I spent two weeks on Patmos last month. It’s a small Greek island in the Dodecanese chain, chiefly associated with John of Patmos, the reputed biblical author of the Book of Revelation or Apocalypse. Patmos is arid but beautiful, blessed with a fine climate and endless light.
Though I packed a digital SLR, it didn’t see much use – the Yashicamat came first. I brought my usual slide film (Fuji Provia 400) and some print film (Fuji Reala 100) for the first time. Daily temperatures around 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) had shooting at dawn and dusk most days, avoiding the harsh light and heat of midday.
Patmos was created volcanically around 7 million years ago; its topsoil is loose and has the texture of Granola, crumbling beneath your feet as you scramble around. Arriving on location pre-dawn, I fell over more than once whilst clambering with my tripod and camera equipment in the dark. At dawn, the window of great light lasted around 15 minutes so it was essential to have shots pre-visualised and locations scouted beforehand.
The ‘Rock of the Apocalypse’ shots were made at dawn in Petra bay. The shoreline at Petra (Greek πέτρα, literally ‘rock’) has a tangible volcanic rim shape and the bay is dominated by a large rock of geological and historical interest. The rock contains grottoes inhabited by early Christians and, according to a controversial theory outlined by an Austrian lady I met, it may have been be the cave site of John of Patmos. This theory is of course regarded as errant by the Orthodox monks managing the ‘official’ cave and fortress monastery at Chora. History aside, the rock formation is very sculptural and makes an excellent photographic subject.
Boulders, wiry plants and rocky outcrops drew my gaze on Patmos. The hillsides at Grikos turned fiery at dawn (see ‘Hillside at Grikos II’) and came out rather over-saturated in print film (which is already sensitive to red) so I adjusted this in Lightroom. Comparing C41 (print film) and E6 (slide film) results from this trip, C41 shots like ‘Massey Ferguson, Grikos’ have more muted tones and smoother contrast. The E6 Grikos harbour images have a different look altogether, something I can best describe as ‘glassy’.