..lies The Rock of Monemvasia, and its medieval fortress. Some even refer to it as the Gibraltar of the East or The Rock.
I’ve always thought of the place as enchanting and mythical, even when I had visited it as a kid (and as a kid I was very hard to impress because I was indifferent to anything and everything). It looked to me as the medieval counterpart of Atlantis for some reason and its name sounded even more enchanting, like some sort of a magical incantation.
Odd as it may seem, when I look at this photo I realize that the best part of that morning in December 2009 was not the sunrise itself. And it was a lovely sunrise spent perched precariously on the rocks, watching that huge cloud that stood over The Rock for a long time changing its shape from a caterpillar, to a snail, to a sea turtle (yes, the sky wasn’t so still after all, and that cloud was a big show off, thank God!). Still the best part of that day was the subsequent walk through the narrow cobblestone paths of the castle, and the slippery climb trying to reach the highest point of it with the company of a friendly mongrel dog who quickly took the lead and sniffed its way to the top thus showing us the way. And the even better part of it was having a delicious breakfast in one of the cafes there, basking in the sun and enjoying the terrific view.
In Greek mythology, Sirens were part human, part bird. They lived on a rocky island in the middle of the sea, possibly near Italy. They sang melodies so beautiful that sailors passing by couldn't resist getting closer to them. Following their song, the sailors would steer their ships towards them or jump in the water to get closer. Either way, it always ended in disaster on the rocks. That is why the island where they lived was full of shipwrecks.
That was just to explain the title. The more down to earth facts say that the tanker Africa fell into a storm on a night of December 2003. The strong winds and powerful waves made sure that it was its last pass from the island of Milos. And frankly, standing there on an August morning with the wind trying to sweep us off our feet and the waves crashing all around us, constantly spraying us with seawater, this second version seemed much more plausible. But then again, looking back at the memory of that day through the filter of nostalgia I could swear there was a haunting song hidden in the howling of the wind
Location: Sarakiniko Bay, Milos Island
Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm Shutter Speed: 60 sec ISO: 200 Filters: Lee 2 stops hard grad ND, Hoya ND 400 (9 stops ND)
Drakolimni (= Dragon lake) is the name of several alpine or sub-alpine lakes in northwestern Greece Epirus periphery. According to local folktales the lakes used to be inhabited by dragons that fought each other by throwing pines and rocks and thus created the peculiar landscape and gave their names to the lakes. Drakolimni of Tymfi resides at an altitude of 2100m above sea level, on the mountain range of Tymfi and is inhabited by a species of alpine newt, called drakakia by the locals. According to local sources, the newts' resemblance to small dragons gives the lake its distinctive name.
and this was my most difficult capture to get. Not to capture, but to reach that sliver of paradise we had to go through a kind of hell. To set things straight, when I say WE I mean WE. Most people traveling light, with only their clothes in their backpacks or with no backpacks at all reach that place in 5 hours of fairly easy uphill track (or even less, we met people that jogged that track just for fun). Well, let me give you the version of two mildly to seriously out of shape and heavily packed photographers carrying with them all of their photographic equipment (to talk with numbers thats translated to 25 kilos for male photographer *KirlianCamera and 15 kilos for female photographer me thats just a little less than one third of my weight)...
Alarm clock set at 7.30 am, arrival at the nearest village at 9.00am. We saddle up and start walking. First half hour is a mere torture to me as what starts as a merely annoying pain at my right shoulder becomes a stab real fast. I keep fumbling and messing with my backback straps, tightening some and loosening up some until I find a comfortable combination at last. We carry on panting laboriously, tongues lolling out of our mouths; we do innumerable stops to catch our breath and I use each of these stops to munch enthusiastically through our supplies of food not because Im hungry but because I want to lighten up my burden. Fortunately at some point the carbohydrates I have consumed kick in and I feel much better, find a reasonable pace and 6 hours later we reach the refuge and collapse on the front porch unable to shoo away the horses that come to greet us, sniff, lick and nibble at our bags. After a hot drink and a tasty dinner we sleep like logs.
That was not the end, the lake still lay ahead of us and we set off to explore it and time ourselves on the next morning. Stop clock verdict: 2 hours. Which means that since we want a sunrise at the land of the dragons we wake up at 3.30am, leave by 4.00 am, snow sparkling like diamond dust under our headlights, moon shining behind the peak of Astraka, mildly worried about wolves and bears waiting for their nicely wrapped up in isothermal clothes take-away breakfast. We reach the lake in our usual, unbecoming fashion (panting laboriously, tongues hanging out of our mouths etc etc) just in time to catch the first light touching the peaks before it was snuffed out by a heavy cloud right behind us.
Its been 13 months and a day since the day I got my Nikon D300 in my hands. On that same day I got hold of the filters that at last made it possible for me to start taking long exposure shots. Glimpses of the adventures of that camera and those filters are scattered all over my gallery. Currently my camera counts almost 8,000 shots. Many of them have been deleted almost immediately, others after a while and a lot of the shots that I considered to be good at the time have lost their charm over the months. And there are always those shots I was never able to capture that still pleasantly haunt me.
