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? 🙂

Photo backup! Save your precious memories…

It’s amazing how many photos are being shot these days, thanks to the digital age! It is also amazing that few of them will ever find the way to a print and thus will remain in the hard disks or the social networking sites that we use, like Facebook

However, I would like to predict that in the years to come we will be experiencing the first painful losses of photos, due to the lack of proper backup and storage practices… 

Most people give attention to their photos up until they see them on screen! However, few of them take proper measures to store them or back them up to prevent loss.

Well, I had made my own backup plan but then I found in one of my favorite blogs, Epic Edit Weblog, a complete guide to photo backups written by Brian Auer.

The guide is offered for free, both as a series of articles and also as a free e-book that you can download as pdf (2.5MB).

It covers things like… What it is a photo backup and how much it will cost you, how disaster strikes, what are your options and how you should approach your backup strategy… all in very simple terms!

I would strongly suggest that you read this excellent guide, and that you seriously consider that memories are not saved just by clicking the camera shutter, but also by making sure that you preserve your digital content for ever! The first might be the camera’s duty…  The second however, is your duty!

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…

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!

Photographing people who you don’t know…

Female Gallery - Yannis Larios photographyPhotographing people, especially people you don’t know in out-of-studio situations, still remains a difficult task for me…

Knowing how to approach people as a photographer requires a few tips. Be genuine, be empathetic, understand that it may not work and a few others, are included in a helpful post at ZachlsHere. Click to read.

Santorini Wedding couple – Stories behind photos #3

Newly weds 

These Newly Weds can also be found at my website at a larger size, by clicking here.

This specific photo has admittedly created a lot of misunderstandings in my Santorini photos portfolio! 

You see, Santorini is a great wedding destination. Thousands of marriages are carried out every year at the hundreds of its small churches and chappels. Specialised wedding services provide everything but the bride (…. or the groom accordingly!) and help people experience what is probably a wedding at the most exquisite place!

So…. how could I possibly explain that this shot is not a staged one, but rather a spontaneous glimpse captured through my lens?  How could I persuade all those good people that ask me to cover their wedding in Santorini that I am not a staged-photo wedding photographer, but rather a hunter of real moments?

Exhausted from another full day of walk around the cliffs of Firostefani, we rushed with my wife for a sip of coffee and some final relaxing views before our flight back to Athens. While at the cafe, we saw that just-married couple arriving having some of its shots taken by a pro photographer.

Hey! We see thousands of them every year…..“, mumbled the cafe-owner, a typical middle-aged rogue greek villager with the moustache and the belly. “It’s just another couple! No big deal!“… he said making good efforts to de-mystify the moment. 

They were standing at the terrace just below us. A single staged photo here… Another staged photo there…. Another fixed setting after that… Sit-down. Stand-up. Smile. Now hug.

Nice hour…“, I thought “and a truly beautiful couple. Pity about the stiff positions!“. Following the strict commandments of their photographer, the couple moved endlessly around the terrace, sitting… standing…. smiling, yet not sure whether being themselves. After almost a ten-minute shoot, the photographer left. The light was even better now. And the couple was relaxed…

Well, I was not! You see I had the perfect spot. Higher above them at the cafe, priviledged to examine their now more natural moves. The “pro’s” work was over…. But now it was our own time! The couple and me in co-ordination… They strolled slowly across the terrace…. My fingers were already fumbling my camera in the bag. I was already wishing for their next steps… I was sending thoughts on where I wished they would stand… They followed!

The lady left the flower-bouquet resting on the wall. The couple stood side-by-side, hands held, admiring the magnificent view. The light was spot on. She leaned on him, giving me the signal… Stood-up, grabbed the camera, two shots, 5 seconds in total.

The rest of the story was typical: The cafe-owner shaking his head about this fool-enthusiast photographer who gets charmed by nonsense. The pro leaving the spot with a bag full of staged shots. The couple admiring the view and enjoying their new life. And myself with a precious moment captured…

Now how on-earth to explain all that, to these good people asking for wedding shots, that in wedding photography I prefer to capture real moments….

[edit: After quite some demand from couples, from Greece and abroad, I am now among the Greek Wedding Photographers 🙂 ]