Archive | rangefinder camera

Return to Paros…

As the ferry rounded the northern tip of the island, opposite Naoussa, and I saw the lighthouse atop Cape Korakas, I knew that I was home.  I leaned against the port gunwales, waiting until we had passed the Cave of Archilochus, and then I went back inside the old ship and gathered my things.  I was the first person downstairs in the garage bay.   I walked off the NEL Lines Aqua Jewel with a feeling of deep relief and happiness.  I was home, back on Paros.  I allowed the noises and smells of a busy Greek island port to fill my senses as I walked back to my flat.

That was two days ago and since then I have taken care of essential business, mostly laundry.  I have come back to my favorite cafes and eaten in my favorite restaurants.  All is well with the world.  In other words, life continues and changes in small and big ways and I find myself, as usual, listening more than talking during intense discussions with friends.  My grandmother always said that was a character trait that would serve me well.  We’ll see…

I do have a lot to say, but verbally it seems that many others say it so much better than I, so why paraphrase?  Many years ago I was an avid musician.  I wrote music, songs, lyrics, played in bands.  I did this for many years-decades.  I had a lot to say then, or I thought so.  In the end the words became dark, sinister and negative.  The bands moved on without me and I dropped the music, along with a few other pastimes.   I can still play the instrument, but the desire to express with sound has left me.  Just part of the Great Circle, I suppose.  These days I have a quieter way to explain the world.  I find it much more calming, and good deal lighter in actual weight.  It lets me stop, look and breathe.  The shutter clicks.  I feel that this is where I should have been all along.

The island has become the color of worn brass and oxidized aluminum. The craggy, yellow-brown contours are set off by the blue sky and the deeper, indigo sea.  White buildings dot the arid landscape,  like so many chunks of salt-lick.  The tomatoes are rich and sweet and there is fish to savor in a nearby taverna.  In two days I leave Paros again, this time for America.  I will visit with friends and family, eat American food and have my senses bombarded with different sights, most of them very green and wet.  It will be humid and there will be rain.

En route I will stop in Athens.  While I am there I will visit the Benaki Museum and see a large photography exhibit by Constantine Manos.

Now I am rambling.  It is hot and I need to add some images to this post.  These are from my recent island hop.

JDCM

Folegandros

Folegandros

Folegandros

Folegandros

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Images from the past weeks…

I leave Folegandros in a couple of days and return to Parikia.  I have noticed that wherever I have stopped–Amorgos, Sikinos, Folegandros…I always seem to find a high vantage point, usually the Chora or a high mountain.  I peer north, searching for my lovely home and I see it.  Paros.  It is there, close at hand.  I am thinking like this now.  I am somewhat homesick.

I have rented a small car.  Today I will take it easy and drive around and take pictures.  I saw some areas along the road during the bus ride yesterday that demand attention.  Plus, I want to give my feet a rest.  No hiking today.  Maybe tomorrow and then to a beach.  I want to get home, but I am no hurry to get through the day.  Plus, at 1PM the sun is far too bright to be of any use to me.  I will wait until 3PM or so and head out.

JDCM

Short DoF image of some wall detail on Amorgos

Short DoF image of some wall detail on Amorgos

 

 

The Aspropounda Lighthouse on Folegandros, looking south.

The Aspropounda Lighthouse on Folegandros, looking south

Detail of the door of Episkopi, Sikinos

Detail of the door of Episkopi, Sikinos

Detail of some wall work on Folegandros

Detail of some wall work on Folegandros

A kouros statue found on the island of Naxos

 

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Folegandros…first impressions…

As I departed Sikinos this afternoon, the Meltemi came in gusts of Force 6.  The air was hot, the sand flew in my face, the boat arrived, I boarded.  An hour later I disembarked at Folegandros.  If Santorini didn’t exist, vacuuming up 90% of the foreign tourists, Folegandros would be the place.  As such, the island has secured all the charm of the Cyclades without the vast throngs that clog the narrow streets of the ancient Minoan hub.  Thank God for that.  I have been to Santorini and was not impressed.  Here it is different.  The restaurants are all open and have large, taverna-style menus on chalkboards outside.  Tonight I will eat in a place called ‘Chic’, recommended by a friend in Athens as a good place where they serve a specialty of the island, roast lamb with prunes.  I have already walked past and it looks very inviting.  They also have rabbit, one of my favorites.  I am sitting in a small café called ‘Pounta’.  They have rabbit on the menu too.  This is a good sign for the next few days.

