Victoria in B&W

Venue: Abandoned hotel, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Nabezao – Black panther (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAARaJ3HLXs

After a small creative break (meaning that I was working and had less time for the photoblog), I am back with a new post and a new category of black and white photos. It’s of course not the first time I’m posting b&w photos, but I’m planning to do so even more often in the future and thus decided to create a designated category. Anyway, without further digressions I present you Victoria. She just turned 18 years old and is still in high school studying many different languages among other things. It took about an hour in my favorite abandoned hotel in the outskirts of Sofia to create these photos and I hope you like them.

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We start with a series of shots on the stairs of what used to be a hotel close to the forest in Vitosha mountain, in one of the suburbs of Sofia.
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Even though she’s so young, Victoria already has quite some experience with posing…
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..so she felt very comfortable in front of the camera from the start.
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Still on the staircase…
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A few last portrait shots with the nice light at the staircase…
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..and two seconds later.
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Another room and another pose, which was entirely her idea.
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Almost an identical picture, but I reflected it horizontally for some diversity.
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Here we finally made it up the stairs, where a corridor used to lead to the hotel rooms…
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but now the building is slowly collapsing.
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And a few vertical shots…
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Last one before heading back down the stairs.
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On the way down Victoria couldn’t resist posing a bit more…
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..but our time was up, so we headed back to the city with a full memory card in my camera.
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Hrisi in the park

Venue: “Borisova garden” park, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Soundgarden – Black hole sun (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbBbFH9fAg)

In my quest for posting all my old half-forgotten photos from last year, here comes a short photo series with Hrisi that we made in one of the main parks in Sofia last April. The goal of the photoshoot was to somehow combine a more provocative look with posing in the park among plenty of random people. And as always, you’ll be the judges if we managed to succeed or not and whether my idea of presenting only black and white versions is a good one.

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The “Borisova garden” is a park full of old communist monuments, so we made use of the shade provided by one of the big ones.
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We also made a few shots in an underpass filled with graffiti…
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..and the backside version.
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There is also a vast area of free growing forest, where we continued experimenting.

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I also borrowed Hrisi my Houston Rockets hat for a few shots on this bench.
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Back to some photos with the shirt in the forest…
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..and some more with the headphones on, just before our time was up.

 

Palais de Tokyo

Venue: Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Music: Kraftwerk – Metropolis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzKbWdnPJj0)

Recently I was in Paris for work and one evening had the chance to visit Palais de Tokyo, one of the major modern and contemporary art musea in the centre of Paris. Of course, just like in all other contemporary art spaces, the exhibitions can be fairly abstract and might not appeal to everyone. The particular exhibition I was lucky to catch (as I really enjoyed it very much) was called ON AIR by the Argentinian Tomas Saraceno. The main theme was interconnectedness and it was explored by a series of installations that included plenty of real spider webs, as well as interactive rooms where people could touch various objects (e.g. the photo on top) and thus actively participate in the creation of the pieces of art. Unlike usual, I won’t be describing in detail my photos in the captions in order to keep a bit of mystery (deliberately increased by my black and white choice for all the photos). I instead urge everyone interested to have a look at the official webpage, https://www.palaisdetokyo.com/en/event/carte-blanche-tomas-saraceno, or even better just go visit the place.

But before letting you explore the pictures, I have a quick question: while collecting the photos I realized that a recurring theme in my shots is how people watch and interact with art. So I’m wondering if it would be interesting for you to see a dedicated post where I make a short collection of shots with real people observing art pieces? Let me know, and enjoy the rest of the photos!

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South park bike ride with Eli

Venue: South park, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Bombay Bicycle Club – Always like this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QKj62RKBrM&index=3&list=PLjCEZtJ3LzpoqYDPlirfiWhBq-sW_S7vq)

In the spirit of flashbacks from old photo shoots, I decided to also show you some 2016 photos from a summer bike ride in one of the parks in Sofia (yes, South park is the official name, ages before the animated sitcom was created) with Eli. She already showed up with her twin sister Nadya in a post earlier this year (https://kirilson.com/2017/03/13/eli-nadya/), but this time it was just Eli alone. Our park bike ride took place earlier, but Eli was always shy about showing her photos and didn’t want me posting them so far. I guess now she gained a little more confidence in herself and realized the photos are actually not that bad, but this is of course ultimately left for anyone’s own opinion.

