Athens | The Little Great City

You know that I always admire talented people and their art! This post is to highlight the art of Emmanouil Papadopoulos, entitled “Athens | The Little Great City“. A magnificent work that (presumably!) uses a tilt-and-shift lens, time lapse techniques and uniform color correction to highlight the city I live in: Athens, Greece.

The end result is magnificent! Everything looks like a miniature toy, thanks to the shallow depth-of-field of the tilt-n-shift lens…

Thank you Emmanouil… And Kudos! Rare talent! You have me watching this again and again….

(if video isn’t playing please go directly here at youtube to watch)

Make your own “Google” search story! I tried my hand at mine :-)

I am sure you have watched and enjoyed the Google viral video about “Parisian Love“. Now, Google and youtube offer you an ultra easy-to-use online tool to help you create your own “Google search” videos in a few minutes!

All you have to do is make up your own story as a sequence of  “Google searches” and then define what kind of results you want (typical search, maps, images etc.). You can preview the short clip, then select the music and voila! Of course it aims at promoting Google capabilities more than you, but hey! it’s fun!

As a Greek photographer I have made my own 30″ Google Search video to promote my Greece photos! What do you think? 🙂

Can you imagine what a travel photo entails?

Symi, Greece - Yannis Larios Photography

Symi, Greece - Yannis Larios Photography

I was recently reading a great article of Gavin Gough on Digital Photographer about Travel Photography. Gavin stroke a chord by saying that ….

Ask many people to describe the life of a travelling photographer and the odds are that they will conjure up images of a dapper fellow dressed in khaki, sporting a Panama hat and stepping jauntily along a sun-kissed, tropical beach, occassionally lifting a Leica camera to the eye to snap another award winning frame before retiring to the bar for a Pina Colada. The truth, sadly, is somewhat different from this idyllic fantasy.

Travel photography is hard work […] It demands a unique blend of stubborn determination and unflinching optimism“.

Now Gavin’s words were echoing in my ears everytime I ascended another hundred of steps with my 8kg photo backpack and 3kg tripod to search for the high-vista with a brilliant view of Symi island! Everytime that the 39 degrees Celsius, collided with a dead-end alley that permitted no view, and thus was a lost battle, I was remembering this “unflinching optimism“… There has to be something better. I have pre-visualised it! I shall not quit!

And even after you have sweated (literally!) all of the 500+ steep stairs high above, and even after you have walked and trekked, and researched and carried all this weight, and even more after you have found a rock’s corner that resembled the sweet-spot that you had imagined…  then probably it was already too late … because the light was not right!

But then comes this “stubborn determination“… It’s this strange urge that wakes you up at 6:00am next morning to push you again to ascend the same 500 stairs, to reach the same spot, but this time with the golden light that completes the picture that you already had in mind.

I dedicate the above photo, shot at 7:00am from a very high vista point of Symi island, to all fellow photographers (pros or enthusiasts) that wake up early or stay up late and alone in search of the perfect light. To all those friends that carry tens of kilos in cameras, lenses and tripods on their back, just for this liberating moment when your vision becomes a reality… 

It’s a testament that stubborness and optimism, may after all be the ingredients not just for a unique photo, but rather for meeting your vision and your inner self. See you at the next cliff!

Meteora-When only Photography captures the true feeling: Stories behind photos #7

(download and watch a full-screen high resolution version of my Meteora photo slideshow at my website here)

Meteora is a unique phenomenon in the world…   Unless you have visited it, you cannot imagine the awe and the contradicting feelings evoked by just being there. Contradicting because for one it’s the huge rocks and cavities that have been shaped in peculiar forms through thousands of years. A true feeling of smallness, in front of these titanic elements of nature. But also contradicting, because on-top of these rocks religious men built inaccessible monasteries. A strange feeling of greatness for mankind that conquers any peak. Such are the antithetical feelings evoked by this place, which is sculptured equally by the fierceness of time and the power of faith.

Nevertheless, access to this place is easier nowadays. Roads have been built and buses of tourists have access to almost any monastery. Traditional ropes and carts that helped you literally climb the rocks, gave way to stairs. Still numerous to ascend, but manageable. These days, faith is not the sole passport to this mysterious place.

This has brought inevitable change. Any attempt to re-live the inspiring experience of the landscape may be interrupted every now and then by the cheers of tourists. Any spiritual encounter that you may experience inside any monastery, might be broken by the next visitor laughing aloud at his mobile phone.

So is there a way to actually isolate the true feeling that the place inspires? Is there still any atmosphere emitted from the secret-corners of the monasteries, experienced only by the few that wish to seek them?

