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



Carolina Conde said...

What an awesome "documentary", Damon! You totally got the spirit of the day! Congratulations! (If I were you, I would start sending my portfolio to local magazines and newspapers ;) )

Damon Rickett said...

Thanks Caro ... I might take your suggestion. Can't hurt I guess!