Passions

It’s been a while since my last post – closing in on 3 months to be precise. Throughout the 3-year lifetime of this blog, I’ve never managed to skip a month, until now. I would have otherwise been disappointed, if the culprit for my tardiness wasn’t my new passion in life – cycling. Over the last few months, I’ve decided to take cycling a bit more seriously and so I forked out a small fortune and bought myself a new shinny road bike. As a result, all the free time I had on the weekends is now being consumed by riding around and recovering in bed thereafter!

I am not disappointed though for 3 primary reasons. Firstly, it’s something that I really enjoy, which is the main reason as to why I picked up photography in the first place. So I don’t feel like I am cheating, as there is nothing wrong with sharing the love! Equally as important, is that I have now managed to visit places in Cyprus that I had never been to before. Given how I constantly moan on this blog that I need to go out and discover Cyprus, it seems that I have finally found my answer! Last but not least, I am finally learning how to be a morning person! Yes, cycling does that to you. I never thought I would be up at sunrise on the weekends. When I get up I am still really grumpy, but once I hop on that saddle, the sheer feeling of riding in the morning breeze is second to none.

This picture is from my trip to Milos this past May. Nothing beats island sunsets. Perhaps, my next post will be that of a sunrise, from a new place I bike to in Cyprus.

Milos Sunset - 1920c

Shot handheld with my Canon 60D and Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OS lens, at ISO 200, F14 at 1/100 sec.

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Water under the Bridge

Here we are, ready to bid farewell to yet another year. Around the same time last December, I remember reminiscing back at 2013 and being horribly disappointed about how the year had turned out – both economy-wise and at a personal level. It certainly was an all-time low but the eternal optimist in me always knew that once you hit rock bottom, things can only get better.

Thankfully they did. For me, 2014 was certainly a much better year. It was a year of self reflection and new beginnings – both personally and professionally. I’ve managed to fulfill one of my life long dreams by driving across the US and I’ve made an important career move, which will present me with new challenges and opportunities in the new year. Most important of all, both my family and I are in good health. That’s certainly all one can ask for.

So let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, full of happiness and health for you and your loved ones. If 2014 didn’t treat you as well, then cheer up, aim high and let this year’s bad memories flow away, like water under the bridge. See you all in 2015!

Water under the bridge - 1920c

Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and my Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 DC HSM lens, at ISO 100, F13, at 2.5 secs using my B+W ND 3.0 filter.

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.

Protaras Pier

March was a relatively short month work-wise, as we were lucky to have 3 back to back national holidays fall on Mondays. Unfortunately however, the first 2 of those long weekends were spent by most people (including myself) at home, glued to our TV-sets, following minute by minute updates of the events that have taken our economy back a good 40 or so years. Unable to see a minute more of yet another incompetent politician being interviewed on TV, I decided to get out of town this past weekend and seek an outlet from this really depressing environment.

On Sunday afternoon, I found myself gear in hand walking down the Sunrise beach boardwalk in Protaras. To my excitement I saw this pier extending into the sea, and without a second thought I started setting up my tripod to take the shot. The outcome is the following image, the result of a 4 minute and 10 second exposure! Luckily, the people on the pier were not standing still so they were not recorded as part of the image. On the downside, the heavy dust in the atmosphere at sunset completely masked any movement of the clouds.

Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D, Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens, at ISO 100, F16, 250 secs. For this shot I mounted both my circular polariser and ND 3.0 lens to effectively get a 12-stop reduction in my shutter speed.

Protaras Pier - 1920c

Windmill

A couple of weekends ago on a Sunday afternoon, I decided to drive to the village of Koshi near Larnaca. The area surrounding this village is now the home of a couple of wind farms, making the location ideal for some windmill landscape shots. I rarely go out on my own to shoot pictures, but I must admit I found this experience greatly relaxing as I took the time to drive around and get acquainted with the area looking for the ideal composition.

The result of this short expedition, is the photograph below. For this picture I busted out my circular polarising filter. For anyone unfamiliar with this piece of equipment, this filter enhances the colours of the image, giving a bit more contrast while at the same reducing glare/reflections. It works best when the scene is side-lit such as in this case.

Shot with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Canon 24-70 F2.8L lens at ISO 100, F11 and 1/100 exposure. Come to think of it, given that I was using a tripod and this was a landscape picture, I could have pushed my aperture down to F16 to increase sharpness. Not sure what happened there!

Windmill

Long Exposure – First attempt

This past weekend, Daria and I decided to spend the weekend in Pafos. I thought this would be a great opportunity to head to Petra tou Romiou (the famous birthplace of Aphrodite), photograph some rocks and give the “Long Exposure” technique a try. I wasn’t planning on getting any great shots – if anything, this was going to be an educational trial run to figure out how to properly use my 10-stop ND filter.

For anyone not into the photography technical jargon, the purpose of a solid ND filter is to slow down the camera’s shutter speed, allowing the photographer to capture movement. So if your camera’s speed reading is for example 1/100 sec, placing a 10-stop filter on the front of the lens (which looks like a black piece of glass), allows you to slow down your speed by 2^10, giving your therefore a 10 sec exposure for the same aperture.

Below is the result of my first attempt. In this case I managed to get a 40 sec exposure time, which ended up completely blurring the water to the point where it came out looking like mist. I can’t say I am ecstatic with the picture content-wise (afterall this was a technical exercise and less so a creative one), but if anything I have some key takeaways for next time I give this a try:

  1. You must have patience…and a lot of it! Since this particular filter is a solid black piece of glass, the only way to dial in the right camera settings, it to manually focus before putting on the filter, take a reading, do some math to figure out the final shutter speed and then screw on the filter.
  2. You need to have a lot of motion going on to make this worthwhile. Unfortunately the weather was pretty good (yeah photographers are weird this way), so there were no clouds in the sky. Moving clouds and water make great elements to photograph using this technique.
  3. If you have someone with you, make sure they are patient too! Yeap, enough said about Daria! 🙂
  4. Watch out for the waves! That might sound like common sense, but I am almost fell for that one! I placed my tripod really low in a dry area on the pebbles, but at some point a huge wave came out and almost swept my gear. I managed to get my feet completely soaked, but at least the camera and tripod get to see another day.

Needless to say I will give this technique another go. Anyone know where I can find a pier or a lighthouse here in Cyprus?

Long Exposure 1st attempt - 1920c

Taken with my tripod mounted Canon 60D and Canon F2.8L lens at ISO 100, F22, 40 sec exposure (with B+W ND 3.0 solid filter).