The reports on hiking are all positive.  I will take advantage of this but I will also take it easy.  It’s not a race and I am not trying to prove anything.  There are some good beaches and I have a book to finish reading.  The stone walls here are lovely.   My observations on the bus ride from the port to the Chora (where I am staying) have already whetted my appetite.  I will post some images when I have them.

For now I finish my espresso-freddo and look forward to a night of good food and rest.  Tomorrow I take a short walk and head to the beach.

JDCM

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Amorgos, part 2…

It has been a wonderful day here on the rugged and wild island of Amorgos, on the southeastern edge of the Kyklades.   I picked up a book yesterday which detailed the history of the place and it filled in many gaps.  One interesting tidbit is that geologically Amorgos has more in common with the island of Samos than the other Kyklades.   It is as if it split from the Dodecanese millenia ago and drifted west.

I spent the day exploring the remote western end of the island and I was grateful I rented a car.  It seems that the Dimos (town council) has cancelled all bus services to that area due to lack of funding.  They have suspended service in the high season of July/August as well.  This was good for me, in a way, since there was no one around and I had the place all to myself.  I suppose it will be good for the car rental agencies too.  In any case, I was able to hike, find some nice little coves to swim in and photograph some more walls.  I  sat in the Kykladic structure of Markiani, photographed the mouldering stones outlining the ancient settlement and mused on the idea that people have lived here since the 3rd millenium B.C.  Even then it was good place to be.  Below me, after a near-vertical drop of 1700 meters, the sea crashed against the rugged cliffs, endlessly grinding stone into sand.

I have managed to shoot two full rolls of film since I have been here and I ran out this afternoon just after the above mentioned archeological site.  So that makes it three.  I will return tomorrow for more hiking, more photography and lunch at a nice little taverna recommended by a friend. I have added some photos.  One is a detail of a 4th century B.C. tower in the small town of Vroutsi: free admission, no tourists and no rope lines.  The young man at the gate even gave me a free booklet with information.  Perfect.

JDCM

Classical era stone tower Near Vroutsi, Amorgos.

Detail of the 4th c. B.C. stone tower Near Vroutsi, Amorgos.

Stone walls, juniper and thyme.

Stone walls, juniper and thyme.

 

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Space and the end of Easter…

I just helped a friend board the Blue Star ferry ‘Delos’, en route to Pireaus.  It is Sunday evening, May 12, on Paros and the Easter season has ended…finally!  The smell of lamb fat has rinsed from my hands, the out-of-towners are returning to their homes and the island is quieting down.  I was shocked by the crowds already on board the ‘Delos’ as well as those embarking.  Hordes.  Masses.  All with rolling luggage dragging behind them, seemingly forgotten in some small dusty corner of their minds.  Passive traveling at its worst.  Why is it that we forget about the items directly behind us and we tend to lead with memories from so long ago ahead as if they are current events? Hmmm…

On the other hand, the Aegean Center students enjoyed a lovely day out at sea with Captain Tassos and his crew for our spring “Boat Trip”, a somewhat circular route around Andiparos, stopping at Despotiko, then Taverna Zombos on the southern side of Andiparos for a mid-afternoon feast: gigantes, kolokithokeftedes, bean salad, xoriatiko salate, calamari, oktopodi salate, saganaki tiri…a true food event.  I needed some space, some time alone so I stayed back at the school and worked on my current painting, a view from a balcony overlooking a small courtyard adjacent to the school.  I had three hours of quiet for this and I managed to work very well, very hard and productively in that short span. Then I hopped in my trusty FIAT Panda, drove to the Andiparos ferry, went over, swam  at both Livadia and Agios Giorgos beaches, took some pictures (film and digital) and met up with the rest of the school for the above-mentioned meal.  Orea!

Here is an image from today.  A view of Andiparos–Leica M8, Voigtlander 28mm, ISO 160, F/16, 1/125, hyperfocus…clouds and wires

Some walls, a lamp,  sea, sky, clouds.  Enjoy!

