I guess summer is officially over now and looking back, I can remember some beautiful time spent on vacation. Many photos were shot in beautiful places and endless beaches I had never been before were discovered in my region. I only regret to have spent so little time organizing small trips, mostly because I spent much time staying in one place and following a "fixed" daily summer routine. Given the money and circumstances I would now prefer having spent some more time away from my region than waking in the morning for early sunbaths, then back for lunch and finally out for strolls with my friends or family.
You might ask "what's wrong with that?", but let me tell you these were not my only plans for this summer. I had set my expectations high and had so much energy to spend on sightseeing and photographing, but I ended up spending most of my vacation days doing almost the same routine. Don't get me wrong, I like spending time with my family, sunbathe in the beach and taking evening strolls in the port, but I get bored quickly. I wanted to see more things, I wanted to fill my head with pictures and places I have never been to and limited resources kept me from going where I wanted.
|Polilimnio, July 2016|
|Methoni, July 2016|
|Methoni, July 2016|
Even though I don't feel I have traveled a lot these past months, I managed to improve myself on two things that I had set my mind on: Making delicious cheese balls and properly post processing the Milky Way in a way I feel it should look. Don't laugh! I always wanted to learn how to make these delicious fried balls made of cheese, but never made the decision to stop for a moment and try out some recipes until one satisfied my tongue. And then, one day an "easy cheese ball recipe" crossed my daily news reading on a blog I follow and tried it out. Then, after my first disastrous attempt I added some Greek "feta" cheese and fried for only two minutes and the cheese balls recipe was a success!
|Pylos, July 2016|
|Kardamyli, July 2016|
|Near Stoupa, July 2016|
Now, for the milky way post processing thing, well this is another story. In the past, I had tried out various post processing techniques with little success and results not to my taste. I had initially planned on developing a process from a single frame of the milky way only in Lightroom, but there's a lot more work involved on a "successful" photograph of this kind. Things I knew, but I had never tested and settings I thought were an overkill, but proved essential such as boosting the ISO too high (even at 16000 and 25600!).
|Itilo, July 2016|
|New Itilo, July 2016|
|New Itilo, July 2016|
It all starts with shooting the Milky way. A dark moonless sky is needed away from city lights and light pollution, somewhere in the countryside. I found out some days ago that a HOYA Red Intensifier filter dramatically reduces light pollution, but I cannot get my hands on one, since is has become very rare! You will also need a high ISO setting starting with 1600 all the way to your camera limits, a wide angle bright lens (Canon's 17-40 f4 L is barely fine, preferably a 14mm f2.8 would do the job) and a sturdy tripod with a nice view on a foreground subject and the Milky Way.
|Areopolis, July 2016|
|Vathia, July 2016|
|Gythio, July 2016|
Some photographers are using multiple (even 30!) frames stacked together in order to reduce noise, but although I find it a great idea I have not tested how much the noise can be reduced with this technique. Having processed only one frame for the Milky way I found out that even at a noise level of 25600 with my Canon 6D the visible noise for the sky is very little when the frame is resized at 1200 pixels. In full size, the noise level is visible but not so much intrusive. Post process involves Curves brightening and coloring, until I like what I see in Photoshop, something I tried to avoid by using just Lightroom for all my photography work. I found out that this is the best way towards my taste and although it produces large files and takes much time to perfect, it also produces very good results and I am sticking to this Milky-Way technique for the time being.
|Pounda, Lakonia, August 2016|
|Near Neapolis, August 2016|
|Ferry boat to Elafonisos, August 2016|
Another instance from the same frame with correct white balance is needed for the foreground layer, which if carefully blended with the background, ties the frame elements together nicely. This is another key element for the photograph as you need to make the white balance as right as possible, not exaggerating the colors. All methods need improvement and something always doesn't seem right at the first attempt, so you need to work the method in order to get it closer to your taste. And this method I am following in order to become "mine" needs improvement, testing and perfecting, but you can understand the rough idea from the results I post here.
|Milky Way over Kapetanakis Castle (re-processed), August 2015|
Looking back further this year I gathered some moments that made me happy to have been photographed that specific instances in time. I have visited again places that I had previously photographed only to find that they had changed dramatically and not always for the best. So, having frozen that moment in time made those past photographs a priceless possession! Knowing that things we see will never be the same again is a mixed emotion feeling. Dramatic skies, countryside landscapes and long exposure dusks are things that I'll never get bored, but I also don't forget the amount of post processing work involved every end of summer with more than 1000 photos to process, select and submit for evaluation to certain photobanks. I have still not found a solution regarding the limited edition prints I want to start selling, but I am looking towards the blurb photo book solution, that seem promising as an idea.
|Mikros and Megalos Simos, August 2016|
|Elafonisos, August 2016|
|Biliovo footpath, August 2016|
I am planning to spend some more time shooting long exposure photographs the following months, perfecting some ideas I have towards black and white and adding high quality artistic work in my portfolio. I will try to make the time to create some photo books with blurb and see what happens as it seems a nice idea having my best work printed on some kind of material at some time in the future, but I also want it to produce enough money for the print run. In the meanwhile I still feel that my time is limited and I keep on doing my daily routine that eventually makes me very tired at the end of the day. But when I look at where this summer has lead me to, I feel happy and proud of my work.
|View from Taygetos, August 2016|
|Kalamata, August 2016|