editors and reviewers for as I wrote in last December: “To be honest, I don’t think I have the patience to submit a paper to an academic journal any more and deal with snooty editors and snotty reviewers (of which I was one for 35 years)!”  (I still am one occasionally and the last piece I received is a curious amalgam of jargon and gobbledegook.)

I really ought to be doing something else and once I’d realised that, everything seemed to fall into place within five minutes.  I think I’ve found a formula that will work and if it does, then I might look to anyone interested  — you, for instance — for comments and thoughts after I write an Introduction.

So I arrived in London last Monday afternoon.  The previous week had been proper spring with the weather warm and dry.  They promised us more of the same and when the plane landed on time at 13.30, that’s the way it seemed.  By the time I reached my destination two hours later and plugged in the computer, the view from the window on my left heralded a temporary halt to springtime for the next two days!  But this is London so I was disappointed but not exactly surprised.

The UK is in the midst of a campaign to stay in or leave the European Union.  It’s what seems to occupy the minds and mouths of politicians and pundits.  There’s a lot of hot air being exhaled and my understanding of things from the news media is that notwithstanding all the erudite arguments for and against being bandied about by historians, economists, bankers, businessmen and the like, the referendum will be decided when voters enter the polling booth on the day — on the basis of how they’re feel ing about foreigners at the time.

One ex-mayor of London, Boris Johnson, tried to paint a parallel between the aims of the EU and Hitler to dominate Europe under a single regime, which even for Boris was a bit way out.  His predecessor, Ken Livingstone, had also evoked Hitler a few weeks ago when he painted him as an early Zionist who wanted to ship German Jews to Palestine before he went mad (Ken’s words) and decided to kill them.  It seems that ex-Mayors of London have to call up Führer’s name for people to take any notice of them.  Meanwhile, London elected a Muslim Mayor a fortnight ago, something that seems to worry some Israelis more than it does Londoners.  A strange world!

Anyway, I ventured out a couple of days later to meet my sister for lunch — hummus, of course, at the Hummus Brothers eatery on Southampton Row—as good as any you can get in Tel Aviv.  By this time, the sun was out again and even though it was a little chilly, Londoners take full advantage of any sun that comes their way.  The parks — especially at lunchtime — fill up with people in various states of undress and their lunch bags and lunch boxes, drinking in the sunshine.

In the sunshine 1In Tavistock Square under the watchful eye of Mahatma Gandhi

The decent weather continued for most of the rest of my stay.  On Friday, when I’d done what writing I was able to, on the very strong recommendation of a good friend, I took myself to the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington to see the retrospective exhibition of the late American photographer Paul Strand.  About 200 pictures, all black and white.  As a non-professional it’s difficult to judge the finer points of Strand’s photography but I know enough from other situations that when each picture makes you stop and look carefully and when you are reminded by a picture of something that’s not actually in the picture itself, it’s got to be good.  I found the expressions on the faces of his portrait subjects particularly thoughtful and thought-provoking.

The weather being decent, I took the Tube to Green Park and walked through Green Park and Knightsbridge to South Kensington to reach the museum.  And again, the locals were taking advantage of the spring weather.

Although I’d often covered this route by bus, it made quite a difference to see things at my own pace on foot, Harrods department store looking particularly palatial.

Harrod's

The V&A itself is a particularly splendid edifice.  I’ve attended three summer courses there in the past few years and each time I visit it, I’m amazed by the building itself, especially its interior and what’s in it.  

V&A

The three remaining days were taken up with writing in the mornings and evening, interspersed with some shopping (of course), some walking and some photography.  Of course, one of the advantages of being in London and not either working or being a tourist is that I can choose to ride the Underground outside of rush hour.  It’s something I enjoy simply because I like observing my fellow Tubists — you never quite know what’s going to turn up opposite you, even someone reading A Seaman’s Pocket-Book.  And the little pancake lens on the camera is ideal for pointing and shooting unobtrusively.

Seaman's Pocket-book

Sunday afternoon took me to Hampstead Heath to be with the grandchildren and their parents — where I managed to photograph one close shave on a patch of ground that I’d never realised before was a cricket pitch.

