The young and the old one

Venue: Lozenets beach, Bulgaria

Lens specs: Nikkor 50 mm – aperture f/11, shutter speed 1/500s, ISO 100

Music: Jay-Z feat. Mr. Hudson – Forever young (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1_EDno-44M)

Very recently I was on a short holiday at the Bulgarian seaside and while enjoying the beach in Lozenets I spotted this little kid helped by his grandfather climbing some small cliffs nearby. Taking a short break from the climb, the two of them then stared together at the sun. And I just couldn’t resist taking a shot, immediately realizing the strong symbolism behind this very ordinary event. So I thought that instead of mixing this one with more pictures from the recent trip, I’ll keep it alone to make it stand out.

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Brooklyn views

Venue: Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Music: Frank Sinatra – Strangers in the night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlSbSKNk9f0)

After a few weeks of silence I decided it’s time for at least a short post with some of my most recent photos. I have plenty of material to show but I’m on a short trip to the US and had no time to sit down and organize my photos properly. So here is a short update with some very standard photos from NY I’m afraid. The night views from Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge towards the Manhattan skyline are among the most photographed things in the world, but it is hard not to fall for them anyway. So here they are, with my promise for a whole lot of new posts from me once I’m back to Europe.

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The nights view from the park just next to Brooklyn Bridge, probably the most famous spot in Brooklyn Heights for all photographers.
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Manhattan Bridge and the little merry-go-round between the two bridges as seen from the south-east end of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The top photo is shot from the very same place on the bridge but looking at the other direction.
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The silhouettes of two kids playing right in the middle of the walking alley on the Brooklyn Bridge. This place is almost never so empty so I was lucky to catch it like this.

Nederland

Venue: nearby Keukenhof

Camera & Lens specs: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 34mm, aperture ƒ/16, shutter speed 1/125s

Music: Lange Frans & Baas B – Het land van (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz2o_Io_8yk)

I took this photo exactly on this day two years ago in the tulip fields by the famous park Keukenhof near Leiden. Apart from its second anniversary, I decided to post this photo today also because of the coming King’s day, the biggest national celebration in the Netherlands (up until several years ago it was Queen’s day and the date was 4 days later). The photo seems a good way to congratulate all Dutch people as it bears so many classic Dutch signs – the tulips, the Dutch flag, and unfortunately the (almost) omnipresent dark clouds. Of course it’s missing the usual canals and bikes, but I promise you lots of them in one of my future posts from my visit to Utrecht and Amsterdam several weeks ago. In the meantime, happy King’s day to everyone celebrating and hope you enjoy the Dutch hip-hop song!

Dirty Purchase

Venue: Swingin’ Hall, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 85 mm f/1.8

Music: Doobie Brothers – Long train running (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnD0eVdHJfI)

This weekend I was at a birthday party in one of the live music clubs in the centre of Sofia and had the opportunity to take some photos of the band that happened to be playing. So I thought I’d share just a few shots as a yet another novelty in this blog. The band is called “Dirty Purchase”, which is actually a play of words with Bulgarian as the name sounds similar to the local expression with the approximate meaning of “Old Pricks”. They are actually not that old and have been around for the last 20 years or so even if they often change their band members. Dirty Purchase is a typical live club funk and soul band that often plays covers of more famous songs along with some original ones. So I quite enjoyed their performance and hopefully I have caught a bit of their energy on the photos even if it cannot possibly be the same.

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Another way of capturing the moment is by recording a video, but instead I thought it makes for a fun photo.
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The lens flares from the strong disco lights look like coming out of the trumpet.

 

The frozen boat

Venue: Pancharevo lake, suburban Sofia

Lens: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Music: Row, row, row your boat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7otAJa3jui8)

Slightly outside Sofia and close to the Vitosha mountain lies the small Pancharevo lake which provides a nice escape from the city during spring and summer. You can hire a boat to go around the lake, go fishing, make barbecue, or just chill in one of the waterfront restaurants. Understandably it is not so popular in the winter, especially in winters like this one when temperatures in Bulgaria didn’t go above -10 degrees Celsius for many days in a row. But luckily last weekend the weather was much better, only -3 and slightly foggy! So I had a chance to visit the lake and see how much snow and ice there is. Unsurprisingly it was completely frozen and empty, except for a loose boat that must have been left in the water before it froze down. I don’t know if somebody let it stay out and freeze on purpose or not, but here it is on the photo (which I slightly photoshopped to make the whole setting a bit brighter). I guess sometimes you need to give up rowing your boat and hide from the cold!

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!

Happy first snow!

Venue: central Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: The first snow is silently falling / Тихо се сипе първият сняг (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2HtEHx6FT8)

Today was the first day of snow for this winter season in Bulgaria and for the locals it is always a special day and a time to enjoy the wonderful view outside with some (preferably home-made) red wine. Probably more than anywhere else in the country, it is a special event in Sofia as the snow manages to muffle all the sounds of the big city and the streets become magically quiet and shiny from the fresh snow. Unfortunately the excitement of the people in Sofia is reduced substantially on week days like today due to the unavoidable traffic jams, but at the end of the day the Christmas spirit spreads over the place. So here’s my happy first snow to everyone with a few photos from evening Sofia right after the first day of snow.

