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)

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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…

“Faith” – Stories behind photos #6

 This Clarisses photo was shot at chapel in Ano Syros (Syros island, Greece) in summer 2008.

I found a small chapel and entered. No people were inside. There were just two nuns, hidden behind a wooden barrier and unseen. Two nuns, one playing the organ and one singing a chant with a glorious voice, praying alone inside. 

You could not see them but they were there, singing gloriously.

They had no audience, but they put their best for their faith. I stayed there for about 20 mins in awe, waiting to see any of them behind the barrier.

I kept waiting for a glimpse that could really depict the glory of the chant and of the moment. At the right moment I managed to capture this glimpse of their devotion.

Hope you like its symbolism…

PS: Ines, a “digital” friend was kind enough to e-mail me some further details on Clarisses. 

Ines wrote: “these nuns are called “Clarisses” (in UK “Poor Clare”) and as you can understand they are what we say in greek “eglistes kalogries”. They don’t go out and they make a great work for the poors. That’s what I know about them, (as I have roots from Syros) and I have also been told from relatives that they are very kind and their voice is something else!”

Indeed Ines, their voice was something else! Thank you!

“Can photography change the world?” Hosted in Digital Photographer magazine..

Digital Photographer issue 75 UK’s fastest growing photo magazine “Digital Photographer” (issue 75), raised the issue “Can Photography change the world?“.

 

I was honoured to have my views hosted at the specific magazine issue, on the historic role of Photography.

 

As I was explaining….

 

 

 

 

“I could write thousands of words for the significant role of photography in shaping the history of mankind… but then I think I cannot! 

It’s a medium of only 160-170 years in age yet it has achieved what no other means has achieved for thousands of years: 
– to inform but also to manipulate, 
– to educate but also to support political propaganda, 
– to record the “cheesy smiles” at people’s gatherings throughout time but also to record the true struggles of life at the streets, 
– to record reality but also to “fake” events. 

It’s all that and even more. Of course one could argue that every other medium which could capture a picture could do that, be it photography, cinematography or even a painting… 

But there are actually two things which truly make photography a unique medium changing the world….. 

The first is the power of the millisecond

The ignored and unimportant millisecond which goes unnoticed and is squeezed relentlessly in everyday life, suddenly exposes its power through photography. This “unimportant millisecond” gets in all of a sudden a meaning of its own, and proves that so many marvelous things are happening during this tiny slice of time.

A glimpse between two people, a move, an interaction between strangers, a gesture, things which go unnoticed but are part of our lives, things which never become the center of our interest are put in full exposure…. 

Thanks to photography, we suddenly understand there is probably an added dimension, squeezed and lost between the hectic struggle of everyday life. And what happens in this dimension could probably influence attitudes, people and history more than other things… 

That’s why Dorothea Langue said: 

“This benefit of seeing… 
can come only if you pause a while, 
extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions, 
ceaselessly battering our lives, 
and look thoughtfully at a quiet image… 
The viewer (photographer) must be willing to pause, 
to look again, to meditate…” 

The second and equally important thing, which truly makes photography a medium shaping the world, is its unique ability to depict the true soul of people

I wonder which other medium, other than photography, could capture this flick of time with the anxiety of the mother in a bombardment running for cover with her daughter, like this classic photo of Robert Capa: 

capa0181

…or this soul-capturing photo of Dorothea Langue: 

d_lang602

These two unique characteristics of photography, have undoubtably made photography one of the most peculiar yet most powerful forces of change, since the mid 1800’s… “

What do you think?

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!

Travel Photography: featured in Digital Photographer!

 And then, out of the blue, the leading UK Digital Photographer magazine contacted me and asked to showcase some of my travel photos and a brief interview, for its “Travel Photography feature” ! Needless to say, I was enthusiastic about this!

A photo from Venice, a photo from Santorini and one from Burano were selected as distinctive of my photography work.

Click here to read an excerpt (pdf file, 520k)