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Just like with the other photos of Eli, I like some of them more in black and white. But don’t worry, you’ll also get to see some color later. After just biking for a while around the park I also decided to put my camera to use, but she was at first too shy to pose and was trying to run away.
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Slowly she got more comfortable and I managed to take some portrait shots like the one here and on top of the post.
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We then moved a bit deeper in the park to a small hill, overlooking Vitosha mountain behind us.
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We went on trying different poses on the hill…
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..and when the sun was about to set I decided we should stay some more and take advantage of the nice light. This is also why I’m also switching to color photos now!
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The warm light and lens flares during sunset are always very helpful to a photographer.
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One more shot against the setting sun…
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..and then reversing the angle.
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One last sunlit shot..
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..and just when I decided I had taken enough photos, we spotted this nice playground on the edge of the park with children running around. So I couldn’t resist taking one last photo trying to catch the summer evening mood in this part of the city.

 

Eli & Nadya

Venue: My place, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Coldplay – Yellow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKNxeF4KMsY)

After some thought on how to design it logistically, I managed to convert my apartment into a sort of amateur photo studio with the help of a piece of wire used for hanging clothes, a large bed sheet and a few fluorescent lamps. So this post marks my first (and hopefully not last) series of home-made studio photos. It is also the first post in which I decided to include only black and white photos (with the obvious exception of the picture on top) following the suggestions of several of you.

As you already read the title my first models in my new home studio were Eli and Nadya, but probably you didn’t immediately realize they are actually twin sisters. Eli has straight hair and is the more outspoken, while Nadya has curly hair and is the shy twin. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that most of the photos you’ll see are with Eli only. Here they come.

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Eli arrived first at my place and was well prepared with various clothes that we could experiment with, so we started with some urban style.
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And then tried some shots with the “Babe” t-shirt.
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Then also Nadya arrived so we tried some group photos..
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and some photos of Nadya only, but she got bored with posing much faster than her sister.
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So Eli changed into a new outfit with an artsy and was ready for more posing.

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At some point we decided to use my guitar as a prop. I tried to show Eli some chords so that she could pose more realistically, and this one is supposed to be E minor.
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But eventually we decided we can make good photos without her pretending to play.
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I also have a small drum that I bought as a souvenir from somewhere, so Nadya decided to join the band and make some noise.
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We also tried some more serious expressions, but switched back to more playful shots like the photo on top.
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Soon Nadya got tired from posing so we tried some more shots with Eli. Here I suggested her to do “the scream” of Edvard Munch as I like him a lot.
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And we finished off the photo shoot with some more fashion style poses.

Sofia Open

Venue: Arena “Armeec” sports hall, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 – mostly using the 300mm end

Music: Chicago – Hard to say I’m sorry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqq3tW3iACw – see also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7d4rutU_Lo)

Last week in Sofia took place the “Garanti Koza” Sofia Open tennis tournament, part of the ATP World Tour in the professional men’s tennis. It was a major sport event in Sofia and Bulgaria as a whole, largely due to a single person: Grigor Dimitrov. In recent years he is one of the top tennis players, and in the last few months he’s been in the form of his life. So the atmosphere in the Arena “Armeec” sports hall was really fantastic, everyone cheering Dimitrov loudly in anticipation of his victory. And they were very much not disappointed. I am a great fan of tennis myself so I had bought tickets for the semifinals and the final game many months in advance. And of course I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to take some amateur shots from the stands, which you can see below together with my commentary about the unfolding action.

