Monday, January 30, 2012

Kukeri B-Sides

After reflecting on the weekend, I realized that it was such a great experience, I wanted to post a couple of the photos that didn't end up making the cut.  Enjoy!

When lighter fluid just won't do ... pull out the blow torch.







Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thundering Bells Pulse Through Pernik - Kukeri Festival

Kukeri marching down the street of Pernik with their bells slowly bouncing up in down in rhythmic unison

Not knowing what to expect, Elise and I got on a bus with a gaggle of colleagues and headed off to Pernik this weekend to see the annual mask festival called Kukeri.  The origins of this festival date back to a time when participants shook, stomped and rang bells in order to scare off the evil spirits and ensure a productive year, both on the fields and the boudoir.  Today, the festival includes  participants from surrounding villages as well as far away countries.  While this festival seems to have morphed into an excuse to warm ones belly with Rakia during the cold winter, it is nevertheless a definite must see if you are in the area.  The costumes, friendly participants and the delicious restaurants of Pernik are worth a visit ... and oh yeah, the Rakia is pretty good too.

These photos were all taken with available light and no flash.  I was lucky enough to sneak past the barrier to take many of these shots.  As the participants marched by me I attempted to use AI Servo mode to auto-focus on their bodies.  I quickly realized that this would be unsuccessful, so I switched back to One Shot mode and took my chances.  I also played around with some post production vignetting which really seemed to enhance many of the photos and draw the eye to the subject.  Enjoy the photos and as always, please feel free to leave constructive comments below.

A shop vendor getting ready for the festival in Pernik




Hang on, how'd that guy get over the fence?

A justifiably concerned onlooker


The charge of the Kukeri

Where horrible nightmares are born



Bell ringing Kukeri


Thursday, January 26, 2012

All That White Stuff

Sofia has recently been dumped on.  The amount of snow that has fallen in the last few days has been described by the locals as a "once in a 100 year event."  I took the opportunity to go out and take some pictures in the local park.  The characters making their way through the snow turned out to be the most visually interesting subjects.  One man, walking his dog, stopped to talk to me.  After introducing himself, we went on to have about a 20 minute conversation about life in Bulgaria and photography.  I am always amazed by the power of a camera to act as a conversation piece.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Portrait Practice

A Sunday night full of food, friends and good conversation is always the way to go.  Elise and I went over to a friend's house to take some photos of a family that is growing by the second.  Not only have they adopted a new baby, but Mike is enjoying a visit from his sister.  They were generous enough to let me pull out some gear and practice on them.

Usually, the baby steals the show in these situations ... you know being all cute and cuddly and smelling so good.  Not this time.  Mike's insatiably desire to be in front of the camera came roaring out as he struck pose after pose in front of the hot, pulsing flashes.  Each burst of light seemed to give him more and more energy as he methodically worked the camera like a pro.  It was a display of pure talent.  Mike the muse ... it has a certain ring to it.

For these photos, I used two speedlights.  One was shot through a translucent umbrella (camera right) and a silver reflector was placed just out of frame (camera left) to create a bit of fill.  The second speedlight was set behind the subjects and pointed towards the wall behind them.  Originally, the photo below had a grey background.  I decided to play around with it and see what I could do to add some colour.  I have posted the process to Youtube as a short tutorial.  You can see it in the video below.  I'm going to try and post more production tips for beginner Photoshopers in the future.  Please let me know if you find them useful!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Black and White Nevski

As I continue to edit these photos, I found a great tutorial on converting colour to black and white.  I used this method to create the above image.