Behind the Lens: Rossanou
At the time of writing, I have a large 20-year retrospective exhibition open at the warehouse PSAS Gallery in Fremantle. 60 works are on exhibit, celebrating over two decades of photographing and leading tours to the Greek Islands and mainland Greece. This image is one of them.
The images in the exhibit not only capture the changing face of Greece during the last two decades, but also a story of the changing technology from film to digital cameras and onto the modern-day compact wonders we now enjoy.
This image was captured at dawn over one of the iconic monasteries on the World Heritage site of Meteora. Roussonou is one of just six remaining monasteries from the original 24, and it was built in the 16th century on top of what appears to be impossible spires rising from the earth. For this image, we clambered to a high vantage point overlooking two of the monasteries, Roussonou and St Nicholas.
The monasteries are surrounded by high mountains, and dawn is always later until the sun breaks through from one of the mountain peaks. Often the site is surrounded by clouds which can also provide amazing light as shafts break through the cloud cover to light the spires and the tiny town of Kalambaka below.
On this particular morning, the sun burst through the thin cloud cover to bathe the monasteries in a golden glow - a landscape photographers’ delight. The image was taken in 2004 with Canon’s first foray into large digital SLR cameras, in this case, the massive Canon EOS 1D S. The batteries were like bricks and looked like they could be used to kick-start a Jumbo. Anything over 400 ISO meant a lot of noise so I set the camera to 100 ISO on a tripod.
Fortunately, I was able to capture a single frame without blowing out the highlights. Recently, a lot of work took place on the exhibition file using Topaz AI software to clean the image and maximise the information to be able to make a good A1 sized print. I was lucky as I haven’t been able to repeat this particular scene, although Meteora seldom disappointed me over the years that I’ve made the journey.
The Greek Consul of Perth opened my exhibition and mentioned that my last tour to the Greek Islands and Meteora would be in June 2022. When asked about COVID, she smiled and repeated an old Greek saying; “When mortals make plans, the Gods laugh” - here’s hoping they’ll be smiling next year.