Before the COVID-19 lock-down in the UK, I spent a week in Athens at the start of March 2020.
Unsure of the heightened conditions of the airport security, I opted to take my Lomo LCA with a few rolls of Ilford XP2 Super. I’ve used this camera for the last 10 years on trips to various countries around the world as it’s simple, light-weight and I like the intense smell of oil when I use it.
The trip to Athens was the first time I’d used the Lomo with black and white film so I was slightly apprehensive as to how the photographs would turn out. I needn’t have worried however, as the photographs turned out better than I’d anticipated. I discovered that the magnificent city lent itself surprisingly well to black and white photography.
The Minitar lens proved to be sharp and full of contrast. I enjoyed the freedom that the small and inconspicuous camera gave me on the busy streets and nearby beaches.
I was lucky that on the day that I visited the Acropolis it was raining heavily and the foul weather had scared off the hordes of tourists that usually flock to the ancient site. The photograph of two people with umbrellas was taken on a rocky outcrop near the Acropolis. My eye was drawn to the sinuous trunk of the tree echoing the broken path as well as the two solitary figures silhouetted against the backdrop the rain-drenched city.
As I walked through Athens each day, my eye was caught by pigeons congregating on wires above a crossroads. I waited until just the right second when a solitary pigeon flew through the air to capture the shot.
I was staying in a run-down area of the city where poverty and homelessness were clearly evident. The elderly man sitting on a bollard by one of the main underground stations as crowds of people rushed by, filled me with sadness. He looked lost and alone as life passed him by.
A few days before the lock-down, museums were still open but there was a sense of unease. At the Museum of the Acropolis, two figures stood high above the entrance looking down on ruins of the ancient edifice. I liked how the two figures were dwarfed by the colossal scale and grandeur of the museum’s architecture.
Towards the end of my trip, as the authorities in Athens started to bring in initial lock-down measures, I walked along the coast which was virtually deserted apart from a few individuals roaming by the sea. The photograph of an elderly woman and a lone tree on a deserted beach, was my attempt at capturing the eerie feeling of abandonment and isolation.
I often capture scenes of isolation and, ironically, the lone figures in my photographs heralded the devastation that was to come due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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14 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Lomo LC-A & Ilford XP2 – Athens in the run up to lock-down – By Mark Harrison”
Your photos are really excellent, especially the Figures with Umbrellas. Most enjoyable.
Glad you enjoyed the photos Phil. I got soaked taking that one!
Nice photos Mark – impressive what you managed to eke out from the LC-A, my results from that camera are rarely this well captured.
Thank you Jamie. I appreciate that. I’ve always found it an interesting camera to use
These are extraordinarily well done. Wow!
Many thanks Christopher
These are all powerful images. Excellent!
Glad you enjoyed them
The LC-A has a “contrasty” lens – well suited to your captures.
The lens works great with black and white film
Your article is one more proof, that its not the camera – its the man behind the camera that matters. Very good compositions!
Thanks – I really appreciate your comments
Mark, how interesting you should post this, thanks. I also went to Athens for a few days early this year prior to lockdown and I’ve enjoyed seeing your really atmospheric compositions with the Lomo LC-A. It goes without saying that this vibrant city is hugely important historically and, as we both witnessed, it has monumental magnificence and style on display, but also edginess and social deprivation. From your description I’m guessing you might have based yourself in Omonoia. I walked everywhere, and for photographers there’s more compelling subject matter than you can shake a stick at. For example, there’s a small and unusual residential area perched just below the Acropolis called Anafiotika which is easy to miss. A warren of pathways and semi-derilict corners, it has some amazing street art. On my trip I used Lomochrome Metropolis and Ilford Delta 400 so I could try both colour and black and white film, and I agree Athens looks just as interesting in monochrome as it does in colour. Thanks again for your story and images, and let’s hope people will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy the hospitality of the Athenians in a safe and relaxed way soon.
We did stay in that area and found it fascinating. It will be great when people can safely visit Athens once again