Table of Contents
Hi there, hopefully not impatiently waiting for this newsletter, friends,
Rain, rain, rain, thunder, wind, a little bit of sunshine, rain, rain, rain, rain. Fall is officially here and I am not ready for it. The past few months have been so much fun but also so much work. I need a break. Somehow, I got caught up in the routine again and life has been living me instead of the other way around. Don’t know why that keeps happening but I’m sure I’m not alone in this?
If you recently subscribed (welcome!) and don’t quite recall why, my name is Mitchel Lensink and I write about photography, walking and general philosophies related to those. Unsubscribing is always one click away at the bottom of any email. Before you immediately go there though, I suggest you read everything that comes before it too. Perhaps you’ll reconsider.
Decompressing in Greece
The gnarly weather outside is perfect for contemplatively staring out of the window, so I happily indulge. A positive side effect of taking the time to do this, I believe, is that it brings clarity and calms my mind. I've intentionally tried to reach this state more often and the benefits of this are not trivial. Pulling myself away from the moving images on a screen towards the movement in the real world is a profound way of returning to the long-lost analog times. A time when interpersonal relations, being in touch with nature, and books as knowledge providers ruled the world. Yes, I realize that sounds overly vague and like I'm trying really hard to sound 'deep', but I find it hard to sit down and read a book with so many distractions around me. After a solid window-staring session though, it suddenly becomes a lot easier. I’ve been working my way through Magnum Contact Sheets and, while a very interesting book if you’re into it, the contents are still rather dry and require my full attention.
On this particular rainy day, the window is soon traded for a comfy chair in the corner of the room, where I can easily have both the book and one of the cats on my lap. Just as I finish reading through the introduction, my phone screen wakes from an email: ‘extra information about your upcoming trip to Greece’, it reads. I peek out of the window to the left of me and see nothing but droplets on glass. The perfect time to extend summer just that little bit more.
Plane travel is a mess right now
I collect as few items as I possibly can and manage to squeeze everything into one backpack (I use the GoRuck GR1, if you're interested). I usually do this out of a quest for minimalism, to see if I'm able to live with so few items, but this time, it's out of necessity as well. Schiphol, the biggest airport in the Netherlands, has been dealing with logistical troubles, mostly in the security department, since the world reopened after the pandemic. These troubles are partly fueled by said pandemic, many people found jobs elsewhere, but letting security companies outbid each other for the lowest price, certainly doesn’t help as well. As a result, not enough people are available to do the required security checks and lines sometimes stretch out the front door. I can’t believe this is The Netherlands in 2022 but here we are.
Thankfully, after delays on the train to Schiphol as well (luck doesn’t seem to be on our side today), we make it through security fairly quickly and have a solid four hours to spend at our gate. In these types of situations, I find it's best for me to go into Low Power Mode. So I zone out for the next couple of hours while I let the big machinery carry me to my apartment, where I exhaustedly set down my backpack and surrender myself to a dreamless sleep.
Sunshine can do wonders
The first few days are spent basking in the sun to replenish our vitamin D reserves. All I do is stare into the distance and listen to the waves crashing on the beach. I’m not even listening to music most of the time, except for the moment the EP of a friend of mine releases, of which I shot the cover image. It’s soulful rap with jazzy instrumentals if I have to give a name to it, and exactly my type of vibe. Especially on this beach in Greece.
After those first couple of days though, my camera is starting to call for attention from the corner of the room, asking if I’ll take it out for a walk. Of course I will, I travel to explore more than anything else. I dabbled in proper street photography, you know, the kind that involves photographing people, for the first time when we were in London last month and I intend to continue that trend on this trip too.
Street photography is scary but worth it
Usually, I bring my Fujifilm X100V when I'm traveling as it's the perfect lightweight setup that never gets in the way and has a 23mm lens that allows for photographing any scenario. The 35mm full frame equivalent field of view is wide enough to use in tight spaces and narrow enough to shoot the occasional portrait if I so choose.
For this trip though, I decided to switch it up and bring the X-Pro3 with the XF35mm f2 instead. I was looking through my archive and noticed that lens created some of my favorite images ever, so I felt like it could be put to great use on this trip. At the same time, I could give street photography a try with this different focal length and see how that's different from the wider lens on the X100V. The 50mm full frame equivalent field of view allows for a little more distance between yourself and the subject and I had a feeling I would be more comfortable with that. A possible difficulty could be the shallower depth of field because of that longer focal length, but I would find out if this is a problem soon because it was time to explore the area.
Our apartment is located a little outside Rhodes Town in a place called Kremasti. It appears to be the typical sleepy island village but looks can be deceiving and I know the streets don't hide their character as long as you're out there long enough. I dress lightly for the incoming afternoon heat and arm myself with the X-Pro3. I also carry the small XF10 with its 18.5mm lens with me, which I brought in case I need to take the occasional wide-angle shot. Other than that, it's always nice to have a backup camera in case, god forbid, something happened to the main one.
About thirty minutes later, I spawn into the sleepiest village I have seen in years and wonder if there are even local people living here, or if it merely exists to facilitate the many hotels nearby. I look at the watch on my wrist to check the time but then notice it's a Sunday. That explains the activity at the church I just passed, I think to myself, and the lack of it in any other place. No biggie though, I'm perfectly happy taking people-less street photos as well.
A couple of hours pass and after winding down small alleys and abandoned squares, I return to the main road that underwent a resurgence of activity in my absence. I point my camera at the many interesting characters I come across but have a little more difficulty doing it without hesitation than I did in London. The fact this isn't a big bustling city makes me much more self-aware and I realize I'm still terrified of people noticing me taking their photo. The chances of that happening when there's a lot of activity on the streets are much smaller than when it's relatively quiet, as it is in Kremasti in comparison to London. You simply stand out more with a camera.
Picking up the pace and snapping as I'm moving along works just as well in Kremasti as it did in London though. The 35mm lens helps a lot as well, as I'm physically further away from my subjects, so I don't invade their space as much. I also dare to shoot a couple of photos with the aperture all the way open, which is uncommon for street photography, and rely on the X-Pro3's autofocus to find the subjects. This works surprisingly well and I return with a couple of photos I'm very happy with.
This repeats for the rest of our days in Greece on our many trips across and around the island. Interspersed with monotonous days on the beach, this soon turns out to be the perfect holiday and exactly the break I craved. Meanwhile back home, the weather has taken a turn for the worst but I don't mind it at all. I’ll happily leave the summer behind now and prepare myself for hibernation. I've decided to keep my head down this winter and focus on improving my photography. So if you don't see me out shooting photos, I will be at my desk editing, reading, studying, and building.
More on that in a few weeks though.