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We start with the first semifinal of the singles tournament: Roberto Bautista-Agut (Spain) vs. David Goffin (Belgium).
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Bautista-Agut is world’s number 16 and was the 4th seeded in the Sofia Open tournament, having won the same tournament here last year. His playing style is aggressive baseliner as he’s very strong in his baseline game without taking many risks. He was the first to break his opponents’ serve and win the first set 7:5.
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Goffin is ranked 11 in the world and was the 2nd top seeded player in the torunament, his playing style being almost identical to the one of Bautista-Agut. He is however slightly more aggressive at times and goes out close to the net as you can see here. He was fast to strike back and take the second set with 6:4.
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The third decisive set was an even bigger battle between equals, both players breaking the opponent serve and then re-breaking, eventually getting the set to a tie-break that would decide the first finalist.
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And the winner was David Goffin, who was more aggressive in the tiebreak. The game took more than two hours and was probably the best and most dramatic battle in the tournament, but there’s always a loser in tennis and this time it was the Spaniard.
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Before the second much-awaited semifinal in singles took place, it was time for one of the semi’s in the double tournament (the other semifinal in doubles had already been played the previous day) – the Serbian couple Troicki (serving here)/Zimonjic vs. the Slovak-Polish duet Klizan/Fyrstenberg.
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It was the best game in doubles I have personally seen with lots of dramatic comebacks and great shots close to the net, and in the end the Serbian duo won 3:6 7:6 10:8. They were about to play in the final against the Russians Elgin/Kuznetsov.
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The time for the next semifinal was coming, but there was still a short break between the matches to take out Guinny for a stroll around Arena “Armeec”.
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And out came Grigor Dimitrov, world’s number 12 and 3rd top seeded in Sofia. He played an amazing tennis in this year’s Australian Open and only lost in the semifinal there to Rafael Nadal in a 5 set drama.
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Dimitrov’s opponent was world’s 67 Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia, who had surprisingly beaten the top seeded Dominic Thiem the day before.
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Both Dimitrov and Basilashvili are all-court players that rely on strong serving as well as solid game from the baseline without being scared of going closer to the net and taking more risks.
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But there was no surprise here – Dimitrov took the match quite easily, winning 6:1 6:3 in less than an hour. So the home crowd was ecstatic about the next day and the final game between Goffin and Dimitrov.
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Sunday is the day of the week dedicated to tennis finals, and the first one in the program was in the doubles tournament – the Serbian vs. the Russian duo. Troicki and Zimonjic (serving here) played a very solid game and had less problems in the final than in the previous day, winning 6:4 6:4 and lifting the cup.
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But in reality everyone in the sport hall was waiting for the next game.
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Goffin and Dimitrov have played quite a few games against each other, and in every one of them the winner was Dimitrov. So understandably he was the favorite not only of the crowds but also of the bookmakers.
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Maybe it was Dimitrov’s one handed backhand slice that proved impossible to return for Goffin, but again it was a relatively easy match for the Bulgarian with only a few scares.
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7:5 6:4 for Dimitrov and standing ovation as he emotionally kneeled down and kissed the home ground.
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Then came the time for lifting the trophy and giving speeches, and the next day he was off to Rotterdam for the next event in the ATP World Tour. Only a few days later he is now facing Goffin once more in the 1/4 final of the Dutch tournament and is making Bulgaria proud with his amazing run of 16 wins and one loss in 2017. So that’s life as a tennis player, you need to keep going strong every week starting from the beginning. Of course probably the tournament prizes of several hundred thousand dollars help somewhat, but one surely needs some internal strength and motivation to stay on track. Go Grigor!

Arti & Markha

Venue: Sofia Hotel Balkan

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Philipp Kirkorov – Snow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1gYqJpJONg)

After two weeks of hibernation in the freezing Bulgarian winter it is finally time for a new post. And for a change the photo-focus in this post will be actually on a male model, Arti (Artiom). His girlfriend, Markha, wanted to have a photoshoot of both of them in a fancy hotel room in Sofia. The secret extra mission I had was to mostly focus my attention on Arti as Markha wanted to make him a birthday present by selecting her preferred photo and converting it to a nice painting. So I tried to not only take group photos of the two of them but also make Arti pose for some photos solo. I was greatly helped by my assistant in this photoshoot, Katia, who had lots of nice and fun ideas about the positioning of the objects and models.

