I was very fortunate last month to go away on commission for Monarch Airlines who sent me away to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
The aim of the trip was to show a different side to the Island for tourists who may perceive the place as a party island/resort. With this in mind I researched quite a few locations beforehand of natural beauty shots.
I was staying in Larnaca, a city on the south side of the Island, I was there for 5 days but the first day was mainly used up on travelling. I arrived at 17:30 and the sunset was at 18:30, I didn’t think I stood a chance of capturing anything by the time I had got through customs and picked up the hire car but en route to the hotel I passed the Larnaca Salt Lake just as the sun was going down. Feeling tired and wary I decided to put this aside and shoot off a couple of images.
It was a very surreal experience, I had never before stood on a salt lake never mind shot one. Aside from sinking in every now and again because I wanted to stand near the reflecting pools of water, which in turn stunk it was an enjoyable experience. It was more akin to shooting a snow scene, having to dial in positive exposure compensation to get the salt lake white. Composition was difficult due to no foreground but I made use of the puddles. While it was like shooting snow, it was also 30 degrees warmer…there was a positive!
The next morning I went out to the beach to capture a sunrise, who’d have thought at 06:30 in the morning that the sea would be full of people swimming.
I managed to grab a few shots of the beach then headed back to the hotel. The early morning sun was hitting the local St Lazarus Church which was a location that had been earmarked for shooting. The light was lovely so I managed to grab this shot of it:
I spent the day walking around Larnaca, getting snapshots of the area and in the evening headed up to Cape Grecko near the party resort of Ayia Napa. Cape Grecko has some nice sea caves where tomb stoning (jumping into the sea from the cliffs) is popular. It was a very popular spot and I swear down no less than 10 newly married couples came here for their pictures taken, forming an orderly queue. Not my kind of idea of an ideal wedding day but hey ho.
I took this first image looking back to the viewing area, with the sea arch and cape beyond using a ND filter to slow down the water a little bit.
Next, I went down to the archway you can see in the above image to try and capture something different, so decided to capture the actual sunset from here:
The next day I spent up in the mountains, more like home to me. The main mountains on the Island are called the Troodos mountains and are enjoyable for the fact you can drive around a lot of them (even if in a little 1.0l Citroen C1!). I went up to visit the Kykkos Monastery during the day which was pretty nice and took mainly snapshots from here, on the way up to checking out Mount Olympus I spotted a really good viewpoint from a layby. By this point the mountains in the distance were holding a lot of cloud with bright light from behind creating some really moody atmosphere. I decided that this image would work best as a panoramic (click to make large):
As you can see the scale of the mountains were quite immense. I decided I was going up to Mount Olympus, the highest point on the Island at 1952m. You can literally drive to within metres of the summit. Unfortunately at the very top there is an RAF base which is obviously fenced off so you can’t access this. I decided I’d have a walk about to the “edge” to see if there was sunset potential. Walking about there were loads of shot gun shells and I was starting to wonder if I had wandered somewhere I hadn’t. Anyway, unfortunately the edges of the mountain really just sloped off with lots of treeline which meant I had decided against this location and thought i’d head down a little further to see if I could find anything.
On the way back, the cloud I had seen earlier had started moving over my direction and dropping the ground level:
I dropped down about half a mile and probably lost about 100m elevation, however I managed to find a great little spot to watch the sunset. The light was very strong and direct, making exposure difficult but managed to pull off a couple of shots. First off I zoomed in on the distant mountains which caught my eye because of the lovely layring effect going off:
Then a more traditional sunset image, looking down the valley with the flanks of Olympus on the lefT:
I went for a meal and wanted to stay around to try and see and capture the milky way. I had been out since 9 that morning and would mean not getting back until 11pm but I knew it would be worth it. I’ve seen the milky way in Skye where I thought it was good but wow I wasn’t prepared for how it looked down here. While there wasn’t particularly any more stars, the milky way was clearly more visible running across the length of the sky which made shooting it fairly easy. I tried to get somewhere with a bit of interest and cutting out any near by light pollution from the village where I had just eaten. I actually ended up going back to near where I shot sunset and shot through some trees. I was feeling rather spooked out, being in a foreign country, in the mountains and in pitch black so I didn’t hang around too often but did manage to get this:
The next day was again a very busy day, up early and a 2 hour drive over to Paphos on the western side of the Island. I spent the first part of the day going around the Kourion just outside Limassol and then over to Tomb of the Kings followed by Paphos city centre, just to get some more snapshots. Then I went to Petra Tou Romiou AKA Aphrodites Rock. A popular spot where myth says that the goddess Aphrodite was born. The rocks are a sea stack and make a great subject.
These first two images are in the golden hour and just different orientations of each other. When composing I liked the idea of being stood in the sea looking up the waves to the sea stack, rather than your traditional looking out to the waves shot. It gave strong leading lines but I soon realised why I don’t see many shots stood in the waves. With crashing pebbles hitting the tripod getting a shot without camera shake was a nighmare, alas after many efforts waiting for the right waves I managed it.
I also did a long exposure shot with the big stopper:
Then, once the sun was setting I took a little more non-descript shot of the location looking out towards the sun:
After the sunset I headed back to Paphos to get a picture of the fort in the blue hour, however despite it still being in the blue hour the skies were already inky black. Not to worry as the shot still worked out well with nice reflections in the water:
While I was happy with my shot of the milky way from Troodos I knew ideally I wanted a shot with some interest in the shot and not a shot that could be anywhere. So I headed back to Aphrodites Rock. I wasn’t sure how dark it would be, it was relatively close to the city but luckily enough it was actually really dark. I had to contend with the odd plane flying by with landing lights on but it was still good, perhaps not as good as Troodos but still impressive. I was next to the road this time and felt a lot better spending time shooting here in the dark as cars passed by.
This first image was shot in landscape, using my head torch to light up the beach and the rocks:
I also took a shot in portrait, a little of the context of the area is lost but the milky way stretches out further through the image showing itself off in all its glory:
So that was really it, I did spend the next day in Ayia Napa and Protoras but didn’t get any golden hour shots due to flying home. It was a very hectic and exhausting week covering over 1000km in 4 days with a lot of travelling but completely worth it. Not only were Monarch happy with the shots but I was too.
You can visit Monarch to view their flight to Cyprus HERE