JDCM

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News from the sick bay…

The rains have come in to stay, or so it seems.  It is winter in the Aegean and it is damp and cold, the kind of damp that seeps into one’s bones and begs for all to just stay in bed.  There have been a couple of days of sunshine, but other than that it has rained, drizzled, poured down and showered.

Last Sunday evening I was sitting in my apartment reading when suddenly it felt as if all the energy had drained from my body and mind.  I was ill, I knew it.  I managed to stay awake for another hour or so but then I was in bed and out like a light.  The next morning I woke up as sick as one could be. My lungs were full of crud, as were my sinuses, swollen glands, etc…I took the advice of friends and went to the doctor who gave me a prescription for antibiotics, expectorant, throat gargle and high strength ibuprofen.  As the days have progressed I have improved but I feel I am not out of the woods yet.  Three more days of pills and I should be, well…right as rain.  Over the days friends have brought me food.  Chicken soup from one, a fish stew from another.  Today I was given some onions and carrots so I could make lentil soup.  These are some of the finest people I have ever known.

On another note, my quarantine has given me the chance to photograph my immediate surroundings from the viewpoint of the small balconies on either side of my flat and out my kitchen window.  They have an abstract quality that perhaps I would like to paint also; geometric shapes of varying hues of tan to white, blue expanses broken my myriad antennae.  I’ll post some images next week.

So it is movies, books, soups, plenty of fluids and lots of bed rest for me.  I have been reading Joseph Campbell and Edward Weston; James Bond and Harry Potter–comfort foods for the mind, body and soul.  The weather is supposed to improve by Monday and then John and I can get back to work building benches and so forth.

JDCM

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Guidance, delineation and communication…

It began with lamp posts in 2005.  There was a quayside in Ermioni, a boat on dry dock and an ornate iron lamp post looking out over the still water at sunset.  Then there were more lamp posts in Bosnia, arcing around the gentle curve of a mountain road, leading to where…?

Now there are stone walls climbing and moving across the landscape of the Kyklades.  They have been accompanied by electrical poles, maybe telephone lines, I am not sure…

I have been photographing them for the past few years, mixed in with all the rest.  Driving back from an area here on Paros the other day I was struck by how these all are indications of the hand of man in an otherwise wild landscape.  I have a choice.  I can bemoan the state of affairs regarding these structures or embrace them as something more, strong vertical and horizontal lines, shadows of human needs.  I have thought of lamp posts as bringers of light in the darkness, guidance along dim roads.  The stone walls define our boundaries, of both self and property, for they are often too insignificant to keep any creature at bay.  The poles signify communication over distances.  Guidance, delineation and communication.  I would post some examples, but I feel that everyone has an idea of what I am speaking of without the illustrations.

It is raining here.  Last night the deluge dropped a hail of roaring ice in Paroikia.  It woke me at 4AM.  It also deposited all the red, sandy dust that has been blowing from the south, out of the deserts of North Africa.  This is the scirocco.  The air was clear this morning and as I drove south to visit some friends for coffee I marveled at the archipelago surrounding me: Sifnos, Serifos, Sikonos, Ios, Kimolos, Syros, Tinos, Andiparos…rugged walls ran through green hills, telephone lines stretched thinly into the blue distance and, even though the sun was bright, my heart was gladdened to see the occasional unlit streetlight along my path.  If I came this way on a dark and stormy night I would not become lost in the tempest.

JDCMBlue-Door-(behind-the-curtain)

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Parian viewpoint…

I returned to Greece last Friday and after a long and uneventful journey I found myself at the “Eleftherios Venizelos” airport, the gateway to Greece.  It was quiet at 16:40 hours on a Saturday.  Aside from my Aegean Air flight, there was only one other craft that seemed to be in use, a KLM A320 parked at the terminal.  This speaks to both the slower winter season and the decision for other airline companies to curtail their schedules into this country, a nation hit hard by both the global economic crisis and a media-fed-fear of governmental instability.  While the economics are true, the other claim holds no water.  This is a land of change and transition and so many people are preferring to sit on the sidelines and watch the drama unfold.