Cricket on the Heath

And, finally before I left, I managed a proper walk up and down and all around Primrose Hill, something that I always love.  The picture below of St. Mark’s church, with the buildings of the City of London as a backdrop and the trees of Primrose Hill in the foreground is a picture I’ve taken many times before in different lighting conditions and in different seasons and with different lenses on the camera.  It always produces a beautiful image.

St. Mark's

P.S.  Apologies to all my London friends who I didn’t contact on this visit.  Seven nights — six days — when the whole point of the exercise is solitude isn’t too conducive to socialising.  I’ll make it up on the next, longer visit, if you’ll have me!

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On black and white, &c

On May 12 1987, almost 30 years ago, the multi-award winning writer, director and actor Allan Stewart Konigsberg gave a statement to the Subcommittee on Technology and the Law of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee (New York Review of Books, August 13, 1987).  What concerned Woody Allen was the tendency then for certain people in the American film industry to “colorize” films that had been made in black and white for purely commercial reasons”.  His main concern was not about colorization per se but about the moral rights of creative artists to their work, that the moral rights of artists must be protected. 

Allen was not against colorization:

“If a movie director wishes his film to be “colorized,” then I say, by all means, let him color it. If he prefers it to remain in black and white then it is sinful to force him to change it. If the director is not alive and his work has been historically established in black and white it should remain true to its origin. The presumption that the colorizers are doing him a favor and improving his movie is a transparent attempt to justify the mutilation of art for a few extra dollars.”  

Later on his statement he continued:

“In an era of almost exclusively color films, I have chosen on a number of occasions, even fought for the privilege, to tell stories with black and white photography. Indeed, the different effect between color and black and white is often so wide it alters the meaning of scenes. If I had portrayed New York City in color rather than black and white in my movie Manhattan, all the nostalgic connotations would have vanished. All the evocation of the city from old photographs and films would have been impossible to achieve in technicolor. Whereas if I had filmed Annie Hall in black and white, all the scenes that now come off amusingly would take a giant step toward grim seriousness by mere virtue of their suddenly being grittier and less cartoonlike.”

So, of course, I am hardly being original when I write that there is a world of a difference between a picture that appears in colour and one in black and white; I have brought this up before on more than one occasion over the past four months.  However, in this era of ever more sophisticated digital technology concerning both the machines that “see” the scenes and record them (cameras) and the software for editing images, what is worth mentioning  is that until about five decades ago, colour photography was considered garish and tasteless, useful perhaps in fashion and advertising; for artistic work, it didn’t work.  

Try explaining that to a smartphone photographer or anyone who has recently bought their first camera.

There’s more than one way to shoot in black and white.  If your camera permits it, you can see the image in the viewfinder and the monitor directly in black and white.  In other words, although your eye sees the potential photograph in colour, you can immediately check out how it might appear desaturated.  But B&W is not the default setting on the camera and most times what you will see is a version in colour of what the eye sees — so you have to envisage how it would look without colour, which, I suppose, most photographers had to do anyway when black and white film was the medium of choice.  With a bit of experience, it’s not hard to recognise when a colour scene would look better without.  And then, of course, there is the “post-click colour desaturation”, when you are editing a picture and trying out different settings such as contrast or brightness or altering the exposure and colour saturation and then decide to try it without colour.  And once you’ve figured out that it looks better without colour, then there are umpteen aids to help you choose what kind of black and white suits your picture best.

Black and White works for large and small.  Take these salt cellars, for instance.  They look like, well, salt cellars when you look at the original photograph taken in colour.  Just stainless steel salt cellars.  In black and white with a lot of added contrast, they take on a threatening look.

Salt cellars

The same goes for these five guys who I come across regularly in different combinations in Yarqon Park in Tel Aviv.  The original photograph in colour simply doesn’t work.  It’s not quite in focus and, frankly, it looks terrible.  I was about to junk it when I thought I’d try desaturating the colour and look at it in B&W.  It looked better.  So, I added some graininess and then a little more and what was a poor photograph becomes an interesting one because, I think, you concentrate less on the image itself and more on the characters that make up the image.  They are walking briskly, even aggressively towards the camera, four of them looking straight at it.  You need to get out of their way fast.  I like this photo!

