Tag Archives: santorini photography

My secret lover…

Funny thing happened to us this winter… we never really had one.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a turbulent time in Greece, nor can we say we didn’t have our fair quota of storms and punishing winds. All of these things happened… we just didn’t experience a real winter in terms of cold. The temperatures in Santorini ranged from 6-17c all winter, which is really the winter you have when you don’t have one.

But winter in Oia is not about temperature, or the events on the mainland. Winter in Oia is about serenity, rejuvenation, introspection, a time to think and a time of self discovery. It’s a time to hear your mind’s voice and to defrag the brain. It is a time to enjoy the company of a small, quiet village that just happens to be too ridiculously beautiful for it’s own good…. for most of the year.

Sounds funny if you say you can enjoy the company of a village… but only because you’ve probably never experienced it. A city full of people doesn’t keep you company. It makes demands on you, it controls you, it intimidates you… but it doesn’t keep you company. A big city is like a dominatrix in leather thigh-high boots… a beautiful small village is like a secret lover.

If you do live in a big city… it is almost beyond the boundaries of your imagination to think about walking around with not another person in sight.
It’s only possible in a  ‘day after’ scenario… armaggedon. The difference here is that nothing is damaged, nobody is dead and everything is almost too beautiful for your brain to comprehend. Walking around in winter the mind wonders at times why people choose to visit naturally beautiful places in the peak of summer? Why would you want to share all this with twenty thousand others on a daily basis… when you can have it all to yourself in winter?

There are of course exceptions… and in Oia the exceptions are our wonderful Asian friends… Japanese, Chinese, Korean. They visit in winter… and they get to see sights the summer tourist can only dream about. They take their time, hundreds of photos and much exploring. Some are a bit odd… but then again they probably think the same about me for living here almost completely alone in the middle of winter.

One Chinese fellow asked me where ‘sunset’ was… and when I looked at him funny, he felt compelled to ask again “w h e r e   i s   s u n s e t”?  Speaking very slowly as if I was a sub-60 IQ moron… a descendant of the local mules perhaps. He even made a circle with his hands depicting the sun…. followed by a swan-dive with one hand for the sun obviously hitting the sea. The man was clearly describing sunset to me. So I pointed in the general direction and he gave me one of those “thanks… I hope I didn’t hurt your brain too much” looks  and started almost running towards ‘sunset’. I turned and walked away shaking my head and looking at my watch… it was 12 noon !  WTF?

Another major plus this winter was the fact there were no construction sites near us. No jackhammers at 7am, no mules crapping on the path in front of the house, no Albanians yelling all day long. I know… it all sounds strange to you, when was the last time you had jackhammers pumping, mules crapping and Albanians yelling at 7am at your house? I’m guessing never… but I think you get my drift.

You could sit out the front on a sunny winter’s day and lose yourself in your own thoughts. The eyes send back images and the brain gets inspired. The mind conjures up all kinds of ideas and you get an urge to create.

Then there are the walks. Oia is a joy to walk through at any time… but during winter months it is a storybook. Every corner reaveals another wonder, every step gives you a better view, every ancient doorway hides more secrets. If you are into photography of course it is an absolute delight… the old girl doesn’t have a bad angle. My new camera and I bonded very well this winter and I have many thousands of photos to prove we get on just fine…

All this talk of Oia reminds me of the words of the old master Enzo Ferrari. A journalist asked him why would anyone want to pay such a price for a “car”?
The old master looked at him and smiled “no my son, you don’t understand…
a Ferrari is not a car. It’s a mistress”.

Oia is not a village..

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But wait…. there is more !

Had some fun taking some pics of a recent storm at Ammoudi… the small port below Oia. The images are spectacular and for those of you who have been there and know this place as an idyllic spot for a memorable lunch or dinner in summer…. now you will see the “other” side of it. Poseidon was angry that weekend… enjoy ; )  M

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41pjf8C4QH0

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tales of summer….. part I

It’s been a long hot summer… and it’s been quite some time since I wrote in the pages of this here notebook. But as the verse says… everyone does need a little time away.

It was always going to be an interesting summer, with all that’s happening around the world… and especially Greece. Most people here were pessimistic at the start of the season and a lot of tourists were no doubt anxious with all that was happening in Egypt and elsewhere. Alas…Santorini is not Greece and despite all that was going on hundreds of thousands of visitors came to the island and had a wonderful time.

As you know I like to take the odd photograph or three… but this summer I probably took more than normal, partly because there was a lot going on, but also because I started to really enjoy my photography once again…. after a short period of almost no photographs at all.

As I started to prepare for this return post I found myself looking through the photo archive and realised it has been a wonderful summer…. with lots of visitors and guests, family and friends. It’s been a long summer, a hot summer… but a summer full of new experiences, chance meetings, happy reunions and the start of many new friendships with people from all over the world. That’s the beauty of living on an island that is visited by people the world over…

But enough of my drivel, let’s look at some photographs and let them speak for themselves….

as always there were sunsets… lots of sublime sunsets, which were made
even more enjoyable because of the people we watched them with…

there have been many nights when the sun was really showing off…
luckily I was there to shoot it!

having a glass of wine in the evening with this happening in front of you…
will always be a humbling experience

on a nightly basis the island puts it’s magic spell on visitors… many
of whom will never forget the sunset they saw in Oia

it would have to be one of the most fantastic shows on earth…
and it’s different every night

there are sunsets all over the world of course…
but Oia has party tricks that no other place can match…

in fact… even for a person that lives here it often feels too surreal for words

and sometimes…. well, sometimes the show continues well into the night
because soon after sunset we have a full moon and very special things
happen in Oia on the night of a full moon…

the caldera puts on her fancy frock… and the beauty is blinding

it was on such a night that we had a great function for our visiting friends
from Subaru Australia…. held at the sublime terrace of the Red Bicycle
in Oia. Following a fantastic dinner we had an auction for one
of Allison’s hand painted table cloths from Aegean Designs…
all proceeds went towards the care of Oia’s stray animals.
The winning bid… 2,300 euro
Huge thanks to all those present on the night!