They say that photography struggles to depict a three-dimensional world at the two-dimensions of paper (or the screen nowadays) and it mostly fails. But I say that the viewfinder of my camera, has proven the only means that helped isolate the greatness of the place. Because I could depict on the same frame, the vastness of the land and the height of the rocks, and at the same time the smallness of man’s works, undisturbed. For it was my shutter that could imprison the play between elements of nature, the clouds and the winds, with the unique beauty of the monasteries. And it was my open-apertures that let me penetrate inside the true character of the monasteries, highlighting unique corners and the play of light without any need to hurry or to explain nothing to anyone. It was my camera that let me photograph not “what” I saw, but “how” I saw. The four corners of my photos, instead of limiting my possibilities actually proliferated my view. I had to focus. And thus, I was now seeing more…

The brief Meteora photo slideshow above, is my attempt to convey the experience of Meteora as I lived it. However, I kindly invite you to re-live the experience by downloading the higher resolution version from my website here…

Watch it with the sound set to on. And let photography convey the true feelings evoked from this place. For you will have never seen Meteora this way, even in real life, unless there was the need to focus meticulously and recompose reality…

A thank-you to unknown Actors that enliven my “stages” – Stories behind photos #5

Yannis Larios Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I owe a “thank-you” note, to all unknown Actors that enliven my photography “stages”. Like this lady, in my photo!

I have been walking around in Paroikia, Paros  at the golden hour, when I reached this vista point overlooking the sea, camera always on shoulder. I had the priviledge of overlooking the entrance to the harbour. I could spot things from high above. I previsualised a picture, but it was still early in time. This would have to wait to materialise…

But until then? Nothing around… I hated to do the stereotypical empty horizons. There was no way that the eye would wander around exploring the sea and then find nothing to “rest” upon. Admittedly, no balance. No story. Thus, no photo opportunity.

Could something save me? Yes! the virtue of patience and the urge to seek…

I had the stage set, lights on (and the golden ones!), but no actors, no script. And suddenly…. Little stories forming themselves. It was time for the evening ship to come to Paros island. It was the same time that I had arrived in the island some days ago. I had spotted this large sun-disc while onboard and wanted to see this again. So I was there for a reason…. But a different story unfolded…

As the ship was becoming visible in the horizon, I “asked” for a story of return. A story of a Penelope. Such stories need not be imaginative, cause they are real. As this lady was also real! Walking leisurely, wearing her iPod earphones she noticed the ship, the hour, the colours. She probably also liked “my” stage… And then she entered, deciding to play the “Actor”. She never talked to me. I never asked her anything. She just took the most convenient position…. For her, to enjoy the view. For me to re-compose the scene.

I now had a story! I tried several views. Some higher above, some from the side. But in the end, I decided that the Actor had already made the choice for herself…. There was almost nothing for me to do, than compose the scene, and then click.

Penelope, was the title I gave to the photo. Cause this lady, took the role for herself. Never talked. But the story was written by her. I now had a photo opportunity!

My own Blurb experience: “Paros, beyond crowded eyes” book

Paros, beyond crowded eyes

 

 

[See a part of the Paros portfolio contained in the Blurb photobook by clicking here… or enjoy the relaxing Paros photoslide with music, by clicking here (last in row)]

 

Back in September 2007, I made my second Blurb book, about Paros island. I named it after my Paros portfolio: “Paros, beyond crowded eyes” to convey a different approach to this fabulous island.

I was keeping a blogpost on this, so I thought I should make it available for public use here…


1.  Preparing the photobook at home…

I selected 60 of my photos from Paros island. I had already installed the Booksmart application (version 1.8.1 back then) to make the layout. Booksmart is provided for free by Blurb and is easy to create a book with templates etc. The most current version is now 1.9.5 , which is much more stable.

It took me almost 3 days (evening work) to make the layout, including photos and captions. The end-result was looking rather good. All photos were imported at full-size 300dpi. It took me almost 40 mins to upload the book and the whole thing was rather easy (full marks here). I should note however, that I have been using a monitor color calibrator for optimal results. If you wish to make a photobook not only with Blurb but indeed with anyone else you should have one of these little gadgets to avoid color wash-out surprises!


2.  Ordering…

I ordered the book on September 15, 2007. Blurb said it would ship on September 25 so I guess I would be having it at around Sept 28 (shipped to Athens, Greece), almost 13 days after ordering. Another full mark here for Blurb.