Walkers

There’s a similar feel to the three photographs below.  The first is of a woman sitting on a bench at the junction of two streets in North Tel Aviv.  I had just turned the corner — no time to lift the camera and focus as she’d spotted me, so I shot from the hip and hoped for the best.  This, too, was shot in colour but because it’s not in focus, the picture was wasted.   Removing the colour leaves you with the facial expression and the hand in the bag, sort of caught in the act — both of us.  The second one was not as furtive as the first.  I wanted a picture of the hands, mouth and cigarette.  He was deep in contemplation looking out at the sea, totally unaware (I think) of me as I checked out the angles, circumambulating and taking several pictures until settled on this one.  The third in this set is of a jogger on Primrose Hill in London.  Again, this was taken in colour with insufficient time to compose and focus.  But the blurred nature of the runner emphasises his movement and the B&W simply accentuates it.

Handbag lady

Smoker

Jogging Primrose

Classic B&W.  Two crows on a lamp in Tel Aviv Port.  High contrast.  Light reading from bright background.  Result: silhouette.  Same applies to the weathervane on Hampstead Heath. Nice!

Crows and lamppost

Weather vane

Large structures look good, too — cranes, domes, gasometers, all three of the photos below from London, with the middle one showing the construction going on in the City of London, with St. Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by cranes, taken from the top of Primrose Hill.

Three cranes and skySt. Paul's and cranesGasometer

The photograph of the beans below works well in black and white.  The light on the white beans causes the background to “disappear” into the black.  This was a picture shot in colour and it wasn’t bad.  But the short focal length used, resulting in the foreground and background beans  being out of focus, means that B&W works better.

Beans

 

The final shot was taken in B&W and then reworked.  Two women on a street bench after what, I presume, had been a weekly shop.  The one on the left looks exhausted and is relaxing, having just lit up a cigarette.  Her companion on the right can’t believe that 32 rolls of toilet paper cost as much as it says it does on the printed receipt.

Checking the bill

Yes, without a shadow of doubt, Woody Allen got it emphatically right: “Indeed, the different effect between color and black and white is often so wide it alters the meaning of scenes.”  How true.

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Passover’s over!

Passover’s well and truly over.

Pesach's over

During the fortnight following it, the calendar has two memorial days and Independence Day.  The first of the memorial days is today (Thursday) — Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, literally, “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”, which began yesterday evening with the usual pomp and ceremony including speeches from  President and Prime Minister and prayers from rabbis and cantors.  Today, a siren sounded at 10.00 a.m. and everything comes to a halt for two minutes — and I mean everything.  The siren is heard throughout the country, bringing it to a standstill as drivers get out of their cars,cyclists dismount, stopping in their tracks and pedestrians freeze.  Nothing moves.  Next Wednesday, this scene is repeated, as the country remembers its fallen soldiers, followed on Thursday by Independence Day celebrations.

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On Monday, I was fulfilling my duties as driver, which took up much of the day.  By 6 in the evening, I needed to get out and walk so I thought I’d take a brisk walk through the park and perhaps photograph the sunset at Tel Aviv Port.  But I left it a little late and the sun had already vanished behind the clouds before I reached the sea.  Actually, I’m not quite sure why I thought I’d photograph the sunset because I don’t particularly like sunsets; I find them boring.  At any rate, I did photograph the port with the light looking completely different to the way it usually looks at 7.30 in the morning.

Evening at the Port

Walking through the park on the way home I was surprised to find so much activity at 7.30 in the evening.  In addition to the strollers and the joggers, the cyclists and people in boats, there was a group — mostly men — who had enterprisingly set up their own net and lighting and were very actively engaged in a serious game of “No holds barred” volleyball.

Volleyball evning

The following morning I was out a little later than planned.  First up, a man sitting beside the kiddies’ swings deep in prayer.

@Prayer

About 100 meters away, another man deep in contemplation, looking at the river —  but hardly at prayer.

Just relaxing

And as I continue westward, a woman coming in the opposite direction, psalter in one hand, phone in the other, in between psalms presumably.  Traditionally, whenever religious Jews find themselves in difficulties, they would open up the Book of Psalms and use King David‘s poetic praises and supplications to entreat God for mercy, so I assume she’d been having trouble with cellular reception this morning.

Psalms

I take a shortcut to reach the area of the port and notice something bright lodged in the trunk of a palm tree.  On closer inspection, I see that it’s a door key and car ignition key and thought to myself that I hope the poor unfortunate didn’t live too far away as getting home and then getting inside the previous night must have proven a little difficult!

