Window into Turkey

The media now speculate that we are closer to a solution of the Cyprus problem than we’ve ever been before. I may not necessarily agree, but I can’t help but wonder how our lives would change if the island is reunified – both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots living together in harmony. Being a post-war child, I have never experienced what that was once like. In fact, from childhood leading into my army years, I was taught to hate Turks and everything they stood for. It is clear to me now however, that if there is any hope for reunifying the island, feelings from whatever happened in the past, must be put aside.

For my summer holidays this year, I decided to spend 9 days visiting Constantinople. Istanbul (not commonly known that this is Greek for “Εις την Πόλη”, or “To the City”), is a remarkable city from a historical perspective. Remnants of the Byzantine era and the Greek influence are abundant in the vast majority of the city’s historical landmarks. What really impressed me however, is the church of Hagia Sophia itself, a former Christian patriarchal church, turned into an Islamic mosque and now a museum visited by over 3 million people every year. Looking around from the inside, one can’t help but notice the various Christian and Islamic religious symbols all blended together. The Christian mosaics on the walls which are now slowly being restored, standing side-by-side to  the Islamic mihrab and minbar that were later added. That made me wonder whether that was simply an analogy of life in the unified Cyprus that some of us envision. Needless to say, I came back with more questions than I had before.

This is picture of the Blue Mosque as seen from a window on the second floor of Hagia Sophia.

Window into Turkey - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F7.1 at 1/1250 sec and bracketed at -2/0/+2.


La tour Eiffel (Part 2)

Below is the second picture taken of the Eiffel tower – this one from a lower vantage point and in black & white. From a composition perspective, I tried to center the tower dead in the middle, to give the picture a bit of balance and symmetry.

Eiffel Tower 2 - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 800, F6.3, at 1/30 sec.

Outdoor Portrait Photography

Of all the different types of photography I’ve tried, the one I find very challenging is portrait photography – especially when working outdoors where the elements of nature are always unpredictable. As they say however, practice makes perfect, so yesterday I went out for another round.

Admittedly though, this was not solely my idea.To my pleasant surprise it was Daria who came up with the initiative, at the same time volunteering herself as my model. Definitely an interesting turn of events, as she is usually simply an observer, occasionally nagging me about how long it takes me to take a single shot! Needless to say I didn’t hesitate a second, so just before sunset we left the house on a quest to find a decent photo location. Our short drive brought us to an abandoned hotel in the middle of Nicosia, which after closing due to financial problems a good decade ago, it has been left in a state of decomposition – a perfect location for a photo shoot!

I’ve been recently reading  about single light portraits and the dramatic effect they can produce. Since I only own a single speedlight, one can understand my interest in this technique! The picture below is one of the 2-3 decent pictures I managed to take during our 30-minute on-location shoot. For this shot, the flash gun was mounted off-camera on a tripod, elevated high up and aimed downwards towards Daria. Through the magic settings of camera and flash exposure, I managed to fully control both the ambient light and the light output of the flash gun. The resulting picture was then converted into B&W in Adobe Lightroom 4, with a few adjustments made to contrast and clarity.

Daria Outdoor Portrait - 1920cTaken with my Canon 60D, Canon 24-70mm F2.8L lens, at ISO 160, F8.0, 1/200 sec. Flash output was set to 1/2.

Gazing into the water

Back from what seemed like a short vacation, where I had a great time catching up with old friends and enjoying large quantities of Asian food. My biggest confession from this trip is that I did exactly the opposite of what I said I would in my previous post. I did go overboard with my spending on camera accessories, and didn’t spend enough time walking out and about with my camera. I did manage to capture a couple of decent shots (stay tuned), but my camera didn’t get anywhere near the amount of use it usually gets on my vacation trips. In hindsight, I fell into the trap of believing that my creativity would be hindered due to the fact that my surroundings were so familiar to me – a struggle which I constantly and wrongfully face in Cyprus as well.

Today I decided to post another old time favourite. This is a picture of a young boy gazing into the water at Niagara on the Lake in Canada, taken back in August 2008.

Shot with my Canon Rebel XTi and Sigma F3.5-6.3 18-200mm lens, at ISO 200, F10, 1/125sec. B&W conversion processed in Photoshop.

Limassol Pier

I was in Limassol this past February for the carnival celebrations. I visit Limassol fairly often, but this time around I decided to take my camera with me to capture some of the beautiful sunsets by the beach. While walking down the beach side, I noticed this pier extending into the water. Luckily, there were only a few people on the pier at the far end, exactly where I wanted them to be. I quickly set up my tripod and bracketed 3 shots to create this HDR. I chose to create an HDR so that I could emphasize the boldness of the clouds as well as the texture of the wooden walkway.

Shot with my Canon 60D, at F16 bracketed at -2/0/+2. HDR processed in Photomatix with some minor contrast adjustments and sharpening in Photoshop.