Meteora, Unesco’s World Heritage site, is a majestic scenery of monolithic vertical cliffs topped with Byzantine monasteries built by monks from the 11th century onwards. Sprawled in the middle of Thessalia’s valley, Meteora offers the unique experience of nature’s grandeur in conjunction with history, architecture and man’s everlasting desire to connect with the Divine. A truly inspiring and sensational photography setting of overwhelming rock formations, but one must also be prepared to expect that this photo workshop is much more than merely capturing an exquisite landscape. As many of its monasteries still operate, it is a great chance to view and depict the pilgrimage to this holy place, for all Christians around the world.
Zagori is a mountainous region in Epirus in Northwest Greece, of great natural beauty, with striking geology and two of Unesco’s Georparks. Our photography trip brings us to the one of Vikos- Aos National park. Gorges, rivers, historical bridges, dense forests, alpine landscapes, steep slopes, natural pools, rocky peaks, such as the seemingly sculpted Astraka peak, and the so-called “Dragon lake” on the edge of the cliff – the dwelling places of dragons, according to local legend – await the more adventurous shutterbugs.
There, nestled in the northern Pindus mountain range amid rugged cliffs, rushing waters, lush forests and breath-taking alpine lakes is the network, interconnected by small roads and bridges, of the 46 tiny stone villages of the Zagori, known as the Zagorochoria. These remote little gems functioning more as an entity rather than as separate communities welcome the visitors with great hospitality and huge amounts of local traditions and history literally carved on their stone-built settlements.
Millions of opportunities for majestic shots for landscape lovers and not only.
Under the guidance of our expert photographer Nikos Kokkas, we’ll have a lot of good hands-on photography instruction, integrated talks, edit-and-critique sessions, and photo assignments into each day’s schedule.
Highlight: We will exploit the superb setting of Tymfi’s mountain ridge for a special session on night photography. This is where we settle for a night, stay over in the refuge, on our way for the Dragon Lake.
The idea throughout your photography travel workshop is to have daily photo shoots that we can view and discuss at the end of the day.
Although Nikos will provide technical tips and tricks throughout the duration of your photography trip, the workshop will emphasize on what makes images powerful rather than simply technically correct. Provisions will be made so that we may download and quick-view images on a daily basis. Nikos will be available to comment on your images individually. Furthermore, there will be two long group sessions -halfway and at the end of the photo workshop- to review the photos taken by all participants, to discuss them technically and aesthetically, and to explore post-processing options.
Upon registering, you will be contacted by the instructors via e-mail. You will be sent a short questionnaire and a multiple choice test to establish your skill level as well as your photographic needs and wants. This will help instructors prepare for individual counselling.
Day 1 – On the arrival day we welcome you to the hotel. In the afternoon, once you’ve settled in, we ’ll all gather to savour an acquaintance dinner based on the Greek local cuisine at one of the finest urban haunts in Athens. The first theoretical session of the photography workshop takes place then along with our dinner; an introductory session that will, of course, be in accordance with the team’s expertise level. Next, we will check our equipment and make sure that it’s ready for the outing the following day. This first contact, through conversation, will bring with it an array of questions, queries and answers in preparation for the surprises that our photography trip will give us.
Day 2 – Early waking up to start with our vans, our 4 hours journey to Meteora. As soon as we settle in, at hotel “Dellas”, we ‘ll enjoy some local food in one of the traditional tavernas around. Then the afternoon is all ours to capture the sublime scenery. A scenery composed by the unique formations of the giant suspended sand-rocks of Meteora, topped with Byzantine monasteries echoing the nun chants creating an eerie atmosphere in their isolated and steep standing. Million of opportunities for superb landscape photography as we reach the scenery from all possible perspectives from the bottom up to the top of the rock pillars for a panoramic spectacle.
Day 3 – The second day of our photography workshop will be divided between visiting the monasteries and some more selective shots of the landscape. We will focus on monasteries’ life – wherever we are allowed to– as evolved in time, mingling with pilgrims & travellers from all over the world and taking the opportunity for some intriguing photography compositions and themes.
Each day will be followed by a critique and editing review led by our instructor through exchanging info of our shots over our photography assignments.
Day 4 Monday – We take off to reach, after 2 hours of great natural scenery, Papigo village in Zagorochoria. There we’ll enjoy the homely hospitality of Saxonis guest house. After having a welcome refreshment, we ‘ll head for the assignment of the day: The village itself, nesting under the vertical slopes of the surrounding mountains, with its stone built houses of magnificent local architecture and its quaint alleys. A magnificent dinner of local delicacies awaits for us in the afternoon in a nearby terrace to conclude with the review of the day. We have already practised a lot of types of photography but today’s photography review focuses on what makes a photograph really interesting rather than practically correct.
Day 5 – A day to remember as it’s the most adventurous one… Early start to climb up to the brink of the mountain Timfi… A relatively easy path demanding a medium physical condition will lead us -after 3 hours- to the refuge which is our 1st photographic destination of the day. The panoramic view is breathtaking as the alpine scenery spreads all around along with the vertical rock slopes of Astraka with its imposing cutting edges and ridges, forming one of the most amazing natural parks of Europe. Landscape photography at its best moment!
After a short break for rest and lunch in the refuge, we continue to cross and photograph the meadows lying among the mountains. And after ascending a small slope, the legendary Dragon Lake reveals itself to us, at 2200 m. height upon the edge of the cliff. The radiant colours of the sky, the soft and sharp lines of the summits all mirrored in the lake’s water, create an extraordinary photography spectacle!
A night’s staying over in the refuge is part of the experience..
Day 6 – We get back to our base in Papigo to download our photos and enjoy a relaxing midday review, to share and discuss through our images, our personal perspectives on the photography themes. This afternoon is dedicated to photographing the nearby natural river pools and of course, having an invigorating dip in the crystal clear water is a must!
Day 7 – We are already deeply in love with the place and we want more & more photography challenges. Thankfully, the area is generous enough to give us plenty and diverse options of scenery with its lush vegetation, calm and impetuous rivers, gorges, canyons and historical bridges. Nature photography has its own norms and our instructor will share all the techniques and new approaches for awesome shots.
Last night in Papigo and a farewell dinner is a great chance for an overall review of our photography trip.
Day 8 – After our last, most delicious homemade breakfast, in our guest house, we are ready to depart for Athens. Our way back includes a few hours’ photography break in the fertile Thessalia’s flat land. The plain stretches for miles in all directions and the wheat and other crops cultivation create an interesting uniform visual; a great chance for a different approach in landscape photography that results in images of a completely different style.
As we reach Athens in the evening, we have included a last night sleep in the city in order to have a good rest and be ready for whatever your plans are for the next day.
Farewell hugs and greetings among friends that have shared an intimate photography & travel experience!
Day 9 – You pack your luggage taking along with your memories, your perception in photography broadened and your skills refined. Morning check out and time either to continue your trip in Greece or to take the way back to your home. Whatever you do, it’ s your choices in life that matters!