The room Markha decided to hire for the photoshoot was in the most iconic hotel in Sofia, presently known as Sofia Hotel Balkan. It was built in the socialist period of the country and was by far the most fancy hotel in Bulgaria back in the day, hosting all the official guests of the state. It is of course right in the centre of Sofia, just next to the houses of the parliament and the prime minister and president. And the view is towards the St. Nedelya square and the old orthodox church with the same name.

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The view from the hotel room.

And even if the hotel room was (understandably) slightly outdated for the present day standards, I think it still provided the classy look we were going after as a background for the photos which I decided to show you interchangeably in color and in black and white.

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This is at the start of the photoshoot with some classy clothes to match the setting.
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And some improvised poses around the chair.

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Here a shot of Arti only, who here reminds me a bit of his compatriot Putin.

Now that I mentioned Russia, I have to tell you more about the very interesting story of Arti and Markha. They are both of Russian origin, but were actually raised and live in Bulgaria. Artiom was raised in Burgas, while Markha in Varna – the two main seaside cities in Bulgaria. Eventually they both came to live Sofia, where Arti is pursuing a career in the show business. He is actually somewhat famous already as he participated very successfully in the Bulgarian version of the X factor show (which I have to admit I only learned afterwards) – for example you can see his first performance on the show (in Bulgarian): (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQNsE1znfdQ). And apart from his musical talent Arti clearly has the looks of a model so he was an equal match to Markha who has already posed for quite a few photographers in Bulgaria on various occasions. So now that you know their story, I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of our photoshoot.

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Here I managed to get a nice shot of Arti for the secret mission that Markha gave me. But in the end the winning phot she chose is another photo…
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This one, paradoxically! Clearly not my best shot, but of course the artist that made a painting out of it just drew Arti with his happy smile and filled in the rest of the church on the place of the spot from the curtain on the left.
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Of course at the time we were trying to make as many nice photos as possible…
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..and we tried various less standard ideas…
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as in this photo with Markha crawling on the table in front of Arti..
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and with Arti pretending to be a waiter serving coffee.
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Of course we also tried the bedroom with its dark red curtains.
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Yet another shot for my secret mission.
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Here we decided to switch into a more casual outfit and change the mood.

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There was also time for some fun smartphone shots where Arti was pretending to be swallowing the lights from the busy street traffic below.
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The evening came and Arti found a very cool hoodie in his bag..
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which made him look like Batman, watching over the city…no?
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We also tried to use the lamp as a microphone, but unfortunately I could not record the singing of Arti to show you the full performance.

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We went on changing settings and roles under the guidance of Katia who kept inventing scenes…
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like the one where Arti is supposed to be violent..
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or where they both look very seriously away from each other.
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And sometimes there’s no need for staged photos and one has to leave the models act naturally keeping them well-lit. By that time they were quite tired so it was time call it a day and go for dinner.

Piazza San Carlo

Venue: central Torino

Camera & Lens specs: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 34mm, aperture ƒ/5.6, shutter speed 1/6000s, ISO 200

Music: Giuseppe Verdi – Va, pensiero (Nabucco) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D2BrV4Yvi0)

This short post brings me back to the summer of 2015 on a scorching hot July afternoon in Torino. That was still in the first months of my photography passion and I was experimenting with various camera settings and photoshop filters and in retrospect I am quite happy how this photo came out. Together with the Chorus of the Slaves from Nabucco that I specifically chose, piazza San Carlo – one of the main squares in Torino – is a living memory of the Italian “Risorgimento”: the period in the mid 19th century that saw big changes and “revival” in the population eventually leading to the unification of Italy. As you might have noticed also my blog is enjoying a revival with its new facelift (a.k.a. WordPress theme) so I decided it’s a good moment to combine it with this photo. I hope you like both!