- Thursday, Meteora, OMG!
Meteora: Amazing, inspiring, breath taking and stunning!
A short 10 min bus ride. The first things you see really knock your socks off! Giant 2000 meter high columns of rock towering above everything, riddled with thousands of monk carved caves which were their ancient homes. Now on top of these stones are 12 monasteries looking down upon all. Of the 12 only 6 are now in use and 2 of those are convents.
The Great Meteoro: The Monastery Of The Transfiguration
Our first stop is The Great Meteoro, The Monastery Of The Transfiguration. This huge stone complex has thousand foot ropes with baskets for moving monks and supplies and steps… hundreds and hundreds. I thought that my knees and back was in trouble yesterday at Delphi but that was nothing compared to this monster. Rough doesn’t even begin to describe this place. Moss covered rust/white/brown rocks the size of a large ship. Green trees and grass everywhere, this is an infrared dream come true. Again because of colors I chose a 590nm super color B+W 090 filter on a 14-150mm lens. This will give stunning Faux and B&W images. The sun again is harsh with no clouds so this is an occasion to save the day with infrared. I spent a long time doing both exterior detail and long shots in both color and infrared. The inside color images are taken at ISO 1000 due the the lack of lighting on the inside of the monastery. Even at this high value, the grain is very low after using the NIK Define 2.0 noise reduction Photoshop Plugin. This is an important consideration when you are traveling away from home and cannot use a tripod for your photography.
Inside was so dark and subdued that I was forced to shoot with a VERY high ISO in order to do the images justice. But with NIK’s Define 2.0 I am not worried about image noise. The chapels were covered in Icons and portraits of the Saints done in stunning colors 2500 or so years ago and have to be seen to be believed. There are monks in long wool robed with beards older than I am lighting fragrant incense and kissing the edged of the Icons.
I was stunned by what I saw and photographed here as well as been impacted on a deep emotional level that will last the rest of my life. If my images can only be as good as my memory…
Saint Stephens Monastery: as nice as the Great Mete0r0 but not as rugged.
About 10 min away this is also an amazing monastery. It was damaged in WW2 by German bombers and is still in a contestant state of repair and upgrade. The guide said that every time she visits there is something new. The nuns wear traditional dark habits that date back to 700bc that they weave themselves. In fa t they raise all of their own food and make their own wine. The convent is warm and full of light. Their chapel (like the Great) is amazing and full of amazing incense odors. There are more ramps and less steps here that made access much easier!
On the way back to the hotel we took a different route down the national highway along the ocean once we left the central plain. Instead of going over the mountains we went under them in seemingly endless tunnels.
St. Nicholas Anapafsas: Just above the village of Kastraki.
Built in the late 15th century, this monastery was built on the ruins of a much older one, but the murals inside support the view that it was there in the 13th century. This is one of the smaller monasteries in Meteora.
As seen, the difference between B&W and Faux Color can be striking in their differences. Sometimes B&W will give a much better representation of the image and allow more detail to be pulled out of the image. I make it a practice to always process both ways and to then decide which one or perhaps both work the best.
I believe that Meteora is and was the photographic pinnacle for my Greece trip.