Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Knowing when to keep your camera in your pocket ...

The transition from dictatorship to democracy has always been a bumpy and unsettling road.  This has never been more true than in Myanmar.  The link below will take you to an AP article that explains the plight of one photographer jailed for images taken during a grenade attack in Yangon.  Under the charge of "damaging the tranquility" of the government, this photographer has received an initial 8 year sentence follwed by a recent renewal of an additional 10 years, bringing his total sentence to 18 years.  Although photography can be an inspiring media by which one can send dramatic and silent messages, I question whether I would trade an image for 18 years of my life.  I suspect this was not a conscious choice of the photographer in this article but it does remind us all that there are times that we probably should just keep our camera in our pocket ...

Click HERE for the full AP article

Monday, September 26, 2011

Off-Season Sozopol

Bulgaria has many hidden surprises up its sleeves.  The small coastal city of Sozopol is one of them.  Frequented by mainly Bulgarians and other eastern Europeans, Sozopol offers a beautiful beach and quaint old city surrounded by the enchanting Black Sea.  If you haven't been able to tell, we loved visiting this small little town.  It may have been the lack of tourists (due to off season), the amazingly reasonable accommodation (The Villa List) or the friendly company but whatever the reason, Sozopol is a place that we intent to revisit.

The picture above was taken off of a sunset "panorama" cruise that we took during a Saturday night excursion.  I metered on the water and waited for the small fishing boat to move into the glow of the sunset.  A nice memory to go along with a fantastic weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Alpine Club Edelweiss

I had the unique opportunity to tag along with an adventure team building club this weekend.  We traveled from Sofia by car for about two hours and arrived at the Iskar River Valley.  There Elise and I followed two teams of people through activities such as rock climbing, rafting and a variety of problem solving activities.  As an outsider who doesn't speak the language I watched both teams enter the day with a bit of hesitation.  By the end of the day the volume and amount of laughter filled the caves and valleys through which we trekked.  This experience reminded me of our Matacanes canyoning experience back in Mexico.  It is simply amazing how challenge can glue us together.  If you are interested in finding out more information about this company and what they offer, click HERE.

This photo was more of a challenge than it seems.  Balancing the ambient light from the two overhead "eyes" in the the cave with the flash was the first of my concerns.  This coupled with the requirement of stopping the motion forced me to work at ISO 800 (my limit of acceptable grain on the Canon 40D.)  It was definitely a learning experience and if I were to do it again I would have pulled a "Full Monty" and brought the Pocket Wizards along for the trip to expand my lighting options.  As it stands, I find this photo barely acceptable and I now have a more complete understanding of the limitations of on camera flash.  I can only hope to do better next time.

Also, while sitting around waiting to go home, I shot some of these butterflies in the nearby bush.  You can find higher resolution pictures on my Flickr Photostream on the sidebar of this page.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In over my head again ...

T.S. Elliot once said "If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall your are?"  The upcoming weekend could turn out to be my most recent measuring stick.  Rafting, caving and rock climbing are on the menu as I head into the Bulgarian wilderness under the careful eye of one of my colleagues. My job will be to take photos of the group that I will be joining.  Taking a camera on trip like this one will be a completely new experience for me.  With my dry-bag in tow, I will be attempting to capture images of this group as they are guided through the rivers, caves and mountains of the beautiful Bulgarian countryside.  Taking pictures is one challenge, but keeping up with the group could turn out to be a completely different one.  The only hurtle that lays ahead is securing a car to transport me there (we managed to sell our car - Yeah!)  Cross your fingers for me and remain hopeful about the transportation.  This could result in some amazing images ... or bomb wildly.  I love it!

You can view a video HERE and an explanation of the program HERE

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Skating Sofia's NDK


The parks of Sofia are not the only outdoor gathering places that draw a crowd of interesting people.  This weekend I took some time Saturday afternoon to walk down to the National Palace of Culture (NDK) in Sofia. I was lucky enough to come across a skateboard/spray-paint/music event.  I sat down and started shooting just off to one side of the skateboard ramp when a friendly photographer called Diko approached me.  He is in the background of one of the pictures below actually.  We had a great conversation about photography and I captured some of the images that you see here.  You can see some of Diko's work HERE.  Summer in Sofia is such a great time to get out and just be part of the crowd.

Camera Note:  The focus on these is a little soft and I'm quickly realizing the limitation of the 40D.  The more I shoot, the more I become convinced about the merits of purchasing the 5D mark III when it comes out ... I'm just wondering how much of a dent it is going to put in my pocket. Yikes! Hobbies are expensive.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Piano Musings in Sofia

Meet Siliana!  Siliana is a friend and former coworker who has ventured out on her own these days.  Piano teacher is her new title.  She has opened a studio in downtown Sofia to teach students of all ages.  Siliana is a trained musician and a former Certified Teaching Assistant who is fluent in English.  She is excellent with adults and children and she is currently accepting new students.  You can contact her at www.silianamusic.com if you are interested in lessons.