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)


A feast of the eyes, preserved – Stories behind photos #10

Santorini photo

Fira, Santorini - Full moon - Yannis Larios Photography

We had just completed our magnificent dinner at the village of Oia (Santorini) with my wife, Nancy. We had selected a cozy restaurant overlooking Oia and we enjoyed the perfect temperature for some great dishes on a wide balcony! It was a warm early-June evening, so tourists where long gone to their cruise ships, letting us enjoy the real-atmosphere of the island.

After we had our last sips of famous Santorini wines, we decided that it was time to head back to our base in Fira. We set back on foot. But then surprise had us!

While we were walking back, we suddenly experienced this rare moment: a full moon just entering the scene, just behind the island, overlooking Fira! It was so great that all bypassers stood there in awe, looking!

We were indeed mesmerised! I had my wines, so a tripod was really necessary and not only due to reasons of low-light. It was one of the moments that you always keep in mind as a perfect justice on why you should always carry your heavy equipment with you!

I set up tripod, adjusted my camera settings, and shot two consecutives frames: one metering for the moon and one metering for the very low light of Fira ahead, that I later combined in a single frame.

This was destined to be one of my most glorious Santorini photos. Was it the dinner, the Santorini Vinsanto wine? Was it the atmosphere of Oia, or the equipment ready at hand? Was it all? I don’t care! For the result, pleased me immensely.

I had kept this feast of the eyes for the years to come! And this was the crown to another great day in Santorini.

A lonely photo, it was not! – Stories behind photos #9

Judging from the final result of this photo shot at picturesque Burano (Venice), you would imagine that all the time of the world was at my disposal to make this picture of utmost calmness. It is almost obvious that the absence of any distractions whatsoever, was reflected at my eyesight and then to the quiet moment that I chose to capture. I could have leisurely taken my spot, delving concentrated into another moment of loneliness that contributes to deep thoughts, and then to photos.

But -as known- reality is harsh, for this photo was the result of an anxious search for the best point in the island, including some instances of fast-paced run I shall admit! You see the boat that brought me to Burano, had intermediate stops that I did not plan! I was there barely on time to set up tripod. And then I had company! And I mean quite a large company bugging me from my self-inflicted mission!

A bunch of little Italian boys and girls, kids in their early school years, were playing along the canals of this magnificent fishermen island, a few meters away… Kids’ curiosity is of course notorious! Spotting me with my bulky bag and tripod while selecting my spot on top of their wooden bridge, probably triggered some of their most sociable neurons. They all run to my place on the bridge, some 10 or 15 of them!  It seems I was becoming part of a game that they played with tourists!

Sei Italiano?”… they asked!

Their sincere eyes and the tone of their questions probably triggered my own childish neurons (if any left!) deep in my own mind. I had decided to play their game! My role, I supposed, was to let them find by themselves where I was coming from. “No, i miei amici!” I responded in bad Italian, taking turns in their game! And then there was this bees-like assembly, with various nationality-words being thrown on air, in Italian. Every now and then, another question arose as if a decision was made: “Spagnolo?”, “Francese?”. My negative responses where becoming even more anxious…. but not due to the fact the “Greco” was not an obvious choice for my little neighbors… I was eager to participate, yet I was losing the click for the light that I planned, with tens of kids around me asking words!  

I juggled between answers and camera settings, letting half my brain respond to the game and the other half making aperture adjustments. Two clicks were my only harvest from this beautiful point while praying to have made the right camera choices through this game! Yet, my little friends kept asking and asking with increased speed, as light was taking its final dip behind the colourful fishermen houses. “Greco” I said, and suddenly the game was over!…..

One of them, a little boy that had probably guessed right, was the winner! He raised his hand in celebration of his victory, even though he was never heard aloud! They acknowledged the result and all together, the fifteen of them, started to run in great speed to the place they had come from, the victorious one in front with the hand still up reminding his victory at this great game!

It was my turn to pack my equipment and continue my stroll, following the other direction of the bridge. I heard a very loud “Grazie” from the last kid of this swarm, while he turned to me to thank for enlivening their game. “Grazie”, I responded and continued my walk.

Too pity that I was not sure whether I could also raise my own hand to celebrate a great picture. I was distracted, yet I enjoyed, and my sole two photos from the wooden bridge could not be judged until later, while at the hotel.

Meanwhile, a bit farther away another couple was approaching the bridge. The little voices were heard…

Sei Italiano?!”… 

 A lonely photo, it was not!

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!