This is one of the very first images this camera captured and one that never lost its charm over me all this time so I thought it was fitting for such an anniversary! It was one of my very first experiments in long exposures too and on that day I used both of my filters to see what I would come up with and to see if I could calculate the exposure time correctly.
Hope you like it, wish me another 13 months of happy shootings (for a start! )
This one is dedicated to Maggie, my little *FairyOfLuck for her always bright presence in this site and in the world and for all the luck and joy she brings to everyone around her. Keep shining Maggie!
Location: Location: Agia Markella, Chios island, Greece
Sea of memory, sea of memory wind and water in my dreams passing through my fingers passing through my brain fragile sand castle on my shore
Once again I’m taking you back to my little rocky island with a winter shot. This was actually captured on December 1st, on one of these afternoons where upon leaving work I decided to make a small detour and enjoy the sunset in one of the beaches around there. And this little port is one of my most favorite places, it’s the same place where Under the Red and Exit Music where made.
It is usually very quiet and lonely there during winter but on that particular day I wasn’t alone. Short after I had set everything up, taken a few test shots and settled down (very awkwardly and uncomfortably so, since I was sitting on the large middle rock as if I was riding on the back of a crocodile) I heard a burst of chattering voices and saw a bunch of my students taking pictures of the sunset using their mobile phones! I’m normally glad to see those little devils but I had just started counting the seconds of the exposure in my head (no, didn’t own a stopwatch back then) and the last thing I wanted was a distraction so I hoped they wouldn’t see me. Well, they did and one of them decided to come and say “Hi”
When I replied with an enthusiastic “One thousand forty six –Hello Miki!- one thousand forty seven…” he immediately understood what was going on (well, I had recently told them the story about a shot that came out pure white when I had to answer my mobile phone right in the middle of the exposure) and decided to make me lose counting by making up a sentence so full of numbers and so cleverly made I couldn’t but admire him! I tried to shut him up but I guess that you can’t terrify someone by telling him “one thousand ninety eight Miki!” no matter how threateningly you utter it!
Surprisingly enough I managed to keep track of the seconds and this is the outcome.
This used to be a tree. Thousands of years ago there used to be a forest here. Then came time, an eternity of it, and water and mud and all the elements worked slowly but patiently their magic, turning the wood into hard stone.
Then, thousands of years later, on a beautiful afternoon along came two photographers to explore the place, found it enchanting and decided to stay and wait for the sunset hoping to capture an image of eternitys work. The silly female photographer (thats me alright) made the mistake of spending too much time exploring the place and upon returning to the point of interest (the fossil tree trunks) discovered that the clever male photographer (thats *KirlianCamera alright) had already set up his gear and composed a shot which covered the entire area of interest. Which basically means that wherever I stood I turned around and saw him looking at me like this youre in my #^$&$ frame "! I gave up and went to shoot at some waves, fuming from the ears at first cause the last thing you wanted to capture at such a place was another sea and rocks combo and decided to demand a return visit the next day so I could have my go at the place. On a side note, the soothing effect of the sea worked its magic again and very soon I forgot all about the trunks and was just so happy to be there and enjoy the sunset!
Fortunately, the aforementioned photographer felt that he had captured the shot he wanted while the light was still good so I had the time to set up at my chosen spot and capture this image.
That’s just me. Sometimes things happen all around me, seasons change, the world moves on, people move on or out around me and I just stay static, clueless and ignorant. Sometimes I open my eyes and move along. Sometimes I even find myself in the lead even if I was too slow to take the first step. I’m afraid of changes. But they have always turned out for the best.
One thing I realized during those hours while we sat there looking at the light of the stars, that light from the past, was the definition of contentment: watching at the shooting stars I could think of nothing to wish for. Everything I needed was right there with me, everything that really mattered was already true…
About the Shot (please read before you ask if this is a manipulation)
Trying star trail photography had been in our plans for quite some time. After browsing through various tutorials explaining how the “stacking multiple exposures” method was done we decided to follow this one [link] I just needed 30 four minute shots and one shot where the foreground was illuminated with a flashlight to serve as the base onto which the other 30 shots would be stacked in lighten mode. The only things essential (well, besides the right technical equipment and an mp3 player) were patience and a good company. Check and CHECK!
Anyway, during the whole process I had the idea to take an alternative base shot, where I would be part of the foreground to record the true memory of that night which we spent sitting comfortably (?) among those rocks, waiting for our cameras to record a movement we couldn’t see. I posed for half the time of that exposure (yes I managed to stay still for 2 whole minutes resisting the urge to scratch my nose, open my eyes or make a face to *KirlianCamera who illuminated the scene and me with his flashlight while constantly teasing me) which explains why my knee –being backlit- looks semi-transparent.