The shipping costs remained an issue. My hardcover was landscape 10″x8″, 120 pages total, and amounted to €28. Shipping USPS standard costs were at €25! Ι complained. I wrote to them on Saturday 15, 2007 as soon as I saw the charges. They responded early Monday. They said that this is “normal cost”, much reduced since the past. Well, it is better than the past, but still too high. Since then, they have also introduced a cheaper but slower normal mail possibility. Nevertheless, the book went into preparation.


3.  Photobook arrived!

Well my Blurb book arrived on Sept 25,2007, earlier than expected (!). The packaging was good and the book was shrinkwrapped, although not with bubbles. Blurb could do better on that. The packaging is similar to how Amazon.co.uk ships books. Mine came to Greece shipped from the Netherlands.

 

4.  Examining the photobook…

The colour reproduction was faithful and I was amazed by the good quality even though I had some “difficult” sunsets included! The overall setup and purchasing experience was quite improved since my first book (about Santorini island) so I was really happy about it. Stitching was hard made this time, although I kept my fingers crossed. The original Santorini book fell apart as soon as I browsed it. As of today (June 2008 ) almost nine months later, the Paros photobook is as strongly stitched as day one…

 

5.  Samples

I know that no description could match a sample of the real thing. So here are some photos of the book…  (some artifacts or visibe noise on these pictures is due to .jpg compression and not visible on the book)

The cover (at the right of the cover there is a desk-lamp shadow which looks like a bent. It’s not. The book arrived in perfect shape)
 

 
An overall view of the inside:

Another inside view:

Inside detail:

 

A detail of the stitching:

 

Despite the original nagging at my first Santorini photobook which fell apart, this time this photobook is still going strong after so many months of use. Actually I went on to order some 7 or so more copies for friends and clients. A sample of the inside is here in pdf (as produced by Blurb)…

Although I have not yet moved on to produce my most aspiring photobook about Venice, I think summer might be the time due to some spare time after job… An overall positive Blurb experience.

(I should make a note here that I am not directly on indirectly or in any case affiliated to Blurb. I have been in the past very critical about some aspects of their work, but this time I think they are starting to make a difference in the new and promising Printing-On-Demand business)

Your own comments on your Blurb books (plus possible links) would be most welcome, so as to enrich our experiences!

Kaminia Harbor, Hydra – Stories behind photos #4

Kaminia harbor - Yannis Larios Photography

Click here for the photo, found at my Hydra island (Greece) photos portfolio.

I had hoped that the photography magazines that I am subscribing to, would enrich my photography knowledge beyond the aperture and shutter techniques and beyond Photoshop post-processing. And I am glad they do!

You see, I am always seeking those articles which do not just stand at the brink of my camera’s manual or at the edge of Photoshop’s menus. Articles about learning how to chase light certainly do deserve my attention.  And when I was in Hydra island, Greece a couple of years ago, it happened that I was reading one of these, on how to anticipate light when the clouds clear, usually at the afternoons.

We had planned to stay in Hydra island for only a couple of days. So each day was precious. However, an afternoon’s rain and a grey dull sky prevented us from walking leisurely at the island’s perfectly preserved alleys. For the rest of my company it was time for an afternoon rest. For me it was a good moment to test my favorite magazine’s credibility…

I had already planned where to go. The small Kaminia harbor further away did look perfect when previsualised. I took a boat-taxi to drive me to other side of the island under heavy rain. Tourists and locals had already made their choice to empty my photographic scenics. Everything was working according to the article’s words: rain, dull grey sky, afternoon, people inside their homes… The stage was set. We had to wait for the actor now: the sun rays.

The boat-taxi driver that left me at the small harbour, asked me where I would stand under the rain, being there alone. And also, what was that thing that I mysteriously sought after… I could not answer “just the light” ’cause I would add another one to this large group of people that believe that I have pushed my photography passion a step too far. So I just answered “I am searching for my friend’s summer house“… and went on to find my spot.

I did a quick walk around the harbour…. The rain was becoming lighter . Time was passing by. The clouds started to change. The act was on. I sheltered a bit to wait for the skies to open. Opened the tripod legs and selected a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle to fit the whole picture. I would have a bit of distortion but didn’t care. I still regret forgetting to change the ISO setting back to 100. But I guess that’s why I am called a hobbyist…..

Suddenly, as the sun was setting and as if a recipe was being followed religiously, the clouds started to break apart. The first glimpses of sun light would come over the clouds. The rays started colouring the place. I was there in advance, a bit wet but at a good spot. I had the priviledge to see the full act of the sun.. and to capture it.

Three shots, admittedly not with the best settings back then in 2005. But at least I was satisfied… Not only for depicting Kaminia harbour at Hydra island as I wanted… but also because the magazines subscriptions are actually well-worth it!