Búðakirkja, located on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in West-Iceland, is a natural-born black-and-white image when having typical Iceland weather. When visiting this lonely church, a remnant of a sunken fishermen’s village, on a day when the sky is covered by thick clouds and the air seems to be soaked with fine spray reminding of light fog, you definitely feel like being teleported into an ancient black-and-white movie. It feels so strange standing in front of a well-shaped small church in the middle of nowhere. The church is painted in black and only the door and the windows are framed in white. The whole scene is kind of surreal. In the next days, I’m showing you another image where you can see the surroundings, too.
Last Sunday, we have had our traditional huge flea market in town. Twice a year it is held in the middle of the town. It starts very early and for the really good snaps you should go very, very early. Get your torch and start at 3 a.m. or at least at 4 a.m.
This time, they have had perfect weather for the flea market: warm and sunny during the day, so many people were in the town. The last times before, they have had back luck with the weather. Bad weather = less visitor = bad sales Thus, I guess, the dealers were happy about their sales this time.
I took this image about 6 years ago with an old DSLR (introduced to the markets in 2004). That camera only has a very weak high-pass filter in front of the sensor, so it is able to capture invisible parts of the light, too. The high-pass filter is designed to prevent the invisible portions of the light from reaching the sensor for getting better images.
To get sharp images in IR you have to adjust the focus. IR has a different behaviour when it comes to sharpness, then the visible light. Each wavelength has its own behaviour. In IR the sharpness point is a bit to the left. I.e. when focussing on an object 5 m in front of you, you have to shift the focus back a bit i.e. to 3.50m. You have to find out the correct setting by try-and-error. Back in film days nearly every lens has had these extra marks on the distance control for IR. Thus, I recommend using an old lens for IR photography. Anyway, use your display and check your images carefully for sharpness – despite it is very hard to recognise sharpness in all the reds on the small screen. 🙂
For the above image I put an 720nm IR filter on front of my lens for blocking all rays with a wave-length shorter than 720nm. I also have a 760nm IR filter for monochrome images. These filters extends the exposure time enormously. I have to use exposure times of about 1 second and above in full sun during the day. Thus I have to put my camera on top of a tripod, despite the sun 😦 To make things even harder, the filter in front of the lens won’t let visible light coming through. That makes the viewfinder dark. You can’t choose the right angle of view. Either you guess it, or you’re constantly detach and re-attach the filter to your lens for every image. Have fun 🙂
I like to let the filter in front of my lens and guess the right angle. It’s more fun and more interesting seeing the results. First of all, I do a manual white balance on green grass in full sun. Next, I dial in f8, ISO 400 (to shorten the exposure time a bit) and 1 second as a starting point. Photographing in raw is my default, so I don’t have to change this setting for IR.
I don’t have modified my camera to remove the highpass filter. That’s about 400€ depending on the exact kind of camera. On the other hand, you will not only get the filter removed (you get back short exposure times), but also the focus justified permanently. So, you don’t have to worry about the focus correction I mentioned above. You also usually get back a bright view finder. But the camera now has a certain filter inside: the camera is defined! And you’re not able to switch the filter i.e. to check out other wave-lengths.
For the above image I’ve used a filter, that didn’t block all visible light. So, I can get these color IR images.
I used an old APS-C DSLR, an old 28-70mm lens (qualified for capturing IR images), a tripod, a remote shutter release and much of sun 🙂 That’s not very wide (like 42mm on a FX camera). I wish, I’d have a wider lens. But, in film days they didn’t have had APC-C SLRs. So, such lenses aren’t available. 😦 I also won’t use a more modern DX lens, because they aren not tested under IR light. So, you probably see flares inside the lens resulting in ugly hotspots.
P.S. it’s also possible to photograph in ultraviolet. But, in that part of the spectrum I don’t have any experiences – sorry guys.
καλή μέρα, χαιρετισμός – hello!
For this final post on the greek island Corfu, I picked my top images as an appetizer for your own trip to this beautiful island.
You can go by car and take a ferry from the greek mainland or come by plane. There is an international airport on Corfu, only a few kilometers away from Corfu Town.
At least from Germany, there are no scheduled flights, but carter flights for vacationers. But, I was able to get seats without booking a package holiday. Instead, I booked flight, hotel and rental car separately and everything was fine.
Now, you can enjoy the slideshow at the end of this post as a summary. For those of you, having missed the previous posts, you can find them easily by using the category ‘corfu‘. Each post focuses on one location or aspect of the island and has a gallery of some images at the end.
Next week, I’m starting with another location.
The bell tower of Ekklisia Agios Spiridon stands out of the Old town of Corfu Town. It’s a landmark as you can see in the overview image .
Saint Spiridon is defied on Corfu very much, although he never lived on Corfu. He was born on Cyprus, is said being a member of the synod of Constantinople in the 4th century and became a saint after he passed away.