When the time came to stack the photos up I did both versions (with and without me as a base layer) and, for reasons already explained to those who have read the intro, this version acquired a more symbolic meaning in my eyes, plus it looked a bit more unusual since I haven’t seen a star trail photo which included a human (?) presence in it. If you think you could forgive a transgression to the “never post different versions of the same image” rule of mine, I think I may submit the “Justelene-less” version too at some point in the future. Till then, join me in this trip AD ASTRA!
PS I know I don’t look my best but after 3 hours of being windblown, collecting particles of chalk-dust I could have looked much worse! And I’m really grateful I remembered to remove Kozy’s jacket before I took my place in the frame otherwise I’d have to submit the photo in the “Humorous” section
Location: Sarakiniko, Milos island, Greece
*Settings for the base photograph*
Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X AF Pro DX @12mm Aperture: f/11 Shutter Speed: 240 sec ISO: 200
*Settings for the 30 star trails photographs*
Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X AF Pro DX @12mm Aperture: f/4 Shutter Speed: 240 sec ISO: 400
Sing us a song A song to keep us warm There is such a chill, Such a chill [link]
Im taking you back with me to my little island once again for another rocky sunset and another story! yeah, I know, just skip
This shot was taken in December (12/12/2008 to be exact). Best thing about December is that sunsets take place really early so the only thing I have to do on a day that looks promising is just hang around a bit more at school and pick one of the beaches so close to it for a sunset session. Thats exactly what I did on that day and I revisited the old port, the place where Under the Red was shot just a day before. I had already composed, set my camera on the tripod and was preparing to mount my filters when I heard a voice coming from the sea, right below me Hello Missy! Gave me such a start I almost dropped the whole set of filters, camera included, into the sea! I mean the place is kind of deserted this time of the year but a voice from behind me or next to me would be expected. Τhis was definitely coming from the sea and it was way toο heavy to be that of a mermaid and it was way too early in December to assume it belonged to Santa (not so sure Id been such a good girl anyways)!
Turned out it was a diver whose spear gun had broken and he asked me if I could bring him some sort of spare from his truck. I obliged and he sat there, right into my frame trying to fix it and I helped him not because Im nice but because I wanted him out as soon as possible! Maybe he would have looked nice as a figure in his black underwater suit with his spear gun but I definitely wasnt gonna ask him to stand perfectly still for a whole minute in case he shot me with it! Anyway, soon he left (made quite a noisy/splashy exit too) and I was able to take my long exposure shot wishing he wouldnt catch a humongous fish and pop right into my frame asking me to take a picture of him with his catch.
Well he didnt!
Minimal contrast, levels and curves adjustments during RAW conversion in Nikon Capture NX2 .
Hope you enjoy your visit here!
Location: Limnia port, Chios island
Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm @20mm Aperture: f/10 Shutter Speed: 54" ISO: 200 Filters: Lee 3 stop soft grad ND (0.9), Lee 1 stop soft grad ND (0.3), B+W 77E 110 (10 stop ND)
Klima is a little picturesque village in Milos Island, consisted of just a handful of fishermens homes lined up upon the shore. It acquires life only during summer while for the rest of the year it becomes a ghost village, its once full of life homes used only to store boats. As the friendly villagers told us, when autumn comes they remove all furniture from the ground floors, seal the houses, put up wave breakers to protect them from the menace of the winters storms and the waves crashing on their doors and sometimes through them and pray to find them as they left them. This cataclysmic winter image seemed like the workings of a wild imagination though on the afternoon we arrived at the village and quietly sat on the cement pier waiting for the setting sun to paint the already colorful houses. It looked like a little piece of heaven, the huge doors wide open, large companies sitting around the tables eating, drinking, laughing and singing, children rushing in and out of the houses, in and out of the sea. The laughter and the songs came all the way to the spot where we set our cameras up.
and yet that peaceful, vibrant, full of joy and life image in front of me had nothing to do with my turbulent state of mind.
It is said that most of the times a photograph is an image of the soul and the mood of the (wannabe) photographer but if I were to use the scene to reveal my mind I would have wished for a stormy afternoon, for big grey clouds draining all the color out of the village, huge waves crashing through the brightly colored doors, driving away the residents in horror, wiping all the joy off the scene and drowning the songs out of them.
On the contrary I was so grateful for the scene before me. After all I believe that a photo can also reflect the (wannabe) photographers deepest wishes and yearnings, a wish for peace and tranquility and oblivion, a yearning to explode into millions of particles, cease to exist as a single, self-centered, transcendent being and become a part of something vast, timeless, and indifferent to all our meaningless insecurities. Not to absorb the scene, but be absorbed by it NOTE: The super-wide lens and the very low angle of shooting resulted in a distortion of the houses. It could be very easily fixed by using PTLens and in fact I did fix it but for some reason the image lost a great deal of its surreal appeal to me. Excuse my distorted vision once again
Location: Klima Village, Milos Island
Camera: Nikon D300 Lens: Tokina 12-24 @ 12mm Aperture: f/11 Shutter Speed: 30 sec ISO: 200 Filters: Lee 2 stops hard grad ND, Hoya ND 400 (9 stops ND)