Earlier this year, a non-profit organization by the name of Kinetis flew myself and a couple of other photographers in to Israel to create unique pieces that would showcase Israel in an unconventional way. I’m not sure what you imagine when you think”Israel” but it’s not camel’s or orthodox jews galore… nor is it just a place of conflict, and thus the idea of clashing the old and the new was born.

Israeli based photographer Tomer Jacobson was brought on board to help produce the photoshoot and we began sourcing extreme sport individuals from Israel to feature within the walls of holy Jerusalem. This was the result:

Video by Karen Eng – Promessa Films

This was the first shoot that I would have the opportunity to use my brand new Broncolor equipment and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Para 133 was able to output a good 1.5 more stops of light than a bare bulb when fully focused. This meant large scale hard light with a soft wrap – something that I never had access to. Combined with the Pocketwizard TT5s I was able to hypersync at approximately 1/2000th of a second while the Broncolor Move 1200L was on max power allowing me to freeze motion without loosing too much power.

Extreme Jerusalem 2
1/2000 sec at f/5.0 , ISO 100 | Nikon D800E | 24-70mm f/2.8 ft. Daniel Deitch

The goal of this photoshoot was to create images that would put our talent in the foreground doing something amazing… silhouetted by an iconic Jerusalem backdrop. This meant that we had to find a happy medium between what the talent could do and where we could do… and sometimes that meant doing things that were unconventional… like riding on your producer.

Riding on my producer…
Photo by Shai Ben-Naphtali

Because it just wasn’t enough to hang…
Photo by Shai Ben-Naphtali

An often overlooked tool to every photoshoot is a bucket. In our case, we brought along a bucket to gather surrounding clumps of dust and dirt so that we could make the images more dynamic by tossing it on our models.

Extreme Jerusalem 1
1/1600sec at f/5.0, ISO 100 | Nikon D800E | 70-200mm f/2.8 – ft. Omri Baum

Another tool we had in our toolkit was a long piece of rope so that we could help Omri gain some additional momentum for his jump.


Animation by Shimon Jakobson ft. Gili Hiram‘s heroic rope pull.

Quick tip: The best way to figure out if your light is pointed in the right direction is to have someone stand on the receiving end of the light and make sure that it’s pointed towards where the subject is going to be. Remember: light travels in a straight line.

DSC 5914
Tomer Jakobson helping to make sure the lights were properly oriented

For our shoots with the home-made electrical scooters, a single Para 133 was used to accentuate our model and make him pop out against the sky. Because we wanted him to stand out against the sky, we simply waited until a cloud passed overhead before snapping our shots.

Extreme Jerusalem 4
1/1000 sec at f/5.0, ISO 50 | Nikon D800E |Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D – ft. Eyal Aloni

As with all shoots, certain things can be unpredictable such as when your model comes in bright red circus checkered pants. Knowing that his pants would really not fit the look and feel of the image I was going for… I sacrificed myself and traded pants with him in front of the tower of David.


Quick tip: When you need to add drama and distortion to an action shot, try shooting with a fisheye to get a unique perspective! Special thanks to FroKnowsPhoto for lending me his 16mm!

Extreme Jerusalem 5
1/1600 sec at f/5.0, ISO 50 | Nikon D800E |Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D – ft. Yoav Konikoff

Often times, I find myself hanging in precarious positions just to get the shot and this time was no exception. Using nothing more than a single Para hanging off the edge of the building, we snapped this shot of Tom hoping around precariously on the walls.

Liron Samuels BVW 1304
Photo by Liron Samuels
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Photo by Shai Ben-Naphtali

Pocketwizards and Broncolor seem to occasionally have issues when working together but since the movements were relatively static, we had no problems adapting to the circumstances and I switched back to the native Broncolor triggers with a maximum sync speed of 1/250th.

Extreme Jerusalem 6

1/250 sec at f/14.0, ISO 50 | Nikon D800E |Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D – ft. Tom Trial Bar

The final two images were shot in the Jewish quarter and we had to be careful to try not to antagonize too many of the passerbys. Lighting conditions were quite challenging with sunlight bleeding through the narrow hallways but we used that to our advantage in order to help our subjects stand out.

Extreme Jerusalem 3
1/250 sec at f/9.0, ISO 50 | Nikon D800E | 70-200mm f/2.8 ft. Omri Eran Vardi

See how different the image looks without a flash. A simple Para popping on the upper right edge of the frame helped carve out our subjects effectively – see the difference between shooting ambient and with flash.

Photo by Shai Ben-Naphtali

Last but not least, for the final image of the day, we didn’t have very much space available to us to hide the flashes so they were hidden bare bulbed in the doorways – 1 used to help illuminate the arch, and the second to light our model.

By this time, the sun had already began dropping significantly so our flashes had to be dialed down. The pocketwizards were still misbehaving so hypersync wasn’t an option. Thankfully though, we made sure that at the exact location that Gal would be performing his jump, the area would be shaded which meant that we could take advantage of the Move‘s extra fast flash duration to freeze the action without getting any ambient blur.

Extreme Jerusalem 7
1/250 sec at f/4.0, ISO 400 – 1/250 sec at f/9.0, ISO 50 | Nikon D800E | 70-200mm f/2.8 ft. Gal Armoza

In conclusion:

The entire shoot was done with only two flashes but it turned out to be more than enough to give the images the punch they needed to make them stand out. Of course, having an amazing crew in an awesome location combined with some super talented artists was truly what made the shots come out great! Despite having the reputation of being a super conservative city, we had less problems than almost all major cities that I’ve ever shot in despite the size of the gear and crew!

No matter what level of photography you reach, there will always be problems to solve and that doesn’t change regardless of how high up the food chain you climb. Being creative and having the ability to work around the challenges encountered is what will ultimately make the difference between good imagery and great imagery.

Great gear makes your life easier, but at the end of the day, you’re going to need to push, hustle and get creative to get those shots.

Special thanks once again to Kinetis for bringing me up. It was a blast!



  • Organizer: Kinetis
  • Talent: Gal Armoza, Omri Eran Vardi, Tom Trial Bar, Yoav Konikoff, Eyal Aloni, Omri Baum, Daniel Deitch
  • Producer: Tomer Jakobson
  • Assistants: Liron Samuels, Shimon Jakobson, Shai Ben-Naphtali, Karen Eng, Gili Harem, Noa Magger, Karen Yaniv-Guidanian