The Best 5 Minutes of Athens You’ll Ever See

Norwegian photographer Stian Rekdal has turned 1,000 hours of footage into an amazing time-lapse video


There’s no doubt that Athens is an extremely appealing city to photograph. This is why, all year round, you’ll see tourists balancing precariously on the shiny marble walkways at various archeological sites in the city, waving a selfie stick.

The city’s beauty was not lost on Norwegian photographer Stian Rekdal, whose timelapse video of some of the best sites in Athens, titled simply “Athens” has been viewed over 55,000 times on Vimeo.

He spoke to Greece Is about his work, which has been featured by the National Geographic, BBC, NBC, Sony, Rolls Royce, Icelandair and more. Stian’s love for Greece is long-term affair which began 10 years ago on a short trip to Santorini. He jokes that he was meant to come for two days and ended up staying for 10 years.

As of 2014, the 37-year-old photographer has been living in Greece permanently with his girlfriend, who he also met in Santorini 13 years ago. They decided to move to Greece for the better weather and superior photography locations, plus the fact that his income from photography goes further in Greece than it did in Norway.

Photography for him began as a hobby around five years ago. His experimentations with new photography formats were noticed by major electronics manufacturers who used them to demonstrate their ultra-HD screens at retail outlets and trade shows worldwide.

This was the breakthrough that led to his hobby bringing in money to the point that he was able to pursue photography full time.

The video he made is not actually a video, he explains. “Timelapse is basically video with the benefits of photography. It also gives you full control of the picture. You don’t get that with a regular video camera.” says Stian.

“The city’s beauty was not lost on Norwegian photographer Stian Rekdal, whose timelapse video of some of the best sites in Athens has been viewed over 55,000 times on Vimeo.

“With timelapse you can do all the tricks that photographers do, you just have to do it 200-300 times with 200-300 pictures.” he says. The result is an ethereal combination of images in vivid colors that mix together beautiful shots of famous sites in Athens as clouds race overhead through blue skies and the tiny figures of people zip around. In between, several drone shots give perspectives from above.

The video takes the viewer through scenes of the Panathenaic Stadium, panoramas of urban Athens, Zappeion, the Acropolis, the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Acropolis museum, Athenian street art, Monastiraki square, the Temple of Sounion, OAKA Olympic Stadium, Syntagma Square and Plaka, with the images shifting across the day into the night. 

“The Athens video was produced for the Greek National Tourism Organization to be presented at the 2015 World Travel Market in London,” says Stian. “I had already started producing material as soon as we moved here in September 2014, so we decided to build on that and make them a five minute video for the WTM. The final scene of the project was recorded more than a year later – in October 2015.”

Each timelapse sequence took three to four hours to produce on average. “The recording stage takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 4-5 hours depending on what kind of scene it is. “The scenes showing how day turns to night or vice versa take the longest. They require hours to record and are a challenge due to the adjustments that are necessary to compensate for the changing light.”

In total, the final video took more than 1,000 hours to produce, but the results speak for themselves. Set to a piece of relaxing music, it’s a tribute to Athens that makes even residents want to go out and rediscover the places featured. 

Finally, as for what he likes about life in Greece, for the photographer, the answer is simple. “Where to start? The climate, the food, the people, the language, the Greek attitude to life.” he concludes.

“’The Athens video was produced for the Greek National Tourism Organization to be presented at the 2015 World Travel Market in London,’ says Stian.”

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