The Making Of “I Hated You”

“I Hated You”, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/4000s, ISO 100. Lens: 35mm f/1.8, Camera: Nikon D3200
The photo was taken in September of 2014 on the island of Santorini, Greece. I was there working as a tour guide which meant I was traveling back and forth between Athens and the islands Paros, Naxos, Samos, Ikaria, and Santorini. On tiny planes or sometimes almost ancient ferries. On Santorini all I usually had to do was take the group from Thira to Oia along the caldera’s edge.
Oia is that place that everybody knows and it has been “shot to death”. If you want that famous view that you will recognize the moment you get there, here is what you do: Go to the Ekklisia Panagia Platsani. It’s a small square a couple of minutes walking from the bus terminal. Go west on the alley on the south end of the square. After about 50 yards take the alley to the left and walk down to the end, which is another 50 yards. Turn southwest and you’ll see it.
Anyways, on that day I had left Thira already with the group and we were taking the alleys with what always feels like thousands of steps. If you want to make it even worse, you can walk down to the old harbor in Thira, which is supposed to be 600 steps. I never bothered walking down there. The hike up to Oia was long enough.
After you leave the houses of Thira behind, it is only about 100 yards to the village of Imerovigli and if you stay on the path that is closest to the caldera’s edge, you’ll inevitably come to Agios Georgios church.
It’s your typical greek church, very white and usually it is surrounded by a very blue sky. Or if you get the angle, you’ll see the very blue sea. I didn’t want that kind of Santorini shot everybody had. So I went for black and white and forgot all about the very blue all around me.
I didn’t have too much time as I had the group with me, but at least they were taking pictures too so I had a few minutes. When we walked through the gate onto the platform where the church was located, I had already seen what I wanted.
Standing outside the gate the image had four layers, giving it a quite some depth: The wall on the right with the lamp attached to it in the foreground, after that the gate with the cross on top, then the church itself and finally the sky with the clouds.
There is also a lot of texture in the image, rougher on the foreground wall and the gate, a lot smoother on the church in the distance.
The eyes are drawn to the bright roof of the church and the cross on top of the bells, which contrasts nicely with the darker sky and clouds. Once the eye has focussed on the white cross against the darker sky, there is this connection to the darker cross on the gate against the brighter church building, so the view goes to the gate in the foreground. I think there is a strong axis between those two crosses.
This was the first year with a DSLR, so I must admit at the time I wasn’t really sure what I was doing and I simply got lucky I guess. I wouldn’t have been able to explain as I am now, but at least at that point, it wasn’t necessary. I saw something and took the picture.
I took the image with my first DSLR, a Nikon D3200. Luckily I didn’t just stick with the kit lens, an 18–55, but I got a 35mm prime lens, which I am still using a lot. The file was developed in Lightroom and converted to black and white using Silver Efex Pro.

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