No car, no home 1

I reach the port and walk along the promenade.  I wondered what she might be reading, so, then I walked a bit further along and had a good look from behind with the telephoto lens.  It was nothing more exciting than material for an examination.

Exam time

I continue southward and decide that I’d walk another kilometer and half or so towards the Tel Aviv Marina, coming across these two lifeguards in conversation.  The one on the left of the picture used to be a regular fixture jogging through the port area in the mornings, bracelets and beads jangling — but I haven’t seen him in a while.

Lifeguards

However, after having taken three pictures of this pair, my attention focussed on the figure in the background emerging from the sea.  I wasn’t sure why I did this but I was rewarded as by the time I got round to where swimmers hose themselves down, there he was — washing his socks.  That in itself wasn’t so unusual.  What was a little odd was that he was washing them to get rid of the sand: he’d been in the sea with sox on.

Sox

Having finished photographing this, I literally turned around on my heel and photographed yet another first.  No comment.

Bearded woman

Continuing south, I came across two lads preparing to construct sandcastles, it would appear.  I don’t remember building sandcastles being so much fun when I was young!

Sandcastles

Proceeding south towards the marina, these two young women were coming towards me deep in conversation.  What caught my eye was the one on the right of the picture, who had a mane that looked as if it would defeat any brush with the greatest of contempt.

Hair

I made my way home from the marina via HaYarqon and Jabotinsky Streets.  Along Jabotinsky Street, I was reminded of something that an acquaintance had said to me about a dozen years ago as we stood on a freezing Sunday afternoon in winter opposite the Wigmore Hall in London, waiting for a signal to re-enter after a fire scare.  What Frank (a retired architect) had remarked on was that people walking along streets rarely look up to the roofs, which is where the really interesting things are to be found.  (Actually, when you have a telephoto lens on the camera, you do tend to look at things further away, including upwards.)  And so it proved on Tuesday morning, way up there on the roof of a four-storey building.

Look up

Yesterday morning (Wednesday), I went to spend an hour with my friend Maoz and decided to walk the length of one of Tel Aviv’s several north-south streets, Ben-Yehuda Street.  I often do Dizengoff Street which is parallel for most of its length a couple of hundred meters to the east.  It’s very striking the extent to which two streets, constructed at more or less the same time are so different from one another.  However, that’s not the subject for presentation at the moment because on this walk, I came across one my bugbears, namely, large signs that are incorrectly spelled.

Hennessy

This one was on Ben-Yehuda Street but I reckon that it would have been better located near us, a couple of kilometers further to the northeast, where it would have been more suited.

Brandies

Continuing south on Ben-Yehuda Street I noticed this gentleman just as he was about to pull away when the traffic lights turned to green, hence the fact that the photograph is not properly in focus.  It was only when he pedalled past (and the lens on the camera was not quite suited to this) that I noticed that the child seats on the bicycle.  One is the standard fare and two is not something unusual, but three?

Yellow Bike 1Yellow Bike 2

I wended my way across to Dizengoff Circle, where a recently renovated building in the Bauhaus style is looking particularly fine.

94 Dizengoff

It’s a fair match for the iconic Isokon Building in Lawn Road in Belsize Park which I pass regularly when in London on my way to walk across Hampstead Heath.

Isokon 

Finally, before I got home, as I walked past Milano Square, several dog-walkers had met up for a photo shoot (not for me, I might add).  I counted three walkers and more than 20 canines.  There are 17 in this picture.

Dogs

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90 minutes one morning

I’m overdue!  It’s almost a week since I last posted — but Passover not only involves the consumption of cardboard but also seeing old friends and relatives who are passing by.  And then there’s the snooker on the TV, which I enjoy in smallish doses, so between one thing and another  I’ve neglected the blog.

I have one or two topics almost ready but this morning I went out for my usual morning tramp through the park and decided that I’ll keep these for another day and take you along with me on my walk.  People often ask me what I find to photograph in the park every day — or nearly every day — and my stock answer is that each day there’s something different or something I simply hadn’t noticed before. It’s true that some days are more fruitful than others.  In eight years I’ve had perhaps two or three days on which I really didn’t find anything worth photographing and perhaps another ten on which I junked everything I had taken.  Usually, there’s at least one photo and more that are worth keeping.  Anyway, today was particularly fecund.