After the fall of Constantinople, his corpse was brought to Corfu in the 15th century, where they built this pilgrimage church. He is said to have saved Corfu several times: from pest in 1630, hunger crisis in 1550, the siege of the Turks in 1716 (Corfu never felt on the Turks, like the rest of Greece) and another pest in 1673. So, he has 4 feasts trough out the year.
This is another church in the Old town of Corfu town. I guess, this one is special. It’s decorated very rich with gold and silver. It also has some big byzantine icons.
This church was built in 1577 and thus has some renaissance elements in its architecture. Before, the temple Agios Vasilios for the virgin Spilaiotissa stood in this place. Because of the destruction of the temple, the images were moved to this new church.
In the back of the church you can find the silver coffin with the relic bones of St. Theodora.
This are many other churches in Corfu town. Some stand alone, like the Ekklisia Panaceas Mandrakiou in the image above. Others are integrated in the streets, by building houses directly to the church walls. This is especially true in the Old Town of Corfu Town.
In the gallery you can find also inside views from different churches.
I told you about churches on Corfu in a few of my previous posts. There are many small and tiny churches. But, they are usually closed for the public, when there is no service or an other event. We visited a few of them, when we came along. Some were open, but taking photos was almost always forbidden. Others were open, but a service was running. In these churches we only have had a quick look inside without disturbing the service.
This one was open and no-one was inside. We have had time to look around and so I can finally show you the inside of a greek-orthodox church. This one is quite typical, although others were more decorated than this one. Especially those in the Old town.
I always love to have a look in the culture of a country or region I’m traveling.
Do you remember the Hallgrímskirkja? Despite their size and location dominating the city of Reykjavik, is it not the main church of Iceland. That’s Dómkirkja right in the center of the old town.
Dómkirkja is one of the oldest building in Reykjavik. It was built in the late 18th century, because the bishop’s see was moved from Skálholt. At that time, all citizens of Reykjavik found place in this quite small church.
There’s a big church in Reykjavik: Hallgrímskirkja
It’s the second highest building and the sixth in size of Iceland.
The design of the church is inspired by the Icelandic landscape. The walls are formed by pentagonal pillars. You can find this kind of pillars on many places on Iceland: it’s the shape of slowly cooled down lava. Basalt pillars. The bright color reminds on glaciers and the wall shape of all the columns
In front of the church you can find the statue of Leif Erikkson (Leifur Eiríksson), an Icelandic discoverer (970 – 1020). He is supposed to be the first European, who discovered the east coast of North America and founded a few small colonies there. His trips to Helluland, Markland and finally Vinland.are documented in Icelandic sagas. Scientists are quite sure about the location of Vinland: Newfoundland at the Canadian coast.
In my next post, I’ll show you another iconic monument, reminding to his trips to North America. Stay tuned!
καλή μέρα, χαιρετισμός – hello!
Last week I was on the greek island Corfu. It’s the most northern island of Greece. I fled from the cold and wet weather in middle Europe to the sunny south with my middle son. We were there for a week enjoying the sun and the fantastic landscapes.
While the people are very friendly and the landscapes beautiful, the state of the streets outside Corfu-town is mostly terrible (while using a mild word as a definition for them). We have had a rental car during our stay and used it to explore different parts of the island. Although the car comes with insurance, neither the tires nor the under-floor are included (an aren’t includable). Thus, pay very much attention to the streets in front of you and look very carefully to each different colored spot in the street, it might be a deep road-hole.
The island is about 60 km long (north to south) and about 9 km broad at the largest point (in the north). It has about 585 km² and about 100.000 inhabitants. You have to drive many, many serpentines up and down the hills and often a speed of 20 – 30 kmh seem to be extremely fast. But, the locals will always want to drive faster than you do, disregarding the speed limits beside the streets, and even passing you in narrow curves or other places with bad sight. You’ll also meet coaches full of tourists, many motor-scooter with locals as well as tourists and also many quad bikes. For navigating on Corfu I used the map given to me for free at the car rental station and my mobile navigation device, I usually use in my car at home. I came with maps for all 42 European countries and I already used it for different countries. So, I took it with me to Corfu. Unfortunately, many streets on Corfu outside the bigger towns don’t have names. So, we often have had to choose our destination by using the “select from map” function of the device. It all worked fine!
My expectation was to visit a mediterranean island with some hills and beautiful beaches. OK, I knew, I won’t find sandy beaches, but gravel instead. But, most of the beaches are so tiny, a few beach towels were enough to cover the whole beach 😦 And, you’ll find ‘natural’ beaches. Read: dirty with sea weed, plastic bottles, beer and soda cans and so on. Usually not a place where you want to stay. Not all beaches are in the same bad condition. Some got more dirty than others. And, if sea weed really is dirt … – decide on you own. As long as it isn’t too much, it’s OK. It natural. No-one hast to sweep the beach for me. On the other hand, the water itself if perfectly clear that you can watch to the ground to see fishes inside and it sparkles in the sun. Many hotels have pools, often filled with sea water, but without a heating. Only the sun heats up the water inside the pools.
