Quick Shots: A Harsh Reality

As beautiful as the Middle East is, it's hard to ignore the turmoil and near-constant conflict that hangs over the region. Israel - a country that can polarize - had many sobering reminders of the bullets shot and lives lost over this contentious property. As a photographer, it is important that I capture these uglier reminders of our world; my camera is an opportunity to show people the most beautiful parts of our planet and remind them of our less proud moments.

These two photographs capture what I believe is the essence of conflict in the Levant region. The first is part of a building just miles from Gaza. The holes in the side of the building are bullet holes - reminders of previous conflicts between Hamas and the Israeli military. If you look closely, you can also see Hebrew and Arabic writing on the building's facade.

The second image was taken in the north of Israel, in the Golan Heights, and is part of a UN Disengagement Observer Force post looking into Syria. In the background of the image is Syria - I could hear artillery and gunfire in the distance. These UN observers are stationed on this hilltop as a neutral force to monitor that Israeli and Syrian military forces respect a 1973 agreement to establish a buffer zone between Israel and Syria. 

I am very fortunate; there are no bullet holes on the buildings around my home and there are no UN observers in my backyard. The local reminders of war and conflict date to the 1940s or cold war - they are not reminders of a current and ongoing fight. Seeing (and hearing) the ever-present evidence of Middle East conflict was extremely sobering, and I believe it's just as important to capture as the beautiful sights.

Shot with the Leica Camera SL and 24-90mm SL Lens.

Quick Shot: Tower of London Remembers

2014 marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, which is a very important anniversary in Europe. One of the many events being held to commemorate this centennial is at the Tower of London, where hundreds of thousands of red poppy flowers are being "planted" in the moat in honor of those who perished during the first world war.

The Tower of London played an important role for the British soldiers during WWI; it served as a recruiting and training site for the thousands of new soldiers conscripted into service. The red poppy flower is a symbol used to honor service members in the UK, much like the yellow ribbon in the US. To celebrate the centennial, almost 900,000 hand painted ceramic poppies will be placed in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The project, which started earlier this summer, will run through mid-November when the UK celebrates their version of Veterans Day.

I had seen photographs of this display and it was one of the sites I was most intent to photograph in London. Although I usually find black and white images with one color gimmicky, I knew that I wanted this image to be that way to really draw your attention to the abundance of red poppies flowing from the tower. This image was actually a panorama of several images stitched together to create this wide angle perspective on the Tower of London. I actually took this photograph during a rain storm, which gave the clouds a nice dramatic touch.

Be sure to visit the Tower of London Remembers Website If you are interested in learning more about the exhibit or want to purchase a red poppy to be planted in the moat.