Garbage

First thing outside the gate, the same car that had been parked on the footpath since yesterday afternoon was still there, totally blocking access and causing my good lady to have to reverse her mobility scooter on to the road.  I left an irate note on the car yesterday evening but I managed some sort of restraint, holding back from writing to the perpetrator what I really thought had would have said had s/he turned up.  However, this morning, there was a second note there on the windscreen from someone else, which began “You  piece of human garbage …” and continued on from there in that vein.  The car (and the notes) were gone an hour and a half later, which is after the traffic wardens have started their work.

Last drag

Round the corner heading towards the park, a building labourer, smartphone in one hand and fag in the other awaiting instructions for a day’s work on the building site that was cleared of its previous occupant a month and a half ago.

Lost DogInto the park where a notice had been affixed a couple of days ago announcing the disappearance of a white-beige dog lost in Central Tel Aviv the other day.  As readers of Hebrew will be able to ascertain, the owner is religious, so I hope s/he is offering a very optimistic prayer.  As canines usually answer to some name given by humans, it might have helped if the owner had informed the potential informers what this was.

New Israeli driver

Turn left and head towards the sea and I encounter this young man on his way to school by the looks of it, practising hard to become an Israeli driver when he grows up, sms-ing as he rides by.

CamouflageTo my left, the parakeets are practising camouflage as I walk by and making a pretty good shot of it, too, it seems.  I look to my right, and observe a young man practising relaxation exercises.

Relaxez-vous

I continue westward ho, heading towards the Tel Aviv Rowing Club.  Before I get there, I encounter this gentleman apparently in deep meditation.  However, on further scrutiny, I see that he’s squinting so as to be able to read the text on his smartphone.

Meditation

I eventually reach the rowing club and come across a rather unusual sight.  Can they really be inquiring about taking rowing lessons or are they discussing the correct benediction to be recited on observing flowing water?  It can’t be the latter — the Yarqon doesn’t exactly flow down here and they don’t appear to quite be fitted out to jump into a boat and row off.  But there’s obviously some sort of exchange going on over there though for once I’m really not close enough to overhear even snippets of the conversation so I can’t even make up a story.  Still, the photos are nice. 

Blessing for boating1Blessing for boating2

 (And this reminds me that in return for photographing a rowing instructor at work in mid-river a couple of weeks ago, I was offered a free lesson.  I’m still debating with myself whether or not to take the offer up.  Should I?)

Mid-river

I’m just about to cross the river to the northern bank over the footbridge, when I see something that my so-called “artistic” eye catches.  

Rings

Then, as I cross the bridge, to my immediate left, there’s someone obviously suffering the after effects of a matzah overload, while in the distance another lone fisherman contemplating the effects of global warming (which President-to-be-I-hope-very-much-not-but-you-can-never-know-in-a-democracy Trump says “is just weather”) on the declining fish population of the Yarqon stream.

Over-relaxedLonely fisherman

Over the bridge and through to Tel Aviv Port.  The usual string of older cyclists, with and without legs, strung out along the cafés that line the port.

One leg

Time for a leak (it’s a couple of hours since I had a tumbler of water and a mug of strong coffee) and as I emerge, I see a woman in the distance attempting vertical splits.  I’m really too far away for a decent photo but I take it anyway otherwise it’s lost, and then I close in on her while she changes her stance and turn away a split second after I think I’ve been spotted.

Stretch1Stretch2Stretch3Stretch4

At this point, I walk south down Dizengoff Street and Nordau Boulevard ending up on Ibn Gvirol Street, without taking any more photos because I heading back to the park en route home.  I know that today is the celebration of the festival of Flores de Mayo because we saw the preparations yesterday afternoon.  It’s a festival held in the Philippines during May, one of the May devotions to the Virgin Mary and lasts for the entire month although in Tel Aviv, it seems that it’s celebrated during the first half of the month  There’s a large Filipino population in Tel Aviv (and, indeed, in Israel), many employed as carers.

The parade takes place annually in the park directly outside the Philippine Embassy, which is about 400m from our home (we also have the Serbs and Hungarians close by but they can’t match the Philippines for vibrancy).  The pageantry is very colourful and everybody seems to be enjoying themselves fully.

Flores fierceFlores Bride&Groom

Flores BridesmaidQueenie

And so to home, upload 110 images, get rid of over 50% and write “90 minutes one morning …”.

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