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Slipping over the fresh snow on the main walking street, Vitosha.
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People queuing up for sausages and mulled wine at the Christmas market as the snow keeps falling down.
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The snow-covered domes of the Nevski cathedral.

Tassos day and night

Venue: Tassos island, Greece

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Galena – Old camper / Галена – Стара каравана (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE2sme045MA)

Here is a short post about my small beach vacation with friends to the island of Tassos in Northern Greece, which adds quite a few new features to my blog. Tassos is a very popular weekend escape for Bulgarians as it is a driving distance away from Sofia, and is as pretty as any of the other iconic Greek islands (minus the usual tourist crowds). You can see the typical green-blue waters of the Aegean Sea on the top photo made near Golden Beach, with the accidentally matching color of the bucket of a local fisherman carrying his bait. The first new feature is the accompanying music (the vacation song we were listening to during the hours of drive from Sofia and back), which is the first instance here of the typical Bulgarian “pop-folk” music or “chalga” that is not too different from its other Balkan equivalents in Greece, Turkey, and Serbia. The second novelty is the new logo on my photos, hopefully cooler than the old one that you can see in some of my old posts. And the third novelty is the appearance of a “male model” after some of my friends criticized me for the lack of guys on the blog. Below you can see one of my friends, Dimo, on a night out in the Tassos capital, Limenas, posing in front of a yoghurt shop with his brand new shades. Beach during the day and party at night, that’s what vacation is about.

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A slightly exaggerated “yakuza-boss” look, don’t you think?

La citta’ eterna

Venue: central Rome

Camera & Lens specs: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 16.5mm, aperture ƒ/2.4, shutter speed 1/80s, ISO 500

Music: Coldplay – Viva la Vida (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvgZkm1xWPE)

Today I go back more than a year ago to my days of living in Italy and just starting with my photography passion. I was In Rome on a short holiday with my family and we were exploring the ancient streets and hidden gems of the eternal city, one of my favorite places in the world. The picture on top was taken around sunset in the area between the Circo Massimo and the Colosseo, the area of true ancient Rome. The tall cypresses and the large pine trees living happily among the old ruins only add to the striking beauty and the history of the place itself. As cliche as it sounds, for me Rome does mean eternity more than any other place in the world, and I tried to highlight this by the dramatic shades of the evening clouds in the photo (I cheated slightly as I artificially increased the color contrast on Photoshop, but maybe I overdid it here?).

The photo below is also a very good memory for me. It’s picturing the “modern” architecture of medieval Rome with the walking bridge (built in 1479) from the city centre to the Trastevere area, one of the most lively neighborhoods with the best pizza and “suppli” options.

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Ponte Sisto

Puddle-spotting

Venue: Aleksandar Nevski square, Sofia

Lens: Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4

Music: Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIF4_Sm-rgQ)

The autumn came suddenly in Sofia in the beginning of October and we had several cold and rainy days, which gave me the opportunity to finally realize an old photo idea of mine. So together with a few friends we decided to go puddle-spotting (or the nicer sounding lokva-spotting in a mix of Bulgarian and English) in hope of finding a nice water puddle made from the rain in Sofia city centre close to some other cool building. After some time walking around the centre and not finding anything we were almost out of hope, but hallelujah –  we finally found two very photogenic puddles right near the Nevski cathedral (which you can properly see inside and out in some of my older posts: https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/a-winter-day-in-sofia/ and https://kirilson.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/summer-evenings-in-sofia/). It must have been quite funny for the tourists around watching me kneeling in front of the puddles and almost immersing my camera in water while trying out different angles, but I think it was worth the knee-pain as I took quite a few cool shots exactly while the sun was setting and the cathedral turned pale pink with the shadow of the cross printed on it. And once again I cannot decide which photo is the best from several shots we tried, so I add two more photos with short comments underneath. And again your comments and votes are welcome as I really can’t tell which one I prefer most.

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A puddle a bit further away, with a woman crossing the street in front of us with a slightly mystic feel and the cathedral shining brightly in the setting sun.
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The same puddle as the picture on top. Here probably with more autumny-nostalgic feeling due to the larger amount of fallen leaves around and the slightly smeared reflection.

Still life without woodpecker

Venue: Vitosha mountain, Sofia

Camera & Lens: Nikon D750, Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 – here at aperture f/1.8 and shutter speed 1/3200s, ISO 100

Music: ERA – Ameno (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkZkekS8NQU)

Two weeks ago I went on a small hike and a picnic with friends up on Vitosha mountain and of course I brought my camera with me. Here is the photo I like the most, and I feel it brings something new to this blog – it is actually the first photo here that shows no people or objects that are man-made. In the same time I think I managed to put a bit of a mystical and darker feel to it, showing the grass on focus lightened up and the darkened silhouette of the pine tree up the hill (which I obtained using some of the standard Photoshop preset filters). I am not really sure if the photo has the same feel to everyone, but I decided to call it like this for its abstract nature and the book I’m currently reading. Probably after processing this image I realized I also enjoy trying some more conceptual photos, and you’ll soon see plenty more photos with an abstract theme.

