Clint Eastwood said in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Let me share my limitations as I tried to capture this image. Faith in God drives thousands of people each day to this location. Just beyond these immense quarried stones, the promise awaits that God soon will allow the temple of Solomon to be rebuilt. So, through 3,000 years of anticipation and tireless devotion, people of faith come to pray. Lighting is everything to make an image come alive. After watching this spot around the clock, I settled on 10 a.m. as the perfect moment. The light comes in from the side, creating a three-dimensional perspective. It also is a low-angled light, so the rays are shorter and in the range of yellow gold. It’s a vital element for the beautiful Jerusalem stone. Figuring out the right time to shoot turned out to be the easy part. I had other obstacles to overcome, and they tested my faith. First, I had to beg the grounds rabbi to allow my tripod to be placed on holy ground. I begged for four consecutive days. He emphatically declined the first three days, but the key ingredients in life – patience and perseverance – finally prevailed on Day 4. Tiring of hearing that I would not return to America until I conquered the Western Wall, the rabbi said, “You have 10 minutes to take this photo.” In my whiniest voice, I responded, “But rabbi, it takes 10 minutes to load the film in my camera.” He politely smiled and said, “I am Jewish. Ten minutes can be 20 or 30 minutes.” As I neared the 15-minute mark, the next problem revealed itself. The kids in this image would not stop running around to allow for a one-second exposure. As the rabbi approached, the juvenile activity ceased. I released the shutter, and the last frame on the film captured the perfect moment. When I returned home and edited this roll of film, only one image made the cut. It’s a fitting representation for an amazing part of history, faith and perseverance. Four days can’t compare to 3,000 years, but getting this photograph was worth the wait for me.
Jeff Mitchum is one of the great American and international landscape photographers who rose to success in the recent years. He is often described as the “Ansel Adams of color” in the fine art photography world. Self taught, Mitchum is known for his compositional mastery and the keynotes in his work are the use of natural light and subject matter. His aesthetic is simple – to capture the stunning beauty of nature and dramatic landscape and bring it to people’s everyday lives.