Introduction to Land, Sea & Sky Galleries
Some notes from my experiences
by Mark Wilman
The large number of galleries in this section are the culmination of three years' work. Sudden fires on both Ios and Sikinos brought about photographic projects of chronological, if not historical interest. The fire on Ios being a decidedly drastic experience since it reached so close to where I was living above the hilltop village.
The beauty was in the creativity of ideas, but even more, it was being there in also in other seasons to build on them. This was my dream come true. A visitor to Ios since 1974 and many times after, I'd wanted most of all to live this freedom unattached by every day necessities and obligations. It happened unexpectedly and I experienced it to the full.
Discovering the sky isn't always friendly blue, that the sea turns black for days on end, that because of the wind, the temperature can be too cold for words, that the island, so lacking in living souls in the shorter day months, offers almost no dialogue for weeks on end was a lesson in patience overcome by the simple options of experimenting further in the kitchen and getting out to remote areas, high and low, to capture photographically what few others seemed aware of.
This included the discovery of a stone exterior Byzantine church, a fascinating archaic structure on this island of white walls, hidden behind a densely overgrown river bed, which caused me to crawl through it on hand and foot, belly up, heavily laden with my impressive but bulky camera bag in contact with the ground the entire way.
Autumn in Ios is particularly memorable. On one occasion I'd ventured far over rough land covered in oregano, rosemary, thyme and thorns, climbing steep, rugged hills that often descend into valleys impossible to confront, especially with so much camera gear. There weren't even goat paths for guidance. My mistake was to forget the quickly fading light of the season. As I attempted to hurry back, a mesmerising view of Siknos blanketed in orange stopped me for a final framed shot usin the tripod. While the camera did its work, I admired the view with an overly ripe apricot, the first thing I'd eaten since morning.
In front of me, the sun began sinking into the Aegean lighting up a cloud directly above. With my right hand covered in sticky juice from the fruit, I had no choice but to take hold of the other camera, with its impressive telephoto lens, and capture this memorable scene The photo 'Cycladic Sunset' is the result.
Long exposure photography easily impresses since it permits the photographer to dominate nature: rough seas are flattened, clouds lose their contours and normal images take on an impressive colour density. That said, it's easy to lose sense of what's worthy using this style, however without exaggeration, there can be no real learning, at least in my case.
It's also a stress on the camera as the aperture remains open often for a minute or more. At a certain point, this caused the computer on my more advanced camera to become confused, so I was forced to choose the stronger, but less pixelated model to do the task.
Sikinos has challenged me physically more than anywhere else on earth, excluding malaria in the pacific years ago. A lot of the photos taken on the island in September 2017 still need editing, something which will happen soon.
Milos and Serifos are islands I'd be interested to return to for photographic projects. Certainly a lot of trekking is necessary on both for quality results.