Most of the tiny towns (villages) along the coast were built at a time, when they did not have any tourists. Thus, these towns aren’t prepared for them. Often the only street crossing the town seems to go over the citizens balconies. The houses are built directly next to the street and often the street is not broader then the car you’re sitting in (don’t expect to find a sidewalk). You find pretty houses in good shape very next to houses in bad shape or even ruins of given up houses. A complete chaos! And many, many houses have signs saying “for sale”. Some of the villages at the coast even seem to have been converted into tourist villages. Stores, tavernas and hotels one beside the other. And … directly attached to the street.
Nearly the same in the old-town of Corfu-town: hundreds of small, very small and tiny shops of all shades. All stuffed with hundreds of products: clothes, hats, bags, sandals, ouzo, ikons, ….. I guess, a woman can spend days watching all these shops carefully. They are open until late night, but some already close at 2 p.m. In the afternoon there are less pedestrians in the streets.
On the other hand, in the western part of the island you can find a lake, and a small piece of land between the lake and the see. Here you can find a nice natural sandy beach. Beside 3 beach bars and a kite club you can enjoy a day on the beach. But, it’s hard to come to that place because of the very bad streets – more an earth road, than a street. No hotel is nearby.
If you’re interested in sightseeing places, like old churches, monasteries and so on, you have to be well prepared, because the local signs seem to be only a vague tip, than giving directions. What a pity!
Churches and monasteries are usually closed, because of the fear of ikon theft. Ikons are these special kind of painting of religious important people and they are common in the orthodox church (Greek orthodox as well as in Russian orthodox church). So, you can only see the churches from outside. Or you have to be lucky enough, to arrive, when the Pope (the priest in orthodox church) is in or any other ‘official’ is available to show you around. Unfortunately, even when finding an open church, taking photographs inside is often strictly prohibited. 😦 Also, because of the fear of theft of ikons and other decorations often made of gold and silver.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to talk bad about Corfu. It’s a nice island with friendly people, as I wrote above. You know, I usually choose a typical photo for illustrating my ‘I’m back….’ post. But, this time it was kind of hard to choose a proper one. Which one should I pick – which one could represent the trip: sun, warmth, turquoise ocean, friendly people, good restaurants, beautiful landscapes, steep hills (up to 1,000m over the sea), serpentines, hundreds of scrawny cats, dozens of dogs laying lazy on the streets and giving room only hesitantly, very bad streets in the countryside, very old olive trees, vineyards, breathtaking views, restaurants with names like ‘panorama’, ‘Eden’, ‘Paradis’, ‘Belleveu’ or ‘Belvedere’ …
When walking around, you’ll notice a “free Wi-Fi” at nearly every taverna, ice salon, pub and restaurant. Ask for the code. That’s the way, I was able to check my email every now and than or answer comments here in my blog. The connection quality is not always good. Even our very good hotel offered only a very small bandwidth of around 500 Byte/second (not KB/s!). That’s way too small for surfing the internet, reading blog in the evening or preparing the next day’s trip by researching the necessary information.
I decided to pick a typical postcard motive: the Vlacherna Monastery and the tiny island Pontikonisi behind it. Both are in the bay below the quarter Kanoni of Kérkyra (Corfu town). I picked this image, because there were so many churches, chapels and monasteries around. We have had the idea, there are as many churches as the island has inhabitants. In the old-town of Corfu-town you can find a church in nearly every other street and in the countryside you’ll pass one every very few kilometers or at least a sign pointing in a direction, where you can find one (some of them are quite old – founded many centuries ago). The quarter Kanoni is part of Kérkyra, the island capital, where we have had our hotel. The island behind the monastery also carries an orthodox church. Thus, I think, it fits perfectly.
In Kanoni you can find taxi boats waiting at the runway from the strand to the monastery to bring you over to the other island. All in all, this location is a tourist magnet. Many busses full of tourists come here every day. My tip, come here in the early morning, i.e. 9:00h, just before the busses arrive and as long as both subjects are laying in the sun – remember, it’s the east coast! Depending on your plan, you only need about 15 – 30 minutes for your visit. But, if your plan includes a visit of the other island, you should calculate some more time.
You don’t need to learn Greek before traveling here. English is OK. In my opinion, most of the tourists on Corfu came from an english speaking country (probably the UK). Next often I heard German and Italian. Every day we saw huge cruise ships leaving Corfu harbor in the afternoon or early evening sailing south, in the direction of the greek mainlands. When we passed the harbour, three of these huge city like hotel ships were laying on the pier.
Finally a special tip: try kumquats. Kumquat are a tiny kind of citrus fruits. They are cooked for marmalade, distilled to an orange-colored liquor, candied, candied for coating with chocolate or simply boiled down. An interesting experience for your taste.
I hope, you weren’t bored by this really long post and didn’t fall asleep. 🙂