moderated Case Study: A Toast to Greece

Dan Margulis

While discussion continues of Monument Valley, we move on to our final four studies. I’ve posted the next, again due Monday. Find it in our Photos section, labeled Case Study: A Toast to Greece. 

This shot comes from a first-rate camera dealing with third-rate lighting conditions. No raw capture is available. Frequently people present such an image as a challenge. Can it really be corrected? Generally, I reply that I don't care, because I would discard it rather than work on it.

Sometimes, however, this is impossible. Just as with the Panama 1978 exercise, the picture can be of great value to a family, with no alternative available. Below I will explain why this one is so important, followed by a thumbnail.

*Background: Right now is a difficult time for all of us. In the United States conditions are on the verge of being worse than during the Great Depression, with the exception of the Dust Bowl region of the Midwest, where my late mother grew up. And they are IMHO now worse than conditions in the U.S. during and after the Second World War, though perhaps not the First.

Western Europe was not so lucky during that period. Our many members who hail from that region have all heard stories about the wartime horror from their elders. But as terrible as the situation was in these nations, it was much worse in parts of central Europe, and in the Soviet Union. 

Greece suffered as much as any of them. In late 1940 the Italian army invaded and, against all odds, was defeated by the Greeks. This forced the hand of Hitler, who had to commit major forces he needed elsewhere to come to Italy's aid in a place where the local resistance was formidable. The German occupation was exceptionally brutal, causing mass starvation, and the death of perhaps a tenth of the Greek population.

Southern Greece, the Peloponnesus, was hard hit. My wife's grandparents lived in a small village there; they found the need to socially distance themselves from the Gestapo and fled, leaving my late mother-in-law, as the oldest girl, in charge of a family of ten children. She would never speak of that dreadful time until a couple of years before her own death, and I am not about to repeat what she said. I will say that in late 1943, there took place in the nearby village of Kalavryta an atrocity whose scale and barbarity was appalling even by Nazi standards.

Less than a year later, the Germans were gone but were replaced by something just about as bad, if possible: a brutal Communist insurgency and civil war. All civilians who could flee the area tried to do so, including the eight children who had survived the war. Some made it to Brazil but everyone hoped to somehow get into the United States, which was then, as now, very difficult. My mother-in-law's method was to first get across the Atlantic by means of a fictitious marriage to a Canadian. Once in Canada, the family arranged a non-fictitious marriage to a Greek-American living in New England. There being no at the time, the two first met on their wedding day. The marriage was apparently a happy one, with four children.

This family is quite long-lived. The grandparents reached 102 and 98. My mother-in-law passed away five years ago, at 93, as did an older brother. That prompted the part of the family that had remained in Greece to suggest a two-week-long family reunion near the ancestral village, in June 2017. More than 30 people showed up, three generations.

Hopefully our Colosseum exercise prepared you for another night shot like this one. It's from the welcome dinner. At the head table is the first generation, all of them in their nineties, all of them still alive today. So let's raise a glass to those who survived impossible adversity 60+ years ago, and to their descendants.

*You can use whatever methods you like to improve the picture, including unsharp mask.

*Please keep clear records of what you did for discussion. List members find these very valuable.

*In the Photos section, Case Study: A Toast to Greece, I have uploaded the original JPEG. No raw capture is available.

*The designated size of this exercise is the original, 2647 x 1800 pixels. Do not crop, rotate, or alter the sizing, and don't delete any objects, because any of these things will make it impossible to use your version as part of a par assembly.

*Your final file is to be sRGB with a proper tag. If you work in a different RGB you must Edit: Convert to Profile>sRGB before submitting the file.

*When finished, save in JPEG form, quality level 9. E-mail it to me, dmargulis (at), with a brief explanation of how you produced it, DO NOT POST IMAGES TO THE LIST.

*Remember that some e-mail clients default to downsizing image attachments. Make sure you’re sending it to me at the original size.

*Entries close Monday morning, 13 July, at 06:00 Eastern/1100Z/12:00 ora italiana.

*Rather than confirm every entrant I've received, I will periodically post the initials of everyone whose file I have.

*As soon as convenient after the deadline, I'll post all the entrants in a random order. Names will not be revealed except for those entrants that I or somebody else has declared to be particularly good, which will come later.

*A discussion will follow within a few days after posting the final files. 

Dan Margulis

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