Photographer drives from Athens to Cape Town
Firstly, who is Chris Dot and what do you do for a living?
Well, I am a photographer, born and raised in Athens / Greece, a very lucky individual living off what I love most, photography. The past year I have been working with a television show called “Reportage without frontiers” for the Greek national television.
What inspired you to take the journey from Athens to Cape town?
The journey itself was planned by a Greek N.G.O. called Green Project. It was the second trip in a series of crossings, the first one was from Athens to Beijing and the second one was Athens to Cape Town. The idea was to drive from Athens to Cape Town in low emission vehicles. We actually used 2 small engine cars for a total of 17.000 km, specifically a Hyundai i20 and a Hyundai i30. The purpose behind the initiative was to record and promote green energy sources like solar panels, wind generators and hydro powered applications. There are a couple more destinations to come in the future but you can also check the website of the organization (www.green-project.org) for further information on the projects.
What photography equipment did you take on the trip?
For the first half of the trip, from Athens to Kenya we were a crew of three people, a director (Daphne Kalafati), a photographer (George Karvelas) and myself. After Kenya it was actually just me. We all had Canon cameras and equipment, specifically a Canon EOS 5D mkII, a Canon EOS 7D, Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L, Canon 16-35 2.8L, Canon 50 1.2 L, Tamron 70-200 2.8, Canon 20 2.8 .We also had a bagful of CF cards, polarizing filters, ND filters, batteries and chargers. About 4 TB of hard drive space and two laptops with card readers and chargers. It has to be noted that we were also filming the journey, hence the need for extra space. For sound recording we used a Tascam recorder and a boom mic.
Nubia (The Sudan)
What transport did you use for such a long trip?
We were very lucky to have Hyundai as a car sponsor. They were kind enough to lend us one Hyundai i20 and a Hyundai i30, both powered by 1.4cc engines. With us we had a very experienced driver (George Lasdas) who also served as a team prep instructor and was in charge of both the team and cars safety during the trip. The cars had rally cross tires fitted and custom rallying suspension . The suspension had to be adjusted to the weight, as it would carry 3 – 4 people at all times with their baggage and the equipment. There was a safety car with us, also part of the team a 1992 Daihatsu Feroza 4 wheel drive, carrying all the spare parts and extra tires for the Hyundais. All in all even though the cars performed outstandingly and beyond our wildest imagination sturdy and trustworthy, having a 4 wheel drive car with us proved life saving for pulling us out from 2 ft of mud and sand.
What would you say is the highlight of this two month trip ?
The whole journey was very fast, almost race paced. We covered 17.000km in 50 days. That’s about 350 km / day. At that speed it’s practically impossible to grasp and absorb what you are seeing, it’s also very hard to distinguish between single moments and sequences of events. Each moment on the road was something completely new, it was a mind game. The times we wanted to shoot something but didn’t have the luxury of time were countless, this has to be the greatest frustration of all If I had to pick one single thing it would have to be the crossing of Ethiopia. Entering Ethiopia from Sudan is like jumping into a stargate to a different dimension. Northern Ethiopia is vast highlands of green pastries, rivers, waterfalls and straw huts. All through our way down we couldn’t help the feeling of living in a dream. The people were beautiful and despite their trials and tribulations they never stop smiling.
Where and when is you next adventure?
As everyone knows, right now Greece is the epicenter of all media focus, from large news organizations to independent film makers and photographers, Athens is pretty much where everyone is looking right now. Right now my adventure is right here, following a very dramatic chain of events, capturing my perspective on what is happening. I have friends working abroad being sent to Greece to cover stories, there are a lot of things happening in our country making it a very dynamic environment to be. The good thing about my line of work is that you never know where you mind end up working. That’s what makes it an adventure.
How many pictures did you take all in all?
I believe it’s about 3000 pictures and more than 400 hours of footage.
What advice would you give anyone looking to go on such a trip?
To go ahead and just do it. There is a billion things that could go wrong but it’s all part of the experience. Be very well prepared but always keep in mind that you can never be too prepared. Keep a very open mind.
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