As a follow up to my recent Images in Greece article, this piece features some examples of street photography done while in Greece. This style of photography by its very nature is a very personal thing. What appeals to one person may leave others scratching their heads. So if you’re wearing a hat…take it off and be prepared to scratch. Rather than simply show you some images with very little comment, I thought I would share some of the thoughts behind the photographs. Be forewarned that you will be getting a glimpse into a rather twisted mind.
My client business focuses on video work and industrial photography. Unlike many photographers I don’t do any weddings, family shots, or portrait work. Photographing others of my species is just not of any interest to me. As a result most of my street photography tends to be devoid of people. I like the feeling of quiet and solitude that this can bring to an image. Sometimes it is like capturing a surreal moment of what would be left behind if all of us suddenly disappeared from the planet.
(NOTE: click on images to enlarge them)
I look for interesting leading lines like the centre paving stones in the following image. A good leading line brings viewers into the image and also makes it feel deeper. This is especially true when shooting with a wide angle lens.
Sometimes I discover a pair of leading lines that can add drama from both sides of an image and significantly accentuate the feeling of depth. In situations like this I look for a unifying element to tie both leading lines together. In this case it is the alternating, coloured paving stones at the bottom of the image. I use perspective control software extensively when working on street photography images to try to achieve the exact look I want. To pre-empt the obvious question, I use DxO ViewPoint 2.
I will often shoot from unusual positions or down on one knee to change the viewing angle in my photos. Given sufficient time and appropriate clothing (and perhaps a small crane to help me get back up) I can sometimes be found on my belly lying in the street.
There are times when it can’t be avoided and on occasion other humans do get captured in my photos… grrrrr. To help support a leading line or to create one, I will often crop a building or some other element in the corner.
I am drawn to strong colours like the red on the stool in the following image. I loved how the coloured floor tiles formed a leading line that also connected the red elements on both sides of the image creating some visual flow. The red watering can touching the partially hidden red element adds to that flow. You’ll also notice a small touch of red towards the top of the photo. This forms the third point of a colour triangle that we often like to build into our compositions when possible.
Strong colours can be found in a range of different places. In a display of artwork…
On the doors and trim of houses…
In whimsical street art…
…or on a promotional statue.
Unusual light and shadows get my attention in the evenings. Whether on menus…
On a gate leading to an upstairs apartment…
Or from a candle glowing in an ornate holder. As I mentioned earlier, I use perspective control software extensively when doing street photography, and I changed a distracting angle on the left hand edge of the candle holder in this image to give it better balance.
Sometimes the lighting in a scene will compel me to try to take a hand-held image at a stupidly slow shutter speed…even when I should know better. For some reason I don’t mind the slight blur in this photo. Maybe that’s just an attempt to justify to myself that trying to take an image at 2/5 of a second hand-held was a good idea.
Some colour against a monochrome background always grabs my attention.
Two of the things I love about doing industrial photography is finding beauty in angles and symmetry in objects. This finds its way into my street photography by capturing perspectives of buildings.
Or re-positioning myself, and framing an image so I can make contrasting colours and angles intersect and form an image more akin to an abstract painting than a photo of a wall outside of a home’s courtyard.
Repeating patterns intrigue me…
Especially when a repeating pattern also includes angles.
Being a guitarist, albeit a very bad one, I couldn’t help but notice this railing and take a picture. Tight cropping and the strong contrast in the image helps to focus attention.
Sometimes I simply take an image because I’m hungry.
If I’m very lucky I can find repeating patterns accompanied by strong colours like this flag assortment.
Or in a display of souvenir flip-flops.
I love discovering some whimsy.
Or the intrigue that comes from wondering what’s at the top of the stairs…
Or around the next corner.
I love finding multiple flowing lines that radiate from the centre or side of an image…
Taking some images is so obvious to me that I wonder why everyone visiting the island of Mykonos doesn’t have the following one.
Finding a Scottish bar on Santorini in Greece earned a smile and a photo, especially given the bright colours. Plus, a flag waving in the breeze.
Some subjects have great depth of character, like this pair of doors with a broken mail slot.
A locked wrought iron gate.
Or a courtyard protected by railings and a gate.
Other images help capture the history and culture of a country. Like this statue which is a reminder of the Ottoman Empire’s control of Greece for over 400 years.
Or the fact that the town of Mykonos was subjected to so many pirate attacks over the centuries that its streets were purposely built very narrow and twisted, making defence of the town more effective. This is a photo of the narrowest street in Mykonos. If I had a time machine and dialed it back to 1974 I think I could make it up to the other end… just barely.
Greece has a very strong connection to the Orthodox church.
And its people are extremely proud of the country’s rich culture and history. Patriotic displays can be creative like this Greek flag window treatment.
Scooters are so plentiful in Athens and on the islands that I swear that they must make them in both male and female versions, and that they propagate in the evenings when tourists are sleeping. More often than not they serve as delivery vehicles on the islands.
Examples of pottery are widely found in doorways and on window sills and can make for some interesting photos. This is a bit of a technical deviation but have a good look at the following image. It was taken hand-held during an evening walk in Mykonos town at f/5.6, +0.3, 1/13th of a second, at ISO-1600. I used a Nikon 1 V2 and its much maligned 1” sensor, coupled with the 10-30 mm non-PD zoom lens. Noise reduction was done using the PRIME function in DxO OpticsPro 9. Take a close look at the detail that is visible in the clamp fastened around the vase and in the fine weaving in the curtain.
Visitors to Santorini from cruise ships can take a cable car up to the town of Fira or ride up the steep stone covered trails on the backs of donkeys. I used the edges of a window to create some added depth in the following photo, and positioned the dark shadow of the window to anchor the bottom left hand corner of the image, and add more overall contrast.
Some scenes reminded me of the economic turmoil that Greece has been experiencing.
And the challenges it still faces.
And, the final image that I want to share with you captures the essence of Greece. It is a country with a long and rich history…its citizens somehow remaining vibrant and growing in the face of difficult circumstances.
If you would like details on the Nikon 1 camera gear used to shoot all of the pictures in this article, here is a summary:
Nikon 1 V2 body
1 Nikon 10 mm f/2.8 (efov 27 mm)
1 Nikon 18.5 mm f/1.8 (efov 50 mm)
1 Nikon 32 mm f/1.2 (efov 86 mm)
1 Nikon 6.7-13 f/3.5-5.6 (efov 18-35 mm)
1 Nikon 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 (efov 27-81 mm)
1 Nikon 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 (efov 81-297 mm)
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Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.