of course… those in the know are very aware that the best show is often
NOT at sunset… but at sunrise. The only problem is that most
visitors sleep through them and are oblivious of the majesty they
miss out on…

that’s not to say that during the day the view is shabby…
we don’t do “shabby” in Oia…

because… as you know by now, Oia is Oia…
the most picturesque village in the world  ; )

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parts II  & III later this week…
pointers will be posted here and Facebook!

lastly…

as I type this on the Mac,
I feel compelled  to express my deep sorrow…

“we are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is habit…”
Socrates. 

Thank you Mr Jobs !

Spiritual Vertigo….

” Hello hello… I’m at a place called Vertigo ” 

I don’t know why…but whenever I hear people talk about the “spiritual” experience of seeing the caldera or Oia for the first time… this U2 lyric comes immediately to mind. It just seems to capture the moment… the moment when someone has obviously experienced something that will stay with him/her for the rest of their lives. I actually start to hum the words of this song as I walk away or passed people… who are clearly having the spiritual vertigo (SV) attack.

Don’t get me wrong…. I am NOT laughing “at” these people, after all I have had many an SV moment myself living here. You would think that after all these years of coming and then living here, it wouldn’t happen anymore… but it does. It can happen often on this island…. you can be walking or riding the Vespa, or just sitting somewhere and you glance out and BANG… an SV attack on the spot. Your eyes land on something which instinctively you know… it is something that most people only dream about, or they are perhaps lucky enough to witness once in their entire lives. Yet… here, you can see it daily.  Other times you could just be going about your business…. walking to work, or picking something up or just driving/riding from A to B…. and you look up. Your eyes see an image that only this sublime landscape could conjure up….and you find yourself transfixed….. mesmerised. SV strikes again !

Let me show you what I mean….

 had just finished doing some painting at the studio and was walking to the car…
looked to my left and woahhhhh….

This was on a cold winter’s day…rain and wind, but suddenly the clouds broke just long enough for this image to appear. For some people it could be almost a religious experience…. but for an atheist like me it is just another SV moment on Santorini.


this was another one I had outside the studio in Firostefani… red horizon,
the two domes lined up and the bluestar exiting the caldera, as it
does every afternoon in late winter…. the picture doesn’t really
capture the surreal visual of the breweing storm over the dark blue caldera…

sometimes you dont even have to leave home to have an SV moment…
this was a sunset that I saw sitting out the front with a glass of red,
in total silence… what the hell do you say when this is infront of you??

another time I was walking up the steps from Ammoudi… and
right under the fort I looked up. The moon was peeking at me
through the canon gaps on the fort wall…

this was another moment that stopped me in my tracks…. the tiny island of
St Nicks….from an angle that no tourist will ever get to see it…
I stood and stared…knowing very well that to the left of that
island rock the depth is almost 1000 metres…. when you snorkel there
and look down… it is just a sheer drop into an abyss

I could go on and on with images taken over the years…but I think you get my point. Although i haven’t shown any caldera pictures the regular readers know the kind of views that a visitor witnesses when looking out over this physical wonder created by a cataclysmic event. Everyone you meet that has been here has their own stories… and their own versions of SV moments. I get them daily, either via email, or just walking around and listening to people talk. But the ones that I love the most… the ones I enjoy watching the most…are the silent ones. The couple that sits for coffee… looks out and says  n o t h i n g  for the next 20 minutes. They are just lost for words…and their minds are trying to process what the eyes are sending back…. You can see it in their eyes. They are having an SV…and they will  n e v e r  forget it !!

Visually Orgasmic

“Been trying to describe it to friends back home Michael… but can’t find the right words. How would you describe it? What words would you use?”
“Visually orgasmic”… I offered !

The American couple (in their 70s) both looked at me with a certain sepia-tone expression. “Did he say what I think he said?” said the wife in a southern drawl. “Yes he did… and I agree with him (laughing), just don’t think I can write that on the post cards (loud laughter)” said the husband.

This was one of dozens of exchanges with visiting tourists to the Aegean Designs store during last week. The words I used were not new to me… it’s a line I have used for many years to describe the small part of the planet I have chosen to live on. I use it for affect… but mostly because it is absolutely true. If you don’t believe me… then take a look at a small set of photos (taken with a broken camera – no viewer screen) as I walked from one of our shops to the other late in the afternoon.

The following would come close to being one of my favourite photos I have taken on the island. The scene looked sublime… images forming on the water below in total silence, as I waited for the right moment (bit tricky when you don’t have a viewer on the cam). I am so pleased the moment wasn’t lost…

This wasn’t a photography hike… or me waiting with high-end cameras to “capture the moment”. This was a walk home and these were taken almost randomly with a broken cam. But this is not just any place folks. This is not just any island in the sun. This is photographer’s paradise. This is Santorini…. a place so damn photogenic, it really is “Visually Orgasmic”.

PS: If you can think of a better term I’d love to hear about it ;-)

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Tip of the hat !

Berta…the beautiful señora from Madrid, gave us a mention in her own delightful blog and for that we send her kisses. If you haven’t as yet travelled with me and Berta then do yourself a favour… her photos are amazing and her blog ( toiledejouy ) is like a venus fly-trap !

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Have to apologise for taking leave without notice for the past 2 weeks… but was very busy and just needed a brake for a while. To all those that wrote… I am not going to stop blogging and if anything I am looking forward to a summer of great images and stories to share with you ;-/