The dusty window

Venue: A friend’s top floor apartment, central Sofia

Camera & Lens: Nikon D750, Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 – here at aperture f/7.1 and shutter speed 1/200s, ISO 100

Music: Tangra – Fortune / Тангра – Богатство (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRe_NNFOAas)

This weekend I will slightly bend the “single photo” idea of the category, by presenting you with two different photos of a “single thing”, only changing the focus from the dusty glass of the window to the roofs beyond. I myself have a problem choosing which one I like more and which one tells which story, so I thought it’s fair to let you decide. The photos are taken in the centre of Sofia, in an old building from the beginning of the 20th century, in the top floor apartment of a friend who needed someone to water his plants while having fun at the beach. So I took the opportunity to make some photos through the window, as the place (and the window itself) really looks like it’s been preserved exactly the same in the last hundred years, and what is even more amazing, the view to the nearby houses also looks like it hasn’t changed much. The only noticeable “modern” thing that came into live in 1953 are the four big floodlights of the national stadium “Vasil Levski” that you can probably see better on the lower photo. The people that know where the stadium is will realize you’re looking at the very centre of Sofia, which has gone through huge changes in the last century and that’s why I was quite amazed to realize this particular angle of view to the city has been preserved through time. So for me both photos bring a sense of timelessness and longing for some older times, just like the song I chose to go along with them.

So now I leave it to you, please let me know with your comments which one you like more?

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Welcome home

Venue: Thracian temple, Starosel

Camera & Lens specs: Sony alpha 37, 35 mm  f/5.0 / 1/60s / ISO 1600

Music: Eddie Vedder – Guaranteed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtZ1TK1Sfpg)

This is a photo with an open story, which I myself can only guess. I took it shortly after sunset in mid-December 2015, on a hill off the village of Starosel in central Bulgaria which hosts the well-preserved ruins of an old Thracian temple from the 4th century BC. We were the last visitors of the temple and on the way back stumbled across this (probably not anymore) mobile house on the side of the hill, which might serve to the people making excavations in summer or is just someone’s temporary escape from the city life. No matter what the real story behind is, I was just struck by the harmony of this image – the complete serenity of this ancient place in late autumn in such a rural and very unnoticeable part of Bulgaria, together with the unexpected comfort and cosyness of this old truck that somebody turned into their home. If the hobbits would move to Bulgaria, that’s the first place I’d suggest for a new home!

My guitar

Venue: My place, Sofia

Camera & Lens: Nikon D750, Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 – here at aperture f/3.5 and shutter speed 1/200s, ISO 100

Music: Pink Floyd – Wish you were here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXdNnw99-Ic) – the first song I learned to play

After a few weeks of silence due to my vacation in the countryside and the sea (plenty of photos coming soon), it’s time for a slow restart. This weekend the post is probably a less original photo, but still artistic in the sense that the main object is supposedly used for art – my guitar. Unfortunately I stopped practicing playing the guitar in the last year, probably because of my photography obsession, but at least it is pretty on a picture. In fact I made this photo for a science magazine here in Bulgaria – I was actually giving an interview about my physics career but they wanted to include some photos with my hobbies. Obviously I couldn’t take a proper picture of my camera, so that was the next best object! As an added bonus, the strings on the guitar helped to make a nice analogy with my physics subject, string theory.

The train

Venue: Milano, Forlanini

Camera & Lens: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Music: Articolo 31 – Milano Milano (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uTb7aJKRWU)

From this weekend I decided to add a new category in my blog – single photos. This way I can share some photos that do not really belong to a longer post, while in the same time I find worthy of a bit longer description.

The photo I chose to start this category with, “The train”, is one of my best photos from my pre-DSLR era. My passion for photography started with my compact Panasonic Lumix camera when I was still living in Milano, Italy. It was actually taken in the beginning of summer 2015, on a hot Saturday afternoon in the outskirts of the city. I used to bike in the weekends to a park near my house, passing by a bridge over the railways close to Forlanini train station (and a bit further from the Linate airport). I bet you don’t immediately recognize that the photo was taken in bright sunlight, but the settings are clear (if you know how to read them) – the f stop was 5.6, with shutter speed 1/640 seconds and ISO100, strongly implying that the light was intense. However, I found the colors of the freight train very peculiar and thought I’d accentuate them on Photoshop by increasing the contrast and decreasing the exposure, making the background dark artificially. I usually don’t like messing with the photos so much and using Photoshop to bend reality, but in this particular case I quite like the final image, and thought it’s worth sharing its story. It also has a sentimental side for me as a memory from one of my last weekends in Milano, which is never easy to leave as explained in the song (for those of you who know Italian).

Stay tuned for my future single-photo weekends!