It was raining and the skies were lead-grey.  I hailed a taxi and as we headed towards the city I was struck by how green everything had become since my departure in December.  The traditional music coming out of the small radio  made my heart melt and run like the rain.  As we sped along the motorway, the driver handed me an orange.  “From my garden–this morning”, he said.

Change is a difficult stage of life for any organism, whether it is a country or an individual.  The best course of action is to change the dynamic.  When an old path isn’t working, one does not stay on the same road and travel with more verve.  One takes a turn at the next crossing, thus expanding the journey.  If one has a philosophy that is dear, it is important to keep this philosophy as a compass and at the same time open up prospects for new and exciting ways to implement the fundamentals.  12 years ago I grew weary of the career in which I had been laboring.  Instead of finding a new niche within that  limited community I shifted gears and turned off the main road and connected with a new highway.  Now I am in Greece, practicing my skills and craft in photography.  The remnants of the old ways are gone, leaving only memories and an ability to create this marvelous dish.   I can only offer advice based on my own experiences.  When something isn’t working, get out of the way and take a new road.  After all, change is the only true constant in the Universe.  Photography is the same.  There are so many variables within the craft, especially with the added tools of the digital medium.  It would be foolish and arrogant to discount them in an attempt to hold onto some mythological idea.

Speaking of that, I had a change of heart recently regarding the noted photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.  When he said, “In order to give meaning to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry”  I have to applaud.   I agree wholeheartedly but it was disappointing to watch the documentary, ‘The Impassioned Eye’ .  This film revealed that he cared little for, and avoided at all costs, the developing of his film and printing of his images, a part of the journey that I feel is so important to the photographic life.  I believe that he was little more than a guy with a camera in the right place at the right time.  A small bubble has burst, but a bubble nonetheless.  Now I am a little more free than I was.  Change is good and necessary.  Change is essential.

A view of Agios Phokas, Paros.

A view of Agios Phokas, Paros.

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With a little help from my friends….

Ancramdale, New York  December 22, 2012 07:45hrs

Ancramdale, New York December 22, 2012 07:45hrs

I have found through trial (many trials) and error (many errors) that I can accomplish very little in life without the assistance of those around me.  Whether it is the gentle and loving care for my mother, my continuing work at the Aegean Center or any spiritual journey I may undertake, I cannot do it alone, nor do I really want to anymore.  Yes, there are times when we all need a little solitude for reflection and meditation, but overall I long to embrace the company of my fellows, whomever they may be.

I return to Greece in just over a month.  Christmas will come and go and the New Year will ring its bells and I will, I hope, have some work to show for the time I have spent here.  I am opening up my darkroom and am about shooting film (both 35mm and MF) as well as recording some digital images.  Besides my Leica M8 I have resuscitated my old Canon Digital Rebel, the first decent digital SLR I used.  It needed a new battery so I picked one up from Adorama.  I hope to use it as a point-and-shoot while I am here, reserving the Leica for more contemplative images.  The MF film work is up in the air.  Maybe I’ll work on some more short depth-of-field images and bring the negatives back to Paros.  The 35mm film is being used in a really old Canon AE-1 with a 50mm lens.  In both cases I am shooting Kodak Tri-X 400.  If I am industrious I hope to begin developing by the end of this week and printing by 2013.  2013!  Imagine that…A lot of water has flowed under the bridge, over the dam and out to sea since I started this blog.  It seems like a lifetime ago that I switched gears and turned onto this road, a journey that fills me with endless gratitude and wonder.

It snowed early this morning before I awoke.  The weather outside is grey and leaden, a wintry wind is reminding me that all things must pass and, as they do, new opportunities for knowledge and growth appear on the horizon.  In some cases it is better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all and I have to believe that there is something better for me down the road.  As a friend and I were remarking this morning…one door closes, another door opens.  Life is a series of hallways and corridors.  Take a risk and turn the knob.

 My never-ending thanks to Kit Latham for all of his wonderful support in the much needed update of this blog space.  You will notice that the old images of the Bosnian Roma are gone, replaced with more current and relevant images from my portfolios.  To have them off the site is a great relief to me.  They represent a time of my life that has passed.  I have also cleaned out much of my gallery site, letting go of a tired and used vision for something a little more current.  In a few days there will be an even larger shift.  Siga-siga, as we say on Paros.

JDCM

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