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.


Travel Photography

I love traveling. I love visiting new places, learning from other cultures, meeting new people. If I could pick any job I wanted, I would hands down choose to be a professional travel photographer. Seeing though that there are no job openings at National Geographic at the moment (at least for amateurs such as myself), I guess I have to settle in pursuing this as a hobby on my own dime or perhaps on the occasional business trip.

So far in my life I’ve traveled quite extensively, but one of my dreams for the longest time has been to go on a road trip across the US. I live by a saying that we should never regret the things we’ve done in life, only the things we haven’t. Not realizing this dream is perhaps one of my biggest regrets, ever since I returned from my 11-year stay in North America. Luckily this summer though I am about to make my dream a reality.

Starting in early August, myself and a bunch of friends will pick up a car in Phoenix, Arizona and drive all the way to Vancouver, Canada. The road will take us through a number of landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, the Wave at Coyote Buttes, Antelope Canyon up through Utah and Arches National Park, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Park. I am pretty psyched to be honest as there will be great photo opportunities along the way. That said, I’ll be off the grid for the next month or so, hopefully coming back in September with some great pictures that I can share on my blog.

On the topic of travel photography, I am sharing a picture I took in Russia a few years ago. This picture was taken from a tiny run-down apartment in the suburbs of Moscow, overlooking this picturesque orthodox church.

Moscow window - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon Rebel XTi and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F18 at 1/80 sec.

A seven hundred year-old Oak tree

Situated in the village of Kalopanagiotis, only a 5-minute walk from the UNESCO heritage monasteri of Ayios Ioannis Lambadistis, is a small chapel by the name of Panagia Theoskepasti. The chapel got its Greek name “Theoskepasti” (which literally translates to “covered by God”) from an enormous Kermes Oak tree that has been planted in its yard, almost 700 years ago. Legend says that when the Turks invaded the Marathasa valley in 1571, many women and children found refuge in this chapel. When the soldiers tried to get into the chapel, the enormous tree saved everyone by lowering itself and covering this holy place with its dense foliage.

I have visited this chapel countless times ever since I can remember. Last Sunday however, I decided to take my camera with me in an attempt to capture the magnificence of this tree. With a height of almost 17 meters tall and a trunk nearly 4 meters in diameter, this picture definitely doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps I might make another attempt when I manage to buy myself a wider-angle lens!

Theoskepasti - 1920c

Taken with my Canon 60D and Sigma 3.5-6.3 18-200mm OS lens, at ISO 200, F.8.0 and bracketed at -3/0/+3.