A Symi Holiday: Day 6

On this day I was held hostage by a spider, rescued by The Saviour, laughed at by some ex-pats, made a time lapse video showing the Milky Way and spent the evening taking photos of the stars…

As nice as it was to capture photos of the sunset yesterday, I hadn’t planned on seeing sunrise today. My alarm was set for near enough the afternoon. But something happened through the night that caused me to be awake. Very awake. At about 3am as I flipped on the side lamp to swipe away yet another mosquito that had been harassing me, something caught my eye across the other side of the room. On the roof. Now I’m no fan of spiders, so seeing this was less than enchanting. There was an actual, real life, wild tarantula in my holiday apartment. Quite a large one too. I won’t post a picture of it on the blog as, if like me you have “the fear”, rest assured it won’t help you sleep. If you really want to see a photo (there was nothing else to do!), click here. Or alternatively for a wee video of it crawling along the wall, click here.

Hours passed with me standing in the middle of the room., just staring at it. Putting it mildly, the sunrise could go screw itself. I wasn’t taking my eyes off this thing till… well, till it wasn’t in the apartment anymore. But then, how did it get in? I didn’t give it a key, and given its size it sure as hell would have had to use the door. Maybe it had been here all along. But where? Every shadow made me jump. Every tickle on an arm or a leg. I was literally shaking with fear. All the stress I had relieved so far on this holiday came back in one massive attack, just as the sun started to come up.

Ironically I found mosquito spray whilst looking for something I could capture the spider with. I thought I could scare it, at least make it move from where it had moved and perched itself (above the beds, of course). I tried spraying deodorant in it’s general direction. The Lynx effect. It didn’t work. Aptly, in Greece Lynx deodorant is called Axe. I could have done with one of those too. I tried waving at it with the Accommodation Welcome Pack folder. That didn’t help either. It had probably already read through it when it came in. Smug spider. And now it smelled good too…

Lynx deodorant in Greece

I had a look online to see how to catch them but didn’t get very far. Apparently they’re fragile and cannot kill humans, unless you are allergic to their bite, which is similar to being allergic to a bee sting. They can also fire barbs from their back legs if threatened.

More hours passed as I stared at it with both eyes, it staring back with eight. Now it was getting silly. In the end, during normal office hours, I called the holiday folks. And who should arrive? None other than Ian the walking guide from Symi Visitor. From hereon in I shall refer to him simply as “The Saviour”. Borrowing a long broom from the neighbour, The Saviour took a swipe at it. This caused it to fall like an eight-legged rag doll onto the beds and scamper off. I shuddered slightly. On hands and knees he then casually looked under the bed. Remember in the movie Aliens, in the MedLab, when the facehugger jumps out? Yea. Exactly…

It was between the pillows and the headboard. Another swipe later and it flew, literally, across the room behind the wardrobe. I ducked. I may have shrieked like a little girl too… I’m not sure… *cough*… moving on… The Saviour then cornered it, before inching it out of the apartment dangling from the end of the broom, holding it aloft over the wall. And with a thud it was gone, having fallen some distance further down the valley and back to nature. In an instant, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Like a burst water dam of sleep depravation, the tiredness that I had been holding back rushed forth as I took the first breaths of freedom. Dramatic, I know. But you get the idea that I really don’t like spiders. And with that The Saviour was gone, riding off down the rickety street on his scooter. No doubt off to rescue another foreigner. His last words to me were “if it happens again, stop reading on the internet how they can kill you”. Wise words from The Saviour.

It was now 11am. Tired, and with a jelly brain, I headed to The Olive Tree and ordered their Special breakfast; fruit salad starter with orange juice followed by scrambled eggs, bacon and mushrooms on toast with a mug of tea. I deserved it. If you’re ever in Symi, I implore you order one. It was utterly delicious, and the perfect way to reset my mood. The girls in The Olive Tree had a good laugh with me about the whole arachnid experience, as did a few of their customers. “Buy a spare mop. They’ll cling to it, then you can just chuck the whole thing out”. Even more wise words.

After a brief and paranoid siesta I decided tonight was the night to do some time lapse photography. My intention was to capture sunset, by walking up to one of the churches with a good view of the harbour and try catch the boats coming in to berth. The church I originally planned on going to was being used for a celebration so I headed to the back-up church. (Note to all: always have a back-up church).

Here’s me looking ever professional, showing the locals that I know what I’m doing. Sort of:

Mercian Media at Symi

There’s dozens of options and settings when doing time lapse photography. And there’s no hard and fast rule to setting up. Not to mention I’d only tried it a few times before. Time was critical as the sun was sinking further westwards towards the mountains so I took a few test shots, including the often forgotten white balance, and got on with it. I wanted to get some soft blur into each image, to give the final video a bit more smoothness to it. Most time lapse videos are quite choppy. I tried fitting a variable ND filter, which is effectively putting sunglasses on your camera lens. It allows you to take longer exposures in bright daylight, which can allow moving objects to blur.

Symi panoramic

If you haven’t tried it already, click the image above and another window will open. It’s an interactive 360-degree view from where the time lapse was shot, up at the church. I quite like making these as it allows you to stand in my shoes and see what I saw when I was there.

When I figured it was dark enough I stopped the camera and reset for a new angle, pointing down toward the main street and harbour. With little to no action going on down there I wanted to try something different… so I looked upwards. It had become easy to see the stars. They just popped out of the blackness as soon as the mountains hid the sun. The shape and colour of our Milky Way galaxy was clearly visible. It really is a magnificent sight. So I carried on with a few photos. I tried a couple of High Dynamic Range photos (HDR). This is where you take 3 photos of different intensities of the same thing and merge them together. But it was far too dark and they didn’t come out. On to another time lapse. This time, the Milky Way itself. I just knew capturing this as it moved (or we moved) would be spectacular.

Here’s the overall video from this days’ venture. Not perfect, but still beautiful all the same. I need more time in the day, and effectively more battery power. I’m a fool to not realise I had left my spare at home. Practice makes perfect!

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About Mercian Media

My name is Alex, and I work in the Film and TV industry. I work freelance for various employers on several shows including Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, Sky News, Sky Sports, London Live, Bloomberg and QVC. All views are my own.

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